Montgomery’s Senate testimony: economics of climate adaptation

by Judith Curry

If we really want to help globally, there is clear evidence that most can be accomplished through effective support at a community level for locally-designed and implemented adaptation measures in Africa and poor Asian countries where the real vulnerability exists, not nugatory mitigation that helps no one. – W. David Montgomery

Last week, the U.S. Senate Committee on the Budget held a Hearing on the Costs of Inaction: Economic and Budgetary Consequences of Climate Change.   Lomborg also testified at this Hearing. Of particular interest is the testimony of W. David Montgomery [link].

Economic issues in designing adaptation strategies

Economists who have studied climate change generally agree that rational adaptation can substantially reduce the potential damage from climate change, and that in an institutional setting that does not distort the natural economic incentives to avoid risk, the private sector is quite capable of adopting many appropriate responses on its own. There are also public goods involved in adaptation, including the classic public goods of R&D, public health, roads, dams and flood protection. Resilience toward climate change is also a function of how well a system performs at providing public goods. Thus to me there are three fundamental requirements for effective adaptation policy in the United States:

  • Understanding what types of adaptations should be left to the private sector and which are the responsibility of government. The criterion should not be “people’s homes need protecting” but “there are systematic public goods involved that justify public investment rather than relying on the clear private incentive to manage risks to ones own property.”
  • Maintaining the economic freedom and property rights that create appropriate incentives for private investment to avoid risks of climate change. But these incentives can be diluted or distorted by government programs that provide free insurance before or after the fact or otherwise subsidize development in vulnerable areas.
  • Limiting public policy toward adaptation to: a. elimination of subsidies and other distortions that reduce private adaptation incentives by creating moral hazards; b. investments in true public goods that have an acceptable balance of cost and climate risk reduction.

Poor countries face much greater challenges than these in achieving any kind of adaptation. Where our problem is adapting sensibly and cost-effectively, their problem is adapting at all. Many studies have shown why it is that poor countries, especially in equatorial regions where the potential effects of climate change would be the largest, are not likely to be able to adapt effectively. These include violence and insecurity that makes any investment questionable, rulers who keep their people in poverty while appropriating any economic surplus or foreign aid for their own benefit, and lack of secure property rights and land tenure that are fundamental to incentives to invest. They also include closed political systems that exclude most of their population from meaningful participation and carry out public works projects to benefit their narrow base of supporters and not the country as a whole.

I am firmly convinced that moving a country from a political order like that in, for example, the Sudan, to a political order like that in Botswana would improve its standard of living and reduce the potential for conflict and damage from climate change more than would any conceivable action to reduce global greenhouse emissions.

Potential Pitfalls in Adaptation Policy

Nor is the U.S. immune to distorted incentives and government policies that frustrate or misdirect adaptation. Our current policies already distort incentives in a way that increases vulnerability to extreme weather events and inflates estimates of the need for public investment to protect socially unwise private investments. The principle one is subsidized flood insurance, that encourages people to build in areas known to be vulnerable. A more hidden incentive is provided by Federal funding for reconstruction after a disaster hits; although solidarity with those who have been harmed justifies aid, providing the aid by rebuilding the areas that were damaged just reinforces the incentive to downplay risks. Most of record damage due to storms is clearly attributable to greater development in areas known to be vulnerable and not to an increase of the hazard. Fixing the incentives to locate in locations at risk is far more cost-effective than encouraging and then protecting unwise investments. Agricultural disaster assistance can have the same effect. The moral hazard that future policies could create must be looked at carefully if private adaptation is to play the full role that it can.

In terms of the design of public investment programs, I see three counterproductive dynamics at work, that if left unchecked are likely to greatly increase budgetary demands and reduce the effectiveness of adaptation measures. They are:

  • Scientifically unjustified attribution of current weather events to climate change
  • Using adaptation as a convenient rationale for pork barrel projects
  • Making climate change an excuse for extension of agency missions and larger budgets

The first of these is a simple error, though it many cases it is indulged in by those who do know better. The other two are consequences of a dysfunctional system in which policies are pursued for the benefit of incumbents and their constituencies rather than for broader national objectives.

Although it is true that demanding certainty before acting is rarely a good risk management strategy, always assuming the worst and acting as if it is sure to happen without immediate action is equally bad risk management. So is insisting on doing something even though it is too late or too little to matter.

Where adaptation is most necessary

Despite all this, I agree that “To lower our national security risks, the United States should take a global leadership role in preparing for the projected impacts of climate change.” But I recommend a very specific type of response. I am convinced that most assessments of what can be done are so blinded by political correctness and diplomacy that they will not properly attribute the cause of vulnerability to failed states, rapacious ruling elites, and systems that fail to provide either economic or political freedom. They also continue the error of recommending top down planned solutions rather than recognizing that effective adaptation, like effective poverty reduction and wildlife conservation, must occur at the community level.

These conditions may be made worse by climate change, but the small difference that unilateral U.S. action can make to global warming in the current international setting will have no noticeable effect on the risks. To the extent that these conflicts affect U.S. national interests, a much wiser investment would be in a sufficiently strong military to deal with threats to us and humanitarian interventions around the world.

If we really want to help globally, there is clear evidence that most can be accomplished through effective support at a community level for locally-designed and implemented adaptation measures in Africa and poor Asian countries where the real vulnerability exists, not nugatory mitigation that helps no one.

JC comments

A previous Climate Etc. post discussed Montgomery’s testimony at two separate hearings in Spring 2011 [link].  Montgomery is one of the economists working on climate change issue that I definitely pay attention to.

Montgomery shows a healthy skepticism about the uncertainties surrounding climate change and the benefits of mitigation policies.  I find his remarks  about adaptation to be very insightful particularly with regards to:

  • understanding which types of adaptation should be left to the private sector versus supported by the government
  • the counterproductive dynamics at work in terms of government adaptation programs
  • the futility of addressing natural security issues  with ‘nugatory mitigation that helps no one.

Montgomery’s testimony, in combination with Lomborg’s, provides a powerful counter to the Obama administration’s accounting of the ‘cost of inaction.’

'Since we can't beat global warming, I decided to try to adapt.'

 

154 responses to “Montgomery’s Senate testimony: economics of climate adaptation

  1. It’s nice if someone will state the screamingly obvious when others won’t. You have to settle for that these days. Now if W. David Montgomery could just lose the bit about “global warming”…

  2. Montgomery’s testimony is probably a good indicator of which “tribe” one belongs to. If it seems like obvious common sense stated more systematically than usual, you are probably an Optimistic or Pessimistic Fatalist. If it seems like an outrageous series of unsupported and dubious assertions, you are probably an Urgent Mitigationist.

  3. Thanks, Professor Curry, for your continuing effort to publicize this evolving scientific scandal.

  4. Steven Mosher

    you said the “O” word and didnt bow.
    prepare yourself for the onslaught from the seven dwarfs.. well actually 2 of them grumpy and dopey

  5. “To lower our national security risks, the United States should take a global leadership role in preparing for the projected impacts of climate change.”

    Sadly, he left out the unprojected impacts. Ask a mainstream climate expert and he’ll tell you to get ready for x. Ask an alternative climate expert and he’ll tell you to get ready for y. Ask an engineer and he’ll be under a strict obligation to tell you to get ready for x and y…and he’ll even chuck in z.

    • David L. Hagen

      mosomoso
      The engineer will further ensure that the impacts account for climate persistence aka Hurst Kolmogorov Dynamics – which is typically greater than conventional variation analysis. e.g. during the seven year 1988-1994 drought, Athens experience only 44% of the 1908-1987 average runoff. That is “a bit” larger than “climate change” during that period!

      • New York depends for its water on the magnificently contrived and maintained Catskill system. But the city also depends on the continuance of a pluvial since the early 1970s, something of a “climate change” after the withering drought of the mid-1960s and the drier decades before.

        Once a climate change expert was someone who knew a bit about what actually happened, in case it happened again. A humble hydrologist, maybe.

        Nowadays the term refers to someone who is dogmatically certain on the vital subject of what will happen but surprisingly vague on such trivial matters as what did actually happen.

  6. Sweet Old Bob

    And include global cooling..the “Z” part…

  7. Curious George

    There have been successes in state (re)building: the Philippines, Germany, Japan. Waiting: Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador. Thousands of children are fleeing them – and it is supposed to be a U.S. problem!

  8. Finally, a sane voice on a ship of fools. Montgomery hits so many nails on the head that he could build a house!

  9. The great thing about adaptation to “climate change,” or anything else for that matter, is that resources can be spent in a measured manner that corresponds to the magnitude of the problem. Taking away government subsidies for just about every entity would be good also, provided the corporate tax goes to zero, or at least a very low number.


    • To fill this $110 billion hole that they’d dug in just one year, these 127 oil and gas companies went out and increased their net debt by $106 billion. But that wasn’t enough. To raise more cash, they also sold $73 billion in assets. It left them with more cash (borrowed cash, that is) on the balance sheet than before, which pleased analysts, and it left them with a pile of additional debt and fewer assets to generate revenues with in order to service this debt.

      It has been going on for years. In 2010, the hole left behind by fracking was only $18 billion. During each of the last three years, the gap was over $100 billion. This is the chart of an industry with apparently steep and permanent negative free cash-flows:

      People keep on forgetting that climate change has no impact on fossil fuel depletion apart from making us more aware of the need for moving off the stuff. Killing two birds with one stone is the motto.

      • Web – two points:
        1. Oilfield companies have always run high debt levels to finance activities. This is why a zero corporate tax would be a good thing – these companies need lots of cash and debt has traditionally been one way of getting it.
        2. The oilfield has always seen boom and bust. Some of the companies will go under or be absorbed by other companies.

        So, this ain’t no great shakes. Here’s the Bloomberg article that your linked page was based on.

        “The U.S. shale patch is facing a shakeout as drillers struggle to keep pace with the relentless spending needed to get oil and gas out of the ground.

        Shale debt has almost doubled over the last four years while revenue has gained just 5.6 percent, according to a Bloomberg News analysis of 61 shale drillers. A dozen of those wildcatters are spending at least 10 percent of their sales on interest compared with Exxon Mobil Corp.’s 0.1 percent.

        “The list of companies that are financially stressed is considerable,” said Benjamin Dell, managing partner of Kimmeridge Energy, a New York-based alternative asset manager focused on energy. “Not everyone is going to survive. We’ve seen it before.””

        http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-26/shakeout-threatens-shale-patch-as-frackers-go-for-broke.html

      • No one will survive the relentlessness of the Red Queen.

      • David Springer

        web writes: “People keep on forgetting that climate change has no impact on fossil fuel depletion”

        Yeah but only because it has no impact on anything. If Anthropogenic Globull Warming were true it would reduce heating fuel needs in colder climates. But since it’s a huge crock of bullschit it reduces nothing.

    • I think it’s pretty funny to read comments by environmentalists and “climatology experts” about the oil and gas industry. The USA gas industry is running through a period in which an excess of supply has driven prices too low and has forced many weak players underwater. This is common in the industry, but now we have all these “experts” piping up with their newly acquired expertise about whether shale gas is viable or not.

      Shale gas is viable, but it requires a better price. The price is already rising precisely because the weak players are being swept off the board. The business is extremely tough, and we have too many companies switching to gas because crude oil prospects have essentially disappeared. In other words, we are running out of oil accessible to private oil companies, they have turned to drill for gas and this created an oversupply hang. When the weak players have disappeared the prices will increase and the cycle begins all over again. But oil drilling will never recover.

      The USA is in good shape because it does have a lot of rock left to be drilled. However, the Europeans are in trouble. They have zany environmental lobbies fighting shale gas, they don’t want Russian gas, and they seem inclined to committing economic suicide. I may have to move out of Europe in 5 years if they keep being this stupid.

  10. Having battled it out with webby in the back catalogue for quite long enough – let’s tie it into adaptation and bring it home.

    One of the most obvious characteristics of ENSO is decadal variability – and that’s where we lose webby.

    Here is a multivariate analysis from Claus Wolter at NOAA.

    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/enso/mei/

    ”Here we attempt to monitor ENSO by basing the Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) on the six main observed variables over the tropical Pacific. These six variables are: sea-level pressure (P), zonal (U) and meridional (V) components of the surface wind, sea surface temperature (S), surface air temperature (A), and total cloudiness fraction of the sky (C). These observations have been collected and published in ICOADS for many years.’

    Plus 1 me if you can see the pattern. Intense and frequent La Nina to 1976, El Nino to 1998 and La Nina again since. ENSO varies abruptly at multi-decadal scales – with extreme variability manifesting at centennial to millennial scales.

    We can trace multi-decadal variability back 1000 years in high resolution proxies.

    ‘Here, the authors report a statistically significant link between ENSO and sea salt deposition during summer from the Law Dome (LD) ice core in East Antarctica. ENSO-related atmospheric anomalies from the central-western equatorial Pacific (CWEP) propagate to the South Pacific and the circumpolar high latitudes. These anomalies modulate high-latitude zonal winds, with El Niño (La Niña) conditions causing reduced (enhanced) zonal wind speeds and subsequent reduced (enhanced) summer sea salt deposition at LD. Over the last 1010 yr, the LD summer sea salt (LDSSS) record has exhibited two below-average (El Niño–like) epochs, 1000–1260 ad and 1920–2009 ad, and a longer above-average (La Niña–like) epoch from 1260 to 1860 ad. Spectral analysis shows the below-average epochs are associated with enhanced ENSO-like variability around 2–5 yr, while the above-average epoch is associated more with variability around 6–7 yr. The LDSSS record is also significantly correlated with annual rainfall in eastern mainland Australia. While the correlation displays decadal-scale variability similar to changes in the interdecadal Pacific oscillation (IPO), the LDSSS record suggests rainfall in the modern instrumental era (1910–2009 ad) is below the long-term average. In addition, recent rainfall declines in some regions of eastern and southeastern Australia appear to be mirrored by a downward trend in the LDSSS record, suggesting current rainfall regimes are unusual though not unknown over the last millennium.’ http://ecite.utas.edu.au/81621

    http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/Vance2012-AntarticaLawDomeicecoresaltcontent.jpg.html?sort=3&o=190

    Emphasis mine – although there are 2 far more interesting points. First the long La Nina dominance – second the shift in periodicity of ENSO between high and low activity periods. These both suggest an external control variable.

    An equally interesting proxy is from a South American lake. Moy et al (2002) present a record of sedimentation which is strongly influenced by ENSO variability. It is based on the presence of greater and less red sediment in a lake core. More sedimentation is associated with El Niño. It has continuous high resolution coverage over 12,000 years. It shows periods of high and low ENSO activity alternating with a period of about 2,000 years. There was a shift from La Niña dominance to El Niño dominance some 5,000 years ago that was identified by Tsonis (2009) as a chaotic bifurcation – and is associated with the drying of the Sahel. There is a period around 3,500 years ago of high ENSO activity associated with the demise of the Minoan civilisation (Tsonis et al, 2010). It shows ENSO variability considerably in excess of that seen in the modern period. The 1998 El Nino had a red colour intensity of 89 – during the time that the Minoans were fading red colour intensities reach values in excess of 200.

    http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/moys2002_zps629c54ee.png.html?sort=3&o=22

    Multi-decadal variability in the Pacific is defined as the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (e.g. Folland et al,2002, Meinke et al, 2005, Parker et al, 2007, Power et al, 1999) – a proliferation of oscillations it seems. Shall we try modeling that next?

    The latest Pacific Ocean climate shift in 1998/2001 is linked to increased flow in the north (Di Lorenzo et al, 2008) and the south (Roemmich et al, 2007, Qiu, Bo et al 2006) Pacific Ocean gyres. Roemmich et al (2007) suggest that mid-latitude gyres in all of the oceans are influenced by decadal variability in the Southern and Northern Annular Modes (SAM and NAM respectively) as wind driven currents in baroclinic oceans (Sverdrup, 1947). SAM and NAM are influenced by top down UV/stratospheric ozone interactions. Go for it.

    It all suggests that natural climate variability has potential for extremes such as we have not seen.in the 20th century – that seem solar modulated as mechanisms are slowly teased out.

    What is needed is to adapt systems to extremes that are coming regardless of whatever happens with emissions. Really clever approaches both adapt and mitigate. Increasing organics in agricultural soils as an example that sequesters carbon while building productivity, drought proofing through increased infiltration and reducing runoff and soil erosion.

    • “AmericanThinker” Ellison. It’s the only magazine that will publish his stuff.

      • Matthew R Marler

        WebHubTelescope: “AmericanThinker” Ellison. It’s the only magazine that will publish his stuff.

        I read all of your responses to that post by Rob Ellison, and you didn’t write a single objection or comment on the scientific content. You also did not write an objection to the scientific comment in his “American Thinker” article. A reader might think you find his scientific claims in those writings to be unassailable.

      • It is pretty simple really. Webby has not the slightest suggestion of a rational science based argument. As I give quite cogently above. It is all personalized nonsense from webby – always the same distortions aimed at point scoring over sceptics. .

        It is how he rolls – no unscrupulous, scurrilous, disingenuous, tendentious, disparaging, denigratory, pejorative, deprecatory, vitriolic cr@p is too much. It is his entire raison d’etre as I explain elsewhere.

        https://judithcurry.com/2014/08/01/montogomerys-senate-testimony-economics-of-climate-adaptation/#comment-613819

        To be honest – one of the most obvious characteristics of ENSO is decadal variability – and that’s where we lose webby. He has not the slightest clue, couldn’t at this late junction now admit rationality at any level and behaves like a crazed gerbil instead. .

      • Again wrong spot.

        The core of climate science is data – not toy models unless they illustrate some profound point. The unstable math of Michael Ghil’s climate sensitivity for instance.

        http://watertechbyrie.com/2014/06/23/the-unstable-math-of-michael-ghils-climate-sensitivity/

        I quite like math – I started as a math major and transferred to civil engineering. I was intrigued when I first realized I could model rainfall and runoff – using a program I still use developed by Prof. Michael Boyd who became my thesis supervisor. My honours thesis involved comparing an analytical solution of the differential equation with various numerical solutions such as a fourth order Rungs-Kutta scheme with cubic spline interpolation. I have spent decades since managing data and running numerical models of rivers, estuaries and coasts.

        I understand data. I certainly understand the futility of webby’s perpetual fitting of curves to data in ways that are quite pointless. And which he then expects to be applauded for – while in the same breath indulging in the most reprehensible – aggressive and abusive as well as dishonest – behavior. Mad math and freaky physics I call it – because it is really quite bonkers.

        Let me just make it clear that webby’s version of over simplified curve fitting is quite pointless. He imagines that gross oversimplifications have meaning in immensely complex systems. It is far from true.

    • That answers one question of mine. Namely, could we have an extended La Nina of say a 60 or ninety year period if a Dalton like solar cycle took place? The recent quieting of the sun and the De Vries 200 year cycle being indicators of such. If the stadium waves are real I suppose the next warm cycle after 2028 would be fairly flat.

    • Even with the stadium wave there is no necessity for a warmer mode. It could very well be to a yet cooler mode and we pass the threshold of Bond Event Zero.

    • No citations there, all he has a piece published in the American Thinker, a reactionary right-wing mag that serves only as an echo chamber — http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=American_Thinker

    • It’s not true – I have other credits in other right wing rags – including Environmental Engineer.

      The citations were made in the comment and are actual peer reviewed science as opposed to webby’s nonsense on ENSO.

    • Environmental Engineer is one of those journals that will publish anything with minimal or no peer-review.

      • Environmental Engineer is the Journal of the Environmental Society of Engineers Australia. It is quite classy.

      • Webby is confused again. He’s thinking of Energy and Environment. Another very silly insult to Mr. Ellison for which an apology from little webby is owed. Let’s see if he will man up this time. Very unlikely.

      • Worse than that, Environmental Engineer is just one of those things called a “trade rag” that will publish anything and obviously without the kind of peer-review that scientists typically require for cutting-edge research.
        http://halledit.com.au/publications/enveng.htm

      • You thought it was the E&E that warmists love to hate, webby. Now show us your citation CV.

      • Don,
        His CV is The Oil Drum, where he proved mathematically that we ran out of oil entirely about 20 years ago. A site that became so silly that it finally just ended out of pure embarrassment over the level of crankery and it’s attractiveness to preppers.
        It’s no surprise that his level of analytical skill fits right in there with the warm. He’s useful though. You know you’re on the right path when WHUT disagrees with you. You know you’ve reached the right destination when he attacks you and calls you stupid.
        WHUT is the lighthouse on the shoal, telling us “don’t go here!”

      • You are way behind the curve Don.

        The Stalker of Oz already has my CV because he is interested in finding out what we are doing in modeling ENSO at the Azimuth Project.

        BTW, I do have an article in one of the questionable open-access journals, and I have also contributed a few articles to trade rags over the years, so I know how to spot the questionable cites.

      • Environmental Engineer is – http://www.rpc.com.au/pdf/Environmental_Engineer_Summer_06_paper_2.pdf

        To which I have contributed on environmental policy and law.

        Webby’s plethora of personal attacks and lack of substance otherwise speaks volumes.

    • Increasing organics in agricultural soils as an example that sequesters carbon while building productivity, drought proofing through increased infiltration and reducing runoff and soil erosion.

      If you really want to “climate-change”-proof agriculture, do it in mass-manufactured greenhouses. Massively multilevel, supported by internal pressure, with light gathered using light pipes. All the technology needed is already maturing: off the lab bench.

      The pipes themselves can be made of mylar (or similar material), inflated with a slight overpressure of dry air. Between collector and greenhouse, they would be fully aluminized on the inside. Once the light has been brought inside the greenhouse, technology like the 3M™ Light Pipe could be used to distribute it.

      Collectors would be inflated structures as well, with sun-tracking mirrors capable of concentrating 2000-5000 times. At the lower value, a 10cm pipe could carry sunlight captured from 16 square meters.

      All the collecting technology could be very light, cheap, easily replaced when damaged, while robust enough to resist all but extreme weather. The multilevel greenhouses themselves would be heavy enough to resist all but the strongest tornadoes, could contain optimized levels of CO2, water vapor, temperature, and sunlight. Spores and seeds, whether airborne or spread by animals, would be naturally excluded, as would the animals themselves.

      This technology could probably made cost-effective in selected applications/locations using today’s off-the-shelf technology, while with proper incentives (not including massive boondoggle subsidies) it could probably be encourage to develop to the point it could handle all human agriculture within 2-5 decades.

      The technology of inflated structures is “sleeper” technology, in the metaphorical sense of something building unnoticed until it suddenly becomes a major hit (See Wiki articles for “Sleeper hit”, “Sleeper (car)”, “Sleeper agent”, etc.). The Internet, for instance.

      Not only is the cost of manufacturing the plastics (and other materials) decreasing rapidly, but the use of internal tensile members with powered contraction (“muscles”) could improve stability and resistance to variable external force by orders of magnitude. To accomplish this, dynamic control of these “muscles” would be required, which in turn requires information handling technology, both hardware and software.

      And information hardware is subject to “Moore’s Law”, and software is infinitely replicable once developed.

    • The core of climate science is data – not toy models unless they illustrate some profound point. The unstable math of Michael Ghil’s climate sensitivity for instance.

      http://watertechbyrie.com/2014/06/23/the-unstable-math-of-michael-ghils-climate-sensitivity/

      I quite like math – I started as a math major and transferred to civil engineering. I was intrigued when I first realized I could model rainfall and runoff – using a program I still use developed by Prof. Michael Boyd who became my thesis supervisor. My honours thesis involved comparing an analytical solution of the differential equation with various numerical solutions such as a fourth order Rungs-Kutta scheme with cubic spline interpolation. I have spent decades since managing data and running numerical models of rivers, estuaries and coasts.

      I understand data. I certainly understand the futility of webby’s perpetual fitting of curves to data in ways that are quite pointless. And which he then expects to be applauded for – while in the same breath indulging in the most reprehensible – aggressive and abusive as well as dishonest – behavior. Mad math and freaky physics I call it – because it is really quite bonkers.

    • Wrong spot.

      The core of climate science is data – not toy models unless they illustrate some profound point. The unstable math of Michael Ghil’s climate sensitivity for instance.

      http://watertechbyrie.com/2014/06/23/the-unstable-math-of-michael-ghils-climate-sensitivity/

      I quite like math – I started as a math major and transferred to civil engineering. I was intrigued when I first realized I could model rainfall and runoff – using a program I still use developed by Prof. Michael Boyd who became my thesis supervisor. My honours thesis involved comparing an analytical solution of the differential equation with various numerical solutions such as a fourth order Rungs-Kutta scheme with cubic spline interpolation. I have spent decades since managing data and running numerical models of rivers, estuaries and coasts.

      I understand data. I certainly understand the futility of webby’s perpetual fitting of curves to data in ways that are quite pointless. And which he then expects to be applauded for – while in the same breath indulging in the most reprehensible – aggressive and abusive as well as dishonest – behavior. Mad math and freaky physics I call it – because it is really quite bonkers.

  11. He says this
    “These conditions may be made worse by climate change, but the small difference that unilateral U.S. action can make to global warming in the current international setting will have no noticeable effect on the risks.”

    This would logically then ask for international cooperation on mitigation, but no, he goes off his rocker somewhat with the following statement.

    “To the extent that these conflicts affect U.S. national interests, a much wiser investment would be in a sufficiently strong military to deal with threats to us and humanitarian interventions around the world.”

    So he has a preference of some kind of warlike state and doesn’t even consider the types of international agreements that would make this unnecessary. I think this is an insight into his way of thinking. International agreements can be tough too, and would avoid wars.

    • Jim D:
      It’s hard to stop a war with windmills and solar. We have massive military resources for a number of reasons and I don’t agree with all of them. But we don’t want to bring a windmill to a regional fight. If we are assessing threats, the past has guided us rightfully or wrongly to be ready militarily, that is the consensus. I’d add that our military allies somewhat count on us as we count on them. A war on carbon may weaken us economically leading to a less capable military.

      • The point is, he doesn’t even think of trying international agreements to reduce emissions, which is also a big problem around here. There are a lot of willing countries who are already starting to plan that way.

      • ‘The old climate framework failed because it would have imposed substantial costs associated with climate mitigation policies on developed nations today in exchange for climate benefits far off in the future — benefits whose attributes, magnitude, timing, and distribution are not knowable with certainty. Since they risked slowing economic growth in many emerging economies, efforts to extend the Kyoto-style UNFCCC framework to developing nations predictably deadlocked as well.’
        http://thebreakthrough.org/blog/Climate_Pragmatism_web.pdf

        The Kyoto approach is a zombie. Dead but people like Jimbo imagine it can be reanimated. It has failed and needs to be finally interned.

      • Rob Ellison, some people are happy with China, Russia and India and the large developing regions determining everyone’s future climate, and have already given up on the idea that there is a better path to be taken. They have basically just retreated within and want to let things fall where they may regarding global warming and sea levels through the next century. I think of this as the short-sighted or apathetic view. The more proactive approach globalizes the move to better energy production and fuels in the coming decades providing incentives to countries for making progress, and disincentives for those holding it back.

      • Jim D,

        whether or not one is happy with it, the “BRIC” group and other developing nations DO drive the decisions on CO2 emissions. The idea that EU and USA can change the course (for what, 0.2C less temp. in a century??) is simply moralistic posturing, it seems to me… pointless posturing.

      • The difference is not between action and inaction – but failure and success. The Kyoto approach has failed and will continue to fail to find any rational way forward.

        The alternative is a focus on a high growth and high energy future based in progress on health, education, sanitation, water supply, trade, agricultural productivity, ecological conservation and restoration and energy innovation.

      • skiphil and Robert Ellison, you give up too easily on the prospects of international agreements. Just because it is difficult doesn’t mean no one should try any more. The earth is important enough that we should keep trying until it is resolved. You should be rooting for the success of these agreements instead of against even trying, which is what you appear to be doing.

      • ‘We face a problem of anthropogenic climate change, but the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 has failed to tackle it. A child of summits, it was doomed from the beginning, because of the way that it came into being, Kyoto has given only an illusion of action. It has become the sole focus of our efforts, and, as a result, we have wasted fifteen years.

        We have called this essay “The Wrong Trousers” evoking the Oscar-winning animated film of that name. In that film, the hapless hero, Wallace, becomes trapped in a pair of automated ‘Techno Trousers’. Whereas he thought they would make his life easier, in fact, they take control and carry him off in directions he does not wish to go.

        We evoke this image to suggest how the Kyoto Protocol has also marched us involuntarily to unintended and unwelcome places. Just as the enticingly electro-mechanical “Techno Trousers” offered the prospect of hugely increasing the wearer’s power and stride, so successful international treaties leverage the power of signatory states in a similar way, making possible together what cannot be achieved alone. The Kyoto Wrong Trousers have done something similar to those who fashioned and subscribed to the agreement. To set a new course, we need to understand how we have gone wrong so far.’ http://www.lse.ac.uk/researchandexpertise/units/mackinder/pdf/mackinder_wrong%20trousers.pdf

        Given up on repeating the same action and expecting a different outcome? It is the definition of sanity. Try it some time Jimbo.

      • Let’s say that technology has advanced over the last 15 years to where a successor has a better chance of succeeding (maybe you disagree and think alternatives are still like they were in 1997). Have you not considered that or are you just saying give up on developing technology as part of the solution too? It is an advancing world, and potential climate change is a big incentive for innovation in energy and fuels already in case you haven’t noticed.

      • I have discussed technology abundantly.

        e.g. https://judithcurry.com/2014/07/30/lomborgs-senate-testimony/#comment-613321

        It strikes me as either careless or dishonest to miss this.

      • Rob Ellison, so you seem to undermine your own argument that it is not worth trying again even with new technology trends making alternative energy ever cheaper. How do you resolve this?

      • The whole basis of the Lomberg post was that energy choices must be made on cost – distorting that has that no place in the policy mix without dire consequences for the most marginal. Why would we encourage governments to distort markets?

      • Jim D,

        Let’s overlook the fact of 2 decades of a notable lack of success in international agreements and simply do the arithmatic.

        It matters not what action the US takes on emission reductions. What matters is what the Chinese and Indians do. If you can’t acknowledge that, then you must be a cultist.

    • Yea Jim D,

      Let’s build on the decades of success in international cooperation on climate change, rather than advocate war mongering.

      Oh, wait. There isn’t any success to build on with regard to climate change. What about international cooperation and the Palistinian problem? Uh, maybe we should look somewhere else. Hey, what about the world’s success in dealing with the shoot down of a civilian airliner by Russian seperatists. That one should be an easy one.

  12. Are there any drawbacks of massive reforestry campaigns?

    • You can be the Johnny Appleseed of our times!

    • How is it going to make money? Make work is evil.

    • But if DocMartyn wants to do it, let it rip! The rest of us will just watch.

    • Already being done – see post below (with links to the data)
      David L. Hagen | August 1, 2014 at 10:07 pm | Reply

      US standing forest stock increased 49% from 1953 to 2006. See inventory data

      Basically, as soon as you increase agricultural productivity such that enough food is produced on productive land, people let marginal land return to forests. Eastern/Central Canada and New England were almost completely logged out by the end of the 19th century – what do they look like now? You don’t need a massive re-forestry campaign, just efficient agricultural production.

  13. I’m continually stuck how in a world with so many pressing real world problems like hunger, poverty, disease, war, the threat of nuclear annihilation, our response is to become consumed by something that might not be a problem at all, or might in fact be a benefit…in the process ignoring or actually worsening the problems that actually do exist.

    It would be funny were it not so sad.

    • Hmmm, you will find that orders of magnitude more is being spent on the things you have listed than on adaptation and mitigation. This type of argument is one of Lomborg’s misleading tactics.

    • Hear! Hear! and Bingo!

      You know, the more I read (and learn), the more convinced I become that the many branches of the maze that goes by the name of the “United Nations” is the progenitor and promoter of its ever-expanding revolving-door bureaucracy.

      In the steadfast “cause” of which one can almost depend on this body (or one or more of its arms and/or tendrils) to produce copious “documents” (probably read by few who actually do so with any measure of comprehension) to stir up trouble and discord, both within its own boundaries – and within the boundaries of other organizations into which it has inserted itself (e.g. WTO).

      In my view, the world would be a far, far better place (for far more disadvantaged people) if the real democracies of the world were to abandon the UN and demand that it remove itself from other organizations into which it has inserted itself over the years, immediately … if not sooner!

      Failing that, the democracies of the world should insist that the UN cease and desist its operations (and those which it funds with money extorted from various and sundry first-world nations) where its real record is one of dismal failure and/or promotion of discord.

      Then perhaps we can return to a world in which common sense and decency (such as that promoted by Montgomery) will prevail.

    • Jim D | August 2, 2014 at 12:06 am | Reply
      “Hmmm, you will find that orders of magnitude more is being spent on the things you have listed than on adaptation and mitigation.”

      Can you provide a source for this statement?

      • It is very easy to prove if you take it on its face and include defense spending in comparison with the adaptation and mitigation programs, but even if you don’t, there was a thread a while back where Lomborg was complaining about some money being proposed for a measure that he recommended went to something else (starvation or something), and there were already ten times that amount going to that. It won’t be easy for me to find but it was mentioned in the last few months. He just doesn’t put it into the perspective of ongoing efforts in his favored areas, which would be instructive.

      • jimmy, jimmy

        The problem of starvation is immediate and certain. The alleged climate catastrophe problem is uncertain and not immediate, unless you want to count BS about increasing extreme weather events. So do we spend more money on real problems or more money on green energy schemes that are having virtually no effect on mitigating the alleged climate catastrophe problem? Try to use your little head, jimmy.

      • It is possible to deal with starvation and adaptation/mitigation at the same time. Lomborg treats it as an either/or proposition. It is just political grandstanding disconnected from reality.

      • It is an either or proposition for each dollar spent, jimmy. You either spend the dollar on food relief for the starving, or you spend it on subsidizing an uneconomical green energy scheme. Why don’t you tell us how much you would spend on green energy schemes and how much mitigation your spending will get us.

      • ‘In a world of limited resources, we can’t do everything, so which goals should we prioritize? The Copenhagen Consensus Center provides information on which targets will do the most social good (measured in dollars, but also incorporating e.g. welfare, health and environmental protection), relative to their costs.’ Copenhagen Consensus

        This is a site I am slowly adding to – http://watertechbyrie.com/

      • Don M, actually the poorest countries are already well below the world average emissions per capita, and they won’t need to do anything at this time, same as the last round. The aid for them is just the same as it has always been.

      • The growth in emissions all come from developing economies – all well and good.

      • Rob Ellison, exactly. What would you do about China? Let them burn coal forever, or try to come to some long-term international agreement about reductions? Which is the better plan for the future.

      • So jimmy, are you saying food aid is sufficient and there is no more hunger in the world? No other problems that money could be spent on, rather than being dumped into uneconomical green energy schemes?

        You failed to address: Why don’t you tell us how much you would spend on wind and solar green energy schemes and how much mitigation your spending will get us.

        Then explain why that money wouldn’t be better spent on nuclear reactors for the purposes of CO2 mitigation. Don’t we get a lot more bang for the buck with nukes, jimmy? Isn’t nuclear power way to go, if you are serious about saving the children from CAGW?

      • The approach I have discussed endlessly. A high energy high growth strategy incorporating real progress on multiple gases and aerosols and multiple factors. Plus accelerated energy innovation.

        At the very least represent my considered position with a degree of honesty if you are capable of it.

      • Don M, regular aid for poor countries is a separate problem and should be kept separate and not conflated the way Lomborg wants to. Yes, I would go along with Hansen and Emanuel and say nuclear power is a good stop-gap to get us off carbon earlier rather than later. France already went this route for energy security and is now looking to move off nuclear towards alternative energy as it becomes more viable.

      • Rob Ellison, yes, but your thing doesn’t address China.

      • This is simply not true. There are multiple objectives to do with population and development that are the best options for addressing black carbon, methane, nitrous oxide, tropospheric ozone, sulphates and carbon dioxide for short to mid term mitigation. They provide as well the potential for ‘phenomenal’ returns in terms of welfare. These are compromised by wasting resources on frivolous enthusiasms.

        http://watertechbyrie.com/

  14. David L. Hagen

    Climate Change Madness: Do the Europeans know what they are doing?

    The government is providing a subsidy that will eventually be worth over £1 billion a year that make the Drax conversion to ‘biomass’ economical. But for electricity consumers in Britain, bills have already increased by over £1 billion ($1.55 billion) a year because of subsidizing wind farms; the Drax subsidies will increase them even more. . . .
    The political incumbents in Britain decided last year to give any coal-fired power station that switched to ‘biomass’ the almost 100 percent ‘renewable subsidy’ that owners of onshore wind farms get.

    US standing forest stock increased 49% from 1953 to 2006. See inventory data
    Yankee entrepreneurs are now chipping trees to sell to the UK power plants.

  15. First time I’ve seen this one. From the article:

    For the first time, researchers have successfully demonstrated an interaction between ocean currents and bacteria: The unexpected interaction leads to the production of vast amounts of nitrogen gas in the Pacific Ocean. This takes place in one of the largest oxygen free water masses in the world — and these zones are expanding. This can ultimately weaken the ocean’s ability to absorb CO2.

    Three places in the world harbor extensive oxygen free water masses, called Oxygen Minimum Zones. In these zones, microbes produce atmospheric nitrogen gas — the gas that accounts for almost 80 per cent of Earth’s atmosphere. Researchers from the University of Southern Denmark now report to have found the reason behind the huge nitrogen gas production in the largest of the three Minimum Oxygen Zones, located in the Pacific Ocean off Chile and Peru. The nitrogen gas is produced by a steady stream of bacteria who, when they feed, produce lots of nitrogen gas.

    “The bacteria flow with an ocean current, that comes from the Equator and is heading towards the South Pole. On their way south the bacteria rid the water of ammonia, which they eat and transform into nitrogen gas in the Oxygen Minimum Zone,” explain the scientists, postdoc Loreto De Brabandere and Professor Bo Thamdrup from the Nordic Center for Earth Evolution at the University of Southern Denmark.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130913101817.htm

  16. Maybe CO2 is at a low concentration in the Law Dome ice core because bacteria ate it?
    From the article:

    Some methanogens, called hydrogenotrophic, use carbon dioxide (CO2) as a source of carbon, and hydrogen as a reducing agent.

    Price and his colleagues showed in their paper that these anomalous peaks can be explained by the presence in the ice of methanogens. Methanogens are common on Earth in places devoid of oxygen, such as in the rumens of cows, and could easily have been scraped up by ice flowing over the swampy subglacial soil and incorporated into some of the bottom layers of ice.

    Price and his colleagues found these methanogens in the same foot-thick segments of the core where the excess methane was measured in otherwise clear ice at depths 17, 35 and 100 meters (56, 115 and 328 feet) above bedrock.

    http://malagabay.wordpress.com/2013/11/17/methane-myopia-5-ice-core-science/

    http://malagabay.wordpress.com/2013/11/17/methane-myopia-5-ice-core-science/


    • Methanogens have been found in several extreme environments on Earth – buried under kilometres of ice in Greenland and living in hot, dry desert soil. They can reproduce at temperatures of 15 to 100 degrees Celsius. They are known to be the most common archaebacteria in deep subterranean habitats. Live microbes making methane were found in a glacial ice core sample retrieved from three kilometres under Greenland by researchers from the University of California, Berkeley.[8]

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methanogens

  17. One place that I don’t understand Montgomery has to do with drought. It is my understanding that drought is more closely associated with cold ie La Nina and less precipitation and more during ice periods than warming periods. The ice periods are times of low crop yield and warm periods are recovery and more bountiful times. I realize that the droughts are being associated with AGW, but from I’ve read historically droughts take place more during cold dry times.

    Montgomery talks about having our hands tied as far as totalitarian third world governments, but California and the southwest experience droughts and the government has largely failed or ignored adaptation. I’ve even heard polititians on the radio suggesting migration away from the drought.

    It was the great water projects of the thirties such as Hoover dam and Sierra Nevada water projects (the most expensive) that provides 2/3 of californias water, that enabled all the population growth. No secret there. Now low snow packs threaten both. Farms use 80% of the water. Even though we’re supposedly dangerously low life seems to go on and for someone like me it has meant nothing other than hearing about it.

    Having built this elaborate system what can the government do when the resource diminishes? I know they built some desalination plants back in the seventies but eventually abandoned them left to rot. I’m wondering if it wouldn’t be more wise to spend money there rather than the eco disaster super train.

  18. Montgomery’s testimony, in combination with Lomborg’s, provides a power counter to the Obama administration’s accounting of the ‘cost of inaction.

    I think it has become abundantly clear that Dr, Curry is an advocate for policies that involve adaptation to any potential consequences of climate change rather than mitigation. I am confused as to why she has shown such disdain for other scientists who engage in “advocacy” in the past.

    • ‘Science advice is supposed to meet idealistic standards for objectivity, impartiality, and lack of bias. Acknowledging that science advisors are imperfect at meeting those standards, they nonetheless need to strive to produce sound, non-partisan advice, because of the privileged accountability given to science advice in decision-making. When science advisors cease to strive for those ideals and promote advocacy science, such advice loses the right to that privileged position. There are temptations to shape science advice by using information that “strengthens” the conservation case selectively. Giving in to such temptation, however, dooms the advice; science advice becomes viewed as expressions of the biases of those who provide it rather than reflecting the information on which the advice is based. Everyone, including the ecosystems, loses. There are ways to increase the impact of science advice on decision-making that do not involve perverting science advice into advocacy: peer review by diverse experts, integrating advice on ecological, economic, and social information and outcomes, and focusing advisory approaches on risks, costs, and trade-off of different types of management error. These approaches allow the science experts to be active, informed participants in the governance processes to aid sound decision-making, not to press for preselected outcomes. Everyone, including the ecosystems, wins.’ Food for thought: Advocacy science and fisheries decision-making – Jake Rice

      Joseph distorts and confuses ideas about scientific advocacy to make an ill founded complaint for the purpose of scoring a point in the climate war. Should we accept that he has any substantive point at all?

  19. Claude Harvey

    Re: What an engineer would do.

    A COMPETENT engineer would look over the past 17 year history if global temperature and then move on to another subject.

  20. William McClenney

    It makes no difference what ones feelings are about adaptation versus mitigation of GHGs. The only thing that might make any difference whatsoever would be that the IPCC etc. et al., are right about the thermal properties of CO2:

    “The possible explanation as to why we are still in an interglacial relates to the early anthropogenic hypothesis of Ruddiman (2003, 2005). According to that hypothesis, the anomalous increase of CO2 and CH4 concentrations in the atmosphere as observed in mid- to late Holocene ice-cores results from anthropogenic deforestation and rice irrigation, which started in the early Neolithic at 8000 and 5000 yr BP, respectively. Ruddiman proposes that these early human greenhouse gas emissions prevented the inception of an overdue glacial that otherwise would have already started.”

    conclude Muller and Pross (2007) http://folk.uib.no/abo007/share/papers/eemian_and_lgi/mueller_pross07.qsr.pdf

    Ditto for Risebrobakken et al (2007, Quaternary Research 67(1): 128-135):

    “The climate history of the present interglacial is in many ways comparable with MIS 5.5, and the present conditions in Northern Europe do in some ways fulfill requirements for glacial inception. Even at its present minimum position the Northern Hemisphere summer insolation is, however, fundamentally different from the situation 115,000 yr ago. The insolation fall during the Holocene has been less than half of the fall during MIS 5.5. The present value is also 40 W/m2 higher than the values at 115,000 yr. Together with the high levels of greenhouse gases, this difference in insolation forcing is probably the main factor preventing glacial inception today.”

    https://bora.uib.no/bitstream/handle/1956/2088/Risebrobakken_inception.pdf?sequence=1

    This means, of course, that mitigating the upper error bar of the worst case “business as usual” IPCC AR4 SRES Marker A1F1 estimate of +0.6 meters sea level rise by 2099 only gets you to perhaps 10% of the “best case” (lowest estimate) for the 3rd and final highstand at the end Eemian of +6.0 meters amsl (see Figure 2 at least):

    http://www.uow.edu.au/content/groups/public/@web/@sci/@eesc/documents/doc/uow045009.pdf

    The problem here should be obvious. This is a simple signal to noise ratio problem at best, immaterial at worst. Say, for instance that we actually can quell that +0.6 m upper error bar of the worst case sea level rise scenario by 2099 by managing GHGs. What if sea level, here at the 11,717 year old Holocene (that’s half the current precession cycle) goes up a minimum of +6.0 m anyway, and not just once but perhaps several times, like at least three other post-MPT interglacials have (MIS-19, MIS-11 and MIS-5e?

    There remains no certain cause of the 3 thermal excursions at the end of MIS-19 http://lgge.osug.fr/IMG/fparrenin/articles/pol-EPSL2010.pdf or MIS-11 http://www.researchgate.net/publication/229415952_Is_vegetation_responsible_for_glacial_inception_during_periods_of_muted_insolation_changes/file/9c96051e55e2f0f6b2.pdf or the at least two at the end of MIS-5e http://eg.igras.ru/files/f.2010.04.14.12.53.54..5.pdf

    Boettger, et al (Quaternary International 207 [2009] 137–144) abstract it:

    “In terrestrial records from Central and Eastern Europe the end of the Last Interglacial seems to be characterized by evident climatic and environmental instabilities recorded by geochemical and vegetation indicators. The transition (MIS 5e/5d) from the Last Interglacial (Eemian, Mikulino) to the Early Last Glacial (Early Weichselian, Early Valdai) is marked by at least two warming events as observed in geochemical data on the lake sediment profiles of Central (Gro¨bern, Neumark–Nord, Klinge) and of Eastern Europe (Ples). Results of palynological studies of all these sequences indicate simultaneously a strong increase of environmental oscillations during the very end of the Last Interglacial and the beginning of the Last Glaciation. This paper discusses possible correlations of these events between regions in Central and Eastern Europe. The pronounced climate and environment instability during the interglacial/glacial transition could be consistent with the assumption that it is about a natural phenomenon, characteristic for transitional stages. Taking into consideration that currently observed ‘‘human-induced’’ global warming coincides with the natural trend to cooling, the study of such transitional stages is important for understanding the underlying processes of the climate changes.”

    Starting to get the points here? Go ahead, mitigate CO2/GHGs, because if you are right about the insulating properties of CO2/GHGs then Ruddiman is probably right, and you just removed the only presently known means of obviating glacial inception. Go ahead, mitigate CO2/GHGs, that might, repeat might, save you 10% of the adaptation you might have to do anyway, assuming we only have one thermal excursion at the end Holocene, and that it is only +6.0 meters, not say +52.0 meters……. http://lin.irk.ru/pdf/6696.pdf

    And that is why adaptation wins over mitigation. It’s simple, “our” climate signal is, at best, just 10% of the normal natural half-precessional cycle old end interglacial. Why at best? Because every other post-MPT interglacial that achieved at least our present sea level, if not exceeding it dramatically, had from 2 to 3 close-spaced thermal excursions, right at their very ends. The last and final one, before dropping off into the next ice age, was the strongest. No matter what we eventually do, or do not do, about climate change here at the 11,717 year old Holocene, if it does not prevent “…the inception of an overdue glacial that otherwise would have already started” then this is all just a silly bugger’s game, isn’t it?

    “…like two fleas arguing over who owns the dog they are riding on.” to quote Crocodile Dundee.

    As by now you might expect, it does indeed get better or worse:

    In discussing the Late Eemian Aridity Pulse (LEAP) at the end-Eemian, Sirocko et al (A late Eemian aridity pulse in central Europe during the last glacial inception, nature, vol. 436, 11 August 2005, doi:10.1038/nature03905, pp 833-836) opine:

    “Investigating the processes that led to the end of the last interglacial period is relevant for understanding how our ongoing interglacial will end, which has been a matter of much debate…..

    “The onset of the LEAP occurred within less than two decades, demonstrating the existence of a sharp threshold, which must be near 416 Wm2, which is the 65oN July insolation for 118 kyr BP (ref. 9). This value is only slightly below today’s value of 428 Wm2. Insolation will remain at this level slightly above the inception for the next 4,000 years before it then increases again.” http://www.particle-analysis.eu/LEAP_Nature__Sirocko+Seelos.pdf

    The good news is that we only need to navigate about the next ~4,000 years or so until “Insolation will remain at this level slightly above the inception for the next 4,000 years before it then increases again.” The bad news is that if “we” are right about CO2/GHGs and scrub them from the late Holocene atmosphere quick-smart, we might miss skipping over glacial inception and have another MIS-11 type “extended interglacial” of Loutre and Berger (2003) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921818102001868

    And wouldn’t that be a shame?

    GHGs either can or cannot mitigate glacial inception. It is no more complicated or simple than that. Period.

    a) If GHGs can get us over the next ~4,000 years of glacial inception risk, then why are we having this discussion at all?

    b) If GHGs can’t vault us across the next ~4,000 years of glacial inception risk, then why are we having this discussion at all?

    Welcome to the Dark Side of Climate Change/mitigation/adaptation/etc………

  21. The distinction between adaptation and mitigation is meaningless once the risk has been identified.

    A risk, once identified, is treated with risk mitigation options. One of the risk mitigation options is to adapt — that is considered the “no-brainer” option to take. Of course we will at least adapt, or die trying. Therefore you have identified the risk and only are treating the measures to be taken.

    Again climate skeptics score an own goal with their striking inability to reason logically.

    • Step one: identify the risk

      • Fools who don’t want tp deal with their spew into the atmosphere and oceans.

      • the wabbett, with his attempt at meaningless ear fwappery, gets pwned by his own keyboard. Priceless!

      • Doing a run around of cretins whose stock in trade is disinformation and dissimulation is the game. The choice is not between action and inaction but failure and success.

        Rather than the epic fail of Kyoto – the way forward involves a high growth and high energy strategy focused on global development and energy innovation and achieving incidental but real progress on social and environmental issues.

    • First define adaptation and mitigation. Mitigation is the reduction of carbon dioxide emission – both missing the point of multi-gas temissions and land use factors and failing epically. Adaptation is to anthropogenic climate change – seemingly minor – and natural variations – seemingly major.

      We can always count to webby get it wrong and add a whine about those he arbitrarily defines as sceptics. I have nothing but profound contempt both for his character and intellect.

      It is always a wonder to me what his intention here is if not simply to whine about the targets of his pathetic attempts to gain a fleeting frisson of self affirmation. To fell superior for a brief moment but needing ever greater validation. He is a case study for a delusional state stemming from fundamental insecurities translating into a tribal dynamic. The group memes are group enforced and inflexible and the identification and subsequent denigration and dehumanization of the other is a necessary element.

      • As he most certainly realizes, I wrote a Wiley Press book on reliability modeling with chapters on calculating risk in terms of potential failures. That is called system effectiveness. Although quite subjective, one can calculate the effectiveness of risk mitigation strategies by multiplying the risk by the cost and determining whether a specific strategy is worth pursuing. Adaptation as a risk mitigation strategy could carry either a heavily discounted present value cost or an extremely high future value cost.

        All I ever do is point out the facts and apply logic to the situation — which apparently is foreign to the stalker of oz.

      • He must mistake me for someone who gives a rat’s arse. I have done actual environmental risk assessment for multi-billion dollar projects. We usually talk about probabilities of occurrence and consequences – and the product gives risk.

        This is a different thing to mitigation and adaptation – which in relation to climate are as I have defined above. You just don’t get to pull definitions like these out of your arse.

        Webby is not capable of rational and honest discourse so no point in going there.

      • Yea sure, citations available in AmericanThinker, the reactionary right-wing rag sheet.

      • I do have other credits in other right wing rags – including the Environmental Engineer. But yes – I admit – I am working on another couple of articles with American Thinker, one on offshore coal loading for a local paper and a formal science review type submission.

        http://watertechbyrie.com/2014/06/23/the-unstable-math-of-michael-ghils-climate-sensitivity/

        Thus citations. Now that I am semi-retired I am even working on a science fiction movie script called Galactic General and the occasional love poem.

        Love Song for a Daisy

        The low winter sun casts a
        diffuse light through low cloud
        glowing silver off blustery seas

        Charming and pretty young girls
        run and jump on the shore where
        I gather with old men and sip coffee.

        I have lived my life by – and reflect on – a
        simple refrain – in the end times – the
        young have visions and old men dreams.

        I dream you dance me to the end of love.

        My talents as a writer stand in stark contrast to webby’s clumsy and ungrammatical expressions.

        I referred to this in American Thinker – http://www.americanthinker.com/2007/11/enso_variation_and_global_warm.html – only because it predicts the pause in 2007. Although it was evident well before then. I was talking about it with leading Australian hydrologists in 2003.

        Webby understands none of it and quite amusingly calls it skepticism. Nothing skeptical about it – it is the most modern paradigm of climate science.

        It seems less than relevant – however – to definitions of adaptation and mitigation as it relates to climate change. So I can’t really comment.

      • Wow, apparently the guy is publishing even more stuff in the American Thinker, a magazine devoted to Obama bashing. Scared of peer review I see.

      • Well one on the uncertainty monster and dissensus and one on abrupt climate change.

        I did talk to an American friend just after Obama’s first election. He said that Obama was just another politician. I thought it was an important symbolic victory. But generally I don’t know enough about American politics to care.

        Not impressed with my love song? No accounting for lack of sensibility.

      • WEB,

        Please define the “extremely high future value cost” of adaptation.

        On second thought, never mind. You can’t without making stuff up. That must be the “quite subjective” part you were referring to.

  22. Adaptation and mitigation are procrustian beds for dealing with climate change. Eli Rabett’s Five Fold Way is a more realistic listing of things to be done

    Adaptation to deal with the damage already done
    Amelioration, eliminating harmful effects of our actions
    Conservation with needed and desired but not wasteful usage
    Substitution of green systems for destructive ones
    Mitigation reversing our thoughtless abuse

    The key on adaptation is that adapting to something that is continually worsening is not a useful thing to do

    • The reality is that natural variability far exceeds anything we have seen in the 20th century. We can be quite quantitative about that as I have been above. This makes adaptation to natural variability the core concern of rational policy.

      Rational social policy aims at a high growth and high energy future.

      e.g. http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/programs/energy-and-climate/our-high-energy-planet

      Within the context of social, economic development – health, education, sanitation, water, trade, agriculture, conservation – and energy innovation are the seeds of real progress to a bright future for humanity this century.

      • Rob said

        ‘The reality is that natural variability far exceeds anything we have seen in the 20th century. We can be quite quantitative about that as I have been above. This makes adaptation to natural variability the core concern of rational policy.’

        As you know I continually point this out in my articles and comments. However any event older than the reader appears to be classed as a ‘historical anecdote’ and is ignored no matter the evidence.

        We are living in benign times so any extreme event-bearing in mind our failure to grasp history-is seen as ‘unprecedented.’

        tonyb

      • The reality is that natural variability far exceeds anything we have seen in the 20th century

        The recent all quiet event with the sun,is a good example of excursions exceeding observations over recent times,with the rotations exploring deeper valleys (albeit for short periods) then previously assumed.

      • What groups have suffered damage due to ACO2? Who are they and what specifically was the damage done?

    • Eli

      Yes, very nice and all that, but largely irrelevant if you believe natural variability overwhelms mans efforts. Which is not to say that we don’t need more mitigation as a matter of course, as we live in a benign climate at present which can only be a passing phase in the great scheme of things.

      tonyb

    • It’s something that might (or might not) be continually worsening due to some extra ACO2, but it happens so slowly, adaptation is the best choice. Before one can mitigate, there has to be demonstrable damage, damage with certain attribution.

      This is the standard for litigation in the US. You must prove the defendant did it and that the act did damage as well.

      The US couldn’t be sued for damages due to “climate change” because the proof is lacking.

    • Rabbit’s been nibbling on something besides carrots.

  23. Adaptation requires that specific effects associated with specific causes be accurately identified in order to ensure that correctly focused adaptive measures will be applied. And these will generally be confined to specific spatial locations and time periods.

    Lack of specificity with respect to proven causes and effects, and associated location and time, will guarantee failure. A debacle of the magnitude that top-down so-called mitigation has proven to be.

    Have any such specific causes and effects been identified?

    • You will need to ask our: Government Accountability Office, about that question.

    • Dan – Exactly!

      Your argument also applies to mitigation. Who has been harmed by ACO2? What was the harm?

      With adaptation, which occurs already, one simply adapts to changing conditions. And the cause doesn’t matter.

      For example, the California drought. Some there are saying people will have to leave the state due to declining water supplies. That would be an adaptive measure. Another possibility would be to put in desalinization plants like Israel has. California has attempted this, but failed IIRC. If we has small, modular, nuclear reactors; this would be a great application for them.

      Adaptation circumvents all the accusations and puffery and, most importantly, politics; and moves directly to the heart of the issue.

      • Environmentalists still aren’t happy with Israel’s water policies, even though they recycle sewage to water crops. Environmentalists need to take a hike. Israels water technology is the best in the world.
        From the article linked previously:
        “The Israeli plants, mostly located along the coast, operate at high energy efficiency and are some of the most cost-efficient in the world, when measured against similar plants in other countries, according to official figures. Desalinated water at the Soreq plant is produced at the price of 52 cents a cubic meter, according to terms of a government tender, and while actual rates fluctuate according to energy costs, currency exchange and the cost-of-living index, they remain significantly lower than in other nations.

        But environmental experts caution that desalination has its costs, among them high energy consumption from power plants that emit greenhouse gases, use of scarce land on Israel’s crowded seacoast, and emission of highly concentrated saline water and chemicals into the ocean, with unclear environmental consequences.

        “In Israel, environmental costs are not taken into account when calculating the costs of desalinated water,” said Nurit Kliot, a professor of environmental studies at Haifa University.

        Gidon Bromberg, Israeli director of Friends of the Earth Middle East, a regional environmental group, said desalination should be part of integrated water policy that included conservation and use of solar energy to power desalination plants.

        “A level of desalination is absolutely necessary because the population of this region has gone way beyond the carrying capacity of natural water resources, but desalination needs to be brought in not as the first option, but as the last option,” Bromberg said.

        “Water conservation is now out the window,” Bromberg noted, lamenting the suspension of the campaign to save water.

        Bromberg said the government needs to encourage efficient water use by reducing water subsidies for farming and by regulating crops to avoid those that require heavy irrigation, such as tropical fruits.

        In addition, he said, Israel is still at “an infant stage” when it comes to recycling what is known as gray water from sinks, showers and baths for use in toilets or gardens.”

      • Desalination is an excellent synergy with energy plants, where it can use the waste heat with little cost to energy output. This is especially true for solar power, which could, in turn, be used for things like air-conditioning, which tends to be proportional to the rate of solar energy available, or pumping this purified water to where it’s needed, which, like the desalination itself, could be intermittent, depending on available sunlight.

        By making use of these synergies, energy generation could be made far more cost-effective, especially with combined fossil-solar generating. Doubly so if electrolytic energy storage (hydrogen or sodium, using fuel cells to recover energy when needed) could be combined with O2-fed fossil-burning technology to reduce the cost of CO2 capture.

      • Bromberg said the government needs to encourage efficient water use by reducing water subsidies for farming and by regulating crops to avoid those that require heavy irrigation, such as tropical fruits.

        I’ll note that greenhouses can conserve water, potentially as much as 99.9% through cooling/recycling. And assuming they use cold salt water cleverly as the cool side, they can actually produce lots more than they consume.

        And most of the technology is already (semi-)mature, already in use in “seawater greenhouses”, a similar use of technology.

  24. Pingback: Montgomery’s Testimony to Senate | Duck Paws!

  25. Phil Brisley

    “Economists who have studied climate change generally agree that rational adaptation can substantially reduce the potential damage from climate change, and that in an institutional setting that does not distort the natural economic incentives to avoid risk, the private sector is quite capable of adopting many appropriate responses on its own.”

    Same old, same old. This statement assumes high sensitivity. What about low sensitivity? Observations appear to support low sensitivity. Assume low sensitivity and the climate change problem goes away. Yes? No?

  26. For people who are interested in the economics of this phenomenon and are looking for someone thinking outside the box I refer you to the work of Richard A. Epstein.

    Global Warming and the State with Richard Epstein

    Carbon Dioxide: Our Newest Pollutant
    Richard A. Epstein 2010
    Abstract
    Ever since the controversial Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts
    v. EPA, carbon dioxide has been treated as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act.
    This article argues that this decision was wrong as a matter of statutory
    construction and sound as a matter of sound social policy: the CAA is the
    wrong vehicle to deal with either carbon dioxide or global warming. On the
    present state of the evidence, the case for strong restraints on carbon dioxide emissions has not been made. The evidence in favor of the close linkage between carbon dioxide and global warming has not been clearly established and domestic American initiatives are in any event likely to produce no discernible reduction in carbon dioxide levels in the absence of any agreement that binds other nations, especially China and India. In the short term at least an approach of watchful waiting seems preferable to any massive initiative. In the interim, efforts to deal with other greenhouse gases and to encourage wide spread technological improvements are more attractive policy alternatives.
    Paper is availabe to download as a PDF
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1660680

    Takings: Private Property and the Power of Eminent Domain
    by Richard A. Epstein
    Available at Amazon.com

  27. David Springer

    Montgomery has a keen understanding of the issues. Good article.

  28. Judith, thanks for this post as well as the Lomborg post.

    I watched the entire hearing. It underscored several things that are obvious by now:
    – This has become hopelessly politicized with majority and minority witnesses.
    – The majority witnesses were all basically lobbyists and government bureaucrats advocating for the government to spend lots of money to help their clients stay profitable.
    – Montgomery and Lomborg did an admirable job of presenting logic and reason.
    – The standard line for the CAGW crowd is that “we are seeing the effects of global warming all around us in more intense hurricanes, drought, floods, forest fires, heat waves, cold waves, whatever”. It doesn’t seem to matter how many experts say that this isn’t so or that the IPCC says it’s not so as well.
    – The political process is our best hope of getting things less wrong. It’s time to through the dumb asses out.

    • Mark,
      “It’s time to through the dumb asses out.”
      Mark,
      “It’s time to through the dumb asses out.”
      Long overdue. Let’s do it!! But who will replace them? I think there are several good people out there but the power of the President is way way beyond where it should be and the office is embroiled in far too many things. Congress also has far far too much power. What we need more than new people is a much much smaller government that can take care of the business it was given a mandate for and stay the hell out of what it has no mandate for. I can hear the screams at just the suggestion with every special interest pleading that the world will go straight to hell without their department, funding, power. We need a Cincinnatus to cure us of this addiction to an ever growing Federal Leviathan.

  29. Montgomery’s knowledge of the way poor countries work is is more appropriate than government’s, so I think his advice should be followed.

  30. WordPress really needs to have an edit function. :(

  31. From the testimony re-posted aboveTo the extent that these conflicts affect U.S. national interests, a much wiser investment would be in a sufficiently strong military to deal with threats to us and humanitarian interventions around the world.

    The advice here: Let’s spend money on a stronger military (which as the largest part of our Federal Budge already, means lots of money) to deal with the threats of our ongoing radical alteration of the atmosphere, rather than first, or even simultaneously, working to lessen our radical alteration of the atmosphere.

    Let alone that working to lessen our radical alteration would be beneficial anyway in terms of moving to better, and (aside from atmospheric change) otherwise less polluting forms of energy, and that we can motivate the market to do this (more quickly) and do it in a way that is net neutral, rather than spend hundreds of billions of dollars on more military.

    Maybe this is just a veiled plea for both more military spending, and for no redress of Climate Change. But in terms of measuring it as a strategic assessment for how to most effectively deal with it as it is ostensibly (and posted above as), it’s a different story.

    Also, the idea that we can’t do anything on our own is common, but misplaced. The world wants to solve this, or at least ameliorate it, or lessen the most radical outcomes. China is the leading contributor now, ahead of us, but we’re still leaders per capita, by far I believe, and we have contributed more in total amounts than any other nation, and much of the world combined. This means how we act now has an enormous influence for that reason alone.

    We’re also, so much as there is one, the leader of the world, or a “leading” nation if not the leading nation. And from a strategic standpoint, as suggested here:

    In the absence of any serious problem mitigating effort rather than symbolic agreement (like Kyoto), it is probably strategically far more sound, to act unilaterally on this issue. And then, negotiate for far more from other (key nations, and so on), in return for a little more addition from ourselves. This is because, as a true global issue, they don’t get any real benefit if they don’t pitch in anyway, and first real movement both starts the process, and buys a lot of leverage that we otherwise don’t… remotely have.

    The benefits also compound with added effort (as does the harm from the lack therein), making the additional cooperation of other nations after our action of more, rather than less benefit to them, then if it was just along side our “promise” to, via a treaty alone.

    And again, they are far more prone to do so, and act a lot more than otherwise by way of treaty, if we acted first, and in a significant way. Even more so if we negotiate more in return for a small extra effort on our part. And then even more nations are apt to jump in and when doing so add more to the solution rather than to the problem.

    The idea that we can’t act because “other nations haven’t,” is a fundamental, strategic mistake.

    • Welcome to the clone wars.

    • John,

      Your statement about military spending being the largest part of the Federal budget is either misleading or dishonest.

      It makes up the largest portion of discretionary spending (55%). But is only 16% of the entire Federal budget. Social Security & Health care come in at 32.5% and 25%.

  32. David Springer

    John Carter… please outline how much you think the US can reduce its CO2 emissions, how it can be accomplished, the cost, and how much global warming such action will eliminate.

  33. For the record, the World Bank focuses on adaptation to climate change. By contrast, the Asian Development Bank focuses on mitigation of climate change by reduction of Greenhouse gases.

  34. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup | Watts Up With That?