Cold logic on climate change policy

by Judith Curry

Politically correct climate change orthodoxy has completely destroyed our ability to think rationally about the environment. – Richard Tol

Richard Tol as an essay at The American Interest entitled Hot Stuff, Cold Logic.  This is probably the most sensible overview on climate policy that I’ve encountered.  I encourage you to read the entire article, here are some excerpts:

Change, after all, can be for the better or the worse, and at any rate it is inevitable; there has never been a lengthy period of climate stasis.

Just as there is no logical or scientific basis for thinking that climate change is new, there is no self-evident reason to assume that the climate of the past is “better” than the climate of the future.

Others argue that the impacts of climate change are largely unknown but may be catastrophic. The precautionary principle thus enjoins that we should work hard, if not do our utmost, to avoid even the slim possibility of catastrophe. This logic works fine for one-sided risks.  Climate policy is about balancing risks, and there are risks to climate policies as well as risks caused by climate change.  So there is a cost to human well-being in constraining fossil fuel use.

What this means is that, instead of assuming the worst, we should study the impacts of climate change and seek to balance them against the negative effects of climate policy.  It is especially important to maintain an objective attitude toward the tradeoff between possible dangers and the costs of policy, because estimating the impacts of climate change has proven to be remarkably hard.

Besides, the faint signal of past climate change is drowned out by all the other things that have changed. Many things are changing, often much faster than the climate, and in ways that confound all unifactoral explanations potentially relevant to policy.

Studies, assessed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its latest report, that have used such methods find that the initial, net impacts of climate change are small (about 1 percent of income) and may even be positive.

In the long run, however, negative impacts may surge ahead of positive ones.  The long-run impacts are what matter most for policy. The climate responds only slowly to changes in emissions, and emissions respond only slowly to changes in policy. The climate of the next few decades is therefore largely beyond our control. It is only in the longer term that our choices affect climate change, and by then its impacts are likely to be negative on net. This implies that climate change is an economic problem, and that if economics could be rid of politics, greenhouse gas emissions should be taxed.

The question is therefore not whether there is an economic case for climate policy; it’s how much emission reduction can be justified at given losses to social welfare. To answer that question, we need to understand the size of the impacts of climate change. The current evidence, weak and incomplete as it may be, as summarized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, suggests that a century worth of climate change is about as bad as losing a year of economic growth.

But even if we take this into account [worst case scenario], a century of climate change is not worse than losing a decade of growth. So if, as Bjørn Lomborg has been at pains to point out, we “spend” the equivalent of a decade of growth or more trying to mitigate climate change, we will not have spent wisely.

Climate change is a problem, but at least as an economics problem, it is certainly not the biggest problem humankind faces.

The best course of action is to slowly but surely move away from fossil fuels. Many disagree with this plan of action, of course, calling for a rapid retirement of fossil fuel use. Economically, their justification rests on assuming that we should care more about the future than we do in contexts other than climate change, that we should care more about small risks than we do, or that we should care more about poor people than we do.

If our resources were unlimited, we could do all things worthwhile. With a limited budget, we should focus on those investments with the greatest return.

These three examples—of coastal protection, agriculture, and malaria—show that development and vulnerability to climate change are closely intertwined. Slowing economic growth to reduce climate change may therefore do more harm than good. Concentrating the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in rich countries will not solve the climate problem. And slower growth in rich countries means less export from and investment in poor countries.

A fifth of official development aid is now diverted to climate policy. Money that used to be spent on strengthening the rule of law, better education for girls, and improved health care, for instance, is now used to plug methane leaks and destroy hydrofluorocarbons.

In sum, while climate change is a problem that must be tackled, we should not lose our sense of proportion or advocate solutions that would do more harm than good. Unfortunately, common sense is sometimes hard to find in the climate debate. Desmond Tutu recently compared climate change to apartheid. Climate experts Michael Mann and Daniel Kammen compared it to the “gathering storm” of Nazism in Europe before World War II. That sort of nonsense just gets in the way of a rational discussion about what climate policy we should pursue, and how vigorously we should pursue it.

JC comments

The American Interest is one of my favorite sources for policy analysis, and I follow Walter Russell Mead on Twitter.

Richard Tol is IMO one of the most interesting thinkers on the economics of climate change.

For my previous posts on climate change policy, see the policy tag.

577 responses to “Cold logic on climate change policy

  1. I can’t believe Tol wants to do something so stupid as try to frame climate change (global warming) in relation to other problems. What an id-jid-iot.
    (sarc off)

    • CO2 Greens the Planet

    • Large problems should be considered together. Global warming is closely linked to fossil fuel depletion. Unless we act in an intelligent fashion the price of energy will skyrocket in the future. And this really hurts the world economy. Therefore a cautious approach is desirable, and humanity does need to improve energy efficiency, which in turn happens to dovetail quite nicely with reductions in CO2 emissions.

      So the key is not to bog down too much in detailed analysis over attribution of CO2 emissions to global warming. All we need is to consider that it causes a portion of the warming, and excessive warming can raise sea level. On the other hand, we know that eventually the price of fossil fuel will have to go way up so we can afford to produce them. And eventually we reach a point when producing them just doesn’t make sense.

      The timing is unknown, but if we keep going in this direction we will run out of fossil fuels we can produce at a reasonable price. And sea level may just rise to an undesirable point. Thus Tol’s position is reasonable. We do need to get things in order.

      Finally, the planet is likely to enter into an ice age sometime in the future. We may need to save a little bit of fossil fuel reserves to allow us to raise co2 levels if that’s an option we need to exercise, to serve as a palliative to the extreme cold.

      • Fernando: You are making a number of extreme claims, which Tol (thankfully) is not making. That fossil fuel resources are finite is no reason to not use them. All resources are finite, including sunlight. Tol’s point is that we need to consider these facts in detail, which you do not do. Unfortunately Tol seems to claim to know more than is actually known, for example that our CO2 emissions will cause future damage. This is yet to be shown and may well not be true. The IPCC is not the last word, far from it.

  2. I long ago forgave Richard Tol, for he once thought the science was settled.
    ============

    • All the more to admire. Takes guts, real Judith Curry type guts. May be it’s time for a special climate change edition of “Profiles in Courage.”

    • Name me a sceptic who was never convinced and in almost every case they really aren’t a sceptic but a believer in some non-science.

      The big difference between sceptics and alarmists tends to be that we are more willing and able to admit we were wrong.

      • Nonsense

      • now THAT is a well-reasoned argument…

      • The big difference between sceptics and alarmists tends to be that we are more willing and able to admit we were wrong.

        On the assumption that the sceptics were right and the alarmists wrong, this makes no sense whatsoever. One therefore can only conclude the opposite.

        Perhaps you had something else in mind.

      • “Yer might just as well say,” said the Hatter, “that I
        see what I eat is the same thing as I eat what I see.”

        “Yer might just as well say, said the Scottish Sceptic,
        “that sceptics are more willing than alarmists ter admit
        they are wrong is the same thing as alarmists are
        more willing ter believe that they are right than sceptics.”
        :: ) ::

      • It’s usually the case that both sides are wrong – and revising with new data – or old data looked at new – leads in the right direction. In theory.

    • kim</b< | December 26, 2014 at 8:58 pm | Reply
      I long ago forgave Richard Tol, for he once thought the science was settled.

      When the science is settled it is called sediment – they core sample it and do proxy things to it.

      • Herewith another Cli-sci survey:

        Was Socrates wrong when he said that he ‘knew’ nothing? ( )
        Are sceptics wrong when they say that they ‘know’ nothing? ( )
        Is the climate science consensus wrong when they say that
        ‘the science is settled?’ ( )

    • I used to believe that too. That the science was settled. Until I watched warmie after warmie say it, but none could show it.

  3. What a sensible assessment.

    Pity that as a result of the vested interests in high places it hasn’t any chance of catching on…

    • Well, I’ve always been puzzled why the phony crisis about fossil fuels and global warming.

      Nobody technical thinks we will be using fossil fuels in large quantities a hundred years from now. Any slowdown in the growth of fossil fuels takes disaster scenarios off the table.

      Extraction and transport costs of fossil fuels make other sources inevitable.

      We are going to slowly wean ourselves off fossil fuels anyway. Why spend trillions doing a wasteful and unnecessary panic conversion?

      If we do this panic conversion it will only encourage the environmentunists and they will find another stupid idea to waste money on, and create more government control while lining the pockets of their fat cat billionaire backers.

      Only the political driven could

      • Even if CAGW turns out to be totally correct environmentalist and eco-loons are the last people on earth we should put in charge of trying to control earth’s climate.

      • PA, I hadn’t read your comment when I wrote something similar. But you sure write more concisely and made the point much better.

      • I would be ashamed if humans were still heavily dependent on present fossil-fuel energy sources in a hundred years time. And I am ashamed that we are hesitating to use and enjoy those energy sources in the present.

        This is the hazard of attending to those claiming expertise in stuff which hasn’t happened yet (looking at you, econ and eco people): We are exhorted to leave a rich harvest in the field and scrabble for weeds because someone predicts a future scarcity. Bismarck called this mentality suicide for fear of death.

        I call it impious.

      • Scrabbling fer weeds, serfs hate that.

  4. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    BREAKING NEWS
    Sea level has actually flattened since 2006

    asserts researcher Roger Pielke Sr!

    Oh wait. That was back in 2009. False alarm.

    Sea-level rise has since resumed.

    Conclusion  Scientifically and economically speaking, Climate Etc readers are well advised to head James Hansen’s thermodynamical “cold logic” in regard to climate-change dynamics.

    Similarly, economic analyses that don’t look several centuries ahead aren’t worth much, are they?

    \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}

    • So what if sea level is rising. By much are you willing to damage the global economy and human well-being implementing policies you believe will slow sea level rise, but you haven’t a shred of evidence such policies would succeed?

      How much are you prepared to forsake future human well being for the sake of your silly cultist beliefs?

    • Well, the sea level in the MWP was six inches higher.

      Either the global temperature is significantly colder than the MWP or the sea level is going to get 6 inches higher.

      So many people are convinced the current temperatures match the MWP that I expect the sea level to keep rising.

      • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

        A long time ago a large part of Oklahoma was under water. I don’t know anyone who believes that would be good in the future.

      • Well…

        This is the usual warmist argument that the 1980-2000 trend will continue forever unless we do something.

        That viewpoint is simply wrong. We are about as warm as the MWP – so the sea level will hit the MWP sea level.

        The claims that CO2 is driving sea level through melting this or heating that can’t even be evaluated until we reach the sea level appropriate for the current temperature.

        Satellite estimates and tide gauges disagree on the rate of sea level rise. Either the way tide gauges measured sea level is desperately wrong or the way satellite data is interpreted and adjusted is desperately wrong. Until we can agree on how to measure the sea level accurately discussions of sea level are pretty pointless.

        It gets back to the weather instrument problem – you need consistency so you should match to the previous measuring system. The satellite data processors should be given the choice of matching the tide gauge trend or being fired.

      • Max
        I think most people now would be happy if Oklahoma was flooded in the future, as long as it is not in our future or even worse now.
        BTW virtually all off the world has been hat the bottom of the sea numerous times in the past and no doubt will be in the future, including lucky Oklahoma.

      • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

        So you foresee people developing gills?

      • if Sea Level was 6 inches higher during the MWP, it then went down because during a warm period, it snow more and put the water back on land as ice. That is happening and will happen in this warm period. Sea level will go down, the ice on land will advance again and cool the earth and turn off the snowfall during the next little ice age.
        http://popesclimatetheory.com/page76.html

      • Not true Max, I’ve been to Oklahoma.

      • mikerestin | December 27, 2014 at 3:28 pm |
        Not true Max, I’ve been to Oklahoma.

        “Well I’ve never been to Spain, but I kind of like the music…”

      • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist | December 27, 2014 at 12:05 pm |
        “So you foresee people developing gills?”
        Well people still have the remnants of gills as embryo’s [ontology] and most Oklahoman’s can talk underwater so maybe they can redevelop given a slow enough and long enough rise.

    • Thanks for your apt illustration of Tol’s point, Fan. The problem is, we already knew you are unable to think rationally about the issue.

    • The sea level rise is the straightest graph in all of climate sciencedom. About a foot a century. Straighter than the handle of Michael Mann’s hockey stick.

      • “The sea level rise is the straightest graph in all of climate sciencedom.”

        My sceptic instinct says it is too straight. You wouldn’t believe they’d cheat, do you?

    • @ A Fan

      Guess what? I really don’t think an SLR of a foot in a century is worth bothering very much about.

      I ain’t going to lose much sleep over it. Neither should you. It’s trivial.

      • Richard S.J. Tol

        But, Latimer, don’t you know you can drown in a foot of water?

      • @richard tol

        ‘But, Latimer, don’t you know you can drown in a foot of water?’

        Sure.

        I also know the River Thames goes up and down about 10 feet every 6 hours outside my office window. An extra foot in a century ain’t going to be a big problem.

        And if you’ve ever watched the famous Oxford vs Cambridge Boat Race that starts just by Putney Bridge you’ll know that the course is called ‘The Tideway’. That’s a clue!

      • We, not particularly Montmorency or I, did get a helmet. Long story.
        ====================

      • Sea level rise is a concern for those of us who own property near sea level. Governments may raise local taxes to build improved sea walls, pour more sand on beaches and things like that.

      • Since this latest dribble of sea level rise began back in the late 1700s, it’s very odd that anyone would try to tax or trade it back down. But these are odd times, I suppose. Seems the Nile priesthood is alive and well in academe and government.

        You could have walked from Victoria to Tasmania not that long ago, in climate terms. Have to live with some variable sea level rise, I’m afraid, if you want to live on this particular planet.

      • @Fernando Leanme

        ‘Sea level rise is a concern fro those of us who own property near sea level’

        Sure. If I lived within a foot of high tide, I’d be pretty concerned too. But its really a local issue for a (relatively) small number of people. Many live nowhere near the sea and it isn’t at all clear that the vast majority should be penalised/taxed to attempt to reduce some unfortunate circumstances for a few.

      • Makes you wonder why any alarmist would buy sea front property. Even their most extreme solutions to their imaginary problem does not see mitigation in the near term. Only the complete eradication of Man could stop the coming Anschluss. And so far, none have advocated that.

      • Mr. Adler
        That looks like Putney Bridge at low tide. Further downstream at Waterloo Bridge, 20 foot tide is a regular feature.

      • I just saw the rest of your comment below the photo. Few years ago, my car got flooded on the slope edge in the front of the Isis’ boat club (my younger daughter was a member of one of their girls crew).

    • nottawa rafter

      Under the category of news that really is not news, Fan introduces a graph we have seen thousands of times that shows what has been true for 20 years, that global mean sea level is still going up at 3.2 mm/yr, without any sign of an acceleration in the rate of rise.

      Let me know, Fan, when the rate of rise begins to accelerate. That will indeed be news.

    • With one sentence Fan sums up everything that is wrong with letting boys and girls in white coats near the command console:

      “…economic analyses that don’t look several centuries ahead aren’t worth much, are they?”

      The hubris is breathtaking. Anyone who can believe such a thing, let alone carve it permanently into the Internet, is capable of any idiocy. Fan, I suppose you will now show us the original results where Ben Franklin foresaw the WTO or where Karl Marx traced the rise of the petroleum industry. Even better, show us where the Great Leap Forward puts China in 2150.

      • There’s a wider point here as well. Those who advocate short-term policy in every other area of economics (debt, monetary, unfunded welfare commitments etc.,etc) become proponents of century long time horizons when it comes to climate policy.The great Keynesian mantra that “in the long run, we are all dead” ceases to apply. Concern for descendants becomes relevant.

        Similarly, low probability, high impact, risks which pervade modern economies (fiat money, fractional reserve banking etc) are not a cause for the ‘precautionary principle’. But uncertain, poorly specified, climate risk is.
        Go figure.

    • Fan the seas have been rising since the end of the last ice age and will continue to rise until the beginning of the next ice age

    • Fan

      I seem to remember that in 2014 you tried to assert that the rise in sea level between 2011 and 2013 was confirmation of hansens belief that sea level rise was accelerating.

      As the chart shows, that was nonsense then and it remains nonsense today
      It would be useful if you took your own advice about time scales and recognised that the last high level stand of sea levels was around 1580 and levels have been rising for some 300 Years
      Tonyb

    • Ooh, at 3.2 mm per year, we’ll have to put on high heels in 100 years. Assuming the increase stays linear, which it hasn’t even in the 100 years of records that exist.
      If there is one commonality between fools – it is the linear extrapolation of present trends into the future.

  5. I largely agree with Richard Tol’s economic analysis.

    But “Politically correct climate change orthodoxy has completely destroyed our ability to think rationally about the environment” puts the cart before the horse, I think.

    The reach of our economic growth and the extent of occupational specializations afforded since the advent of the industrial revolution has generated a large fraction of the populace that is actually completely removed from the environment.

    Once we step outside of out fossil fuel-heated, or cooled, “environment”, the real environment is still a real threat to our wealth and well being. If they really needed to think rationally about it, then they would. But large swathes of the populace increasingly don’t need to know about the technical details of “the environment” and how we defeated it, or how we keep it at arm’s length.

    We adopt the morality and ethics that we can afford, and thanks largely to fossil fuels the chattering classes can afford more than most. Much Cli-Sci has the thinnest groundings in the sciences. It caters for formerly would have been Arts students who went looking for a higher purpose.

    Happy New Year.

    • Michael Hart,

      “the real environment is still a real threat to our wealth and well being.”

      That is your belief. But I am not persuaded it is correct, not am I persuaded that it is a catastrophic threat. I am convinced we will cute global GHG emissions this century, despite the CAGW alarmists blocking progress on the very policies that will be needed.

      Until you and other who share your views engage with people like me and address the questions we pose, I simply dismiss all their statements of their beliefs as the beliefs of the CAGW cult followers.

  6. I haven’t haven’t read the post yet, but I totally agree with Richard Tol’s point:

    “Politically correct climate change orthodoxy has completely destroyed our ability to think rationally about the environment. ”

    I just received a book “Who invented what when”. I haven’t read it yet either. But just a flick through shows what an enormous amount of important thinks the English invented through the 18th and 9th centuries.

    Why were they so successful? Why so much more successful than anyone else. And why don’t we invent as much now?

    I suspect the trend back to to cultism, political correctness, soft science, social science, and undoing The Enlightenment is what’s going on.

    And the “educators” are most ly using public funded education ans an opportunity to propagate their ideological and cultist beliefs.

    I suspect it will all change after the New Year.

    Richard Tol, I believe you’ve spent a bit of time in England. :) Why was it so much successful than any where else? and why has the rate of inventions slowed in the developed world compared with back in the 18th and 19th centuries?

    • Richard S.J. Tol

      Peter: The reason why the Brits invented so much is simple: The industrial revolution started there. The reason why the industrial revolution started in Great Britain is hotly debated, and if I had a definite answer I’d be looking forward to a trip to Stockholm.

      I don’t think we’re any less inventive now than we were then. Recent inventions do not benefit from hindsight and nostalgia, however. If you read contemporary commentary on, say, the steam engine, people weren’t much impressed either.

      • Richard – ” The reason why the industrial revolution started in Great Britain is hotly debated, and if I had a definite answer I’d be looking forward to a trip to Stockholm.”

        I wonder if English patent law, the legal system to enforce it, and the size of the British empire within which the law can be enforced have something to do with it.

        Great post, btw…

      • Joel Mokyr has argued that the unique aspect of the British industrial revolution is that vested interests threatened by it were not allowed to crush it and that instead the government acted in support of the new entrepreneurs. (You see quite different behavior in China, which seemed to have many of the prerequisites for a technological takeoff much earlier.) Deirdre McCloskey has a theory about an early shift in Northwest Europe in rhetoric and thought about the virtues of entrepreneurship and innovation and accumulation. Gregory Clark thinks that some sort of selective breeding pressure in England worked differently from other countries so that a different sort of person rose to prominence who had different abilities and drives. Pinning down historical causation is always fraught because you’re basically making counterfactual arguments–“if this hadn’t happened, things would have looked like this”–which are pretty hard to prove, although some can be made more plausible than others.

      • Stephen Segrest

        Richard Tol — What is your data source for the comment (and what are the largest aid components/categories):

        “A fifth of official development aid is now diverted to climate policy”

      • Richard S.J. Tol

        Stephen: That data is from OECD-DAC.

      • Richard Tol: “If you read contemporary commentary on, say, the steam engine, people weren’t much impressed either.”

        Not everyone Richard. “The Steam Engine Explained and Illustrated” written in the 1840’s by Dionysius Lardner contains a few fascinating paragraphs on the likely effect of railroad construction on the economy of London. Effects included conversion of land from support of London horses to people, increase in price competition due to expanded area with market access to London, increased circulation, and so forth. But mostly it was reutilization of the immense amount of land needed to feed the million horses in London, how pre-steam haulage time and expense demanded that the land be nearby, and that this land, by that use, was precluded from growing food for people.

      • Richard S.J. Tol: “… if I had a definite answer I’d be looking forward to a trip to Stockholm.”
        Try “Liberty”.
        It will, however, be rejected: Peter, Laurence J., and Raymond Hull. “Peter Principle.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, July 3, 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Peter_Principle&oldid=560815577.

      • Some factors that gave Britain the industrial revolution lead:
        1) They had coal.
        2) They were already big big maritime power (trade)
        3) They had a banking system that the king could not raid, so money was safe there (in France etc whenever there was a war the king would simply go get money from the banks. So London was a banking center BEFORE the industrial revolution
        4) They were an early leader in widespread education
        5) at the time they had a labor shortage, so technologies paid off by increasing efficiency
        By the way, the government did not really encourage all of this. They stood in the way just like always, just not as extremely as in other places. They backed old industries and discouraged new ones but the new industries made money so fast it didn’t matter much.

      • Abraham Darby invented the coke fired blast furnace, in coalbrookedale, and the Midlands had coal, coke and limestone in abundance.
        I stood inside it as a child, when it was in a field. They now have build a museum around it. The Blackcountry Museum is also worth a look.

        The majority of books that were first printed were self-help manuals; how to farm, how to build, how to seek well water, e.t.c.

    • Peter – “why has the rate of inventions slowed in the developed world compared with back in the 18th and 19th centuries?”

      Is that true? I think Europe and North America is still innovating, but enforcing patents in China is a problem. I could be wrong…

      • Justin,
        I think the annual number of innovation and invention episodes is increasing rapidly. The rate per unit of population is probably increasing as well as more people have time not consumed by obtaining subsistence – think Chinese and Indians, Africans too.
        Rate of patent awards may not be a good metric as the velocity of development in many areas is so swift that patent application isn’t worth the effort and might only lock in rights to interim development which would publicize the iterations without providing any thing of value, the value of protection not being thought worth the cost of the publication.

        And all of the above does not take into account the increased rapidity of development enabled by internet collaboration often among strangers – strangers with similar interests doing similar projects.

        It’s not surprising though that people not involved in such activities would be unaware of them.

      • The rate of inventions has not slowed. I like to think about what the world looks like to people in 100 year increments. If you were to get in a time machine and grab a person from 1500 and transport them to 1600, the world probably looks pretty similar. 1600 to 1700, a little change. even 1700 to 1800 the world would still be recognizable. But if you took someone from 1800 to 1900 the world would have changed radically. And from 1900 to 2000 the civilized world has changed in ways that were unimaginable.

      • Dick Hertz: I think if you look closely at the history of technology you will find that each hundred year increment is quite large. It is far from clear that the pace of change has increased in the last 500 years. For example, the gun and the stove were huge inventions. It can even be argued that the more primitive people are the bigger their inventions can be. But we have no way to measure this that I know of, so it may be meaningless.

    • Scotland actually. James Watt is the reason.

      http://www.gutenberg.org/files/26131/26131-h/26131-h.htm

      James Watt
      By Andrew Carnegie
      New York
      Doubleday, Page & Company
      1905

      • It’s as compluhcated as climate’s interacting systems,
        can’t identify a single trigger. Agricultural Revolution,
        Scottish enlightenment, population increase, growth of
        cities,end of primogeniture inheritance, finances,
        tinkering in the cotton industry,pragmatism, coal and
        steam technology …

      • PS While coal was not a take off factor in the Industrial
        Revolution it was coal that fuelled the so called second
        Industrial Revolution in the 1860’s when ‘renewables’
        would not have been able to power the mills and forges
        and the railways. Without Ol’ King Cole the Industrial
        Revolution would jest have run out of steam.

    • Real simple: sheep and sights for hydro and a tremendous need for textiles. By the time steam came around, there were 100s of thousands of machines in operation in things called factories that were shipping goods all over the world. By wind.

      If there had been no coal on the face of the earth, there was already an Industrial Revolution.

      Slater the Traitor also beat coal to the punch in America.

    • Why were [the inventors of the 18th and 19th centuries] so successful? Why so much more successful than anyone else. And why don’t we invent as much now?

      Excellent point. Since the 19th century with its steam engines, the telephone, manhole covers, the Edison phonograph, the Thomas Crapper toilet, and hot air balloons, only rubbish has been invented, such as special and general relativity, quantum mechanics, heavier-than-air flight, atom bombs, streamlined automobiles, jet planes, hydrogen bombs, vacuum tubes (Brit: valves), AM radio, FM radio, fuel injection, television, microwave ovens, computers, core memories, operating systems, germanium transistors, programming languages, silicon transistors, SUVs, the Internet, parallel computing, digital photography, flash memories, artificial intelligence, public key cryptography, DNA forensics, streaming video, and autonomous vehicles. All rubbish, of no value to anyone compared with the inventions of the 19th century, right?

  7. Rhetorical games.

    ==> “Just as there is no logical or scientific basis for thinking that climate change is new,

    There are logical and scientific reasons for thinking that the current rate of climate change might be unprecedented.

    ==> ” there is no self-evident reason to assume that the climate of the past is “better” than the climate of the future.”

    And there is no self-evident reason to assume that the climate of the future won’t be worse than the climate of the past.

    This next one is beautiful:

    ==> “Others argue that the impacts of climate change are largely unknown but may be catastrophic. The precautionary principle thus enjoins that we should work hard, if not do our utmost, to avoid even the slim possibility of catastrophe. This logic works fine for one-sided risks. Climate policy is about balancing risks, and there are risks to climate policies as well as risks caused by climate change….

    Ok, An appeal to uncertainty in the first four sentences of the paragraph. Respecting uncertainty is good…

    Wait, what’s this?:

    ==>? “… So there is a cost to human well-being in constraining fossil fuel use”

    Oops. Mr. Monster, while hanging in there in the first four sentences, just ups and walks out of the room for the fifth sentence. Just ups and walks right out of the room. Disappears. Made tracks. Makes like a banana and splits. Makes like a tree and leaves. He’s outta here. Gone baby gone. Packed up the truck, Chuck. Hopped on the bus, Gus.

    This is par for the course with Tol. And it continues throughout the entire piece.

    This is advocacy, Judith.

    His rhetoric is an insult to your arguments respecting uncertainty, Judith.

    • Joshua’s New Year’s Resolution:

      Stop trolling

      Phew! Only four more days of it. What a relief that will be.

      • Heh – the Freudian slip strikes again:

        You should know by now that I have [NOT] suggested, let alone argued, otherwise.

    • OMG! The little clown is doubling down on the unintentional irony, again. Self-awareness is not his strong suit. Thanks, joshie. We lurve ya. Really.

    • “… So there is a cost to human well-being in constraining fossil fuel use”
      Oops. Mr. Monster, while hanging in there in the first four sentences, just ups and walks out of the room for the fifth sentence.”
      I think we have a good grasp on the economics of renewables. That’s old hat, like evaluating potential new products. Whether it’s going to rain or not is more difficult.

      • ==> “I think we have a good grasp on the economics of renewables. ”

        Really? What is the relative cost/benefit ratio of the externalities compared to fossil fuels? No uncertainty there?

        And which unvalidated and unverified economic models is it that you are using to get that good grasp? What’s the discount rate you’re using? Any uncertainty there?

        I’ve seen it argued by people who are quite knowledgeable and quite smart, that Tol’s economic projections are pretty much an outlier.

        Yet he recognizes no uncertainty – or check that, he recognizes it in only direction only.

        Ragnaar – I’m surprised. You’re generally more skeptical.

      • OMG! Don’t you have something better than that , joshie? Reach down into your little bag of trite tricks and pull out a well-worn card. You haven’t used the motivated reasoning BS, in the few minutes.

      • ‘Key Findings

        Renewable electricity generation from technologies that are commercially available today, in combination with a more flexible electric system, is more than adequate to supply 80% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2050 while meeting electricity demand on an hourly basis in every region of the country.

        Increased electric system flexibility, needed to enable electricity supply and demand balance with high levels of renewable generation, can come from a portfolio of supply- and demand-side options, including flexible conventional generation, grid storage, new transmission, more responsive loads, and changes in power system operations.

        The abundance and diversity of U.S. renewable energy resources can support multiple combinations of renewable technologies that result in deep reductions in electric sector greenhouse gas emissions and water use.

        The direct incremental cost associated with high renewable generation is comparable to published cost estimates of other clean energy scenarios. Improvement in the cost and performance of renewable technologies is the most impactful lever for reducing this incremental cost.’ http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/re_futures/

        So – yes – constraining fossil fuels has costs. What an odd little troll he is. We’re all for improving the bottom line of renewables btw.

      • ==> “So – yes – constraining fossil fuels has costs. ”

        He said that there is “a” cost – implying a net cost.

        Not that there are costs as well as benefits, the balance of which is immensely complicated to determine – which is what a non agenda-driven economist who stresses the recognition of uncertainty would be sure to clarify…in the name of rational decision-making in the face of uncertainty.

        Tol is an activist. That’s OK. Activism is good. It’s better when it is based on sound and balanced analysis, but there’s room advocates who use rhetorical spin to push an agenda also. It’s all good.

        But it is what it is. Skeptics don’t need to hide from that.

      • Joshua:
        I was looking at comparing two products. A wind turbine versus natural gas fired power plants. Old hat. Both have strengths and weaknesses and the economics of them are probably considered a problem we are comfortable with. We can do a break even analysis on a wind turbine to tell us when its paid back its purchase price in revenues earned. Deciding when to devote resources to a new product, that’s been done for a long time. As a model, I suppose I’d look at the German one. Seems like chaos over there with its electricity production. That’s a test we can do, have done. I suppose a few accountants over there have been fired.

      • Again Joshua demonstrates his inability to think rationally.

        ==> “I think we have a good grasp on the economics of renewables. ”
        Really? What is the relative cost/benefit ratio of the externalities compared to fossil fuels? No uncertainty there?

        If there are two options to meet requirements, and one is far better and cheaper in all important respect than the other, rational analysis says you choose the better and cheaper option.

        Why is that so hard to understand, Joshua?

        And to make it clear, renewables can make little contribution to cutting global GHG emissions, and only at high cost. Nuclear power can do much more and it’s been proven for decades. France has been generating 75% to 85% of its electricity from nuclear power for over 30 years. It’s electricity is near the cheapest in EU and it’s GHG emissions from electricity are 10% of Australia’s and 15% of Germany’s and Denmark’s (Germany and Denmark are the renewable energy advocates’ poster examples for renewables).

        You’d have to be incompetent at rational analysis – or gullible – to not be able to understand which option you should be advocating if you are concerned about reducing global GHG emissions.

      • Peter, if CO2 was ever the true central concern of alarmists and (groan) policy-makers, those nukes were built yesterday. (My groan was for the medieval absurdity of humans making up rules and procedures to caress uncontrollable nature into obedience.)

        Our problem in Oz is that the people who declared themselves to be “passionate” in their opposition to nukes and hydro back in the ’80s tend to be the same ones who are now “passionate” about fossil fuel alternatives.

        God save us from the passionate people.

      • Ragnaar –

        ==> “That’s a test we can do, have done.”

        The test is still in progress. The outcomes are uncertain.

      • OMG! Little joshie has floundered from trite to trivial. I am starting to feel sorry for the little fella.

      • Joshua:
        “An average household now pays an extra €260 ($355) a year to subsidise renewables…”
        “Cost is not the only problem with the Energiewende. It has in effect turned the entire German energy industry into a quasi-planned economy with perverse outcomes.”
        “In effect, the Energiewende has so far increased, not decreased, emissions of greenhouse gases.”
        http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21594336-germanys-new-super-minister-energy-and-economy-has-his-work-cut-out-sunny-windy-costly
        Seems right. Increase costs and get the opposite of the intended result. How long can the situation hold itself together? What we’re looking for is the system to shudder before it collapses and ends up in a new regime. I am part German so I have the best of wishes for them.

      • Joshua is double-counting. The argument that getting rid of fossil fuels would be costly is GROSS of externalities; those gross costs are to be compared to the externalities that Tol acknowledges. Joshua’s “argument” wants us to consider the externalities twice–once when doing the cost-benefit analysis and a second time to be subtracted from the costs. Bzzzzt. Thanks for playing.

      • Joshua, uncertainty does cut both ways.

        Also, unless externalities costs can be shown to be extremely high, then fossil fuel is the economically correct choice.

        Extreme in this case has a very specific meaning. As Tol stated,”The climate responds only slowly to changes in emissions, and emissions respond only slowly to changes in policy.” To justify renewables at less than about 30 years, you would have to justify the structural remaking of our delivery systems and our physical devices, justify the costs of not providing improved economies and other positive externalities that the extra cost of renewables have, and have politicians actually invest this tax (if a tax is used).

        The real problem is that renewables are not viable economically at the span that humans plan and implement.

        The economics, that persons are claiming we have a good grasp, are the economics of building and investing. One of the real problems is our limit of knowledge.

        But this cuts both ways, not just in favor of renewables. As Tol points out, “The precautionary principle thus enjoins that we should work hard, if not do our utmost, to avoid even the slim possibility of catastrophe. This logic works fine for one-sided risks. Climate policy is about balancing risks, and there are risks to climate policies as well as risks caused by climate change…” It is especially true for renewables since their track record is that they are more expensive, and the dependability of manufactured units has not been determined. Thus even in extremely high scenarios, renewables may still be counter indicated.

      • JFP –

        Not sure that we can forge new ground here. I don’t get how you can evaluate the cost/benefit ratio w/o estimating the costs and benefits of externalities associated with fossil fuels and renewables, respectively.

        Further, obvious, by limiting the time horizon to 30 years, you’re basically ignoring any potential for current fossil fuel emissions to have large-scale negative impact on the climate.

        I think we’d be better served by looking at this as a context where we have to make decisions in the face of uncertainty.

        ==> “But this cuts both ways, not just in favor of renewables.”

        You should know by now that I have suggested, let alone argued, otherwise.

        Anyway, mostly just dropped in this comment because I don’t know if you saw this from another thread.

        http://reep.oxfordjournals.org/content/2/1/61.short

      • Dagnabbit:

        Heh – the Freudian slip strikes again:

        You should know by now that I have [NOT] suggested, let alone argued, otherwise.

      • Thanks for the link. I have not read it. Thanks for the next post. I was starting to look for satire switches and did not see any.

        You state “I don’t get how you can evaluate the cost/benefit ratio w/o estimating the costs and benefits of externalities associated with fossil fuels and renewables, respectively.”

        I do not do that exactly. Costs and benefits are used. It is that most externalities are not used due to large margin of error or due to assumptions that are counter to current knowledge, or unbalanced (biased). An example is to consider how many persons can be effected by particulate matter, but not count the cost of cheap fossil fuel for preventing deaths. Another example is from wind advocates in studies that claim wind can be sustained at 33% penetration or greater by assuming that the hardware and software will become available, that modeling of wind can reach the point of preventing over and undervoltage, or by assuming that electric devices of the future will be able to stand this without accounting for the costs such devices.

        Looking at the linked abstract, I would add another reason to my list, for those who advocate removal of fossil fuel. Has the estimate included nonmarket damages from trying to address climate to include costs caused by the changing composition of the economy and energy changes that lead to rising relative prices for certain goods and services? My opinion as stated before is: yes, there will be greater costs for trying to address climate change than have been accounted. The under and over-voltage problem is just one of several problems when adding renewables above 7%, based on the EU and Wyoming studies of wind.

        Note that the reason the externalities fall out is that the don’t knows, don’t get included in the cost/benefit or risk matrix very well. This is being “conservative” with capital, or capital investments. Which is why I do agree that each time we build another fossil fuel electric source, or open a fossil fuel field that we have accepted this input for about another 30 years. The 30 years was the time that the person(s) who objected to Keystone pipeline used and is typical with “conservative” approaches.

        So I have to ask you: Did the authors include the relative costs and damages from going from the present structure and system to the proposed system, and if so what was the basis?

        Joshua, in a way this is over definitions and how one estimates costs, especially which are included and which are not. The other part is do we discount the current lives or the future lives. This is not a negligible consideration. It s reasonable to assume monies spent on renewables will be detrimental to the poor. Increased costs typically are. One in line with the article you linked, was a study that was about poor persons who lived in older homes that were built and designed before central heating/AC. The incremental value of the home was worth more than temperature based on the buying habits of those in the study. This evaluation or discounting is also part of that counterfactual dilemma we discussed that we as limited beings will face no matter which policy is adapted.

    • “There are logical and scientific reasons for thinking that the current rate of climate change might be unprecedented.”

      and reasons for thinking it might be within the bounds of past experience.

      In either case, resolving this doesnt help you.

    • Richard S.J. Tol

      Joshua: Uncertainty should be at the heart of any argument about climate policy, and it certainly is at the core of many of my analyses. The argument you cite is not one for ignoring uncertainty, but rather one for including all uncertainties. While it is well-known that climate models do not agree much on anything, few realize that climate policy disagree much more strongly. Even if run under controlled circumstances, answers often differ by an order of magnitude.

    • @joshua

      ‘There are logical and scientific reasons for thinking that the current rate of climate change might be unprecedented’

      And? So what? You need to show more than ‘unprecedented’. You need to demonstrate that it does some actual harm.

      In the early days of railways in UK, Dr. Dionysus Lardner (1793-1859), Professor of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy at University College, London, was regularly wheeled out on the side of the objectors. His argument was that travel at speeds greater than 20 mph was unprecedented, and if attempted all involved would suffocate. He was sadly disappointed when 30mph and then 60mph soon became everyday occurrences.

      But at least his argument got as far as positing some harm and a reason for it. Yours hopes that we will see ‘unprecedented’ and immediately dampen our underwear and lose our power of rational thought.

      Surely you can go do better than this?

      • Lattimer and Joshua,
        Rhetorical games.

        ==> “Just as there is no logical or scientific basis for thinking that climate change is new,”

        There are logical and scientific reasons for thinking that the current rate of climate change MIGHT be unprecedented.

        Is it just me, or is “might” a pretty big word as used here? So do we suggest economic policy based on “might” is the correct course of action based on “risk analysis”? Especially if it “might” be that the current rate of climate change is NOT unprecedented?

        Unless I misread the article, did not Mr. Tol suggest that continued evaluation and risk analysis in all directions be conducted and mitigation practice include infrastructure as well as CO2 mitigation (or in lieu)?

    • Happy Xmas Joshua, better here than over at the empty echo chamber at ATTP isn’t it.
      At least there’s real people here. Like Richard Toll.
      Your reply above to him left me perplexed as to whether it was a snipe from misreading his post with a biased viewpoint, or whether you had deliberately misrepresented parts of his article to try to put him in a bad light.
      Then I remembered how much you enjoy the nuances of an argument rather than the argument itself and concluded it was definitely the latter.
      First you only produce half of his comment, he did argue that a reduction in fossil fuel use was desirable and mentioned other means that could be used. He did not through the uncertainty out the window. You did by deliberately omitting this part of the article.
      An apology to him would be nice, but like that nice Mr Nuticelli you attacked for exactly this reason [thanks], you will doubtless find an excusing obfuscation to resile from said deserved apology.
      “This is advocacy, Judith.”
      Well at least your little post is advocacy since
      “His rhetoric is an insult to your arguments respecting uncertainty,”
      depends only on your extremely deceptive and misleading attempt at an argument.

    • Here comes the Joster

    • Gee Josh,
      That is just silly.

      Of course there is a cost.
      You may perhaps mean to take issue with the question of whether or not that cost is worthwhile.

    • Joshua | December 26, 2014 at 9:52 pm | Reply

      “There are logical and scientific reasons for thinking that the current rate of climate change might be unprecedented.”

      BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZT!!!! Wrong.

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

      Changes recorded in the climate of Greenland at the end of the Younger Dryas, as measured by ice-cores, imply a sudden warming of +10°C within a timescale of a few years.[6] Other abrupt changes are the +4 °C on Greenland 11,270 years ago[7] or the abrupt +6 °C warming 22 000 years ago on Antarctica.

      There are hysterical and ideological reasons for thinking that the current rate of climate change might be unprecedented.

      Fixed that for ya!

    • Joshua, you want cost benefit of using fossil fuels. This has been posted here before. It is Hans Rosling’s showing the change in the world over time. Watch as the world moves from poor and sick to rich and healthy. That is the benefit of fossil fuels and the industrial revolution. The benefits are huge and so much bigger than the costs, so much so that it should be self evident, unless you don’t understand the what you have compared to what your not so distant ancestors had.

    • Rhetorical gamesmanship

  8. As an economist myself, I welcome Dr. Tol’s analysis. What he sees is a one sided chart of the costs, but nothing of the benefits. And the “costs” have failed to be born out. That is why they yell about “the children of the future”, yet seem to turn a cold and uncaring heart to the children of the present.

    Fossil fuels may be warming the planet a little. By all indications, at best, a very little that has had no demonstrable affects so far. But banning them, and increasing the cost of energy is a real issue NOW. It is condemning billions to an early death for no reason! Is that their goal?

    I challenged one of the worst of the alarmists with that reality. And he had no response. Other than to say I was “not playing fair”. Fair to them is only when you concentrate on the ethereal costs, but ignore the concrete benefits. And they have no response because it is the truth. They are killing the children of today for a mythical benefit to future children that has no data to support their hysterics.

    • Generating power with oil and coal does more damage than the value it creates.

      So any other method of energy generation without such damages (wind, solar) is inherently cheaper.

      • ??

        Wow. Gotta say that’s a pretty trite argument. You don’t seem to have presented much evidence for it either.

        Let’s summarise.

        ‘Fossil fuels are the Devil’s Spawn. Therefore everything and anything else is Heaven’s Gift’

        Colour me unconvinced so far.

      • Sorry davey, that is simply a bald faced lie. Had you prefaced the statement with “IMHO”, you could have gotten away with it. However, there is no proof of your statement. Indeed, as I said in a response to a man of High integrity, Stephen Mosher, Governments can force their people to do most anything, but the end result is still the same. Impoverishing the people.

        Your opinion is not only wrong, it is also very injurious as you seek to starve the children of today due to ego alone, with no facts. And that is the most damaging.

      • David Appell. Translated:

        “The science is settled!!! .. .. mumble mumble.. . 97% of climate scientist agree to. .. um.. . mumble…

      • I have heard some stupid arguments in my time, but this one is pretty good! Given the source, I can’t say I am surprised.

      • “So any other method of energy generation without such damages (wind, solar) is inherently cheaper.”

        Gee, go tell that to the Chinese. They are paying the price for your “inherently cheaper” power.

        Burning fossil fuels is a net positive, the fertilization effect pays the damages and then some.

    • How is the wind and solar doing for Europe right now David (and mad Max)? It is near the heaviest demand of the year, and guess what, renewables are missing in action. What use is “cheap” power when it isn’t there?

  9. And thanks to my friend Peter for quoting what may well be the best part:

    We get this from Tol:

    “Politically correct climate change orthodoxy has completely destroyed our ability to think rationally about the environment. ”

    Along with this from Tol:

    In sum, while climate change is a problem that must be tackled, we should not lose our sense of proportion or advocate solutions that would do more harm than good. Unfortunately, common sense is sometimes hard to find in the climate debate. Desmond Tutu recently compared climate change to apartheid. Climate experts Michael Mann and Daniel Kammen compared it to the “gathering storm” of Nazism in Europe before World War II. That sort of nonsense just gets in the way of a rational discussion about what climate policy we should pursue, and how vigorously we should pursue it.

    Right. “Completely destroyed our ability to think rationally about the environment” – Yea, that’s not losing proportion or interfering with rational discussion.

    Nosirreeebub.

    • And thanks to my friend Peter for quoting what may well be the best part:

      We get this from Tol:

      “Politically correct climate change orthodoxy has completely destroyed our ability to think rationally about the environment. ”

      Along with this from Tol:

      In sum, while climate change is a problem that must be tackled, we should not lose our sense of proportion or advocate solutions that would do more harm than good. Unfortunately, common sense is sometimes hard to find in the climate debate. Desmond Tutu recently compared climate change to apartheid. Climate experts Michael Mann and Daniel Kammen compared it to the “gathering storm” of Naz*sm in Europe before World War II. That sort of nonsense just gets in the way of a rational discussion about what climate policy we should pursue, and how vigorously we should pursue it.

      Right. “Completely destroyed our ability to think rationally about the environment” – Yea, that’s not losing proportion or interfering with rational discussion.

      Nosirreeebub.

      • What? No unintentional irony. Say it ain’t so, joshie. We feel cheated. We were expecting your signature unintentional irony BS, again.

      • I would have included it, Don –

        but noting unintentional irony could be a part of thinking rationally about the environment…

        And our ability to do that has been COMPLETELY DESTROYED!!!!111!!!!111

        Grab the women and children and head for the hills!!

        Too funny.

      • OMG! The TOO FUNNY card, again. You have sunk to a new low, joshie. You may be the tritest little putz on the internet.

      • Don, that’s possible…..but what about the person who replies to the tritest little putz on the interent??

      • “Politically correct climate change orthodoxy has completely destroyed our ability to think rationally about the environment.”
        Politically correct climate change orthodoxy has in some cases significantly hindered our ability to think rationally about the environment.

      • ==> “Politically correct climate change orthodoxy has in some cases significantly hindered our ability to think rationally about the environment.”

        Maybe, but has it been a greater obstacle than hysterical rhetoric that exploits uncertainty to advance an agenda?

        Or perhaps, as Michael points out, has politically correct anti-climate change orthodoxy (Inhofe’s “hoax” or Peiser’s “economic suicide”) has been a greater obstacle?

        Tol’s rhetoric moves in the wrong direction: agenda-driven over-certainty.

        The right direction is towards rational decision-making in the face of uncertainty.

      • OMG! The UNCERTAINTY MONSTER is molesting joshie, again. Triteness is the UNCERTAINTY MONSTERS favorite food.

      • OMG! Little mikey is replying to the person, who replies to the tritest little putz on the internet. How will little troll mikey ever live this down? Simple, he is blissfully unself-aware.

      • Yes Don,

        Maybe now you see the problem with your initial comment?

      • I am trolling the trolls tonight, mikey. It seems to be working well. Thank you for your participation.

      • Well…

        The basic problem is the warmers use uncertainty to flog urgency.

        If the problem of warming was that great – serious people would tightly bound the problem so we know just how large and urgent it is, not use great uncertainty to scare the public. If the harm is that great it is obvious and can be measured.

        Instead warmers have a “throw it against the wall and see what sticks” approach. They identify a lot of potential problems and claim that the ones that get the most traction are a source of pending disaster that must be prevented.

        The CO2 level used to be 7000 PPM. Levels to 7000 are precedented. Levels to 1200 PPM are beneficial to current plant life (increasing CO2 beyond 1200 PPM isn’t expected to increase the benefit). We have satellite measurements of verdant and increasing growth. It is a proven fact warmth and more CO2 is good not a theory. The planet has warmed and CO2 has increased and there is more plant growth. The onus is on the warmers to prove real harm, with hard numbers, that would offset the benefits of up to 1200 PPM, not just wild claims and unproven theories.

        The wild claims and unproven theories haven worked well for about 14 years.

  10. David L. Hagen

    Mitigate Climate OR Develop Replacement Fuels
    Richard Tol raises climate-energy issues and the harm now being inflicted on the poor by misdirecting development aid to the most inefficient uses:

    We only need to argue that in the long run unabated climate change will do more harm than good. If so, we need to start moving away from using fossil fuels. . . .
    Cheap and abundant energy fueled the industrial revolution. Sudden increases in the price of oil caused many of the economic recessions since World War II. . . .
    A fifth of official development aid is now diverted to climate policy.

    Thus the far more important issue is developing replacement transport fuels to cover natural depletion rates and transport fuel growth to enable economic growth. Only as we fund RD&D into making sustainable replacement transport fuels cheaper than oil will we reduce the far higher security risks to our economies caused by constrained fuel and far higher prices.

    • Coming up next:

      Walking OR chewing gum.

    • Well, you need a lot of virtually free energy to sensibly create alternate fuels.

      Solar energy would work when the price comes down. The problems of intermittency etc. can be worked around.

      In 20 years the catalyst and solar cost/efficiency issues should be handled to the point that it is viable (efficiency affects land use/cost).

      Just add water and sunlight.

      • The sun produces electricity, in northern Europe (Germany), 10% of the time. That is not “intermittency”, that is just 10%.
        You say: that “can be worked around”? How? By using science fiction? It can’t be worked around with present or foreseeable technology.
        So, solar energy is not ONLY a problem of costs. It just doesn’t work.

      • Nope, the US southwest (assuming you can find a water source) and other places near the tropics would be ideal. Unfortunately the best locations with the most solar hours have a water issue – but if you locate on a rail line you can ship water in and fuel out.

        There is no reason not to harvest a natural resource where it is economically beneficial.

        Places like Washington state and most of Europe are just not good places for solar power. There are about 1/3 as many clear days in Tacoma Washington as there are in Arizona. And the insolation is weaker. Germany could produce fuel with those nuclear plants they want to shut down.

        Just like some places have coal and oil reserves, some places have sun reserves. Almost every country has oil. In many countries it is just hard to recover large quantities economically. Same with solar and wind.

        Renewable advocates run afoul of this problem all the time – solutions that use local natural resources are site dependent and not one size fits all.

      • Solar energy is best used by storing it in chemical bonds until needed.

      • PA, the equatorial oceans have both sunshine and water.

      • DM – a solar still on a barge is an option.

        You would be better off south of the Equator where the most CO2 is.

    • Richard S.J. Tol

      David: While I disagree with the diagnosis — the world’s awash in oil — I agree with the direction of the solution: The focus should be on developing energy that is as abundant, reliable and convenient as fossil fuels but cleaner. Crack that problem and the world will be a happier place with much lower greenhouse gas emissions.

      • Richard Tol – You have fallen to the political correctness that you began by warning us about. You call for energy that is cleaner than fossil fuels, and then say that will deliver something that has nothing to do with how clean the fuel is.

      • David L. Hagen

        Richard: Thanks for the affirmation on the need to develop abundant, reliable, convenient and cleaner fuel.
        I encourage you to reexamine how sustainable is the current “awash” in oil. From a macro global viewpoint, actuary Gail Tverberg finds oil growth rate dropped 90% from 7.8%/year (1965 to 1972) to 0.7%/year (2005-2011). That is not even keeping up with 1.1%/yr population growth.
        In Oil Prices, Exhaustible Resources, and Economic Growth, economist James Hamilton:

        . . .the phenomenal increase in global crude oil production over the last century and a half and the implications if that trend should be reversed. I document that a key feature of the growth in production has been exploitation of new geographic areas rather than application of better technology to existing sources, and suggest that the end of that era could come soon. The economic dislocations that historically followed temporary oil supply disruptions are reviewed, and the possible implications of that experience for what the transition era could look like are explored.

        See especially figures pages 42-53. Every US state’s oil production has peaked except for North Dakota/Montana.
        Better insight is obtained using multi-cycle Hubbert models. E.g. See Fig. 13 and Fig. 15 in Exponential growth, energetic Hubbert cycles, and the advancement of technology Tad Patzek 2008
        Tight oil is “just” another type of resource marginally useful by improvements in fracking technology but with higher production costs. Particularly note short term cash flow needs versus life cycle economic viability. While there is some low cost production, Goldman Sachs (2012) analysis of “oil production costs found “the global oil & gas industry needs c.US$115/bl to be free cash flow neutral after capex and dividends.” Now ~60% of the top 360 oil projects cannot meet financing plus dividends at $60/bbl.

        Oil importing countries will be hit economically sooner and harder than oil exporting countries.
        Jeffrey Brown created an “Export Capacity Index”(ECI) leading indicator (ratio of production/consumption). From 2005-2012 rates, only 21% (7/33) of oil exporting countries are increasing relative production. 79% (26 of 33) of exporting countries are trending towards having to import oil!

  11. “Politically correct climate change orthodoxy has completely destroyed our ability to think rationally about the environment.” – Tol

    What are the error bars on that Judith? Any uncertainty?

    And can we have an operational definition of ‘politically correct’?
    I might have something else entirely in mind – such as, mitigation policies will destroy the economy. That’s a ‘politically correct’ view from a certain perspective.

    • Tol is late to the party. The sentence should read “Politically correct orthodoxy has completely destroyed our ability to think rationally about the environment.”

      Politically correct environmentalists have been straining out gnats and letting camels pass for the past 40-years.

  12. The appropriate policy response to a non-problem is to do nothing. All this talk about risk management and finding the right balance is inane. To say that you believe the climate ‘problem’ can or should be tempered and controlled by traditional policy instruments is to say that you don’t understand the numbers involved. If, by use of an ETS, the world could reduce emissions to, say, 1990 levels by 2020 and then reduce them by 10% of that amount every subsequent decade, what would the resultant temperature reduction be in 2050? How much ‘extreme’ weather will have been avoided? It’s either immeasurable or unknowable. So what’s the point? Furthermore, how much would it cost to achieve such an emissions reduction target? The efficacy of any public policy ought to be quantifiable in terms of cost/benefit so why should the climate problem be exempt from such measures? To paraphrase Richard Lindzen, politicians are crossing the line by offering costly policy prescriptions which do absolutely nothing to address the problem that’s been presented to us.

  13. Judith, what do you think about the “gremlins” who are sabotaging Tol’s work?

    Warmists? Communists? Michael Mann?

    • Well on twitter I’ve seen people trash the article without any substantive arguments. Usual tribal warfare stuff, it seems

      • But Tol himself has admitted to his errors, blaming them on “gremlins” — instead of simply admitting he made mistakes.

      • Judith I would have thought that getting the sign wrong on the results of some of the studies he uses (ie. turning negative impacts into benefits), and using the results from one author as multiple seperate studies, when the author of those studies say that they are, in fact , just the one study with updates and should not be treated seperately, might count as some issues that would be reasonable grounds for scepticism.

        Maybe.

      • Can’t you read, davey? Judith said she had “seen people trash the article without any substantive arguments.” Do you really think that Tol was literally blaming his admitted mistakes on gremlins? Don’t you have anything better to do?

      • Michael — Judith no longer cares about such issues like Tol’s monstrous errors. She is choosing to stay completely blind about the details of any result if she thinks it is useful for her POV. She’s reduced herself to a WUWT level.

      • Tol is an economist, davey. They are little more numerate than climate scientists. Paul Krugman and Michael Mann (so he claims) have won Nobel Prizes by producing dubious conjecture that they pulled out of their behinds. Tol’s SWAG is as good as any.

      • Michael,

        “Judith I would have thought that getting the sign wrong on the results of some of the studies”

        What, do you mean like Michael Mann’s upside down tree rings? No problem if it supports your beliefs but big problem if the results don’t support your beliefs, eh Michael?

        Also note the important difference: Tol admitted his mistake and corrected it. Mann kept trying to deny and then defend his error for years. I don’t know if he ever did admit his error. perhaps someone else can point to where he admitted it.

      • Two quick thoughts. First, people are largely going off-topic here. Our host discussed an article by Richard Tol. Her comment here clearly refers to that same article. Despite this, people are mostly talking about things Tol has done other than the article. Judith doesn’t need to discuss the problems with every paper Tol has written in order to discuss this one article. These criticisms are somewhat relevant as (as I point out above) Tol does refer to the problematic work in passing in his article, but I haven’t even seen people highlight that association. As such, it seems people are just going off-topic.

        Second, Peter Lang gives far too much credit to Richard Tol for correcting his mistake(s). Tol only did so under sustained pressure. It hardly speaks to one’s character that, when forced to admit a mistake, he admits a mistake. It especially isn’t when his admission is mealy-mouthed and accompanied by derogatory remarks for and misrepresentations about the person/people who pointed out his mistakes.

      • stevefitzpatrick

        David Appell,
        “She’s reduced herself to a WUWT level.”

        Thanks, best laugh I had in a couple of days. For someone as politically driven as you to spout such rubbish supports what DeWitt Payne has sometimes noted at Lucia’s blog: Irony, like entropy, always increases.

      • Sadly, DA wants to starve children just to prove he is right, even when he is wrong.

    • Richard S.J. Tol

      David: Those errors have been corrected. They did not materially affect the quantitative results, and not at all the qualitative results. You may have guessed as much from the jocular use of the word “gremlins”.

    • David: why do you think an ad hominem attack — attacking the person, not what he wrote — is legitimate here? Are you unaware that it makes you look as if you have no actual argument?

    • Grow up David. Make it your new years resolution.

  14. Richard Tol,

    I would like to ask you a question about realistically achievable participation rates.

    I understand from William Nordhaus’s ‘A Question of Balance” that for carbon pricing – or, for that matter any international legally binding agreement that raises the cost of energy – to be sustainable over the period it must act to deliver the claimed benefits (i.e. climate damages avoided), the participation rate must the around 80%. That means, 80% of global human caused GHG emissions must be included in the scheme.

    Judith Curry’s last Week in Review includeda link to this article
    Assessing the Outcome of the Lima Climate Talks http://www.robertstavinsblog.org/2014/12/14/assessing-the-outcome-of-the-lima-climate-talks/ by “
    Robert N. Stavins is the Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government, Director of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program, and Chairman of the Environment and Natural Resources Faculty Group.”

    In his article he says:

    After five days on the ground in Lima, where I participated in a variety of events and met with a diverse set of national negotiating teams, I’ve reviewed the agreed text of the Lima Call for Climate Action …, and can now reflect on its gestation, its meaning, and its implications.

    Coverage of 80% to 90% of global emissions can be anticipated, although major questions remain regarding what can be expected from some key countries, including India, Russia, and Australia.

    [my emphasis]

    But I don’t understand how 80% to 90% participation is a realistic expectation.

    The EU ETS includes only 45% of EU GHG emissions. The Australian ETS included 52%. USA monitors just 49% of its GHG emissions. If that’s the best the developed countries could achieve, how can all countries, including the poorest, be expected to achieve 80% to 90%. To achieve that participation rate would require countries like Ethiopia, Eritrea, Mogadishu and Somalia to monitor and measuring emissions from every cow, sheep and goat to the quality standards that will inevitably be required for legally binding international agreements involving international trade in commodities and/or embodied emissions, and/or border adjustments. It seems to me if the measurements are not in compliance with ISO standards and have low bias and uncertainty the result will be never ending disputes about who’s cheating. That’s no sustainable.

    What rate of global participation can realistically be achieved and on what timescale?

    And what would be the marginal cost of compliance cost for the smallest emitting entities? (in $/tonne and/or as a percentage of the SCC?).

    Richard Tol, any comments on this would be appreciated.

    • Richard S.J. Tol

      Peter: I believe Stavins assumed 100% coverage in each of the participating countries.

      In Lima, negotiators seem to have replaced the old ideal of legally binding targets and timetables with the more realistic pledge & review that has been the basis of most successful international operations. This would imply that countries would be more relaxed in announcing their plans for emission reduction, meager as they may be.

      I would not be surprised if Stavins is right and all major emitters make a pledge of some sort in Paris 2015. Brazil and China already have, and even India has some token emission reduction policies.

      The crucial thing to realize here is the hurdle: Policy announcements have to have symbolic value only. Meaningful policy is a different matter.

      • Richard Tol,

        Thank you for your reply. If I understand correctly, we should interpret Stavins’ statement:

        Coverage of 80% to 90% of global emissions can be anticipated,

        to mean he expects the countries who are responsible for 80% to 90% of human caused GHG emissions are likely to make some sort of pledges about their emissions.

        That’s quite different to what Nordhaus meant by ‘participation rate’, if I understand correctly what Nordhaus meant.

        By the way, if you had time I’d greatly appreciate your comment on the chart here: http://catallaxyfiles.com/2014/10/27/cross-post-peter-lang-why-the-world-will-not-agree-to-pricing-carbon-ii/

        The lines show the discounted net benefit-cost of the policies per 5 years from DICE-2013R (default inputs). The orange line is for the ‘Copenhagen Optimistic’ participation rate. The red line is half the Copenhagen ‘optimistic’ participation rate. Even that participation rate seems unrealistic to me (given the participation rates achieved so far and the escalating compliance cost of emissions monitoring per tonne CO2 monitored as the size of the emitting entity decreases.

        The relationship between carbon price and participation rate (Nordhaus replotted), and your chart about the probability of success at UN climate conference is here:
        http://catallaxyfiles.com/2014/10/26/cross-post-peter-lang-why-carbon-pricing-will-not-succeed-part-i/

  15. Reblogged this on Reuse and Recycle, Cairns Inc. (RRC) and commented:
    Semantics of climate change and sustainability~

  16. Threading broken already?!

    Maybe it’s time to bin the threaded comments?

  17. “The long-run impacts are what matter most for policy. The climate responds only slowly to changes in emissions, and emissions respond only slowly to changes in policy.”

    And the evidence for the above is….? Assertion.

    The above does not acknowledge “abrupt climate change” as proposed by Tsonis etc. Climate is not on a linear trajectory any more than Ocean Heat Content is a linear quantity either. Long term changes in ocean oscillations like PDO and AMO or NAO or SAM or heat changes affecting atmospheric changes like ENSO are more important than the forked tongue speech of the Climate Disruption cabel and emissions scenarios.

    Sorry Judith Curry, to me, there is no solving climate evolution by altering human fossil fuel emissions. Metaphorically, if we had thrown a coin (CO2) into a calm pond, we would see some sort of ripple effect. If we threw the same coin into a an ocean storm wave pounding our seashore, no one would see an effect let alone seeing the coin disappearing into the surf.

    CO2 emissions is much ado about nothing. The missing CO2 signal is missing for a reason; buried in the pounding surf of our atmosphere/ocean coupled climate change paradigm.

  18. This post bugs me because it repeated Richard Tol’s incredibly misleading claim:

    Studies, assessed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its latest report, that have used such methods find that the initial, net impacts of climate change are small (about 1 percent of income) and may even be positive.

    First, the only reason Tol can make this claim is he inserted an entirely new section into the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report after all rounds or external review had been completed, a section which rested almost entirely upon his work (he also rewrote another section). I think it’s terrible a person is being encouraged in such behavior. Nobody should get to distort the IPCC assessment reports for their own self-promotion.

    Second, the claim by Tol “net impacts… may even be positive” rests entirely upon a single data point taken from a paper he wrote. It’s ridiculous a single data point, which isn’t supported by any other data he presents, is being used to continue this meme.

    Third, Tol’s conclusions depend entirely upon work where he simply misrepresents data. Leaving aside the multitude of data errors he blames on “gremlins” (because he refuses to simply admit to screwing up), Tol’s descriptions of his data are often wrong or misleading.

    In fact, some of the numbers Tol provided may well have simply been made up. We don’t know. Tol repeatedly refused to release the details of the calculations which produced his results. He mocked people for being unable to reproduce his results, saying it should be easy for anyone who knew what they were doing. Only, when the IPCC finally forced him to provide calculations, his calculations didn’t match the numbers he had published. The IPCC responded by changing numbers in its report while keeping the citation the same, thus falsely attributing the new, previously unpublished results, to a paper with results that are clearly different.

    It is simply incredible to me people who claim to be skeptics still embrace this claim by Tol “net impacts… may even be positive” when that conclusion is based upon shoddy work, secret/undisclosed changes and inaccurate data. And even ignoring that, those results still depend entirely upon a single data point which is a clear outlier, a data point created by the guy promoting the results.

    On top of all this, that single data point is based upon a crude economic model. That means “skeptics” are promoting results based upon a cherry-picked, modeled result even though they routinely talk about how models used in the global warming debate are untrustworthy. It’s not like economic models are magically immune to all the issues raised with climate models.

    There is no scientific reason to continue promoting Tol’s cherry-picked, self-aggrandizing, conclusion. The only reason to continue promoting it is people like what it says. Any skeptic who is remotely consistent or reasonable would shy away from such a baseless conclusion.

    • By the way, I should point out it isn’t even clear those “net benefits” are actually real, even if we accept everything Richard Tol says. The various studies Tol “examined” all had different baselines. Those baselines could be pre-industrial temperatures, temperatures as of 1995, temperatures of 2010 or even different baselines for each and every country. Tol simply put them all together in a single chart and drew his conclusions.

      But how can we interpret those conclusions? Do we interpret the positive “net impacts” as being for a temperature rise from today, or do we interpret them as being for a temperature rise from before the Industrial Revolution? He “found” net benefits for one degree of warming. If we interpret that as referring to warming since pre-industrial times, then we’ve already seen nearly all of that one degree of warming. That’d mean even if there were net benefits as he claims, they’ve already happened.

      Tol was even asked about this at Bishop Hill. When questioned about what baseline his “analysis” was for, her couldn’t answer. In fact, he said he didn’t think there was an answer. The reason? Because the data points he “compares” aren’t comparable.

      There are tons of factors which help determine the net effects of global warming which Tol simply disregarded. They include things all sorts of important things like, the rate of temperature rise. In Tol’s “analysis,” a change of 1 degree in 40 years has the same meaning as a change of 1 degree in 100 years. That is obviously wrong.

      But again, nobody seems to mind.

      • Hey, he’s plausible. About as plausible as other economists. My dismal null hypothesis is still looking pretty good against all comers.

      • That is, none of them really know. So why should I mind?

      • “the initial, net impacts of climate change are small (about 1 percent of income) and may even be positive.”

        It seems like Tol is talking about the near future, Brandon. Do you exclude the possibility that some more warming in the near future may be positive? Why are you so angry about this?

      • Brandon,

        Isn’t your comment just a major ad hominem rant? Just an attack on Richard Tol rather than a critique of what he said/

        He said:

        Studies, assessed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its latest report, that have used such methods find that the initial, net impacts of climate change are small (about 1 percent of income) and may even be positive.

        And you began with:

        First, the only reason Tol can make this claim is he inserted an entirely new section into the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report after all rounds or external review had been completed, a section which rested almost entirely upon his work (he also rewrote another section). I think it’s terrible a person is being encouraged in such behavior. Nobody should get to distort the IPCC assessment reports for their own self-promotion.

        But, is there anything wrong with the Tol you are criticising? Is it correct or wrong? It seems to me more than likely that the world will benefit from some more warming (as it has been doing for the past 200 years or so). Why should we believe that the trend (of warming being net beneficial) would suddenly reverse now?

        Given that Tol is one of the longest serving and most highly regarded authorities on the economics of climate damages and given the long standing IPCC practice and precedent of lead and coordinating authors changing the text of the IPCC documents after comments have closed, I think your comment is not fair and balanced. It seems to displays your dislike of Richard Tol (something you display just about every time you write a comment regarding Tol on this web site).

      • Tol is a pleasant and intelligent type who seems to be proposing a slower, cheaper implementation of white elephants. His evasive use of use of the hyper-bendy term “climate change” would indicate to me that he is a sort-of warmist who believes you shouldn’t break all your windows because someone says your door is stuck. He’ll just break one or two windows, though the door isn’t stuck. After all, you have to do something, right? For the sake of those grandchildren guys. Just like our grandparents phased out mast timbers and whale oil, knowing how we’d feel about the trees and whales.

        We really need to suspend the climatariat till someone knows a bit about the gizzards of the earth, the deep hydrosphere and so on. Mind you, that might prove more strenuous than making neat columns of debits and credits, accompanied by mechanistic speculation and extrapolation about what a degree of temp will “do”.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Peter Lang:

        Isn’t your comment just a major ad hominem rant? Just an attack on Richard Tol rather than a critique of what he said/

        What?! Everything I said was about Richard Tol’s work. I didn’t say a word about him as a person. The sum of your argument my comment is “just a major ad hominem rant” is:

        But, is there anything wrong with the Tol you are criticising? Is it correct or wrong? It seems to me more than likely that the world will benefit from some more warming (as it has been doing for the past 200 years or so). Why should we believe that the trend (of warming being net beneficial) would suddenly reverse now?

        But this is nothing more than, “I agree with his conclusions, so why should I care?” The reality is the IPCC process is supposed to exist to ensure the IPCC reports undergo a certain degree of external review. Richard Tol bypassed that to insert conclusions which were never subjected to external scrutiny.

        There is nothing ad hominem about that. Tol wants to use the IPCC’s image to promote conclusions in the IPCC Report. It is perfectly relevant to point out those conclusions were not supported by the normal IPCC process.

        Given that Tol is one of the longest serving and most highly regarded authorities on the economics of climate damages and given the long standing IPCC practice and precedent of lead and coordinating authors changing the text of the IPCC documents after comments have closed, I think your comment is not fair and balanced. It seems to displays your dislike of Richard Tol (something you display just about every time you write a comment regarding Tol on this web site).

        I find it remarkable how often people accuse me of being biased against Tol while displaying absolutely no skepticism for his conclusions nor disdain for his behavior. I criticized Keith Briffa and the others involved in text being snuck into the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report absent external review. Nobody accused me of being biased there.

        Heck, I criticized Richard Tol on this website long before I knew anything about his involvement in the IPCC AR5. Nobody criticized me for being biased there. In fact, most of the responses were positive. Some people even suggested Judith Curry have me write a guest post. The reason was Tol offered ridiculously wrong criticisms of the Ludecke et al paper Judith had discussed, and a lot of people recognized he was horribly wrong.

        But now, people who don’t even attempt to address the substantial criticisms I offer of Richard Tol’s work, routinely argue I am behaving as I do purely out of bias.

        Let me suggest a different possibility: I’m consistent in my skepticism. I don’t simply stop being skeptical because I like what a person has to say.

        It’s crazy, I know.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        mosomoso:

        Tol is a pleasant and intelligent type who…

        I’m going to take a moment and go the “ad hominem” route.* I have no idea how anyone could think Richard Tol “is a pleasant and intelligent type.” Pretty much every interaction I’ve had with him, or seen someone else have with him, has involved Tol being rude. I literally cannot think of a time Tol has done anything to make himself seem pleasant.

        Which doesn’t mean he’s wrong. I don’t think people have to be pleasant to make useful contributions. I don’t think people have to be pleasant to be right. I just don’t understand how somebody who consistently behaves in rude ways gets painted as “pleasant.”

        *I use quotation marks here to indicate this isn’t actually ad hominem. A criticism of a person is not inherently ad hominem. Ad hominem requires the criticism of the person be used as an argument against what they say. People just tend to ignore that and paint any criticism of a person they like as a logical fallacy.

      • Brandon, I guess by “pleasant” I meant to refer to Tol’s shuffling approach. I’m sorry to hear he’s not nice. Still, economics is a dismal non-science.

        The lukewarmers may be the bigger threat to prosperity because of their plausibility and survival instincts. It would certainly not be pleasant if the climate decided to chill and all we had to show for the early 21st century was a bunch of lukewarmish experts in economics and climate explaining how they were right even when they were wrong. And how they were always skeptical of extremes. And how next time they’ll be right when they are right.

        Gotta shut that climatariat down. Too many white elephants already. Australia still has no nukes, no new major dams, no modernised coal power. We do have an unused desal plant in humid Sydney (1213.9 mm annual rain, more than double that of London) costing half a million dollars a day because our Green Betters were sure of indefinite drought, don’t like dams and “surveys” told us that Sydneysiders think water-recycling is erky-perky.

        It’s the white elephants with me. Hate ’em.

      • You didn’t answer my question, Brandon:

        This seems uncontroversial:

        “the initial, net impacts of climate change are small (about 1 percent of income) and may even be positive.”

        Isn’t that a plausible guess? Have you seen any data or any rationale that would cause you to make a significantly different guess? It’s all guessing, ain’t it?

      • Don Monfort, you asked two questions which I didn’t answer. The second, “Why are you so angry about this?” was so stupid I disregarded the first. I’m not particularly angry about any of this. I’m baffled at people happily ignoring the many problems with Tol’s work and behavior, but it doesn’t rise above the level of “mild annoyance.”

        For future reference, if you want someone to answer a topical question, it may help to not ask irrelevant, inflammatory questions based upon assumed emotions in other people.

        But to answer your first question, certain work in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report was incompetent, inappropriate and introduced absent any sort of external review. That deserves criticism. When blog posts containing promotion of that work get written, their promotion of that work deserves criticism.

        Whether or not one can justify the same conclusion via other means is irrelevant to that. Bad work is bad work. It should be recognized as such.

      • mosomoso’s “Tol is a pleasant and intelligent type who seems to be proposing a slower, cheaper implementation of white elephants.” sums it up beautifully.

      • > People just tend to ignore that and paint any criticism of a person they like as a logical fallacy.

        Alternatively, some may know that the expression also refers to personal attacks, and it is Brandon who ignores that not all ad homs are fallacious:

        http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

      • Please, in the gizzards of Gaia, consider that you might be wrong.
        ============================

      • kim, I’m not sure if your comment was meant for me, but if it was, I consider that all the time. However, some points are indisputable. For instance, there is no denying the IPCC work promoted in this post attributes values to a paper by Richard Tol even though his paper gives different values. There’s no denying Tol refused to provide the calculations which gave the values in the paper. There’s also no denying the IPCC originally used the values from the paper. There’s also no denying when Tol finally provided the calculations, they didn’t give the same answers his paper gave. There’s also no denying it was only at this point the IPCC changed the values it used while maintaining the citation to the paper with the previous values.

        I may be wrong about some things. If so, people are welcome to point them out to me. Pretty much nobody has even tried. That, combined with how self-evident much of what I say is, makes me suspect I’m not wrong to too large a degree.

      • Thou doust protesteth too mucheth, brandi. The veins on your neck are about to pop. You are obviously angry with Dr. Tol. Is it something he said? Does his hair remind you of an old girlfriend who dumped you? Is it because he ignored you, when you wanted to argue with his less than coherent criticisms of the 97% BS? Come on, brandi. Snap out of it. You are not a pleasant character, when you get all vituperative. Have you heard from your pal webby lately?

      • Don Monfort, I’m pretty sure anyone reading your latest comment will see why I prefer to ignore most of what you say. I think I’m going to try doing again that for a while.

      • Oh Shollie, that was a very generic ‘you’. Mostly I moso, more so shudder as elephants shatter thickets so green.
        ====================

      • I am really disappointed, brandi. Don’t you remember that I was the only one to defend you when webby was bullying you over that St. Louis thing and ridiculing the little obscure diploma mill you attended? And you wonder why nobody likes you.

      • I can’t see any proof that net impacts are negative. It seems possible impacts will be positive for a little while. I worry more about the president making cooing noises towards the Cabo Caballo dictatorship, government corruption and antibiotic resistant super bacteria.

      • Don.

        On the merits I think Brandon’s criticism of Tol over the IPCC stuff
        is pretty solid. However, he has a special knack for making a good case badly

      • Not that I take Steven Mosher’s remarks about me seriously given he repeatedly says ridiculous stuff about and in response to me, but I find his comment here interesting. Bob Ward, Dana Nuccitelli and Anthony Watts all promoted a post I wrote about my criticisms on this issue with Richard Tol.

        I can’t think of the last time those three all tried to get people to read the same post because they agreed with what it said. I’d think that indicates I did a fairly good job of it.

      • Steven,
        I am not so impressed with Tol’s science fu. But he is an economist. It’s not really science. He is making guesses. We don’t have any better idea about the near term economic consequences of climate change that are based on solid evidence, or superior analysis. Unless you got something to share.

        It’s looks to me like Brandon’s serial, over-the-top criticisms of Tol are fired largely by personal animus. Tol must have at some time offended Brandon’s tender sensibilities. You know how easy that is. I am just tweaking the kid a little. Trying to help him see the error of his ways.

      • “Bob Ward, Dana Nuccitelli and Anthony Watts all promoted a post I wrote about my criticisms on this issue with Richard Tol.”

        That’s a pretty pathetic appeal to authority. When were the other times that ward and nutticcellii promoted a post of yours? They just used you as a convenient tool. And you are so flattered by any kind of attention from any source, that you brag about it. Get a grip on yourself. You are a smart guy. Don’t try so hard. And lose that chip on your shoulder.

      • Warming and CO2 caused a 50% plant growth increase in the 20th century.

        This is 1-3 Trillion dollar annual benefit depending on the basis used just for .the sea food, agriculture, and forestry gains.

        Professor Tol’s “might be net positive” is easy to defend. I don’t believe the harsh attack on Professor Tol is justified.

      • PA, I don’t believe what you say is remotely accurate, but I also don’t see that it matters. Richard Tol based his claim upon a very specific argument. That argument did not include the issue you describe. As such, the issue you describe cannot make his argument accurate.

        Again, this is like the hockey stick debate. Michael Mann and his supporters like to argue criticisms of his hockey stick don’t matter because other evidence showed his results were correct. People routinely pointed out that’s a nonsensical argument.

        Whether or not one reaches the “right” conclusions, if their work is bad, their work is bad and should be recognized as such.

      • Brandon Shollenberger | December 28, 2014 at 7:53 pm |
        PA, I don’t believe what you say is remotely accurate, but I also don’t see that it matters. Richard Tol based his claim upon a very specific argument. That argument did not include the issue you describe. As such, the issue you describe cannot make his argument accurate.

        Everything I say is remotely accurate.

        A quote from Professor Tol’s article:
        “But, as already noted, warmer winters mean less money spent on heating. They also mean fewer people dying prematurely of cold. Carbon dioxide makes plants grow, and makes them more drought-tolerant, a boon particularly to poorer countries. In the short run, these positive impacts may well be larger than the negative impacts.”

        He could have added that it cuts plant moisture requirements (saving fresh water). But he does cover my point.

        Further my 1-3 trillion dollars annually is a lowball estimate since to grow 50% crops by using 50% more land we would have to make some ugly choices that would aggravate tree huggers and increase CO2 levels (which would of course reduce the land requirement)..

      • PA:

        A quote from Professor Tol’s article:
        “But, as already noted, warmer winters mean less money spent on heating. They also mean fewer people dying prematurely of cold. Carbon dioxide makes plants grow, and makes them more drought-tolerant, a boon particularly to poorer countries. In the short run, these positive impacts may well be larger than the negative impacts.”

        He could have added that it cuts plant moisture requirements (saving fresh water). But he does cover my point.

        Not in the work I criticized. He referred to work he published then inserted into the latest IPCC report. I criticized that work. My criticisms of that work is not affected by the point you made.

        Moreover, if you wish to claim the issue you raise was covered in the work I criticized, that would mean it cannot be used as independent verification of the work because its effects were already accounted for.

        Finally, raising for a single effect, whether it be a benefit or cost, cannot defend or rebut calculations dealing with net effects that examine many issues.

        In other words you are singling out a single talking point while ignoring every other issue, including the issues raised in the criticisms you seek to rebut. That’s called a non-sequitur.

        P.S. You probably shouldn’t describe the things you say as “remotely accurate.” That’s a perfect example of damning with faint praise.

      • Don it’s hard to ignore brandons animus but just try harder.

    • Brandon, Stern’s estimates were earlier and not much different, even though he used a population peak estimate of 15 billion. Stern said between 1% and 5%.

      • Tom Fuller, whether or not that’s true, I can’t say I care. When Michael Mann’s original hockey stick was criticized, people said those criticisms didn’t matter because other work got the same results. I didn’t accept that argument then. I don’t accept it now.

        Shoddy work is shoddy work. It should be recognized as such. It shouldn’t be accepted because other work, which may well be shoddy in similar ways, produced similar results.

  19. Thanks for the link, Judith. I’ll be reading this article with great interest. I must say, however, that it’s discouraging to see almost all the skeptical arguments coming from the conservative/Republican camp. And literally everything supporting the alarmist position coming from the liberal/Democratic camp. It’s really a pity that this issue has become so absurdly politicized, a situation that speaks very poorly for the state of democracy in the USA.

    Sometimes I wonder whether I’m the ONLY liberal/Democrat expressing skepticism of climate change dogma. It would be nice to learn I’m not alone, but sometimes I wonder.

    In any case, the latest post on my blog, Mole in the Ground, contains a long list of extreme weather events generally blamed on climate change that I’ve looked into lately. And in every case there is strong evidence that climate change/global warming had nothing to do with any of them. I’m sure what I’ve posted will not be news to you, but nevertheless I’ve put a lot of things together in one post that could prove helpful to those like me who are not climate scientists but are puzzled by so many of the exaggerated claims. If you’re curious to see what I’ve come up with, here’s the link: http://amoleintheground.blogspot.com/2014/12/are-we-headed-for-disaster.html

    Any comments, pro or con, would be appreciated.

    • You are not the only liberal-Democrat doubting the CAGW BS. There’s Tom Fuller. So there a two of you, whose feet have strayed from the party line. You will soon be eating red meat and shopping for AK47s. You getting liberated, doc.

      • I actually think there are quite a few of us. I still eat red meat, but hope especially at this time of year that all AK47s can be buried. Maybe in an epoch or two they can be used for fuel.

      • at least three of us – although I don’t eat red or any other colour of meat. No interest in AK47s either though I might could still perform creditably at Olympic Pistol Relay. I think it’s a great pity that climate change has become such a polarizing issue – with however most of the population not giving it much attention according to all the polls I see. But we all need all the help we can get to derail this enormous scam. Scientific truth should not be a political issue.

    • Docgee – You are not the only one. While I have seen neither on Dr. Curry’s blog, Richard Courtney and his son are both very left and very skeptical. They usually hang out at WUWT, but I have also seen them on Joanne Nova’s blog.

    • A good general guideline is that anything blamed on Fukushima and global warming is unrelated to both.

      What unconvinced me about global warming is the adjustment of all the real world data. Global warming is supposed to be a major change in temperature. It shouldn’t take a few tenths of a degree celsius adjustment in temperatures to create a trend. It should be obvious and irrefutable. The sea level shouldn’t need 0.3mm added artificially. The historic evidence of CO2 is just goofy. The temperature in the PETM increased three thousand years before the CO2.

      Having said that – it isn’t reasonable to expect that climate scientists would climb out on that much of a limb and saw it off. So it is hard to dismiss global warming as an issue out of hand.

      Since climate is just serial weather … we can look to meteorology for guidance. Weather predictions are getting better, it is reasonable to expect climate predictions will get better.

      • So.

        If you looked at just the raw data and saw a trend would you be convinced?
        If you realized that the adjustments in the US are verified by double blind studies would you be convinced.

        In other words what happens if you reason for dis belief is demolished

      • What double blind studies? They are done by computer. It is neither double nor blind.

      • Well…

        It isn’t warming as much as it should if warming theory and the models was correct. And nobody seems to be in a hurry to correct the models or global warming theory.

        If the global temperature since 2000 was 1°C warmer in raw temperatures there would be a frenzy to extend the high end of global warming predictions, update the models, and identify the mechanism of the unexpected warming. And they wouldn’t be tweaking historic temperatures as much.

    • “Sometimes I wonder whether I’m the ONLY liberal/Democrat expressing skepticism of climate change dogma. It would be nice to learn I’m not alone, but sometimes I wonder.”

      You are not alone.

  20. “The best course of action is to slowly but surely move away from fossil fuels.”

    The best course of action is to move surely away from fossil fuels.

    The questions are.

    1. what stages
    2. What replacements.
    3. Who decides
    4. what science inputs do they need.

    People wasted 20 years doing things backwards.

    • “The best course of action is to move surely away from fossil fuels.”

      That will happen naturally when we run out of fossil fuels, or when we have cheaper and better energy sources. No need to preach about it, preaching does not produce energy.

      What is being attempted now, by advocates and policy makers, is – to starve us of energy – to block energy production (the one we have), to demonize energy, and drag us back to pre-industrial times, or, at least keep the underdeveloped countries in a state of underdevelopement.

      • “That will happen naturally when we run out of fossil fuels”

        it will happen naturally when we in the US invest our dollars in energy research, doing what we do best.

      • “We” in the US are. However a lot is wasted when the government does so because they are not innovators. They pursue dead ends and success is the exception. They did not find fossil fuels, coal or even whale oil.

        The worst solution is to get government involved because they are totally helpless when it comes to cost benefit analysis. And that is by definition.

      • “it will happen naturally when we in the US invest our dollars in energy research”… instead of wasting the dollars on useless things like solar panels and windmills – which are purchased in huge quantities (not experimental), at huge cost, though it is known already that they are useless.

    • The answers to your questions are simple and easy. The Market will decide. Governments can force things upon its own people, but it cannot defy Economics. All it accomplished when it tries is to impoverish its people.

    • “1. what stages”

      Unanswerable until we know the answer to number 2.

      “2. What replacements.”

      Some sort of combination of fairy-wheels, pixie-dust and wishful-thinking. Or nuclear. Or just replace coal with gas.

      “3. Who decides”

      Despots and populist democrats.

      “4. what science inputs do they need.”

      They don’t need any science inputs to do whatever insane thing they want to do. It might be nice if they had some decent scientific advice though. They’ve had bugger all so far. They’ve had a lot of inputs from retards in lab-coats, and crazy hubristic modellers. But I don’t think that’s the same thing.

  21. The ultra-rational position from Tol is: “The first rule of climate policy should be: Do no harm to economic growth. But the IPCC was asked to focus on the risks of climate change alone, and those who volunteered to be its authors eagerly obliged.”

    • In the US, generating power with coal and oil now actually *retards* economic growth — it takes us backwards.

      So the choice is pretty easy….

      • So according to your logic, David, the US should switch to generating power by wind and solar, just like Spain does. That certainly did wonders for their economic growth.

      • David: aren’t you constantly criticizing others for making unsupported assertions as if they were fact?

      • Muller, Nicholas Z., Robert Mendelsohn, and William Nordhaus. 2011. “Environmental Accounting for Pollution in the United States Economy.” American Economic Review, 101(5): 1649–75.
        http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.101.5.1649

      • Chris: Anything Spain did is inevitably bound up with the financial crisis and Europe’s response to it. Nobody there had the luxury of monetary policy, because independent countries can not print their own currency.

        So any analogies to Spain are meaningless for the US.

      • So in other words, David, you have no factual basis or working model to state that we should switch to solar and wind, other than a group of economists’ paper. No sense of how to make a system run on renewables. No idea of costs and problems. Just the idea that it would make a great Tee shirt slogan?

      • David Appell is a recidivist in ignoring the basic irrelevance of the Muller, Mendelsohn, and Nordhaus paper to his claim. I explained this to him the last time he tried to wave this paper as a talisman, but he just can’t let it go.

        It says right in the introduction of that paper that they assume that the average value of the output produced with fossil fuels is the same as the marginal value, i.e. they assume that there is ZERO CONSUMER SURPLUS in the consumption of goods and services. They assume that when you buy anything you are just indifferent between having what you bought and having the money that you paid for it. In reality, you are usually much better off for having the opportunity to buy products than if you weren’t able to–having shoes is worth a lot more to you than what you pay for shoes, having food is worth a lot more to you than what you pay for food, etc., but the Muller et al paper assumes, for technical reasons, that none of that is true and that the only gains from trade in the economy accrue to producers (because that is what is easy to measure). The paper cannot be used for the purpose Appell wants to use it.

        Repeatedly bringing up the same paper incorrectly after having it explained why it is irrelevant is less than helpful to honest discussion. Of course, if Appell has some rationale for why the paper’s conclusion might be relevant to his point despite its obvious limitation, he ought to offer it.

      • > In reality, you are usually much better off for having the opportunity to buy products than if you weren’t able to […]

        Citing a paper that models that might be nice.

      • David Appell (@davidappell) | December 27, 2014 at 12:46 am | Reply
        In the US, generating power with coal and oil now actually *retards* economic growth — it takes us backwards.

        So the choice is pretty easy….

        ———————————————————————

        Yep. Easy peasy. Frack baby frack.

      • John Carpenter

        Willard, citing a paper is not necessary. You dont even have to model it. You can do this on your own. Maybe even as a thought experiment. Constrain yourself to a behaviour in which you must make everything you use. Start simple, with a pair of shoes. Make your own. Note how long it takes to make them. Use them. Note how long they last. Note if your feet stay dry, warm, comfortable, or not. Note how often you need to repair them or how long before you make another pair. Measure the cost of your personal lost time used for making shoes with the benefit of learning a new trade and not relying on someone else to make your shoes. Then repeat where you don’t constrain your behaviour and make all the same notes about the shoes you buy. Compare the constrained vs unconstrained conditions. Then add in more items you use. The pants you wear, your shirts, your socks, your coat, your hat and gloves, etc.. Take it to another level, the food you eat, transportation used, communication methods…. Pretty soon you see the net benefit to having people specialize in certain trades. One simply cannot do everything. There is not enough time for one to function with the constraint of no opportunity to buy what you need. The opportunity to buy products gives you freedom to pursue other tasks rather bog your personal time down with making everything you need. Once you reach this realization, there is really no need to cite a paper for something you already know to be inherently true. There is a net benefit of time savings and personal freedom where you are usually much better off for having the opportunity to buy products than if you were not able to.

      • Perhaps you would like to show where that is so? Clearly, as I have stated, the government can make it uneconomical – but that is not the work of the fuel, but of government regulations that serve only to impoverish the people. There is a reason that the middle class is disappearing under this regime. The middle class is the anathema to government power.

        Again, you seek to impose your opinion without substantiation in order to starve the children of today. One can only wonder why.

      • Willard, Matt Ridley on has some sharp observations
        re the making of a pin and that life is getting better for
        most people as a result of the development of trade
        and specialization. Guess yer disagree.
        http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2010/10/ridley_on_trade.html

      • Willard, Matt Ridley has some sharp observations
        re the making of a pin, arguing that life is getting
        better for most people as a result of trade and
        specialization. Guess yer disagree.

        http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2010/10/ridley_on_trade.html

      • > citing a paper is not necessary.

        How to model stevepostrel’s desideratum is not quite clear from his comment alone, John. Here’s the paragraph of MMN11:

        We should note some conventions that we use in constructing our estimates. First, as is standard in national accounting, we rely on market prices to value quantities. That is, marginal values are applied to both marginal and inframarginal units. This implies that GDP estimates do not reflect consumer surplus. Second, we do not assume that the observed prices represent an economic optimum. Rather, market prices may reflect a number of distortions such as taxes or markets that are not perfectly competitive. Third, when the necessary prices are not available, they must be imputed. For example, the national accounts impute a rent for owner occupied housing. This study imputes a price on air pollution emissions equal to marginal damages in order to measure the externalities from air pollution. Finally, the damages due to air pollution are included in this study, but other external effects such as those that take place through water, soils, noise, and other media are not. For example, this paper quantifies the damages due to air pollution emissions from sewage treatment facilities, but it does not report the benefits stemming from water pollution control.

        http://pubs.aeaweb.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1257/aer.101.5.1649

        Since this paper follows what the authors call a “standard,” I think the onus is on stevepostrel to argue against it, for instance by showing why GDPs would need to reflect consumer surplus. Also, the concept of consumer surplus used by stevepostrel does not seem to correspond to the one on thy Wiki:

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

        Your thought experiment also seems to go against the second convention, although I am not sure I read it properly, and it doesn’t matter much except in an ideological rendering of economic analysis.

        ***

        Only growth is necessary. For everything else, citations may be needed.

      • CO2 Greens the Planet

        Willard needs a model to demonstrate that having money and no food is equivalent to having food and no money.

        Unbelievable. What kind of stupid does it take to fail to comprehend the fact that you will starve without food?

      • Say, how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

      • Willard: The paper is indeed following the standard for doing national accounting of GDP. That’s a perfectly fine exercise, and economists all understand that that’s all it’s doing. What Appell is doing is misapplying the study as if it describing the impact of fossil fuels on an economic welfare measure, which GDP is not (though it is of course correlated with welfare in broad terms over time). You can’t say that fossil fuels decrease per capita economic welfare if you ignore 90% of the economic surplus created. The paper is fine, but it doesn’t say what Appell wants it to say.

        Public finance economists, whose specialty is the impact and incidence of taxation on different parties and groups, have developed more refined techniques using what are called equivalent or compensating variations to capture the welfare impacts of things like taxes on product X. These methods require much more detailed data than the kind of thing used in the Muller et al paper, but they would be the appropriate ones to use to try to draw the conclusion Appell wants to draw. So Muller et al are within the standards for studying GDP but not for the welfare consequences of tax policy (e.g. carbon taxes). It’s not really their fault if people like Appell misapply it. Now if you find one of these authors misapplying it themselves in that way, I’d be willing to deliver a Curry-like critique of their ethics in public discourse, but at least Nordhaus has been pretty careful in my experience (although I disagree with him about policy).

      • Dave Appell
        The paper you reference depends entirely on models: economic, air quality, and dose-response effects on human health. The air quality and dose response models depend on a correlation that says that higher pollution levels cause more effects on human health outcomes. Of course this is generally true but what is missing is that as pollution levels have come down in the United States those effects may have dropped to the point that other health factors are the same magnitude.

        For example, the poster child for air pollution health effects is childhood asthma and advocates always point out that those rates are increasing. The problem is that asthma rates are increasing at the same time the ambient pollution levels are decreasing. EPA’s air quality trends website (http://www.epa.gov/airtrends/aqtrends.html) shows significant decreases in all pollutants) but at the same time the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics notes that “Childhood asthma prevalence more than doubled from 1980 to the mid-1990s (9:10) and remains at historically high levels” (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/ad/ad381.pdf).

        Personally, until I see a verification of the models used for this kind of work that can explain the discrepancy between the observed air quality and asthma effects, I cannot accept their results that claim that coal, oil and gas fired generation have air pollution damages greater than their value added.

    • Externalities embrace a diverse range of factors that are largely nonsense. They are usually costs we impose on ourselves willingly in the choices we make. I am surely not paying for your choices David. Where there are real health effects – and I don’t live in a city – there are better ways to address these than shutting down the power stations and shutting up the gas stations. They include better combustion cycles, better stoves for rural populations, better control of CFC’s and ozone and nitrous oxide precursors, controlling sources of sulphides and managing methane emissions better.

      These are fast mitigation options that have social benefits and cost effective technology exists. Improve agricultural soils and restore and conserve ecosystems – along with energy innovation programs – and you have the basis for a global mitigation strategy that not merely embraces but is lead by social and economic progress.

      We simply do not have the technology to realistically displace fossil fuels. You may argue about it as much as you like – we are not replacing fossil fuels with wind, solar or even nuclear. Just quite yet. I have no objection per se – they are just not going to work at the scale required. Not even close.

      Now if we had a small, modular nuclear engine that was mass produced in a factory like a car, was based on decades old technology, burned existing nuclear waste, couldn’t melt down, ran in a sealed bunker for 30 years without intervention, radically reduced the volume in a much safer waste stream, didn’t require water cooling and produced ultra cheap power at a temperature high enough to produce hydrogen – we might have a winner.

      The objective is to maximise economic growth as the major driver of social, economic and environmental progress. Some $2.5 trillion of aid to 2030 – might assist a little. The point is to maximise the bang for the buck and not piss it up against a wall in pointless feel good exercises. .

      http://www.copenhagenconsensus.com/post-2015-consensus

      As for carbon taxes – I am a bit bored with it all. I know – let’s just vote on it. .

      • Of course you’re paying for my choices. Pollution affects health — you’re not immune to that.

      • Pollution does – CO2 does not. You are starving children for nothing more than your vanity.

      • Cities are about cars, buses, ferries. If there are costs – these are the result of collective choices and the costs are collectively borne. The practical alternative involves low cost transport fuels – which are not there as yet. All drive electric cars? Yeah sure – whatever you think David.

        I did mention it – I don’t live in a city. You can drive all you like – I don”t care.

      • David Appell,

        “Of course you’re paying for my choices. Pollution affects health — you’re not immune to that.”

        But that’s a miniscule consideration when compared to all the other factors in my life.

        Climate change wasn’t a huge topic of conversation on the eastern front during WW2.

        P.S. If you are really worried about your impact on me, then – do you drive a car? Do you use a computer composed of material garnished from fossil carbon deposits? Do you wear clothes that were manufactured using fossil fuels? Do you use hospitals that can afford to provide the treatments that they do because of low cost energy?

        The hypocrisy, it burns.

      • As a cyclist I can tell you that electric cars are terrifying, they drive up to you silently and you don’t know they are there.
        I wonder what will happen to pedestrian death rates in the ear of silent cars.

      • Torque without turmoil,
        Audiologists screech out;
        Rubber road meet up.
        =================

  22. Richard S.J. Tol

    Thanks, Judy, for the kind words.

  23. andywest2012
    February 4, 2014 at 12:02 pm
    Mike Hulme is living proof that possessing knowledge of what CAGW really is, i.e. a huge cultural phenomenon, does not neccessarily protect one from being simultaneously immersed in that culture. Check this quote
    “The function of climate change I suggest, is not as a lower-case environmental phenomenon to be solved…It really is not about stopping climate chaos. Instead, we need to see how we can use the idea of climate change – the matrix of ecological functions, power relationships, cultural discourses and materials flows that climate change reveals – to rethink how we take forward our political, social, economic and personal projects over the decades to come.
    Climate change also teaches us to rethink what we really want for ourselves…mythical ways of thinking about climate change reflect back to us truths about the human condition. . . .
    The idea of climate change should be seen as an intellectual resource around which our collective and personal identifies and projects can form and take shape. We need to ask not what we can do for climate change, but to ask what climate change can do for us…Because the idea of climate change is so plastic, it can be deployed across many of our human projects and can serve many of our psychological, ethical, and spiritual needs.
    …climate change has become an idea that now travels well beyond its origins in the natural sciences…climate change takes on new meanings and serves new purposes…climate change has become “the mother of all issues”, the key narrative within which all environmental politics – from global to local – is now framed…Rather than asking “how do we solve climate change?” we need to turn the question around and ask: “how does the idea of climate change alter the way we arrive at and achieve our personal aspirations…?”
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/02/04/quote-of-the-week-cru-scientist-disses-cooks-97/#comment-1558534

    There is no valid reason for a Climate Policy at all. It is misdirection and a red-herring.
    What we badly need to do is stop trying to implement Energy Policy through the backdoor via Proxy of carbophobia.
    We need to address our energy future directly and head on, no matter that it is politically not palatable.

  24. ‘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 post 2015 Millennium Development Goals analysis

    In the interest of the environment – let me recycle this. I have been pondering this for decades. It is the core of environmental science – how to reconcile environment, society and development. It was expressed as well as anywhere in the Brundtland report – although seemingly more honoured in the distortion. “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Where the UN defines the needs of people for power as enough electricity to power a fan, a couple of light bulbs, and a radio for five hours a day – the distortion from the original ideals of the Rio Summit are profound. It illustrates how far we have come from meeting the social, economic and environmental aspirations of either today’s or tomorrow’s people.

    The recent “Living Planet’ report from the World Wildlife Fund says this.

    ‘Biodiversity is declining in both temperate and tropical regions, but the decline is greater in the tropics. The tropical LPI shows a 56 per cent reduction in 3,811 populations of 1,638 species from 1970 to 2010. The 6,569 populations of 1,606 species in the temperate LPI declined by 36 per cent over the same period. Latin America shows the most dramatic decline – a fall of 83 per cent.’

    As an environmental scientist – there is little doubt in my mind that this is broadly correct. It echoes results of studies from many areas of the world over many decades. The causes are fairly obvious.

    The proportions seem reasonable as far as it goes – although climate change is likely over estimated. The logic of the environment is that real problem are forgotten in the hysteria of global warming. We are certainly not thinking rationally about problems or creatively about solutions.

    What are the solutions proposed by the WWF?

    – Preserve natural capital:
    Restore damaged ecosystems, halt the loss of priority habitats, significantly expand protected areas.

    – Produce better:
    Reduce inputs and waste, manage resources sustainably, scale-up renewable energy production.

    – Consume more wisely:
    Through low-footprint lifestyles, sustainable energy use and healthier food consumption patterns.

    – Redirect financial flows:
    Value nature, account for environmental and social costs, support and reward conservation, sustainable resource management and innovation.

    – Equitable resource governance:
    Share available resources, make fair and ecologically informed choices, measure success beyond GDP.

    It is all a bit airy fairy. Let’s instead focus on increasing the resources available to build food security, decrease population pressures, conserve and repair ecosystems and reduce pollution. The Copenhagen Consensus offers as an alternative 12 phenomenal (benefit/cost ration >15) ways to save the world by 2030.

    1. Increase by productive employment opportunities for all, reduce barriers to productive employment for all including women and young people.

    2. Reduce by by 50% or more malnutrition in all its forms, notably stunting and wasting in children under five years of age.

    3. End the epidemics of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases, reverse the spread of,and significantly reduce deaths from tuberculosis and malaria.

    4. Achieve universal health coverage (UHC), including financial risk protection, with particular attention to the most marginalized, assuming a gradual increase in coverage over time, focusing first on diseases where interventions have high benefits-to-costs.

    5. Ensure universal access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health for all, including modern methods of family planning.

    6. Ensure universal access to access and complete quality pre-primary education

    7. Ensure equal access to education at all levels.

    8. Ensure increased access to sustainable modern energy services.

    9. Phase out fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption

    10. Build resilience and adaptive capacity to climate induced hazards in all vulnerable countries.

    11. Promote open, rules-based, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading and financial systems, including complying with the agricultural mandate of the WTO Doha Round.

    12. Improve market access for agricultural and industrial exports of developing countries, especially Least Developed Countries, and at least double the share of LDCs’ exports in global exports by 2020

    These goals have the seeds for real progress in mitigating greenhouse gases – including black carbon, methane, nitrous oxide, CFC’s and tropospheric ozone – and reducing carbon dioxide by agricultural soil improvements and ecosystem restoration. But the real social and economic progress – the crux of the central ethics dilemma of our day – is in real progress towards meeting legitimate social, economic and environmental aspirations.

    ‘Today, over one billion people around the world—five hundred million of them in sub-Saharan Africa alone—lack access to electricity. Nearly three billion people cook over open fires fueled by wood, dung, coal, or charcoal. This energy poverty presents a significant hurdle to achieving development goals of health, prosperity, and a livable environment.

    The relationship between access to modern energy services and quality of life is well established. Affordable and reliable grid electricity allows factory owners to increase output and hire more workers. Electricity allows hospitals to refrigerate lifesaving vaccines and power medical equipment. It liberates children and women from manual labor. Societies that are able to meet their energy needs become wealthier, more resilient, and better able to navigate social and environmental hazards like climate change and natural disasters.’ http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/programs/energy-and-climate/our-high-energy-planet

    Climate change is far from being the key ethical issue of our age – it is little more than a very unfortunate diversion.from rational social, economic and environmental objectives. I’d suggest we ignore it and get on with the business in hand.

  25. I certainly agree with this bit.
    “It is only in the longer term that our choices affect climate change, and by then its impacts are likely to be negative on net. This implies that climate change is an economic problem, and that if economics could be rid of politics, greenhouse gas emissions should be taxed.”
    Also the idea by the antagonists that we are eliminating fossil fuels tomorrow for today’s new energy is a false choice. This is a phased process over many decades with, for example, 10-20% less fossil fuel emissions per decade. New technologies will advance and create new economic opportunities for the countries that lead. Nuclear should not be ruled out as a stop-gap. Imagine how much changed between 1915 and 2000. That is what we are looking at for the period 2015-2100 during which these new technologies, some of which we may not even be able to imagine now, will come to the front. Fossil fuels will be seen as old-fashioned energy by 2100. I trust in human ingenuity to come up with the solution over time given the proper motivation.

    • I agree with most of this. But disagree with this:
      “Nuclear should not be ruled out as a stop-gap. ”

      First Work out what energy the world will be consuming in 2100, 2200 and 2300 (the periods over which climate damages and abatement costs have to be accumulated in order to justify carbon pricing and other schemes that increase the cost of energy).

      Then show how you can supply that energy without fossil fuels and without nuclear.

      Apart from that, I agree with most of your comment. But you have not acknowledged that progress is being blocked by the very people who are most concerned about CAGW. And you haven’t suggested how to get around or remove this blockage. in fact you seem to support it continuing.

      Here’s a clue about one important step you could get behind:
      http://home.comcast.net/~robert.hargraves/public_html/RadiationSafety26SixPage.pdf

    • ‘The question is therefore not whether there is an economic case for climate policy; it’s how much emission reduction can be justified at given losses to social welfare. To answer that question, we need to understand the size of the impacts of climate change. The current evidence, weak and incomplete as it may be, as summarized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, suggests that a century worth of climate change is about as bad as losing a year of economic growth.’

      The better idea Jimbo is to focus on economic growth in the interim to offset any small losses.
      The carbon dioxide reduction trajectory depends on the availability of technology to supply low cost energy or we risk more than it warrants. It is still less than half the problem.

      You believe in the creativity of the technological monkey? Let it be driven by informed innovation rather than taxes.

      • The revenue from a carbon tax could be used to stimulate or reward growth in private industry related to needed new technologies. Industry usually likes government when it has money to wave in front of them, especially if it can make them competitive against foreign competition.

      • In other words, just a slush fund to bypass the will of the people and enrich cronies of those in power.

      • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

        JimD, that’s true, but it’s a pie in the face of free-market fruitcakes.
        What’s most important to them is not economic growth but how the growth is achieved. They don’t want government directing economic activity through tax policies and regulations.

        I agree with them in part. I don’t believe in putting economic growth ahead of everything. I believe economic growth should be achieved through environmentally responsible ways. I disagree with them in part. I believe an unregulated market is carte blanche for despoiling the environment.

      • The jimmy-maxie school of economics:

        The revenue from a potato tax could be used to stimulate or reward growth in private industry related to needed new technologies. Hell, tax everything and stimulate private industry, until their a$$es fall off.

        Nobel prize is in the mail.

      • Max, yes, GDP economic growth is not an even measure against GDP damage. Damage may amount to a small GDP, but it is distributed among the poorest countries where GDP per capita is about 5% of that in wealthy countries, so many people are affected for that GDP amount. Growth is mostly among the wealthy countries and saying that mitigation costs a year of growth has great uncertainty anyway, because the annualized cost is only about a tenth of the natural variability of GDP. In fact, by 2100, global GDP could vary by several hundred percent due to all the other factors, and impacting it by a year is almost meaningless. Given the more certain effects of damage on large numbers of people versus a GDP cost of mitigation within the noise, my choice would be mitigation.

      • The revenue from a carbon tax could be used to stimulate or reward growth in private industry related to needed new technologies.

        Last I looked – taxes in the US were too high and spending way too high. But in essence – a reasonable level of spending on R&D is not dependent on more taxes. Look to budget savings – for this and many other reasons.

        Carbon taxes increase input costs for industry and reduce productivity. This is certainly not the way to go if you have a concern for economic activity. Sin taxes on carbon – masquerading as Pigovian taxes – seem calculated to be immensely damaging to economic systems. They rely on creating an environment where high cost energy is substituted for low cost.

        The rational objective is to develop low cost energy sources and the economic dynamic ensures rapid transitions with positive economic impact.

        Industry usually likes government when it has money to wave in front of them, especially if it can make them competitive against foreign competition.

        Increasing energy costs is not the way to make the bulk of US industry cost competitive.

        The global economic system is a chaotic network – with globally distributed nodes. The key to global development is the mechanisms that tend to stabilise the system. Optimum economic growth happens with government with generally balanced budgets at some 22% of GDP. It requires a basis of fair and transparent regulation – the rule of law – and effective management of interest rates.

        ‘Emergence, order, self-organisation, turbulence, induction, evolution, criticality,
        adaptive, non-linear, non-equilibrium are some of the words that characterise
        the conceptual underpinnings of the ‘new’ sciences of complexity that
        seem to pervade some of the frontiers in the natural, social and even the human
        sciences. Not since the heyday of Cybernetics and the more recent brief-lived
        ebullience of chaos applied to a theory of everything and by all and sundry,
        has a concept become so prevalent and pervasive in almost all fields, from
        Physics to Economics, from Biology to Sociology, from Computer Science to
        Philosophy as Complexity seems to have become. An entire Institution, with
        high-powered scientists in many of the above fields, including several Nobel
        Laureates from across the disciplinary boundaries as key permanent or visiting
        members, has come into existence with the specific purpose of promoting the
        Sciences of Complexity.’ http://web.unitn.it/files/7_03_vela.pdf

        Their mistake is to believe that the system is infinitely mutable because it is the creation of a mind. It isn’t – it is the emergent property of many simple behaviours and we need to recognise the ground rules for preserving stability – to the best of our ability – of the system as a whole. We can’t impose order on a system as creatively destructive as capitalism without killing the golden goose. We need to work with it to preserve stability of the system while meeting social and environmental aspirations.

        The politics of carbon taxes are a slippery side. The alternative to growth is the ambition – freely expressed and frequently repeated – to pursue universal poverty. One has to wonder whether their objectives are calculated to this end or are simply utterly misguided.

      • ==> “Last I looked – taxes in the US were too high and spending way too high..

        Yeah, and the U.S. economy is cratering as a result. What we need, is to listen to the free-market fetishists, and stop robbing the “doers” with taxes.

        Need evidence? Why just look at Kans….oh. wait a second….

        Ohio Gov. John Kasich will roll out “responsible” tax plans that protect against revenue gaps. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Arizona’s new Republican governor are delaying big dreams of nixing the income tax as they face budget shortfalls. And Missouri Republicans, once jealous of their neighbor Kansas’ massive cuts, are thankful they trimmed less.

        Call it the Brownback effect.

        Republicans once idolized Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback as a tax cutting superstar — now he’s a lesson in what not to do.

        “It’s a cautionary tale on a national scale … Many of us felt that [Kansas] had been too aggressive,” said Indiana Senate Majority Leader and tax committee chairman Brandt Hershman, who helped GOP Gov. Mike Pence cut corporate taxes last spring. “We all like low taxes … but we have to ensure the stability of a revenue stream to provide basic services that our citizens expect.”

        It’s a major turnaround from two years ago, when Brownback was considered a Republican trailblazer for conservatives around the nation who dreamed of phasing out their state income tax.

        Geez. Who could have predicted that?

      • ‘though it is expected to top $17.6 trillion by August 1, the national debt has dropped out of the headlines recently. Out of sight may indeed mean out of mind, especially in Washington, but that hardly means the problem has gone away — as a new report from the Congressional Budget Office makes clear.

        Let’s start with the good news. The annual budget deficit continues to decline. This year’s deficit is expected to be just $492 billion. Of course “just” is a relative term — a $492 billion deficit still means that we are borrowing 14 cents out of every dollar that we spend. Even so, this represents a marked improvement from the $1.4 trillion deficit that we ran as recently as 2009. And, next year’s deficit is projected to be even lower, possibly as low as $469 billion.

        Unfortunately, this respite is expected to be very short-lived. As soon as 2016, the deficit will begin growing again. By 2023, it is likely to once again top $1 trillion.

        These ongoing deficits mean that our national debt is only going to get bigger too. The CBO report reminds us that the debt has been growing by leaps and bounds recently, doubling over the last six years.

        Today, every taxpayer owes $151,000 as his or her share of this debt. To this ocean of red ink, the CBO estimates that we will add an additional $9.4 trillion over the next ten years. And that’s the good news; after 2024, things really get bad…

        These are not just abstract numbers. The CBO report makes it clear that there is a very real cost to continued government profligacy. Under the baseline CBO projections, real GNP per capita will be 4 percent lower by 2039 than it would be if we followed more prudent fiscal policies. That means our children will be roughly $2,000 poorer per capita. Under the more realistic alternative scenario, real GNP per capita will be as much as 7 percent lower.’ http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/dc-forgets-about-debt?gclid=Cj0KEQiAzvmkBRCm3ZbV-4-hwrYBEiQAgLOw628cERVZjNntSxV-z_T3jo8S-eJAOAsVf0kdXs40yDwaAtmJ8P8HAQ

        Josh is a big picture sort of guy. I did mention balanced budgets?

        The US budget deficit is a growing problem – as is US and European ‘quantitative easing’ – it creates overhangs that ultimately lead to instability in a complex system. It is certainly not the way to avoid system shocks.

      • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

        Rob, the $151,00 each of us American taxpayers owes the government is shocking. It made me want to emigrate to a country where I wouldn’t owe so much. According to a study at blumberg.com, each person (not just each taxpayer) in Nigeria owes only $372. You can’t beat that, but I’m not sure I would be happy in a warm climate.

        I was disappointed to find I would owe the government a lot of money in any country that looked appealing. I finally decided my best bet would be one of those socialist countries in Europe. My obligation would be $25,155 if I became a Swede, or $28,778 if I became a Dane. Sweden probably will be my first choice.

        I briefly considered Australia, which seemed like a bargain at $18,110, but then I remembered the country’s history as dumping ground for riffraff, and I fear the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree.

        I wonder if Sweden has an admission fee?

        http://www.bloomberg.com/visual-data/best-and-worst//most-government-debt-per-person-countries

      • Max –

        I would suggest Somalia. I know those Socialist countries have a much higher standard of living in every respect imaginable, but Somalia has much lower taxes than what they have in Scandenavia, and that’s what matters most in life.

        That, and the fact that they don’t use any renewable-sourced electricity in Somalia. Sure, the diesel-generated electricity might go mostly to the warlords, but think of the great advantages of living in a country where there are none of those awful windmills or solar panels.

      • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

        I didn’t see Somalia on this list, so it must mean the country has no national debt, or little or no government. The taxes in Somalia must be very low and the citizens must have more freedom than they can use. Is this the country where people chew something called “Chat.”

      • I never knew life in Somalia was so great. No windmills or shiny reflectors, low taxes, all good.

        There is one puzzle, I thought chat was something you did with your phone not something you chew.

      • Standard economic management as I said.

        The global economic system is a chaotic network – with globally distributed nodes. The key to global development is the mechanisms that tend to stabilise the system. Optimum economic growth happens with government with generally balanced budgets at some 22% of GDP. It requires a basis of fair and transparent regulation – the rule of law – and effective management of interest rates.

        Sweden did you say?

        Impressive growth. But you need to compare it to a country that actually works economically.

        And compare tax and spending.

        Economic freedom.

        http://www.heritage.org/index/ranking

        And happiness. Algeria is apparently pretty happy.

        http://www.happyplanetindex.org/data/

        And country IQ – you’re looking for low IQ countries so that you don’t reduce the average by too much.

        I’d suggest Brazil – but that’s pretty rough on the Brazilians.

      • Let’s add this – for if and when my comment get out of moderation.

    • This is a phased process over many decades with, for example, 10-20% less fossil fuel emissions per decade.

      IMO you need to study more biology. The parallels between exponential growth curves (or sections of curves) in biology and technology are highly instructive. Your “10-20% less fossil fuel emissions per decade” is totally inappropriate. 1-2% per decade now can easily grow to 50-100% in a few decades. With far less impact to current growth and improvement to quality-of-life.

      • OK, I mean a linear 10-20% which would reach 100% reduction by around 2100. This is consistent with possible Paris proposed targets by the major emitters. However, due to natural sequestration I think it is a win to even get down to 30% current emissions and hold at ~10 GtCO2 per year through 2100.

      • I mean a linear 10-20% which would reach 100% reduction by around 2100.

        But the assumption of “linear” turns your whole argument in into a straw man. Technology (often) tends to improve exponentially, which means that demanding “linear” is unwarrantetd.

      • AK +1

      • http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/08/petm-weirdness/

        Love realclimate.

        The PETM had a 3000 gt carbon increase. The CO2 level increased 700 PPM.

        There are 760 gT carbon in fossil fuel reserves (2790/3.67).

        700*760/3000 = 177 PPM.

        So if we burn it all we get 577 PPM.

        I’m fine with 577 PPM. If India and China get all their planned nukes built it probably won’t even get that high.

  26. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    Canman asserts [bizarrely]  “The sea level rise is the straightest graph in all of climate sciencedom.”

    http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/mandias/global_warming/images/SL_1870-2010.gif

    Denialism willfully get facts wrong.

    • Denialism superstitiously cherry-pick its data.

    • Denialism weights thermodynamical evidence at zero.

    • Denialism is selfishly short-sighted.

    • Denialism is cheaply hired by selfish short-term special interests.

    Question  Why would *ANY* rational responsible persons respect denialist economic analyses?

    Answer  Few do.

    That’s obvious to *EVERYONE*, eh Climate Etc readers?

    \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}

    • FOMD,
      Why would *ANY* rational responsible persons respect denialist economic analyses?

      So if it comes with a label, it’s to be ignored w/o consideration for the content?

      Based on this, is there zero validity to Mr. Tol’s entire discussion? Please define “rational” so I’ll understand better the ground rules for that which we should consider and that which we should not.

      If Canman posts ““The sea level rise is the straightest graph in all of climate sciencedom.” then we therefore are irrational for considering Mr. Tol’s discussion? Did I get that right?

    • Fan

      Apples and oranges. A satellite record perched on top of a tidal gauge record?

      Are you aware as to how many gauges it covers and of those how many have never been moved?

      Tonyb

    • My “bizarre” assertion was meant to be rhetorical. Those lines in that GIF look cherrypicked. After the elbow at 1920, the rise over the last 100 years is a remarkably straight line.

    • “Question Why would *ANY* rational responsible persons respect denialist economic analyses?”

      Question: Why would *ANY* rational responsible persons respect a data adjusting warmist’s economic analyses?

      As far sea level:

      It got warm in the 20th century and sea level went up 6-7 inches.

      21st century could be a rerun, especially if we start warming sometime soon.

    • Jakehearts the accountant

      Your source is the associate professor Scott Mandia – the self identified caped crusader. Surely you jest.

  27. “Cold logic on climate should chance policy”

    This is an assertion and I hope it turns out to be true, but logic can take many forms. While the IPCC scientific case is weak, so are the opposing views, probably because they lack scientific consensus: we can’t decide where the IPCC went wrong.. The models are undoubtedly wrong but there is no debate on their details. Validation of models should of course either include argument for their correctness or recommendations for further research. The ‘scirence is settled’ argument is no longer tenable.

    Hopefully the problem will be resolved when the APS presents its report

    • The APS report will not change EPA policy.

      • APS report won’t change EPA policy but Republican majorities in the US House and Senate certainly will.

        Noticed the bottom dropping out of oil prices lately? Thank the above majority for it. It’s just the beginning of a return to sane energy policy in the US. Russia, Iraq, and Venezuela are staggering into economic crisis because of it.

        I’m surprised there hasn’t been an article on oil price decline here yet or anyone talking about it.

      • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

        The decline in the price of oil is a bad thing.

    • The two Davids and Max, thanks for your replies. But Max, I cannot agree with you that the decline in oil probes is bad After all, any increase in oil consumption due to it’s being cheaper will, as recent effects show will be negligible.

  28. Jeffrey Eric Grant

    My problem has not been addressed: What is the justification to spend all of our time and resources to solve this: Just how much atmospheric CO2 can we tollerate? IPCC’s AR5 seems to indicate that the leading researchers are wavering on the answer.

    I’m interested in all the other stuff (like sea level rise), but until the temparature/CO2 question has been hammered down, we are spinning our wheels for no gain.

    Everyone has their own agenda, mine is: Let’s solve the riddle. Determine the answer. Then, and only after that’s been done, put our time and resources into the best solution. For that, we need all the brightest minds focused on the solution, rather than playing football in the schoolyard, like it’s recess time.

    Acta non Verba

  29. I am surprised that Tol does not mention the Social Cost of Carbon:
    http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/Downloads/EPAactivities/scc-fact-sheet.pdf which predicts the economic damages for the next 300 years, from each ton of CO2 emitted today. The claim is preposterous of course but that is precisely where US policy is today. A host of punishing new regulations are being based on SCC.

    The time for discussion has past. The government is in motion.

    • Richard S.J. Tol

      David: The editor asked for a big picture story on climate policy. The social cost of carbon is a detail.

      • Richard, it is not just a detail in the US where SCC is justifying new regs. The good thing about SCC is that it makes clear just how extreme the future damage claims have to be in order to justify serious action. Unlike vague references to IPCC statements the SCC modeling provides clarity to absurdity. So you might at least have referred to the SCC modeling as the major example of what you are talking about, which is economic modeling.

  30. Tol’s argument is based on this claim: “The economic case for emission reduction is thus remarkably simple and robust. We only need to argue that in the long run unabated climate change will do more harm than good.”

    The problem is that none of this is known to be true. If there is no damage from our emissions, which seems likely, then there is no case. Speculation is not a sound basis for policy.

    • +1

    • It’s a blessing not a curse. Human misperception from the gitgo of alarm.

      Mound the harm from that misperception, though; a mountain, not a molehill.
      ===================

      • John Smith (it's my real name)

        kim
        it’s a kinda spiritual question isn’t it?
        original sin
        funny to me that almost all modern liberal minded secular people still believe in it
        just gave it a new name “anthropogenic”

  31. David, if one bases their arguement in future terms, all they need to do is push the target farther into the future so as to not be ‘proven’ false, they can get away with anything. Being shrill and alarming helps their cause. SCC is the case in point.

    A ‘good one’ is: Spend enough money and resource on it now, to avert a problem later. Thing is, maybe doing nothing will avert the same stated problem (because the foundation was incorrect, and they chased the wrong ‘solution’- which actually did nothing).

    However, at the designated time in the future they can say: ‘see, I told you so’!

    What a waste!

  32. nottawa rafter

    Actually, I like the statement by Mann and Kammen about the gathering storm of Nazism in Europe. For anyone uninitiated to the climate debate and having a modicum of common sense and life experiences, once they read the reference to Nazism and then contrast it to Richard Tol’s well reasoned and thoughtful essay, they will easily see which side is steeped in reality and which side is inflicted with borderline psychosis.

    Get Mann, et al all the publicity they can get. It is the skeptics best weapon.

  33. Let me suggest re-reading the analyses by “Planning Engineer”.

    Planning Engineer. “All Megawatts Are Not Equal.” Scientific. Climate Etc., December 11, 2014. https://judithcurry.com/2014/12/11/all-megawatts-are-not-equal/
    ———. “More Renewables? Watch out for the Duck Curve.” Scientific. Climate Etc., November 5, 2014.
    https://judithcurry.com/2014/11/05/more-renewables-watch-out-for-the-duck-curve/
    ———. “Myths and Realities of Renewable Energy.” Scientific. Climate Etc., October 22, 2014.
    https://judithcurry.com/2014/10/22/myths-and-realities-of-renewable-energy/
    ———. “Myths and Realities of Renewable Energy.” Scientific. Climate Etc., October 22, 2014.
    https://judithcurry.com/2014/10/22/myths-and-realities-of-renewable-energy/

  34. John DeFayette

    A reasonable article by Richard Tol, but there is the one basic problem of human CO2 attribution that he takes as a given. Without a convincing demonstration that the connection is real all the rest is a wasteful intellectual exercise.

    We need to be able to accept IPCC WGI’s work before the other two sections make any sense at all.

  35. Reblogged this on Centinel2012 and commented:
    The basic question is why fix something that isn’t broken? And worse you had better fix what is really broken not something else. We know today that the GCM’s predictions of global temperature as not correlating with CO2 levels, in fact there are approaching .5 degrees C higher the the estimated global mean as published by NASA. This indicates that there is a problem in the logic programed into the GCM’s and that cast doubt on the impact of CO2 levels and their impact on climate. Without solid evidence that we know with very high probability how to forecast climate it would be insane to try to modify it! Richard has it 100% right there are way to many other issues that need to be solved that are real and not speculative.

  36. Some numbers on renewables.

    • The best speaker I’ve seen on explaining the scale of energy use is CalTech prof Nate Lewis:

      • Thanks for posting this Canman. Lewis presents a good description of the magnitude of the problems associated with replacing our current energy “system” with non fossil fuel alternatives. Not a pretty picture, especially if you scare yourself into thinking that it has to be done immediately or the planet is doomed.

        Fortunately the data seems to be telling us that CO2 driven runaway temperature increases are not likely. Responsible scientists and economists, like Lindzen, Curry and Tol, are suggesting that we have time to better understand the climate physics at work and to develop rational long term solutions to replace fossil fuels when we have to. Unfortunately this doesn’t comport with the green mafia’s agenda or with the UN’s goal of redistributing wealth in the world.

  37. Thanks for calling attention to Tol’s new article. A reasoned plea for perspective and balance, both mostly lacking in MSM and ‘official’ pronouncements like NCA2014 or EPA’s proposed coal rules.
    Actionable climate policy is largely energy policy. And energy policy needs to fold in two non-climate fact vectors. It would be nice to see more reasoned argument from Tol and his colleagues comcerning them.
    One vector is future fossil fuel availability (annual production at some cost) based on region by region geophysics. Example: the largest US shale oil deposit is California’s Monterey. Because of folding and faulting, its technically recoverable reserve is essentially zero. Essay Reserve Reservations. Example: the world’s largest shale oil deposit is Siberia’s Bahzenov. But it likely holds less technically recoverable oil than North Dakota’s Bakken. The fact that at YE 2014 global supply exceeds demand by about 1.5/91 mbpd says nothing about the global situation in 2020 or 2025, the necessary lead time frames for making actionable energy investments.
    Second vector is lead time wrt climate change related energy policy. If TCR is 1.3 and ECS is 1.7 (observational) rather than 1.9 and 3.2 (CMIP5 models) then there are decades of lead time to research better solutions (e.g. 4th gen nuclear) rather than rushing investment into costly and suboptimal present technology (3rd gen nuclear, wind with premature bearing failure and lack of grid storage) that we would be stuck with for the next 50 years. Essay Going Nuclear.

    • Rud

      It’s not been a popular idea when I have floated it here, as its seen as ‘socialist’ by some, but I feel the west could get together in a renewable energy version of Apollo or CERN.

      That is to say govts could provide state of the art facilities so scientists coud come together in a 10 year well funded programme to find new sources of energy or to improve existing technologies.

      Amongst the latter might be a concerted effort to find better methods of storage! so the current Achilles heel of renewables, not beng able to store their surplus for use during times of shortage, can be addressed.

      The last 15 years of temperature hiatus must have made many govts realise that IF man is warming the world he is doing it at a slow enough rate to be able to deal with the problem in a reasoned manner instead of using today’s imperfect and expensive technologies.

      Tonyb

      • Tony, agree. If half the many billions of spending on climate models was diverted to energy research, there would probably be progress. Solve the reliability problems of grid scale flow batteries. Get serious about gen 4 nuclear, decide which schemes merit pilot facilities, build them, and wring them out. It is stunning that China is building a pilot scale LFTR while the US wastes over $7 billion on the NIF. Bill Gates has invested more in TWR design (TerraPower) than the US.

      • John Smith (it's my real name)

        Tonyb
        as a child of Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, I like your idea
        how ’bout we stop scarring children
        give them and ourselves a positive view of the future
        that is science to me
        what happened to us?

        I fear the real purpose may be something else
        the fear mongering appears to have an ulterior motive visible in the ridiculous nature of it
        stinks like cheap advertising

        perhaps President Obama could announce such a proposal
        instead of “flat earth” statements
        separating and isolating folk like you and I serves his purposes better

        I will resist them on the land, I will resist on the sea and in the air, I will never give in, never, never
        didn’t some politically incorrect guy with a big fat cigar say something like that once upon a time in a land faraway?

      • “The last 15 years of temperature hiatus must have made many govts realise that IF man is warming the world he is doing it at a slow enough rate…”
        —-
        This is decidedly NOT the thinking amongst many experts. It has been suggested by many studies that natural variability in ocean-atmosphere Heat flux and not lower sensivity of the system to GH gas forcing led to the so-called hiatus.

        To wit:

        2010-2014 likely to be the warmest 5 year period on record.
        2003-2014 likely to be the warmest 10 year period on record.
        2014 likely to be the warmest year on record.
        Oceans at their warmest on record.

        Odd sort of “hiatus” from warming, eh?

  38. daveandrews723

    I am not a scientist, but I am very impressed with the thoughtful and logical argument presented by Tol and the comments expressed by others in this post. It is very sad that the “warmists” riding the CAGW bandwagon do not have nearly the amount of sophistication I have just seen here. They really do have small minds. Dogma is not attractive or useful. It’s apparent that they are becoming more defensive every day as the holes in their “CO2 as climate driver” hypothesis become bigger and bigger.

  39. This is an unjustified conclusion by Richard Tol:

    “Climate change is a problem, but at least as an economics problem, it is certainly not the biggest problem humankind faces.”
    —-
    We don’t know that it is “certainly” not the biggest problem we face. Such an expression of certainty is unjustified and not in keeping with a fair and rationally skeptical perspective. It could turn out to be by far the biggest problem we’ve ever faced, and could be, from an existential perspective, terminal. Catastrophic, species eliminating climate change cannot be completely discounted, regardless of how unlikely, and thus Tol’s “certainly not” perspective is skewed far too much toward a minimization of potential threats from Anthropogenic climate change.

    Interestingly, the Rand Corp, and our very own Pentagon have looked at the potential future economic effects of climate change and consider it to be the most potentially disruptive global driver of economic and social unrest– in stark disagreement with Tol.

    • Rgates

      Just over the last week we have had the hacking of Sony, the hacking of the co that operate South koreas nuclear programmes, the hacking of Xbox and play station platforms.

      This year we have had the hackng of banks, the hackng of so called secure financial Details from web sites, the attacks on power companes, material stolen from the ‘ cloud. In the newspapers today is a report on the vulnerability of modern cars to hacking.

      It would take two days for the industrial world to collapse in anarchy if there was A concerted attack by an unfriendly state to take down our banks, power, water, petrol, food chain.

      In that context do you REALLY believe the somewhat nebulous concept of man made climate change is more important? REALLY?

      Tonyb

      • nottawa rafter

        Those catastrophes you list all have s very probability of happening in the next 10 years. I’m afraid we will look back and say how could we have been so naive and unprepared. The risk will be growing exponentially as the dependency on technology grows and the capability of the “bad guys” becomes more sophisticated.

      • Nottawa rafter

        I doubt it will be ten years before we have to face a potentially crippling attack.

        I also suspect that if mobile phones were taken down for a day, that our technology addicted teenagers would collapse in a heap unble to text, tweet or use face book.

        There is distinctly a divide between those who remember the world pre highly dependent on the Internet ( five years) and those who think it essential to every faceT of life.

        Tonyb

      • TonyB:

        It would take two days for the industrial world to collapse in anarchy if there was A concerted attack by an unfriendly state to take down our banks, power, water, petrol, food chain.

        In that context do you REALLY believe the somewhat nebulous concept of man made climate change is more important? REALLY?

        I might, but that’s because I don’t believe your concerns about these risks are remotely reflective of the actual risks. Doomsday scenarios revolving around cyber attacks are fantastical as any other doomsday scenarios, including ones involving global warming.

        For instance, you refer to a “hack” of the company that runs nuclear power plants in South Korea. That makes it sound far more serious than it was. Those nuclear power plants are run by analog control, not digital. There’s nothing hackers could have done to them. And that’s ignoring the fact the power plants aren’t even connected to any external networks from which an attack could come. This “hack” only affected administrative aspects of the business, things which have absolutely no impact on the power plants.

        These sort of “hacks” are basically the equivalent to robberies. Sure, banks get robbed. The banking industry hasn’t collapsed from that. Casinos get robbed. They’re still massively profitable enterprises. The simple reality is stealing from these places, or vandalizing them, or even burning down their office building, wouldn’t cause any sort of collapse.

        And the same is true for these “hacks.”

      • Brandon

        You disappoint me. I was pointing out to Mr gates that there are far worse things than agw, one example being criminal hacking.

        Remembering our previous conversations I had bet myself 5 pounds that you would pop up from nowhere within Thirty minutes to pass a scathing comment

        It’s taken nearly two hours so I seem to have won my bet but am unsure how to collect it. :)

        I think that big corporations and govts are becoming increasingly concerned by the escalating and audacious attacks that have taken place and doubtless there are many we never hear of.

        I sincerely hope you are right in your analysis but only time will tell.

        Mind you, i still think my prediction of the current generation of teenagers collapsing in a heap on the floor should they be denied access to mobile phones for more than 24 hours still holds true.

        A happy new year to you

        Tonyb

      • Brandon

        I sincerely hope you are right. But, I remember two “unthinkable” events from the last decade that no one saw coming. There were plenty who, after the fact, developed their Monday morning qb skills and claimed to have foreseen both catastrophes but if you read the specifics of their forecasts, they by and large, were generic. Decades after Pearly Harbor you can connect the dots and make a case that all the warning signs were there but no one had the time, place or method right before the fact. The world is becoming so interdependent and interconnected that the gaps in our intelligence and skills in anticipating the imagination possessed by our adversaries, have created vulnerabilities that will become apparent only after the event. And then the Monday morning quarterbacking starts all over again.

      • TonyB:

        Remembering our previous conversations I had bet myself 5 pounds that you would pop up from nowhere within Thirty minutes to pass a scathing comment

        It’s taken nearly two hours so I seem to have won my bet but am unsure how to collect it. :)

        If you’re finding yourself unwilling to pay yourself, I’m sure you could find a a guy who could… offer you some encouragement for a small commission.

        I think that big corporations and govts are becoming increasingly concerned by the escalating and audacious attacks that have taken place and doubtless there are many we never hear of.

        I don’t know what makes you think the attacks are escalating or becoming more audacious. I think there’s a strong case the opposite is true. The media certainly gives more attention to “hacks” nowadays, and the spread of social media has made many people more concerned about “hacks” (as they have more of a stake now), but that’s all I see.

        Especially in regard to audacity. I struggle to think of a notable “hack” where the hacker exposed themselves to any meaningful risk (excluding when they did so purely via stupidity). It’s easy to cause problems when you know you won’t get caught.

        Mind you, i still think my prediction of the current generation of teenagers collapsing in a heap on the floor should they be denied access to mobile phones for more than 24 hours still holds true.

        I don’t know. I think you might have to take away their computers and tablets too. I think a lot of them could handle only having those to access the internet for a day or two :P

        Happy holidays to you too!

      • ceresco kid:

        I sincerely hope you are right. But, I remember two “unthinkable” events from the last decade that no one saw coming.

        The reason I believe what I believe is my understanding of the technology involved. For instance, knowing a nuclear power plant can’t possibly be hacked means I don’t need to worry about it being hacked.

        That’s different than just thinking something won’t happen. The terrorist attacks of September 11th were unforeseen, but anyone who thought about the problem in advance would have seen it was a possibility. A similar kind of attack was used as a plot device in several novels (e.g. Stephen King’s Running Man and some book by Tom Clancy).

        The strangest thing to me is people are so focused on the “cyber” aspect of it. There are lots of computer networks in this world that are quite secure against any cyber attack yet could be completely taken over by one guy with a gun. I get the impression people worry about/focus on the idea of “hacking” mostly just because it’s “mysterious.”

        Incidentally, the biggest obstacle to any cyber doomsday is how ad hoc most of the world’s IT structures are. I knew a guy who said there were days he wished these doomsday scenarios were realistic because it’d mean we finally got all the computer networks to actually work together properly. He said this after a day he had to go to three different buildings to restart servers because he had no way to take them down remotely. And that was an administrator of the network!

      • Tonyb

        You are correct about the teenagers, though the disaster will vary by gender. The girls will be unable to text and the boys, like mine, will be devastated by the loss of their network cyber-battles. Above the fray, I will play the guitar while all about me reel the indignant desert birds.

    • Richard S.J. Tol

      Gates: For something not to be our biggest problem, we only need one example. The article names four — the euro, civil war, indoor air pollution, outdoor air pollution — all of which have caused more devastation than the most pessimistic projections of climate change foresee in a 100 years.

      • As one with nasal allergies and asthma, and having worked around heavy diesel powered equipment, I can tell you that the biggest respiratory problem around is tree pollen and mold. I can be around diesel engines all day – no problem. But mold and tree pollen can almost shut me down and costs me hundreds annually for medication.

      • Richard,

        I don’t suggest that other issues aren’t more severe, at least in the very immediate short term, but it was your “certainly” statement that discounts the socially disruptive effects of climate change and the economic effects of that. If a future regional, or God forbid, global wars, are at all precipitated by climate change, then entire generations worth of economic growth can be wiped out in a very short time. Both the Rand Corp and the Pentagon consider this as a real enough potential. Your “certainly not” dismissal of it seems unjustified.

      • Jim2

        I used to get asthma quite badly. Then I had a relatively minor operation that required anaesthetic. from that day to this , some fourteen years, I have been free of asthma although I take care during the height of the pollen season as I can tell that hay fever is not far away should I mow the lawn.

        No one has ever explained it to me.

        Tonyb

      • Richard S.J. Tol

        Gates: Perhaps I should have used “almost certainly”. There is, by the way, no solid evidence linking climate change and violent conflict.

      • “Richard S.J. Tol : There is, by the way, no solid evidence linking climate change and violent conflict.”
        —-
        I think the collapse of many civilizations in history would disagree with you.

      • Then you should have no problem providing “solid evidence”. Coincidence is not causality.

      • Rgates

        Hanibal being able to cross the fast disappearing glaciers and napoleons retreat from Moscow amongst many other events would suggest you are right.

        Mind you, it is very rare for anyone involved in climate change to realise that climate didn’t begin in the year they were born so Richard Tol just seems to be keeping up a noble tradition

        Tonyb

      • Tony, can you explain how climate change and violent conflict are linked in the two examples you gave? Gatesy seems to think that climate change causes violent conflicts that cause civilizations to collapse. He doesn’t offer any examples.

      • It is interesting to look at CDC causes of death.
        Weather doesn’t even make the lists.
        Climate change, with its slow rate of temperature increase I imagine as even less than not making the list.

      • @Tonyb | December 27, 2014 at 11:52 am |
        That IS strange!

        What I was getting at is that I don’t believe diesel particulates are the bugbear they are made out to be, when compared to other factors, sort of in the the gist of the post. There are natural allergens that are much more onerous than some of the man-made ones.

        As a society, or societies, we need to remind ourselves that we have limited resources, that life entails risk, and the elimination of risk is impossible and will cost us our quality of life – as ironic as that seems. We need to let the government have only a small amount of our resources and then ensure those are spent wisely. This is something that appears to be completely lacking today. The government in the US and, from what I can see, in the UK and EU in general, is fully out of control of the citizens. Some democracy.

      • Don

        Here is my seasonal article tracking theILife of Charles dickens

        http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/01/06/bah-humbug/

        His formative years were spent enduring one of the coldest pulses of the LIA . This coincided with napoleons European excursions and in particular his march on Moscow which took place during extremely low temperatures. In other years he may have had more success..

        With regards to hanibal, Prof hunt leads trips to the passes thought to be associated with hanibal. During the roman period many of the glaciers had retreated which enabled hanibal to conduct his campaign. The glaciers eventually made a return so the attempt was time dependent on the changing climate.

        Tonyb

      • Jim2

        After years trying to persuade motorists to change from petrol to diesel, with considerable success, diesel has now become public enemy number 1 because of the particulates.

        I don’t know enough to dispute this belief, but it is one held very widely in the UK at the moment with policy being directed to alleviate the problem

        Tonyb

      • Richard S.J. Tol

        Gates: As I said, there is no solid evidence. Data are best for Europe and China, and there you cannot draw the conclusion that climate change led to the collapse of civilizations. In other parts of the world, there is speculation but nothing that withstands scrutiny.

      • I get it, Tony. You are not giving examples of wars precipitated by climate change resulting in civilizations falling. You are talking about how co-incidental climate/weather affected a couple of specific campaigns, as all military campaigns are affected by climate/weather. Cold comfort for gatesy.

      • Don

        Climate always changes and military conflicts go on whatever the weather. Sometime though, the climate of the time can affect the outcome but almost certainly the conflict would have taken place anyway.

        Tonyb

      • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

        jim2 said on December 27, 2014 at 11:42 am

        “As one with nasal allergies and asthma, and having worked around heavy diesel powered equipment, I can tell you that the biggest respiratory problem around is tree pollen and mold. I can be around diesel engines all day – no problem.”
        _______

        jim2 I hope your lungs aren’t all black

      • Tonyb, hurricanes of the late 13th century are one major reason there was no Mongol Japan. Of course, I’m not daring to imply there was “climate change” way back then, but the end of the MWP may have had a surprise or two for Asia. (Some think Kublai Khan’s wrecked invasion fleet of 1381 was the biggest such force till Normandy ’44. Mind you, it wouldn’t have been so bad for the Mongols but for the sea walls the Japanese built after the first divine wind, which made a mess of both sides seven years before. New Yorkers should show such resilience or adaptability or whatever we are calling commonsense this month.)

      • Of course, 1381 should read 1281. In 1381 the Mongols had other problems, but who can say for sure that the decline of Yuan and rise of Ming were accelerated by the rotten weather and famines of the mid 14th century? Since it can’t be proven like an equation, best to ignore and treat climate change as a post-1980s thing, like personal computing or coloured cricket clothes.

      • Climate change is in fact one of the main causes for civilizations to collapse, with much social upheaval, warfare, economic collapse wrapped into that. In the past, of course natural cycles and forcings were key causes for climate change, but there is absolutely no reason that anthropogenic forcing can’t be a trigger. See:

        http://climate.nasa.gov/news/1010/

        Which means that a wise course of action is to harden our civilization against climate change, regardless of the source, recognizing that anthropogenic forcing increases the odds of climate change threatening the health of civilization, as it represents one more potential source of forcing. The issue Richard brings up regarding how much do we risk current economic health to pay for insurance against future potential pain is a valid one, but he seems to be seriously underestimating the damage future climate change could have on civilization. A civilization that is wiped out has obviously suffered far more than a year or even a decade of “economic growth”.

      • This quote from the article:

        “As archaeologists continue to turn up ever more signs of collapsed civilizations, they are finding plenty of evidence that climate shifts are at least partly to blame for the decline in many cases. Those links offer the opportunity to protect the future of our own society by learning from the mistakes of our ancestors.

        “When we excavate the remains of past civilizations, we very rarely find any evidence that they as a whole society made any attempts to change in the face of a drying climate, a warming atmosphere or other changes”, Ur says. “I view this inflexibility as the real reason for collapse.”

      • The kmer civilisation of Cambodia was ultimately weakened by the changing climate which changed the monssons patterns

        http://www.livescience.com/6241-mystery-great-civilization-destruction-revealed.html

        Tonyb

      • Civilizations have all risen and fallen and ties to climate appear speculative.

        We do know that Stone, Pottery, Copper and Bronze Ages occured through the Holocene Climatic Optimum and the warmer summers of this time were either a benefit or at least not a serious impediment to the advancement of civilization.

      • That’s great evidence, gatesy. Some speculation on some great civilization, in murky antiquity, of 928 people huddled around some desert oasis had to move, when the local well went dry. Keep ’em coming, gatesy. But can’t you find something in recorded history, of a war started because of climate change. Been a lot of wars, gatesy.

      • Hate to mention the name – but Tsonis suggests the downfall of the Minoan civilisation was climate related.

        http://www.clim-past.net/6/525/2010/cp-6-525-2010.html

        Moy et al (2002) present the record of sedimentation shown above 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). Red intensity was in excess of 200 – compare with the 1997/98 value of 98.

        Of course it shows that natural variability far exceeds anything seen in the 20th century.

      • Max OK

        The coal burning train in India reflects the silliness of this argument; i.e., what is visual engenders public demonization. What is not seen; i.e., the diesel <2.5 micron pollution is just now becoming a public topic in the air pollution dialogue.

        The problem in both coal and diesel is that the health effects are different, that is, coal's harmful effects are its commingling of sulfur dioxide pollution and diesel health effects reflect the minute particles with their cancer causing agents attached penetrate deep within the respiratory system.

        Who knew that Mercedes Benz was a health liability?

        As the London Fog of 1952 prompted air pollution legislation, maybe the Paris diesel Haze of 2014 will prompt closure of diesel car producing companies. Watch for the Unionized Autoworkers to take this lying down. Not!

        Gasoline internal combustion engines remain the best bang for the buck when viewed from a strictly transportation energy viewpoint.

        I know that Greens will find it a hard pill to swallow, but the gas powered automobile & truck (no long trains or airplanes) are the least polluting of all the fuels including horse and buggy. Getting everyone to walk and ride their bicycles will take some getting use to especially those who depend on working from home and expecting others to travel (walk) to Silicon Valley for their venture capital funding. Not very likely I might say.

        More likely than not, climate will continue to change and not be successfully predicted by the ensconced climate modelers for a long time, much to the chagrin of the Catastrophic Warming crowd, and recorded by the dithering press with their less than truthful utterings.

        There are many steps in this economic journey that will more likely than not, be decided by economic realities than ideological proclamations.

      • “More likely than not, climate will continue to change and not be successfully predicted by the ensconced climate modelers for a long time…”
        ——
        Actually, this represents a pseudoscience half-truth, worthy of note. It is actually more likely than not that the climate models are going to be pretty good at getting the general warming trend of the 21st century. The exact temperature by 2100 remains the unknown, and of course will be affected by the ability to successfully control or sequester our carbon emissions early in the century. A rise of global average temperature by 2100 of 2C to 4C is quite within the realm of possibility.

      • The definition of insanity. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

        None of the models have come close to any kind of accurate prediction. More time does not seem to be the issue. Different models and thinking outside the CAGW box might.

      • There more more evidence for cold collapsing civilizations than warm.

        Rome collapsed during the dark ages cold period (also known as the migration period).

      • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

        RiHo08 said in his post on December 27, 2014 at 7:00 pm

        “Max OK

        The coal burning train in India reflects the silliness of this argument; i.e., what is visual engenders public demonization. What is not seen; i.e., the diesel <2.5 micron pollution is just now becoming a public topic in the air pollution dialogue."
        ________

        You were not looking at a "coal burning train" in that video, you were looking at diesel locomotives that burn diesel fuel. These were older models of American-designed diesel locomotives in use in India. Thanks to the EPA regulations newer models don't smoke anywhere near as much.

        Your other comments in your post suggest you think I don't like internal combustion engines. Well, I have a car. It's not a hybrid. Perhaps I should have bought a hybrid because they do pollute less.

        BTW, the video was in response to jim2 saying diesel exhaust doesn't bother him. I just wanted to have some fun. I don't know if he even saw the video. You did. Thanks for looking.

      • ‘On-road diesel engines include diesel cars and trucks, while off-road engines include engines used in agriculture, construction, and other heavy equipment. The diesel-engine category in this assessment specifically excludes shipping emissions, which are summarized separately. Diesel engines contributed about 20% of global BC emissions in 2000. These sources have the lowest co-emissions of aerosols or aerosol precursors of all the major BC sources. In order to enable use of the most advanced exhaust controls, sulfur must be removed from the diesel fuel during refining. Therefore, in regions with fewer controls, primary particulate matter emission factors are higher, but SO2 emissions are also higher….

        Diesel engine sources of BC appear to offer the best mitigation potential to reduce near-term climate forcing. In developed countries, retrofitting older diesel vehicles and engines is a key mitigation strategy; in developing countries, transitioning a growing vehicle fleet to a cleaner fleet will be important.’ Bond et al 2013

        http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jgrd.50171/pdf

      • Rob Ellison

        Thank you for the Bond et al 2013 paper on Black Carbon. The paper is a bit long for what I wanted to get out of it and the language, particularly in describing black carbon particle size as I am use to Mean Mass Diameter instead of Median Aerosol Concentration (MAC). Otherwise I thought the paper was helpful as far as model papers go.

        What I was looking for and found in figures 12 and 16 was the model black carbon atmospheric distributions. And as CO2 is co-emitted with black carbon I eye-balled the model of black carbon with the measured CO2 just released.

        “http://oco2.jpl.nasa.gov”

        As one can see from overlapping of the figures, CO2 is more coming from the Southern Hemisphere than Northern. India doesn’t seem to be a major participant in CO2 production hence the Northern Hemisphere domination of the models misses where black carbon may be coming from. Africa in the higher latitudes; South America in the lower Southern latitudes plus Indonesia etc. seem to me at least to re-inforce the Einstein quote I am paraphrasing about a 1000 experiments showing my theory is right yet it takes only one piece of data to prove me wrong.

        I also see that Jim Hansen is liberally used in the modeling of this paper.

        I tried to copy and paste the Wikipedia piece of Particular Matter and their mean mass diameter as illustration of regulating PM 10 vs regulating PM >2.5 which does have important health effects.

        The Bond et al (2013) paper does have some information on diesel engines, probably insufficient to ferret out what happened recently in Paris.

      • Interested Bystander

        Gates wrote, “Climate change is in fact one of the main causes for civilizations to collapse, with much social upheaval, warfare, economic collapse wrapped into that. In the past, of course natural cycles and forcings were key causes for climate change, but there is absolutely no reason that anthropogenic forcing can’t be a trigger. See:

        http://climate.nasa.gov/news/1010/ .”

        Two points:
        1. Claiming that “Climate change is in fact one of the main causes for civilizations to collapse..” requires strong evidence. The article you cite certainly doesn’t rise to that standard. In fact the article itself claims, “Climate change (drought in particular) has been at least partly responsible for the rise and fall of many ancient civilizations.” From “partly responsible” to claiming it is a fact that climate change is “one of the main causes” is a leap.

        2. It is not clear what definition of climate change the NASA article is using. Actually, much of what they describe might be the result of unfortunate weather patterns that lasted longer than the civilization’s food supply. For example, the article states, “Droughts have also been linked to the fall of the Maya around 900 AD…” Was this climate change or was it a series of unfortunate multi-year droughts? After all, the Mayan ruins are oftentimes difficult to find because they are covered over by jungle not because they are buried in sand that resulted when climate change converted a lush area into an inhospitable desert.

    • Rgates

      Your very own pentagon frequently looks at climate change. Have you seen this effort from 2004?

      http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2004/feb/22/usnews.theobserver

      It was apparently Precipitated by a bunch of British scientists, few with credibility these days, who visited and spread doom and gloom. Apparently the UK has six Years to go before we permanently enter a Siberian type climate state. Although these days the Met office is saying we will have a Mediterranean type climate.

      Tonyb

    • Rand & Pentagon have done those projections of climate change disruption at the behest of the administration. Military takes orders.

      • The Russians and Chinese have both conducted similar studies and come to similar conclusions– future Anthropogenic climate change could lead to significant social disruption and increasing risk of military conflicts.

      • Rgates

        Do you have the English translations of those Russian and Chinese studies?

        Did you ever see the CIA report from the 1970’s that was concerned about global coolings effect on security?

        Tonyb

      • Tony,

        I’ve only come across references to the Chinese and Russian studies and planning in other documents,but have never seen English versions of their studies. Indeed, considering the very secretive nature of Russian and Chinese military efforts, any such studies related to climate change and future potential conflict would be very very hard to come by for probably anyone but the NSA. We know the Chinese and Russians are both showing active interest in the energy resources of the thawing Arctic. That this could lead to actual hostilities remains a dangerous possibility. You’d do well to read:

        http://www.cna.org/sites/default/files/MAB_2014.pdf

    • Think that this is why the bankers are taking over running things? You may not like the guy, but he brings up some points and there are probably more that could be made. Climate change is not causing this.
      http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/12/26/the-empire-is-crumbling-that-is-why-it-needs-war/

      http://itar-tass.com/en/economy/768328

  40. “Climate policy is about balancing risks, and there are risks to climate policies as well as risks caused by climate change. So there is a cost to human well-being in constraining fossil fuel use.”

    The Climate Change controversy in a nutshell.

    The ‘risks’ of Climate Change are theoretical, postulated as axioms, and will occur far in the future. If at all.

    The risks of ‘Climate Change Policies’ are known, occur immediately, and affect individuals and societies in inverse proportion to their wealth. There is also no evidence that ANY of ALL of the climate change policies advocated by the experts and the politicians who pay them, if enacted and enforced rigorously, will have ANY measurable efficacy in doing anything whatsoever to the climate, never mind stabilizing it at some imaginary ‘optimum planetary temperature’.

    • Ask anyone, ‘ideal’ is the good ol’ days.
      ========

    • Climate change policies seem to assume all 20th century warming was due to CO2.

      This is a debatable assumption. There was much natural warming particularly in the first half of the century.

      There is a real risk climate change policies might enhance a cooling trend instead of moderating a warming trend. Cooling is far more harmful than warming

  41. Thank you, Dr. Curry, marvelous.

  42. An excellent essay by Richard Tol and great comments by Rud and Bob Ludwick. Plenty of fodder to scorn the alarmist, progressive, elitist green mafiia.

    A couple of other interesting essays in The America Interest include:
    http://www.the-american-interest.com/2014/12/21/living-large-in-a-shrinking-cocoon/ and:
    http://www.the-american-interest.com/2014/12/19/next-up-in-america-the-liberal-retreat/

  43. I would like to suggest a different sort of tipping point: developing economies. Many countries such as South Korea have undergone rapid modernization. China is in this transition. This transition period can be upset and development reversed. This hurts the poor in those countries. Progress is not inevitable. Policies that prevent these countries from putting up a power grid and make energy prohibitively expensive could prevent them from making the transition. Charities like Oxfam are already discouraging modernization in favor of “sustainability”. While elites may find rural villages quaint and want to preserve them, I challenge them to go live somewhere with no running water or electricity or doctors.

  44. While I’m normally skeptical about government planning, I think the best policy regarding climate is for government to pick a technology and that technology is nuclear. The reality is that government is already picking technologies and it has picked two losers — wind and solar. I find Steve Goreham’s assessment of the situation in this video to be pretty compelling. Starting at 9:00, he talks about nuclear plants being shut down due to requirements for buying wind energy.

    • Well, looks like on a per unit basis, the government ( which subsidizes all energy ) picked another loser in nuclear:

      We’ve got a lotta nat gas. It’s not very CO2 intensive. Why not just use it?

      • Nuclear power used to be a lot cheaper. Regulatory ratcheting is largely responsible for the high cost of nuclear power. Here is a detailed analysis:

        http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter9.html

      • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

        Good question, Lucifer. Why not just use it? Well, you can only use natural gas once. When you use it, you lose it. And natural gas does pollute some, but not as bad as coal. Those are the only reasons I can think of.

      • And if you do not use it, you still use it.

        And CO2 is not a pollutant,

      • From Lucifer’s chart, nuclear looks like a bargain compared to solar and wind.

      • From the Wiki:
        “The three largest fossil fuel subsidies were:
        1. Foreign tax credit ($15.3 billion)
        2. Credit for production of non-conventional fuels ($14.1 billion)
        3. Oil and Gas exploration and development expensing ($7.1 billion)”
        1. Should not be counted. A company is based in the U.S. and is taxed on all its income no matter where it’s earned. It pays country B income taxes as it made money operating in county B. To avoid double taxation it takes a credit on its U.S. corporate return. If you work in one state and live in another and both have state income taxes, you likely do the very same thing with your state income taxes unless the two states have a reciprocity agreement which generally gives the same effect.
        2. “Qualifying fuels include oil produced from shale or tar sands, synthetic fuels produced from coal, and gas produced from either pressurized brine, Devonin shale, tight formations, or biomass and coalbed methane.” I can’t defend this one.
        3. Seems to be merely a timing difference. Upfront deduction or taken over the years. In the end the books balance. Part of or similar to sections 168 and 179 bonus depreciation. One of Congresses favorites. You get something now, but it pay it back over the years and you net back to zero. Congress loses only the time value of money. It’s a pay day loan kind of thing. Should not be counted.

      • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

        From Ragnaar post on | December 27, 2014 at 4:11 pm |

        ” If you work in one state and live in another and both have state income taxes, you likely do the very same thing with your state income taxes unless the two states have a reciprocity agreement which generally gives the same effect.”
        _____

        If one State has a higher tax than the other State, you will end up paying the higher tax.

      • That does not appear to be the case where NY and PA have high sales taxes, and Del has none. Yet Delaware does a huge business to out of state buyers such that some of the most profitable stores in chains reside in Delaware that has one of the smallest populations.

        The reason is the same as why WalMart is the #1 retailer. And their biggest clients are those protesting their predatory practices.

      • Max:
        I think we’re in agreement. You live in state A and work in state B. The states have different tax rates. Assume A has a higher rate than B. You’ll therefore get a smaller credit as you had to throw less money at state B. You’ll be taxed at state A’s rate overall. Assume A has a lower rate than B. You throw a lot of money at B, but it is likely A will only give you a credit proportional to A and B’s differing rates. If you paid $1000 to B and A’s lower rate would have been only $700, you’d get something likely capped at $700 for your credit. Therefore A would not subsidize B’s revenues. This same kind of capping applies to the personal (1040) federal foreign tax credit. I can’t imagine this idea would not be used for corporation income taxes.

      • Tax deductions are NOT subsidies. But government sources look at all revenue as theirs, and any that slips away as subsidies. However, until that becomes the law of the land, that is simply newspeak.

      • Phil,

        Are you comfortable that this is the case: “Tax deductions are NOT subsidies”?

        If I deduct for my medical expenses allowing me to pay my medical expenses is that not effectively a subsidy? Now this does not suggest I have to or will pay them, but still I cannot deduct for all things so it could be argued that an associated deduction is in effect a subsidy (if only indirectly) could it not?

      • @Danny Thomas – I am very comfortable with your statement. As I told another, a subsidy is when you are GIVEN money – http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/subsidy

        A tax deduction is not anyone giving you anything! It allows you to KEEP more of your money. The so called subsidies for fossil fuels are merely a Newspeak contraption of liberals to make you think they are GETTING something from the government, when that is not the case. The energy companies conform to GAAP standards on costs, and taxes are paid on NET profit, not gross receipts.

        Now the one way that it could be a subsidy is if you start from the premise that ALL money is the government’s. That is true in some Communist countries (fewer by the day even), but NOT in any Western country – yet.

      • Phil,
        Still working this over.
        By this definition: “money that is paid usually by a government to keep the price of a product or service low or to help a business or organization to continue to function”.

        R & D is “deductible” http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Current-year-Deduction-of-Research-Development-Expenditures.

        In effect, R & D which leads so prices of products/services being kept low (or the balance of the definition of subsidy), is a subsidy is it not?

      • @Danny Thomas – no. R&D is an expense. Not all R&D earns a profit, but all new products incur R&D. I am not following you on your confusion. Clearly R&D is an expense. Sometimes you invent skittles, and sometimes you do not. But it all entails R&D.

        Here’s a simple equation. Take total revenue. Subtract costs. That equals net profit. Taxing net profit is the way of government. But taxes are not subsidies.

      • Phil,

        I’m not intending to be obtuse about this. But if I’m able to, for example, develop a carbon scrubber and take a tax deduction for the associated expenses, which is an offset to the associated expenses, how is that different from paying someone a check to do the same?

        I get the money isn’t the governments (nor is the money that funds subsidies) but the cash (or equivalent) that remains in the pocket of the corporation is cash either way so why the differentiation?

        I get that R & D is an expense w/o certainty of leading to a profit. But so is building a solar farm w/o any certainty of leading to a profit. To receive a subsidy, one must perform. To receive a deduction, one must perform. Other than the accounting rules for cash flow being unique for a utility, what is different for a non-utility?

        If I send Uncle Sam fewer dollars (or indeed receive more back via refund) vs. receiving a check in the mail how does it matter to me?

      • @Danny Thomas – actually you do not need to “perform” to get a subsidy. You have Solyndra as a great example of that.

        But the source of the money in the pocket is the difference. If you EARN that money, it is not a subsidy. if it is GIVEN to you, then you are subsidized. That is what a tax deduction is not a subsidy. It is not giving the company any money, it is allowing them to keep what they earned. Tax Deductions are most commonly associated with the cost of doing business. A subsidy is not.

        As far as mattering to you, that is a personal choice. Personally I prefer to earn my money as then my income is not dependent upon the whims or politics of someone else. Subsidies can be stopped as easily as they are started.

        Also, subsidies are the government picking winners instead of the market place. That is how you end up with hundreds of “green” companies going belly up. They did not earn enough to stay in business and even subsidies did not help them (subsidies will not for very long as they do promote inefficiencies and waste money).

      • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

        Ragnaar, yes, what you are saying has been my experience with State income taxes. I don’t know if every States will allow tax credit for tax paid to other States, but my guess is ever State will.

      • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

        philjourdan said on December 27, 2014 at 9:48 pm

        “And if you do not use it, you still use it.”
        __________

        I’m not familiar with that saying.

        Is it like saying “you can have your cake, and eat it too” ? No

        Is it like saying “if you don’t eat your cake, you still eat it” ? Hmm ….no

        Help me here, phil.

      • It is not a cliche’. That is part of your problem. It means that the planet does not differentiate between a CO2 molecule from Gas or Oil. It does not differentiate between a molecule of American Gas or Canadian Gas or Indian Gas.

        It means that since the source has been found, and since the utilization has been demonstrated, it will be used. And whether you sit on a high horse and declare you are energy free, the energy still gets used.

        I admit my statement was a bit cryptic. It did require one to think beyond their own box.

      • To clarify my 3. above. A deduction by an energy corporation for costs related to exploration is no different than General Mills deducting costs related to a new potential product. Both corporations pay an income tax on net income, the bottom line, the profit. Is a allowing a deduction for such above things and other things like payroll costs, raw materials used, shipping and occupancy costs a subsidy? My framework is that you pay incomes taxes on net income. Net income’s meaning has been pretty constant over the years. I don’t consider a corporation’s actual expenses claimed a subsidy. With personal income taxes, I agree that medical, mortgage, real estate tax, charitable donations and state income tax deductions are subsidies when claimed. These deductions have been awarded by congress. You are not writing off your food, utility, automobile, lawn care or clothing costs in most cases. The deductible prizes congress has handed out are the result of horsetrading. Corporate deductions in arriving at their net income are much more evenhanded, consistent, make more sense, and are more defensible as a rational way to do accounting. This is not to say they are not getting nonsensical deductions and credits to some extent, but I think the magnitude of that is not as great as most think.

      • Actually, you are mostly correct. Until you get to the last part. You do not get a deduction for food, housing and clothes because that was originally designed to be taken care of by the standard deduction. But inflation killed the meaning of it. And your “medical” deductions are over and above a certain percent of your income – so again, normal medical is part of the standard deduction. None are subsidies, unless you think you work for the government and any money they allow you to keep, they are “giving” you.

      • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

        Ragnaar | December 27, 2014 at 11:06 pm |
        “To clarify my 3. above. A deduction by an energy corporation for costs related to exploration is no different than General Mills deducting costs related to a new potential product.”
        _____

        I would call those operating expenses. Calling them deductions could be misleading because deductions are in effect subsidies and operating expenses aren’t.

        You could consider depreciation allowances subsides. I regard them as interest free loans.

    • There is no doubt that nuclear electricity generation is in the future. Not so much because of climate change, but because of increasing cost and declining availability of fossil fuels. China is projected to reach its own peak coal before 2030. Rather than import thereafter, they will go nuclear more than now. That is China’s sensible part of the Obama pledge. But meanwhile, they build much more USC coal than 3g nuclear, and invest in 4g nuclear pilots that will become thepreferred nuclear when that becomes the predominate investment a decade hence.
      So the issue is less nuclear per se, than how much in what form when? At least in the US, we are fortunate to have decades of shale gas reserves for CCGT, buying the time to get 4g nuclear technically ‘right’. Instead, we are squandering on solar and wind, and not making the nuclear power next gen research investments while we have the chance.

      • Well said and correct, Rud.

      • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

        Are Rud and jim2 in La La Land?

        Another Fukushima or two and nuclear power will be headed for the dust bin of antiquated technologies.

        I wouldn’t place any bets on China’s nuclear power ambitions. Given China’s record of disregard for public safety, the demise of nuclear power may be just around the corner.

      • Max, Fukushima Diichi was a Gen 1 complex whose operating license had been extended 10 years beyond the originally planned 40 year end of life. Despite the earthquake and tsunami, fukushima daini (15 miles away, gen 2 complex) got through without damage. Current designs are gen 3 like Westinghouse AP 1000 with passive emergency cooling. Gen 3 issue is still refueling and radwaste, which is what gen 4 aims to solve in various conceptual ways like TerraPower TRW or Transatomic Power’s molten salt… Maybe even Lockheed Skunkworks newly announced high beta modular fusion.
        Nuclear on the dusbin of history? Not so fast, when there are no scalable grid alternatives except fossil fuel fired generation. Wishing it so does not make it so. Tol’s article pleads for realism and balanced weighing of pros and cons. Try it.

      • More alarmist clap-trap from Max. The worst has happened, and nuclear plant designs exist that are far better than those currently used.

      • Max

        We need grown up power sources whose output can be calculated. What is your alternative to existing energy sources, notably fossil fuels and nuclear, that will enable us to keep the power on for the 7 billion inhabitants of earth, most with an increasing need for energy?

        Tonyb

      • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist | December 27, 2014 at 3:17 pm |

        Another Fukushima or two and nuclear power will be headed for the dust bin of antiquated technologies.

        More people have provably died in the back seat of Ted Kennedy’s car then have died from radioactivity releases (so far) from Fukushima.

      • Chicken Little’s, like our troll maxie, don’t go by the actual body count. They imagine what coulda happened.

      • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

        When are you Pollyanna’s going to face up to realty? The future is not bright for nuclear power. Nations having the most experience with nuclear aren’t so keen on it. France, for example, which gets three-fourths of its electricity from nuclear, plans to reduce its dependence, reports the World Nuclear Association in a November 25, 2014 update.

        “France derives about 75% of its electricity from nuclear energy, due to a long-standing policy based on energy security. This share is to be reduced to 50% by 2025.”

        http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Country-Profiles/Countries-A-F/France/

        France, a world leader in nuclear power, plans to move away from nuclear. What does that tell you ?

      • ‘Following the election of President Francois Hollande in 2012 with his policy to reduce the proportion of nuclear power in the energy mix, a new wide ‘national debate on energy transition’ was called, which ran eight months to July 2013. The Ministry for Ecology Sustainable Development and Energy counted 170,000 people taking part in 1000 regional debates, and received 1200 submissions over the Internet. Meanwhile a French parliamentary commission called on the government to delay its planned reduction of nuclear power and phase it over several decades, as part of its energy transition to promote green energy. A report published in September 2013 by OPECST, a scientific commission of senators and MPs from the upper and lower houses of Parliament said France risks being exposed to a power price shock if it pursues a speedy reduction of nuclear power and there is insufficient replacement through renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.
        In October 2014 an energy transition bill was passed by the National Assembly and so went on to the Senate. This set a target of 50% for nuclear contribution to electricity supply by 2025, with a nuclear power capacity ceiling at the present level of 63.2 GWe, meaning that EDF must shut at least 1,650 GW of nuclear capacity at the end of 2016 when its Flamanville 3 EPR is scheduled to start commercial operation. The bill also sets long-term targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 compared with 1990 levels, and by 75% by 2050; to cut final energy consumption by 50% by 2050 compared with 2012 levels; to reduce fossil fuel consumption by 30% by 2030 relative to 2012; and to increase the share of renewables in final energy consumption to 32% by 2030. The energy bill is expected to be ratified in 2015.’

        It tells you that the socialists are in charge.

      • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

        I’m glad French socialists want to dump nuke power. I’m a capitalist who wants the U.S. to get rid of it. If socialists and capitalists agree on this issue, the nuke nuts can throw in the towel.

      • ‘The development of clean, affordable nuclear power options is a key element of the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy (DOE-NE) Nuclear Energy Research and Development Roadmap. As a part of this strategy, a high priority of the Department has been to help accelerate the timelines for the commercialization and deployment of small modular reactor (SMR) technologies through the SMR Licensing Technical Support program. Begun in FY12, the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy’s Small Modular Reactor Licensing Technical Support program will advance the certification and licensing of domestic SMR designs that are relatively mature and can be deployed in the next decade.’ http://www.energy.gov/ne/nuclear-reactor-technologies/small-modular-nuclear-reactors

        You’re such a dreamer Maxy.

      • Sad, but true.

      • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

        Tonyb said on December 27, 2014 at 4:48 pm

        “Max

        We need grown up power sources whose output can be calculated. What is your alternative to existing energy sources, notably fossil fuels and nuclear, that will enable us to keep the power on for the 7 billion inhabitants of earth, most with an increasing need for energy?”
        ______

        Tony, I’m sorry I overlooked your question. I doubt my answer will have anything you don’t already know, but here goes.

        On the electricity grid I favor hybrid systems that combine fossil fuels (preferably natural gas) with renewables until technology makes it possible to store power from wind and solar. Limited nuclear would be OK, but risks from its widespread use, particularly in developing nations, could be unacceptable.

        Off the grid, I favor hybrid systems that combine wind and solar with diesel back-up as a way to provide electric power to small isolated communities.

      • Well, solar has been the source of choice if you have to put a device a couple of hundred feet from a power outlet – particularly across a concrete surface.

        Current solar is problematic environmentally and will remain so until they switch to organic polymers.

  45. The claims that reducing CO2 pollution will harm ecomic growth are counter to reality. Since the US and China agreed to curb CO2 pollution, the Dow has reached record highs and the cost of gas energy has dropped.

    • Eric, surely you forgot a sarc tag?
      CO2 isn’t a pollutant in any meaningful sense. See essay Carbon Pollution in Blowing Smoke.
      The higher energy costs in UK and Germany from increased renewables have already harmed sectors of their economies, and threaten to collapse both grids this winter (UK lost reserves due to conventional plant outages,, Germany lacks north south interconnect due to NIMBY).
      Prof Larry Tribe of Harvard said his student Barack has unconstitutionally overreached with his proposed EPA coal fired generation regulations.
      China agreed to do nothing except increase emissions as much as they want until 2030, and already emits much more CO2 than the US.
      The price of oil dropped due to temporary supply demand imbalance and a Saudi decision not to be the swing producer this time, in order to discipline the rest of OPEC (and Russia). That imbalance will self correct within 18 months; the 2015 Saudi budget is political evidence, US frack decline curves and drilling permits are physical evidence.
      You are the first I have seen equating the Dow to climate initiatives. Perhaps you could elaborate on the underlying connections?

      • There may be an additional delay in the uptick in oil prices due to ~500,000 bbl/day new oil from the Gulf. Wells drilled after the GOM moratorium are starting to come on line. Their decline curve is very shallow.

        The shale oil plays will moderate prices for a few decades as production ramps up and down with oil prices.

      • CO2 Greens the Planet

        jim2 +1

    • Well. yeah, claiming CO2 is pollution is counter to reality.

      The agreement was some jawing by the Chinese that codified what is actually happening (the fossil plants were in part an interim measure until they could get nukes in the ground), and some jawing by a lame duck president that will have little effect on US policy. The congress will limit the amount of further economic destruction he can do his last two years.

      Markets like stability and the agreement is hot air and fig leaves.

  46. “Climate experts Michael Mann and Daniel Kammen compared it to the “gathering storm” of Nazism in Europe before World War II.”
    ——
    The Rand Corp and Pentagon agree with this assessment.

    • I suppose a reference to people from other countries not seeing the building threat from Germany until it was too late. CO2 as having the attributes of the German leadership at that time or as some sort new weapon, I am not seeing that. I am more seeing a loaf of bread. I knew it all along, they’re invading Poland and armed with loaves of bread.

    • Probably Anthropogenic climate change as a threat that is serious to global stability and that will have to be delt with by coordinated international action– the sooner of which it gets underway, the less painful in the long run.

    • CO2 Greens the Planet

      The same Rand Corp and Pentagon that ran the war in Iraq?

      • Actually the Rand Corp projected decades of social disruption and potential rise of radicalism if Iraq was attacked and Saddam overthrown. The Military equipment and Oil boys of Texas won Bush over, with a little nudge from Cheney.

      • Another common myth. The problem is reality. Iraq signed the deal with China, not the US. Whether Iraq was a mistake or not, the myth persists with no evidence, just ignorance.

      • conspiracy ideation

    • CO2 Greens the Planet

      Economies of Russia, Iran, and Venezuela are reeling because US is producing too much oil.

      We really want those countries to have great growing economies because they love the United States so much, huh?

      • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

        No, we want those countries to become unstable and blame their problems on us. Then we want the instability to spawn violent clashes between various groups vying for power. Hopefully, this will cut off a lot of the oil exports from these troubled countries and drive the price of oil up ($125 a barrel would be nice), greatly benefiting the economies of Oklahoma and other oil producing States. Of course it wouldn’t be good for the rest of our country, but that’s their problem.

      • When I’m better off, I think it IS GOOD for the rest of the country.

        Poor Venezuela. They sell us all the oil we want and people say they hate us.

      • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

        JCH, get comfortable with cheap oil, and you may get uncomfortable when the price goes back up, and it will (soon, I hope).

      • “We really want those countries to have great growing economies because they love the United States so much, huh?”
        ——
        A destabilized Russia would not be a good proposition. Yes, great growing economies versus destabilized and desperate countries with nukes.

    • bad metaphor.

  47. Wondering why I’m under moderation.(

    • You have to ask why you got coal from Santa for Christmas.

    • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

      It could be one word. See if you can guess which word, change it, and try your post again. I’m not guaranteeing this will work. I have had post in moderation that defied explanation.

  48. ‘Yet something has changed in recent years. Leslie and Mark are not really outliers. All of a sudden, a flood of young engineers has entered the field. More than 1,164 nuclear engineering degrees were awarded in 2013—a 160 percent increase over the number granted a decade ago.

    So what, after a 30-year drought, is drawing smart young people back to the nuclear industry? The answer is climate change. Nuclear energy currently provides about 20 percent of the electric power in the United States, and it does so without emitting any greenhouse gases. Compare that to the amount of electricity produced by the other main non-emitting sources of power, the so-called “renewables”—hydroelectric (6.8 percent), wind (4.2 percent) and solar (about one quarter of a percent). Not only are nuclear plants the most important of the non-emitting sources, but they provide baseload—“always there”—power, while most renewables can produce electricity only intermittently, when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining…

    Nuclear energy is at a crossroads. One path sends brilliant engineers like Leslie and Mark forward, applying their boundless skills and infectious optimism to world-changing technologies that have the potential to solve our energy problems while also fueling economic development and creating new jobs. The other path keeps the nuclear industry locked in unadaptable technologies that will lead, inevitably, to a decline in our major source of carbon-free energy.

    The chance to regain our leadership in nuclear energy, to walk on the path once trod by the engineers and scientists of the 1950s and ‘60s, will not last forever. It is up to those who make decisions on matters concerning funding and regulation to strike while the iron is hot.

    This is not pie-in-the-sky thinking—we have done this before. At the dawn of the nuclear age, we designed and built reactors that tested the range of possibility. The blueprints then languished on the shelves of places like the MIT library for more than fifty years until Leslie Dewan, Mark Massie, and other brilliant engineers and scientists thought to revive them. With sufficient funding and the appropriate technical and political leadership, we can offer the innovators and entrepreneurs of today the chance to use those designs to power the future.’ http://www.brookings.edu/research/essays/2014/backtothefuture

    Now if we had a small, modular nuclear engine that was mass produced in a factory like a car, was based on decades old technology, burned existing nuclear waste, couldn’t melt down, ran in a sealed bunker for 30 years without intervention, radically reduced the volume in a much safer waste stream, didn’t require water cooling and produced ultra cheap power at a temperature high enough to produce hydrogen – we might have a winner.

    e.g. – http://www.ga.com/energy-multiplier-module

    There are in fact dozens of designs in commercial development – and thousands of young engineers and scientists working on this. Frankly there are much more difficult problems than carbon dioxide emissions.

    • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

      Instead of concentrating a small number of potential disasters in a small number of locations, disperse a large number of potential disasters over the entire country.

      BRILLANT ! Some deserves a prize.

      HA HA

      • Let’s not forget that Max has stated some of his income comes from an oil and gas well. That could explain his refusal to learn about nuclear power since nuclear power is the only green tech that poses a serious threat to fossil fuel power.

    • ‘The development of clean, affordable nuclear power options is a key element of the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy (DOE-NE) Nuclear Energy Research and Development Roadmap. As a part of this strategy, a high priority of the Department has been to help accelerate the timelines for the commercialization and deployment of small modular reactor (SMR) technologies through the SMR Licensing Technical Support program. Begun in FY12, the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy’s Small Modular Reactor Licensing Technical Support program will advance the certification and licensing of domestic SMR designs that are relatively mature and can be deployed in the next decade.’

      http://www.energy.gov/ne/nuclear-reactor-technologies/small-modular-nuclear-reactors

      Fast tracked generic approvals. Basically – it’s probably a case of Maxy being a fringe progressive fruitcake.

  49. If it were possible that the paper is read at face value, it could be said that it should not be even controversial, but I’m sure that that’s not the way it’s read by either side of the dispute.

    When combined with different quantitative estimates for the most important parameters the logic presented in the paper leads to highly different policies.

    • Nonsense – rational responses don’t depend on either science or economics.

      ‘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.

      The new framework now emerging will succeed to the degree to which it prioritizes agreements that promise near-term economic, geopolitical, and environmental benefits to political economies around the world, while simultaneously reducing climate forcings, developing clean and affordable energy technologies, and improving societal resilience to climate impacts. This new approach recognizes that continually deadlocked international negotiations and failed domestic policy proposals bring no climate benefit at all. It accepts that only sustained effort to build momentum through politically feasible forms of action will lead to accelerated decarbonization.’

      http://thebreakthrough.org/archive/climate_pragmatism_innovation

    • In the ‘warming’ debate, there’s a meme where the temperature change of a degree or two is referenced and some authority pronounces ‘that may not sound like much’.

      There’s a reason it doesn’t ‘sound like much’ – it’s not.

      • The inevitability is abrupt climate change – more or less extreme.

      • 2C of warming would take us outside the range of anything seen during this particular interglacial period. It would be not just “sound like much” but would be a big deal from a Holocene temperture perspective. It would represent a significant species-initiated temperature excursion in the geological record.

      • The residual rate of warming is 0.07K/decade.

        Even if continued at that rate – in the unlikely event of all other things being equal – it amounts to insignificance.

      • There are a couple of problems:

        1. The 2°C limit is referenced to the preindustrial period. Most of the first 1°C was natural.

        2. The first 1°C was beneficial.

        3. To see what the next 1°C looks like drive 1 hour south. If you like the climate – drive back home and wait – the climate will come to you.

        4. While you were checking out your future climate – did you see any animals dying of heat stroke or plants wilted from the heat? Didn’t think so – you won’t see them when the climate comes to you either.

        5. If the climate does warm 1°C and you are worried about future… take another drive.

    • Actually Pekka, it’s not event that difficult. All you need to do is believe that their’s no potential risk form ACO2 emissions and any mitigation would necessarily be harmful.

      No need for quantitative estimates.

      • Correct!!!!!!!!!!!

        Welcome to climate “science” the narrative science game the whole family can play!

      • Joshua,
        The only significant decision that’s not quantitative is to do nothing. All others require choosing a strength for the policy. Choosing the strength rationally required quantitative arguments. That’s also what Richard told in his article, not much more when taken literally.

        Willing readers can read a lot between the lines or around them. They are also likely to do that. Real progress on developing policies requires that the general and not really controversial principles are converted to concrete policies, and that will be as controversial as ever.

      • There is absolutely no risk at all tl increased CO2, just like there is no risk from falling – only hitting the ground is dangerous. That said, the way to manage the risk of the “hitting the ground” analog is to harden your cities against flood, wind, snow, intense rain, etc, in other words, all the things that should be done anyway. Of course, we all know that governments are flush with other people’s money, so ,by all means, some will do the enviro stomp dance to get a piece of the pork pie. The sky is not falling.

  50. Correct!!!!!!!!!!!

    Welcome to Climate Science, the narrative science game the whole family can play! Pick a plot and run with it!

    Good luck!!!!

  51. CO2 Greens the Planet

  52. CO2 Greens the Planet

    R. Gates | December 27, 2014 at 7:28 pm |

    “2C of warming would take us outside the range of anything seen during this particular interglacial period.”

    My bold highlighting the weasel word.

    Was the maximum interglacial temperature higher in recent interglacials prior to this one?

    That’s a rhetorical question.

    • Are you suggesting you trust the Paleoclimate record going back hundreds of thousands of years? How about millions? If so, then you’d start to be agreement that we’re likely headed toward a mid-Pliocene like climate or warmer and ECS is likely around 3C or slightly higher.

      • CO2 Greens the Planet

        I trust the ice core record insofar as it shows temperature increase precedes CO2 increase by 800 years which is contrary to the CO2 “control knob” hypothesis.

        http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/thermo/icecore.html

        I also trust it insofar as it shows a ceiling temperature during previous interglacial periods approximately 2C higher than any temperature attained during the Holocene interglacial.

        I have no trust that human activity is significantly changing the evolution of the earth’s climate.

        Thanks for asking.

      • What about that pesky Isthmus of Panama thingy? Things are not the same, especially the biggest obstacles to the movement of air and water on the planet – the continents. We will not return to the Pliocene and CO2 levels are just a smidgen above their lowest levels for the last 500,000,000 years. Don’t worry, be happy.

      • “Don’t worry, be happy.”
        —-
        Great advice. I have not one worry, especially related to climate change. My interest is only an intellectual pursuit- not an existential one.

      • “I have no trust that human activity is significantly changing the evolution of the earth’s climate.”
        —–
        An odd and unscientific perspective given that massive volumes of research show that the biosphere has a huge impact on climate, and of course humans now represent a dominant activity of the biosphere.

      • And nothing shows a significant impact with any degree of statistical significance. Why worry about a failed supposition?

      • “What about that pesky Isthmus of Panama thingy?”

        A valid objection to the notion that we could return to an exact Pliocene climate. Earth never can return to an exact prior state. Thus, in looking at the forcings being applied, you can only say Pliocene-like conditions, as the net energy accumulation may be similar, but continental configurations will dictate the advection of that energy around the system,

      • R. Gates

        On a more serious note – my previous comment was a bit tongue-in-cheek – how do you think 3 deg. C of warming will effect ocean currents?

      • “How do you think 3 deg. C of warming will effect ocean currents?”
        —-
        I haven’t a clue, and I am not sure anyone really does. I’ve seen studies that show both a more La Niña like Pacific and a more El Niño like during the Pliocene. Too many variables can affect ocean currents, like the rate of Greenland and Anarctic glacial melt, which seems to be a big unknown. I am sure ocean currents will be different in a 3C or warmer world, but exactly how, no one knows, and if they say they do, ring the Pseudoscience Alert alarm.

      • Gatesy, the phony skeptic warmist troll, instructs us that “we’re likely headed toward a mid-Pliocene like climate or warmer and ECS is likely around 3C or slightly higher”, but he ain’t worried. Like Chicken Little ain’t worried about the sky falling. You are not fooling anybody, gatesy.

      • R. Gates

        I wonder about the main global currents. Aren’t they driven by coriolis force and constrained by continents? And if so, wouldn’t they be close to the same if the climate were to warm 3C? I don’t know, I am not a scientist of any stripe.

      • Humans aren’t a dominant activity on the biosphere. Cultivated land is only 12% of the earth’s surface and cultivation doesn’t radically transform it as it would be covered by non-cultivated plants otherwise. Stop making crap up as you go along, Gates.

    • ““2C of warming would take us outside the range of anything seen during this particular interglacial period.”

      More precisely

      “2C of warming would take us outside the range of anything seen during this particular interglacial period when our species created civilization as we know it. Transgressing this boundary is not known to be risk free. Consequently, taking serious note of actions that may lead us to transgress this boundary into a climate we may have difficulties adapting to, seems reasonable”

      Imagine I controlled the temperature and told you raising the temperature 5C was no problem and unless you proved conclusively that it was a problem,I was free to do it.

      • Mr. Mosher,

        A more relevant scenario would be if 7 billion people had their hand on the knob, the knob also was positively connected to economic growth, and you and some of your wealthy UCB buddies wanted to turn it down. Would you do it because you know what is better for the other 6 billion or so people?

      • 2C of warming would take us outside the range of anything seen during this particular interglacial period when our species created civilization as we know it.

        More particularly, when our species was here to create “civilization as we know it.” The last real interglacial appears to have been ~130-120KYA, well before the advent of the European early modern humans (e.g. “Cro-Magnon”).

        While there were anatomically (apparently) modern humans well prior to this, the cultural horizon represented by the “European early modern human” wave 60-40KYA, during the last glaciation, may well denote significant genetic differences in language and conceptualizing ability.

        The “humans” present during the previous inter-glacial may just have not been up to inventing, and retaining, agriculture.

      • Actually, the accuracy of historical proxies do not support that conclusion. The truth is we do not know the temperature to that degree of accuracy, and to claim otherwise is to leave science and immerse yourself into religion.

    • Well, is that 2°C from the current temperature or 2°C from pre-industrial?

      http://www.sciencemag.org/content/342/6158/617

      MWP waters were ~.065°C warmer. Hard to claim the current ocean warming of about 0.03°C per decade is going to set records anytime soon.

      The scary part is the ocean waters were 21°C warmer earlier in the interglacial. We appear to be heading for an ice age.

      We might want to keep stoking that coal fired furnace until science sorts out what is going on.

  53. Tol’s paper is common sense; so much so that it is already occurring. Countries are already adjusting their power mix to reality. Those that overreacted in the past are now adjusting to lessen the costs of power. The US did not overreact and is on a steady course, slowly reducing coal use through attrition. Looking into the future, the EPA will probably be throttled back and energy funding to Africa will probably become more realistic.

    My predictions for 2015:

    1. EPA will get thumped by the Supreme Court
    2. Curry, Koonin et al will get government funding for needed water vapor, cloud, ocean research and observatiion capabilities.
    3. Republican bill “Electrify Africa”, allowing all means, will get passed

    Richard

    • Rls, if you consider EPA’s war on coal to be attrition then I disagree strongly. Destruction of the industry is more accurate. Nor is there any reason to reduce coal use, forcing a massive switch to fracking gas. It is a stupid policy. I am curious as to what aspect of the EPA multi-pronged attack you see the SC reining in?

      • David, No need to worry. We can burn the gas and we will still have the coal, except we are going to sell the coal to those suckers in the EU so they can have their cold and shaded solar panels and ugly, massive bird shredders. It’s all good. Brazil and Russia are going to drill drill drill and sell sell sell. India and China are going to burn mountains of coal while radical warmers stomp their feet. Meanwhile, back in the USA, the pragmatic Americans will go along with the Inconvenient Truth movie fiction until their lives start looking more like “The Hobbit”, at which point they will vote the bums out, just like we did in the last election. The future of nukes is still in doubt, but the energy sector, like physics, changes one funeral at a time.

      • David Wojick

        Coal generated electricity had already declined in the US from about 51% of total in 2003 to about 44% in 2009; before CO2 became a factor. Some analysts say the cause was the increased natural gas competition and existing EPA regulations already in place.

        Read an article recently that oil companies often squeeze extra oil from their wells by pumping in CO2, but they are limited by the cost of CO2; the article suggested that a new market may be available for coal.

        Keep warm

        Richard

  54. Richard Tol,

    This is an excellent essay. I agree 100%. However, the issue of carbon pricing keeps popping up. Although you went on to explain the need for balance you mentioned carbon tax (in an apparently supportive way). I am far from persuaded carbon pricing has a role to play. I don’t think it is a policy we should be advocating.

    I’ve considered your post and am concerned about this sentence:

    This implies that climate change is an economic problem, and that if economics could be rid of politics, greenhouse gas emissions should be taxed.

    I am not persuaded that pricing GHG emissions by any means is the correct approach.

    1. I don’t believe it can succeed (for reasons explained here: http://catallaxyfiles.com/2014/10/26/cross-post-peter-lang-why-carbon-pricing-will-not-succeed-part-i/ and here: http://catallaxyfiles.com/2014/10/27/cross-post-peter-lang-why-the-world-will-not-agree-to-pricing-carbon-ii/

    2. I ask what is the justification for pricing just one externality, GHG emissions? Why not all externalities of human activities (which of course is neigh on impossible and therefore, shows why picking on one now and another one another time cannot succeed).

    3. I am persuaded there is a better way. It is the rational approach, IMO. Why is it not seriously considered as an alternative to pricing GHG emissions? I believe the reason it is not seriously considered by economists (who are involved in the climate change control debate) is that politics has made it a no-go issue. Also, because of 50 years of misinformation, most of the economists are misinformed on the issues, just like the general public.

    The better way is to remove the impediments that are preventing the world from having low-cost low-emissions energy that is cheaper than fossil fuels. This is the rational approach. The impediments have been imposed because of irrational paranoia caused by 50 years of anti-nuke misinformation. Politics, strongly influenced by cultist ideology, is preventing progress towards low-cost low-emissions energy for the world. And the USA is the main thrombosis blocking progress. The USA is the most influential country on this and could, with the rational policies and politics, lead the world to low emissions energy. The main block is politics, not technical. Therefore, it can be readily fixed with the right will.

    Start here: http://home.comcast.net/~robert.hargraves/public_html/RadiationSafety26SixPage.pdf
    Consider the follow-on consequences of doing as recommended here.

    • The politics one cannot be “rid of” is the kind of politics which leads to war, hot and cold. Economists and climatologists can ply their wobbly, sometimes useful, sometimes damaging trade – but we live in a world where energy needs are causing major shifts in alliances. An Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline can lose Assad more friends than any human rights violations. If Turkey stops being the West’s buddy (and becomes Assad’s chief critic) while China and Russia are having their unlikely bromance…well, some “expert” in international relations might want to figure all that out.

      I just want to live in a country which does not run down its industries and export its jobs while neglecting its fabulous resources in coal and uranium. I never again want to hear of Nigerian tribesmen affecting my day. The flippancy with which people talk of “moving away” from coal astounds me. What are we supposed to “move toward”? Whirlygigs supplemented indefinitely by the products of Exxon and Boone Pickens? What bubble do these calculators of the future inhabit? By all means let’s make like China and promise anybody anything till this climate craze passes. Commitments are cheap, as are bloviations about the kind of world we want to leave those bloody grandchildren. But the nonsense has to stop. No more woodchips to Drax or dreams of Geothermia.

      Carbon taxes and emissions trading are not leading us into a bright green future. They are taking us back toward Big Oil, Big Finance and Big Geopolitics. Which of those do you like?

      • +++++ 1000 momoso…

        All you said, exactly.

        Wirh special note to artfully paying lip service to the new religion, just as so many others are quietly doing.

        Why oh why are Aussies so often the idealistic dimwits at the front of the crowd?

      • Lie back and think of Gaia. If you attempt to relish the worship you might enjoy it all the more, and the performance may well be worth the price of admission.
        ========

      • +1

        I have faith in our Australian brothers and sisters – common sense will prevail.

    • “This implies that climate change is an economic problem, and that if economics could be rid of politics, greenhouse gas emissions should be taxed.”

      Don’t know where that logic came from!
      It seems to imply that every problem should be taxed irrespective of it’s significance or magnitude. I don’t agree every problem should be solved much less taxed; how about triage problems and let some die a lingering death or otherwise succumb to their own fate.

      • Personally, I oppose using taxes to change behavior, on principle. Taxes should only fund necessary government operations, not be used to do social engineering (which so far as I can tell has no basis in economics). The carbon tax is pure coercion, with no revenue function. What Tol laments as politics is actually the will of the people, who are not stupid.

      • @ PMHinSC

        ““This implies that climate change is an economic problem, and that if economics could be rid of politics, greenhouse gas emissions should be taxed.”

        Don’t know where that logic came from!
        It seems to imply that every problem should be taxed irrespective of it’s significance or magnitude.”

        It appears that you have noticed several ‘features’ of Western Society:

        A. It is beset by a plethora of SERIOUS PROBLEMS (SP’s), all demanding immediate solutions.
        B. Invariably, the SP’s have been identified by progressives.
        C. The only acceptable solutions are those advocated by progressives.
        D. The two critical parts to EVERY solution are: give the progressives power to regulate an ever increasing portion of the day to day activities of the average citizen and give the progressives control over an ever increasing percentage of the GNP by increasing taxes.

      • Richard S.J. Tol

        David W: The economic basis for using taxes to change behavior was laid by AC Pigou in 1920.

      • We have discussed Pigovian taxes ad nausum here on CE. Even though an argument has been made to justify this sort of tax, I agree that taxes should only be used to fund the government, not for social engineering or “engineering” of other sorts. Unfortunately, even smart people do dumb things, and besides that no person or group of persons is smart enough to figure out and run an economy.

      • Since CO2 emission is on net beneficial tax policy should give the big emitters a rebate.

      • Richard Tol

        Thank you for the paper. As I stated in an earlier comment, the paper makes sense, so much so that most countries are already doing much of what it recommends, adjusting their power plant mix. I do however think that taxes should applied cautiously, at least in the USA. Strong economic growth should be a priority when determining a tax mix, IMHO.

        Regards,

        Richard, ancestor of Tomas Swartwout of New Amsterdam (via Amsterdam)

      • “Personally, I oppose using taxes to change behavior, on principle. Taxes should only fund necessary government operations, not be used to do social engineering (which so far as I can tell has no basis in economics).”

        I personally don’t mind that folks want to tax cigarettes. the savings in health care costs far outstrip the cost of the tax which I dont mind paying.

      • Strictly speaking Pigovian taxes are intended to compensate those for whom there is a cost of production that is external to the market. The taxes are intended to bring all costs into the cost structure of the product.

        Sin taxes are a very different thing, Hayek warns against unintended consequences of such well intentioned market interventions.

        And it is of course hugely rational to compare cigarettes and energy.

      • Max_OK, Citizen Scientist

        Who cares what Hayek warned against. Maybe he smoked or chewed tobacco.

      • ‘The Austrian business cycle theory (ABCT) is an economic theory developed by the Austrian School of economics explaining how business cycles occur. The theory views business cycles as the consequence of excessive growth in bank credit, due to an artificially low interest rates set by a central bank or fractional reserve banks.[1] The Austrian business cycle theory originated in the work of Austrian School economists Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. Hayek won the Nobel Prize in economics in 1974 (shared with Gunnar Myrdal) in part for his work on this theory.’ Wikipedia

        That’s Austria Maxy – not Australia. Although it is at the core of modern and very effective economic management in Australia.

      • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

        So what? Economics isn’t settled science. Indeed, some would argue it’s not even science.

        If Hayek was a smoker, it could explain his views on sin taxes. My research shows he was a smoker. Look at him in the linked photo:

        http://www.mymultiplesclerosis.co.uk/money/friedrich-hayek.html

      • Economics is about what works – and business cycle is at the core of economic management.

        e.g. – http://www.rba.gov.au/mkt-operations/resources/implementation-mp.html

        It is not infinitely mutable.

        Maxy’s research shows yet again that he is an intellectual train wreck.

      • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

        Rob, your definition of economics “economics is about what works” is interesting, but I’m not sure how it will be useful to me. I don’t see it helping me make money. You are right about cycles happening again and again.

        Rob, years ago your favorite economist Hayek lost his sense of decency and endorsed the Chilean dictator Pinochet, a bloody tyrant, who put into practice the free-market economy of Hayek’s dreams. Well, apparently his dream economy hasn’t worked so well in Chile, because the country recently elected a socialist president who is changing the country in ways that would make Hayek roll over in his grave.

        The lesson to be learned here is ideologies disappoint. I don’t like being disappointed, so I’m not an ideologue. I get the impression you are one. I hope you won’t be offended if I think ideologies are for saps.

      • ‘When I say that the conservative lacks principles, I do not mean to suggest that he lacks moral conviction. The typical conservative is indeed usually a man of very strong moral convictions. What I mean is that he has no political principles which enable him to work with people whose moral values differ from his own for a political order in which both can obey their convictions. It is the recognition of such principles that permits the coexistence of different sets of values that makes it possible to build a peaceful society with a minimum of force. The acceptance of such principles means that we agree to tolerate much that we dislike. There are many values of the conservative which appeal to me more than those of the socialists; yet for a liberal the importance he personally attaches to specific goals is no sufficient justification for forcing others to serve them. I
        have little doubt that some of my conservative friends will be shocked by what they will regard as “concessions” to modern views that I have made in Part III of this book. But, though I may dislike some of the measures concerned as much as they do and might vote against them, I know of no general principles to which I could appeal to persuade those of a different view that those measures are not permissible in the general kind of society
        which we both desire. To live and work successfully with others requires more than faithfulness to one’s concrete aims. It requires an intellectual commitment to a type of order in which, even on issues which to one are fundamental, others are allowed to pursue different ends.’ http://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/articles/hayek-why-i-am-not-conservative.pdf

        Hayek was a social philosopher with the profound commitment of the classic liberal to the scientific enlightenment values of individual freedom, democracy, and the rule of law.

        The Pinochet aspersions – the allegations of support for human rights abuses by a gentle champion of freedom and democracy – are a scurrilous progressive untruth. Just one more in the long litany of dishonesty and bad faith. And though I far from intend to downplay 3,000 odd casualties in Piniochet’s Chile – it unfortunately pales against the immensity of horrors of socialist regimes worldwide. How far down that inevitable track had Allende moved with the Chilean society and economy spiraling out of control? Getting both the economy and constitution back on track is far from a bad thing.

        http://escueladegobierno.uai.cl/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/WP_036.pdf

        Hayek was also an economist whose Nobel Prize winning work underlies the macroeconomic management of modern economies as I said. How most people make money is in stable market economies. This is real world success as seen in positive – but modest – growth over a long time – mainstream economics as I show with the central bank policy of 1997. One that we follow to his day. Practical management of interest rates to manage the up and downs of inflation that is a prime source of instability.

        A commitment to democracy, the rule of law and freedom – as well as practical and proven economic management – is far from ideological. God only knows what Maxy’s ideology is. I doubt that it is even conventionally progressive – it seems all seen through a strange lens of personal advantage. How do you identify a sociopath again? It is all so superficial and self absorbed. But more obviously it is all an intellectual train wreck. Far from standing on the shoulders of giants – it is all pulled out of his arse.

      • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

        Rob said “God only knows what Maxy’s ideology is. I doubt that it is even conventionally progressive – it seems all seen through a strange lens of personal advantage.”
        _______

        I do try to do what’s best for me, but I do not believe it’s ok to achieve goals through evil means. Apparently, your favorite economist, Hayek, believed otherwise, and I suppose you do too.

        I don’t have an ideology, unless doing what promises to work regardless of ideology is considered an ideology.

      • Allende defended himself with an AK47 that was a gift from Fidel Castro and was a paid KGB agent. Castro and the KGB were sweeties of course.

        But Hayek had nothing to do with the politics of the time. Although his work had something to do with the constitutional and economic reform.

        What works in modern economies has an empirical basis and doesn’t rely on whatever Maxy pulls out of his arse. Thank God.

      • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

        Rob, you haven’t done your homework on Hayek, and are ill informed about his views on Pinochet, the bloody Chilean dictator. Hayek’s words from a 1981 interview with El Mercurio show he was an apologist for Pinochet and believed ends justify means.

        “My personal impression — and this is valid for South America – is that in Chile, for example, we will witness a transition from a dictatorial government to a liberal government. And during this transition it may be necessary to maintain certain dictatorial powers, not as something permanent, but as a temporary arrangement.”

        http://www.economicthought.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/LibertyCleanOfImpuritiesInterviewWithFVonHayekChile1981.pdf

        Hayek was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1974, seven years before his El Mercurio interview. I have to wonder if he would have received a Nobel had the views he expressed in 1981 been known.

      • Thanks for that, Max.

        Pretty funny that Hayek was concerned about Western democracies being on the “road to serfdom,” even as he supported “temporary” fascism all across South America.

        Spectacular.

        Looks like Chief has been influenced by Hayek in his focus on raising unintentional irony to a high art.

      • Fascinating:

        For Hayek, the supposedly stark difference between authoritarianism and totalitarianism has much importance and Hayek places heavy weight on this distinction in his defence of transitional dictatorship. For example, when Hayek visited Venezuela in May 1981, he was asked to comment on the prevalence of “totalitarian” regimes in Latin America. In reply, Hayek warned against confusing “totalitarianism with authoritarianism,” and said that he was unaware of “any totalitarian governments in Latin America. The only one was Chile under Allende”. For Hayek, however, the word ‘totalitarian’ signifies something very specific: the wants to “organize the whole of society” to attain a “definite social goal” and—in stark contrast to “liberalism and individualism”

      • Rob

        “And it is of course hugely rational to compare cigarettes and energy.”

        I wasnt comparing the two.

        Wojick said he opposed taxes to change behavior.
        Gosh,
        Dont I get to say that support sin taxes to change behavior?

        It’s saved huge amounts on health care.

      • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

        Josh, Chile did not respond as well to the policies prescribed by Friedman and Hayek as these two free-market economists had hoped, as evidenced by the 2013 re-election of Socialist Michelle Bachelet to a second term as the Chilean President. She discusses her presidency in an interview with spiegel:

        http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/interview-with-chilean-president-michelle-bachelet-on-planned-reforms-a-999459.html

      • “My personal impression — and this is valid for South America – is that in Chile, for example, we will witness a transition from a dictatorial government to a liberal government. And during this transition it may be necessary to maintain certain dictatorial powers, not as something permanent, but as a temporary arrangement.”

        I think the visits to Chile – and the background and repercussions – were fairly covered covered by the reference I provided earlier. Too bad you didn’t bother reading it.

        Chile took a plebiscite under Pinochet – which he lost. And then he scheduled elections.

        Pinochet took some fairly drastic action – but the alternative seems very much civil war and the risk of a soviet inspired totalitarianism. But these harsh actions still have nothing to do with economic management or with Hayek’s influence on the new constitution.

        The historic risks of communism were very real and the crimes of Pinochet pale against the immense crimes of any of the communist states. The problem was how to bring a country back from the brink of a disaster taken there by Allende’s unconstitutional government and it’s disregard for fundamental freedoms. Where would that end? As I said – Allende defended himself with an AK47 gifted to him by Castro and was a paid KGB operative. He was instrumental in arming groups to defend his revolution. .

        These are all historic battles – and I see no reason to whitewash either side. Pinochet killed 3,000 people – the communist regimes killed more than 100 million.

        It has nothing to do with Hayek – whose concern was to bring the economy back into balance. Requiring much reversal of the nationalisation program that Allende had instituted. Given the nature of Hayek’s writings and concerns – I would assume that dictatorial related to the power to reverse these things – and not any inciting to crimes against humanity. It all seems a long bow to draw on the basis of a couple of short, academically inspired visits. It is far from the support given communist states by legions of useful id_ots.

        It was a different time and a different place. It makes little difference to modern economic management in Australia – at the core of which is the Austrian school. It makes no difference at all to sin taxes. My original point was that these are quite different to Pigovian taxes. It is an extremely long bow to suggest that sin taxes are not problematic because Hayek blah, blah, blah.

      • Chile still does pretty well on economic freedom.

        http://www.heritage.org/index/country/chile

        ‘ From 1990 to 2009, left-of-center governments largely maintained the market-based institutions and economic policies established under the 17-year rule of General Augusto Pinochet. However, under the center-right Alianza coalition, which took power in 2010, President Sebastian
        Piñera has raised corporate taxes and personally intervened to stop the construction of a coal-fired electric plant that had cleared all regulatory hurdles. None of that has satisfied the left, and large street protests have become an ongoing problem for the government. Despite Piñera’s clumsy political leadership, Chile still has the region’s best reputation among
        foreign investors. It is the first South American country to join the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Chile is the world’s leading producer of copper. The economy is very open to imports but is also an export powerhouse in minerals, wood, fruit, seafood, and wine.’

        Piñera predictably rules over economic and social chaos. Chileans should hope for a pragmatist next. Pragmatic economic management is apolitical. Maxy on the other hand is seeming much more a fringe progressive nutcase.

      • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

        Another Hayek quote from his 1981 interview with El Mercurio:

        “Well, I would say that, as long-term institutions, I am totally against dictatorships. But a dictatorship may be a necessary system for a transitional period. At times it is necessary for a country to have, for a time, some form or other of dictatorial power. As you will understand, it is possible for a dictator to govern in a liberal way. And it is also possible
        for a democracy to govern with a total lack of liberalism. Personally I prefer a liberaldictator to democratic government lacking liberalism.”

        http://www.economicthought.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/LibertyCleanOfImpuritiesInterviewWithFVonHayekChile1981.pdf
        _______

        Hayek is “totally against dictatorships” but prefers “a liberal dictator to democratic government lacking liberalism.”

        So if Hayek can’t get his way with a democratic government he would prefer a dictator.

        Regardless, Hayek also believes “At times it is necessary for a country to have, for a time, some form or other of dictatorial power.”

        Since Hayek approved of Chilean Dictator Pinochet, a bloody tyrant, it could be argued he was willing to ignore mass murder.

        I am appalled by Rob Ellison’s defense of Hayek. I hope Rob will reconsider his views.

      • ‘According to the United States of America, Cuba has a history of supporting revolutionary movements in Spanish speaking countries and Africa. “Havana openly advocates armed revolution as the only means for leftist forces to gain power in Latin America, and the Cubans have played an important role in facilitating the movement of men and weapons into the region. Havana provides direct support in the form of training, arms, safe havens, and advice to a wide variety of guerrilla groups. Many of these groups engage in terrorist operations.” Cuba “encouraged terrorism in the hope of provoking indiscriminate violence and repression, in order to weaken government legitimacy and attract new converts to armed struggle” In 1992, after the Soviet collapse, Fidel Castro stressed that his country’s support for insurgents abroad was a thing of the past.’ Wikipedia

        Chile had less compunction than other Latin American countries to preempt decisively Marxist insurrection. But conflict was inevitable nonetheless.

        But this was not of course anything that Hayek had any influence over. He helped steer the country back to constitutional democracy and rational market management after the failures and illegalities of Allende.

        ‘According to the United States of America, Cuba has a history of supporting revolutionary movements in Spanish speaking countries and Africa. “Havana openly advocates armed revolution as the only means for leftist forces to gain power in Latin America, and the Cubans have played an important role in facilitating the movement of men and weapons into the region. Havana provides direct support in the form of training, arms, safe havens, and advice to a wide variety of guerrilla groups. Many of these groups engage in terrorist operations.” Cuba “encouraged terrorism in the hope of provoking indiscriminate violence and repression, in order to weaken government legitimacy and attract new converts to armed struggle” In 1992, after the Soviet collapse, Fidel Castro stressed that his country’s support for insurgents abroad was a thing of the past.’

        The Russian famine that killed 20 million was fresh in memory – the Chinese famine that killed 50 million was even fresher. Millions were dying elsewhere in Asia and Africa. The stark incompetence and drift to tyranny of the Marxist totalitarian states – the state sponsored horrors of the 20th century – were blindingly evident except to socialist apologists in the west.

        ‘From the saintly and single-minded idealist to the fanatic is often but a step.” ― Friedrich Hayek

        Hayek is innocent – but I am not so sure that – should we meet at the barricades – the Pinochet imperative is not the rational choice. One should learn from history – and those who don’t know it Maxy…

      • Is this the right place?

        Meant to quote Hayek from the interview – rather than Wikipedia twice.

        ‘It is very simple: a country can have a proper political life only if the economic system allows its people to survive. Not counting, of course, with the ever-growing problem of population growth. Very well, people need to survive. And I am convinced that it is only in the free market, following the competitive market order, that all these people can be
        kept alive. It is precisely the policies of the left that attempt to impede those economic mechanisms that for me are the only ones that can give us everything we need.’

      • Watching chief flail furiously is like watching a sporting event on TV.

        ==> “Pinochet took some fairly drastic action …”

        “Fairly drastic action..”

        So killing thousands, imprisoning and torturing tens of thousands, tax evasion and embezzlement = “fairly drastic action.” Human rights violations = “fairly drastic action.” Assuming power in a dictatorship via a coup d’tat = “fairly drastic action.”

        And best of all, it is justified because, well, someone else did something bad elsewhere.

        Beautiful.

      • Not elsewhere – Joshua. Both sides were equally reprehensible – one side won. From the perspective of history I don’t have to be on either side. But the path of totalitarian Marxism is always ultimately more problematic on balance.

        From the perspective of histrionics – it is always good to piously moralise. Eh – Joshua?

      • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

        “And best of all, it is justified because, well, someone else did something bad elsewhere.”
        ____

        Josh, you nailed it. That’s Rob Ellison’s excuse for Pinochet’s crimes against the Chilean people.

        Hayek believed the end justified the means and Rob agrees. The end was Hayek’s utopia of freedom and the means was Pinochet’s dictatorship. But the utopia was a failure and Chile, turning away from Hayek’s vision, elected a socialist president. Thousands of Chileans were murdered in the name of an ideology that failed to deliver what it promised.

        Rob Ellison is not the only one here who embraces the Hayek’s failed ideology. Apparently, these ideologues want to give it another chance, even at the risk of having thousands more murdered. Ironically, the utopia of freedom seems to work only under a dictatorship. Democracy is it’s enemy.

      • ‘From 1990 to 2009, left-of-center governments largely maintained the market-based institutions and economic policies established under the 17-year rule of General Augusto Pinochet. However, under the center-right Alianza coalition, which took power in 2010, President Sebastian Piñera has raised corporate taxes and personally intervened to stop the construction of a coal-fired electric plant that had cleared all regulatory hurdles. None of that has satisfied the left, and large street protests have become an ongoing problem for the government. Despite Piñera’s clumsy political leadership, Chile still has the region’s best reputation among foreign investors. It is the first South American country to join the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Chile is the world’s leading producer of copper. The economy is very open to imports but is also an export powerhouse in minerals, wood, fruit, seafood, and wine.’ http://www.heritage.org/index/country/chile

        The reality – which Maxy is not very good at – is that there is mainstream economic management and his fringe extremist fantasies.

        Here’s another country – No. 3 on the economic freedom indeax.

        http://www.heritage.org/index/country/australia

        Monetary policy.

        http://www.rba.gov.au/monetary-policy/

        Economic growth.

        There are rational ways to manage modern economies – and the Nobel Prize winning work of Hayek is at the core of it. Forgetting these principles leads to Greece, Ireland and the US economic malaise.

        The other principles of importance are those of classic liberalism. You know? Democracy, the rule of law, free markets? Are they arguing against this?

      • Max –

        I do think that there is some value in Hayek’s ideology, his extremism in seeking expediency through murderous dictatorship notwithstanding.

        What’s a bit hard for me to take is deadenders and extremists, who can’t temper their fetishism about ideologies like that of Hayek, and who cling for dear life to his alarmism about a “road to serfdom” – as if it hasn’t been disproven by the subsequent course of history.

        But on the third hand, it’s hard for me to take people like Chief, who inadvertently creates a self-parody of himself with each comment, seriously. I take solace in believing that at some level, he just exaggerates for dramatic effect – or at least if it isn’t exaggeration, his extremist ideology is shared by so few people that it can’t ever have meaningful impact in the real world.

      • I don’t see a mention of Hayek here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augusto_Pinochet
        “At times it is necessary for a country to have, for a time, some form or other of dictatorial power. As you will understand, it is possible for a dictator to govern in a liberal way. And it is also possible for a democracy to govern with a total lack of liberalism. Personally, I prefer a liberal dictator to democratic government lacking in liberalism. My personal impression…is that in Chile…we will witness a transition from a dictatorial government to a liberal government….during this transition it may be necessary to maintain certain dictatorial powers.” – Hayek
        Two outcomes:
        A democracy with dismal outcomes or
        A dictatorship with better outcomes
        A choice:
        The means always the highest priority
        The outcomes always the highest priority
        Most libertarians in the U.S. accomplish little as far as winning political office. We make the means the highest priority in general ruling out actually winning. We’ve don’t want to trade away the means for the ends. Hayek could have called for immediate elections and asked Pinochet not to run for good measure. That may not have contributed to the better outcome considering all the factors. But if he had, the democracy may have emerged strong, stable enough and successful. Explaining to a dictator how to fix things in not going to be easy and without risks to his subjects. It’s easy enough to rhetorically blast one using a gimme principle, see no effect and move onto something else. Leaving aside the difficult subject of transitions, any libertarian society should be a democracy. People must vote for such a thing. There is no other defensible way to get there that I can see.

      • I can’t really let this go at that tendentious nonsense from Joshua. Typical of the economically illiterate, historically revisionist, Marxist apologists of the fringe – and quite insane – progressive left. They are much less friends of freedom than desperately unlettered extremists with appetites for economic and social revolution. The old problem of these types is the overweening arrogance,

        Hayek has no responsibility for a conflict between totalitarian Marxists – not known anywhere for it’s forbearance of alternate views – and it’s political opponents. Besides it seems an old battle to be fighting. Given the need to chose in the historic context – who would you support. An illegal government of totalitarian and quite murderous Marxists – or freedom fighters restoring law and order and democracy? Hard choice that – but it seems obvious which one Joshua continues to be an apologist for.

        Hayek’s writings led the way back in Chile to constitutional democracy and rational market management – and to the continuing success of the country as an relatively economically free, prosperous and robust democracy. It is absurd to lay it at his feet in some contrived act of selective interpretation. It ranks No. in the index of economically free countries precisely because it hasn’t repudiated much of the economic reforms of the Pinochet regime.

        Hayek – indeed – is central to all well managed modern economies. It is a product of the Austrian school of economics for work on which Hayek won the Nobel Prize. It is uncontroversial mainstream economics.

        ‘In determining monetary policy, the Bank has a duty to maintain price stability, full employment, and the economic prosperity and welfare of the Australian people. To achieve these statutory objectives, the Bank has an ‘inflation target’ and seeks to keep consumer price inflation in the economy to 2–3 per cent, on average, over the medium term. Controlling inflation preserves the value of money and encourages strong and sustainable growth in the economy over the longer term.’ http://www.rba.gov.au/monetary-policy/

        Managing interest counteracts both inflation – asset bubbles – and deflation and preserves stability in the economic system. The proof is in the pudding.

        Hayek is much more interesting as a social theorist. The Road to Serfdom was about the failure of central planning as a result of the knowledge problem. Planners can only know so much – economic decision making is better left to people making the choices for their own welfare. Once headed down this road – central planning leads inevitably to totalitarian socialist states. To believe otherwise is to ignore the lessons of history and to risk repeating the great horrors of the 20th century

        That really seems to be the problem with Maxy, Joshua and Co. Irrational economic principles combined with the arrogance and ignorance of central planners. It is difficult to imagine what they do want – apart from windmills and higher taxes and spending they can direct into whatever takes the fancy. Even that is permissible within the limits of the politics of democracy.

        ‘When I say that the conservative lacks principles, I do not mean to suggest that he lacks moral conviction. The typical conservative is indeed usually a man of very strong moral
        convictions. What I mean is that he has no political principles which enable him to work with people whose moral values differ from his own for a political order in which both can obey their convictions. It is the recognition of such principles that permits the coexistence of different sets of values that makes it possible to build a peaceful society with a minimum of force. The acceptance of such principles means that we agree to tolerate much that we dislike. There are many values of the conservative which appeal to me more than those of the socialists; yet for a liberal the importance he personally attaches to specific goals is no sufficient justification for forcing others to serve them. I have little doubt that some of my conservative friends will be shocked by what they will regard as “concessions” to modern views that I have made in Part III of this book. But, though I may dislike some of the measures concerned as much as they do and might vote
        against them, I know of no general principles to which I could appeal to persuade those of a different view that those measures are not permissible in the general kind of society which we both desire. To live and work successfully with others requires more than faithfulness to one’s concrete aims. It requires an intellectual commitment to a type of order in which, even on issues which to one are fundamental, others are allowed to
        pursue different ends.’ Hayek

        The basis of a peaceful society are free peoples, free markets, the rule of law and democracy. Within these innate limits – everything is possible however ill advised a sin tax on energy would be.

        These people have not the slightest clue – which makes them in my books barbarians within the gates of the scientific enlightenment.

      • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

        Boody Dictator Augusto Pinochet, Rob Ellison’s Kind of Guy

        Excerpts from NYTimes obit on Augusto Pinochet, Dec.11, 2006

        “Gen. Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, the brutal dictator who repressed and reshaped Chile for nearly two decades and became a notorious symbol of human rights abuse and corruption, died yesterday at the Military Hospital of Santiago. He was 91.”

        “Those violations were well documented by the National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation, a nonpartisan group appointed by Mr. Aylwin to investigate the killings and disappearances carried out under the general’s 17-year dictatorship. The commission’s report cited victims by name and described the ghastly circumstances of their deaths by firing squads, beatings, mutilations, drownings and electrocutions. In all, the report attributed at least 3,200 killings and disappearances to the Pinochet security forces.”

        “The images that most shaped the outside world’s low opinion of the military administration were scenes of Santiago’s main sports stadium filled with prisoners, and by the public appearances of General Pinochet, eyes hidden behind dark glasses, face set in a scowl, arms folded defiantly across his chest. Although a majority of executions, jailings and cases of torture took place shortly after the 1973 coup, serious human rights abuses waxed and waned over the next 17 years.”

        “General Pinochet scoffed at his human rights critics. Asked about the discovery of a mass grave of his government’s victims, he was quoted in the Chilean press as joking that it was an “efficient” way of burial.”

        “During those last years he lived in near seclusion, mostly at his home in Bucalemu, about 80 miles southwest of Santiago, scorned even by many of his former military colleagues and conservative civilian ideologues. Many were disillusioned by revelations that he held, at the least, $28 million in secret bank accounts abroad.”

        http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/11/world/americas/11pinochet.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

      • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

        Re comment by Ragnaar | December 30, 2014 at 8:25 pm |

        Ragnaar, in 1981 Hayek was interviewed by the newspaper El Mercurio. I believe the quote you questioned was Hayek’s answer to the the following question: “What opinion, in your view, should we have of dictatorships?”

        http://www.economicthought.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/LibertyCleanOfImpuritiesInterviewWithFVonHayekChile1981.pdf

      • ‘Well, I would say that, as long-term institutions, I am totally against dictatorships. But a
        dictatorship may be a necessary system for a transitional period. At times it is necessary for a country to have, for a time, some form or other of dictatorial power. As you will understand, it is possible for a dictator to govern in a liberal way. And it is also possible for a democracy to govern with a total lack of liberalism. Personally I prefer a liberal dictator to democratic government lacking liberalism. My personal impression — and this is valid for South America – is that in Chile, for example, we will witness a transition from a dictatorial government to a liberal government. And during this transition it may be necessary to maintain certain dictatorial powers, not as something permanent, but as a temporary arrangement.’

        The full quote. The country did transition to democracy from Marxist totalitarianism. Unlike say Cuba.

        ‘Cuba is a one-party Communist state, in which every Cuban is subject to a totalitarian system of political and social control. That system is institutionalized and given legal framework by the 1976 Constitution and the Penal Code, which together outlaw virtually any form of political or civic activity outside the purview of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC). Anyone deemed by the regime to be in opposition to it is regarded as a “counterrevolutionary” and an “enemy,” and is therefore at risk of punishment. The judicial system is constitutionally subordinated to the executive and legislative branches and under the control of the PCC. That leaves Cubans with no recourse before the unlimited powers of the state, which has “zero tolerance for the growth of civil society”[1][1] and systematically violates the rights to freedom of expression, association, assembly, privacy and due process of law.’

        I can’t say which is worse. Pinochet who willingly returned the state to Democracy – or the illegal Marxist totalitarian state of Allende with its cadres of gun toting fanatics? What would an alternate history say? I guess we will never know.

        What we do know about is Maxy’s sanctimonious apologia for Marxist totalitarianism. Untold horrors later – hundreds of millions dead -the ideology survives as a residual pustulence on the body politic.

        ‘We must make the building of a free society once more an intellectual adventure, a deed of courage. What we lack is a liberal Utopia, a programme which seems neither a mere defence of things as they are nor a diluted kind of socialism, but a truly liberal radicalism which does not spare the susceptibilities of the mighty (including the trade unions), which is not too severely practical and which does not confine itself to what appears today as politically possible…Those who have concerned themselves exclusively with what seemed practicable in the existing state of opinion have constantly found that even this has rapidly become politically impossible as the result of changes in a public opinion which they have done nothing to guide. Unless we can make the philosophic foundations of a free society once more a living intellectual issue, and its implementation a task which challenges the ingenuity and imagination of our liveliest minds, the prospects of freedom are indeed dark. But if we can regain that belief in power of ideas which was the mark of liberalism at its best, the battle is not lost.’ Hayek

        The battle is certainly not lost to these fringe extremists. Due to no little amount to Hayek himself. But it is as ever a task renewed to build on the values of free societies that are unknown to these barbarians within the gates of the scientific enlightenment.

      • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

        Re comments by Joshua | December 30, 2014 at 6:44 pm |

        Joshua: “I do think that there is some value in Hayek’s ideology, his extremism in seeking expediency through murderous dictatorship notwithstanding.”

        My reply: I agree. I believe we can find some good in almost any ideology without accepting it in its entirety.
        ____

        Joshua: “What’s a bit hard for me to take is deadenders and extremists, who can’t temper their fetishism about ideologies like that of Hayek, and who cling for dear life to his alarmism about a “road to serfdom” – as if it hasn’t been disproven by the subsequent course of history.”

        My reply: I guess some people have a need to fully embrace some ideology, and staunchly defend it no matter what. I don’t feel such a need so I can’t empathize. Psychologists may have an explanation for this need. I’m not saying a person has to be crazy to be an ideologue, but being naive and gullible would be helpful.
        _______

        Joshua: “But on the third hand, it’s hard for me to take people like Chief, who inadvertently creates a self-parody of himself with each comment, seriously. I take solace in believing that at some level, he just exaggerates for dramatic effect – or at least if it isn’t exaggeration, his extremist ideology is shared by so few people that it can’t ever have meaningful impact in the real world.”

        My reply: I prefer to think Chief (Rob Ellison) is just an amusing windbag. I believe he’s intelligent but doesn’t use his intelligence very well.

      • Joshua: “I do think that there is some value in Hayek’s ideology, his extremism in seeking expediency through murderous dictatorship notwithstanding.”

        My reply: I agree. I believe we can find some good in almost any ideology without accepting it in its entirety.
        ____

        Does he still mistake economic management for ideology?

        ‘In determining monetary policy, the Bank has a duty to maintain price stability, full employment, and the economic prosperity and welfare of the Australian people. To achieve these statutory objectives, the Bank has an ‘inflation target’ and seeks to keep consumer price inflation in the economy to 2–3 per cent, on average, over the medium term. Controlling inflation preserves the value of money and encourages strong and sustainable growth in the economy over the longer term.’

        The alternative is not to have stable economies. Bizarre. This is mainstream.

        Joshua: “What’s a bit hard for me to take is deadenders and extremists, who can’t temper their fetishism about ideologies like that of Hayek, and who cling for dear life to his alarmism about a “road to serfdom” – as if it hasn’t been disproven by the subsequent course of history.”

        My reply: I guess some people have a need to fully embrace some ideology, and staunchly defend it no matter what. I don’t feel such a need so I can’t empathize. Psychologists may have an explanation for this need. I’m not saying a person has to be crazy to be an ideologue, but being naive and gullible would be helpful.
        _______

        Yep – nothing worse than believing in freedom, the rule of law, democracy and free markets. This is mainstream politics. All but ridiculous extremists.

        I suppose you could not have a belief in fundamental principles of freedom. This would pretty much be an abnegation of the principles of the US founding fathers – but why let a little thing like that stop you.

        Joshua: “But on the third hand, it’s hard for me to take people like Chief, who inadvertently creates a self-parody of himself with each comment, seriously. I take solace in believing that at some level, he just exaggerates for dramatic effect – or at least if it isn’t exaggeration, his extremist ideology is shared by so few people that it can’t ever have meaningful impact in the real world.”

        My reply: I prefer to think Chief (Rob Ellison) is just an amusing windbag. I believe he’s intelligent but doesn’t use his intelligence very well.

        I don’t think either of them are too bright. You certainly can’t tell from the quality of the commentary. Which consists endlessly repetitive disparagement and calumny. Worse is the utter dishonesty in the service of their progressive mindset. It’s in the rule book.

        “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.”

        It’s ignorable and contemptible at the same time.

      • Let me fix the formatting.

        Joshua: “I do think that there is some value in Hayek’s ideology, his extremism in seeking expediency through murderous dictatorship notwithstanding.”

        My reply: I agree. I believe we can find some good in almost any ideology without accepting it in its entirety.
        ____

        Does he still mistake economic management for ideology?

        ‘In determining monetary policy, the Bank has a duty to maintain price stability, full employment, and the economic prosperity and welfare of the Australian people. To achieve these statutory objectives, the Bank has an ‘inflation target’ and seeks to keep consumer price inflation in the economy to 2–3 per cent, on average, over the medium term. Controlling inflation preserves the value of money and encourages strong and sustainable growth in the economy over the longer term.’

        The alternative is not to have stable economies. This is mainstream.

        Joshua: “What’s a bit hard for me to take is deadenders and extremists, who can’t temper their fetishism about ideologies like that of Hayek, and who cling for dear life to his alarmism about a “road to serfdom” – as if it hasn’t been disproven by the subsequent course of history.”

        My reply: I guess some people have a need to fully embrace some ideology, and staunchly defend it no matter what. I don’t feel such a need so I can’t empathize. Psychologists may have an explanation for this need. I’m not saying a person has to be crazy to be an ideologue, but being naive and gullible would be helpful.
        _______

        Yep – nothing worse than believing in freedom, the rule of law, democracy and free markets. This is mainstream politics. All but ridiculous extremists.

        I suppose you could not have a belief in fundamental principles of freedom. This would pretty much be an abnegation of the principles of the US founding fathers – but why let a little thing like that stop you.

        Joshua: “But on the third hand, it’s hard for me to take people like Chief, who inadvertently creates a self-parody of himself with each comment, seriously. I take solace in believing that at some level, he just exaggerates for dramatic effect – or at least if it isn’t exaggeration, his extremist ideology is shared by so few people that it can’t ever have meaningful impact in the real world.”

        My reply: I prefer to think Chief (Rob Ellison) is just an amusing windbag. I believe he’s intelligent but doesn’t use his intelligence very well.

        I don’t think either of them are too bright. You certainly can’t tell from the quality of the commentary. Which consists endlessly repetitive disparagement and calumny. Worse is the utter dishonesty in the service of their progressive mindset. It’s in the rule book.

        “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.”

        It’s ignorable and contemptible at the same time.

      • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

        Joshua: “I do think that there is some value in Hayek’s ideology, his extremism in seeking expediency through murderous dictatorship notwithstanding.”

        Max_OK: “I agree. I believe we can find some good in almost any ideology without accepting it in its entirety.”

        Rob Ellison: “Does he still mistake economic management for ideology?”
        ______

        Rob Ellison decides the best way to defend Hayek’s ideology is to deny he has an ideology. Instead, its Hayek’s “economic management.”

        Rob, have you thought of just rejecting the definition of ideology?

        Oxford Dictionaries definition of ideology:

        ” A system of ideas and ideals, especially one that forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy”

        http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/ideology

        Example of the word “ideology” used in a sentence:

        Chile has rejected the economic ideology of Hayek.

      • Max, please just stop.

        Pointing out Hayek wasn’t infallible demonstrates that unlike the noble Chief, you just don’t care about the “fundamental principles of freedom.”

        Only people who fetishize Hayek care about freedom.

      • ‘The Austrian business cycle theory (ABCT) is an economic theory developed by the Austrian School of economics explaining how business cycles occur. The theory views business cycles as the consequence of excessive growth in bank credit, due to an artificially low interest rates set by a central bank or fractional reserve banks.[1] The Austrian business cycle theory originated in the work of Austrian School economists Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. Hayek won the Nobel Prize in economics in 1974 (shared with Gunnar Myrdal) in part for his work on this theory.[2][3]

        Proponents believe that a sustained period of low interest rates and excessive credit creation result in a volatile and unstable imbalance between saving and investment.’ Wikpedia

        It is not difficult to be more right – and be the core of macroeconomic policy globally – than Maxy or Joshua.

        ‘In determining monetary policy, the Bank has a duty to maintain price stability, full employment, and the economic prosperity and welfare of the Australian people. To achieve these statutory objectives, the Bank has an ‘inflation target’ and seeks to keep consumer price inflation in the economy to 2–3 per cent, on average, over the medium term. Controlling inflation preserves the value of money and encourages strong and sustainable growth in the economy over the longer term.’

        ‘In determining monetary policy, the Bank has a duty to maintain price stability, full employment, and the economic prosperity and welfare of the Australian people. To achieve these statutory objectives, the Bank has an ‘inflation target’ and seeks to keep consumer price inflation in the economy to 2–3 per cent, on average, over the medium term. Controlling inflation preserves the value of money and encourages strong and sustainable growth in the economy over the longer term…

        The Reserve Bank sets the target ‘cash rate’, which is the market interest rate on overnight funds. It uses this as the instrument for monetary policy, and influences the cash rate through its financial market operations.’ http://www.rba.gov.au/monetary-policy/index.html

        Obviously an ideology of interest rate manaegment.

  55. OT:
    Judith,
    Any idea when the American Physical Society will come out with it’s new position on Climate change?

  56. Climate is wild and thank God for that. Otherwise there we would have absolutely nothing to worry about. Seriously – a residual warming of 0.07K/decade. That’s 0.35K over 50 years. Not likely to warm at all for 2 or 3 decades at least. This shows the warming from 1979 to 1997 – which they presume is the ‘true global warming signal’.

    Perhaps not. It is perhaps due to decadal changes in cloud.

    A 2.1W/m2 decrease in reflected and a 0.7W/m2 increase in emitted IR between the 80’s and 90’s in ERBS.

    It also shows a return to warming after 2020. Perhaps not – climate is wild is the basis for all this analysis after all.

    But the energy dimension is purely a science and engineering problem. We are swimming in energy – and transforming that into useful and economic forms is something that we understand how to do. Ever since we mastered fire. Success brings immense wealth for all – more for some – and the creative destruction of capitalism ensures rapid transitions to better technologies.

    If we are really clever – we can solve some of the social, economic, geopolitical and environmental problems of the world.

  57. Cold logic on climate change policy
    to think rationally about the environment.
    Welcome rebound in ice at both ends of the world, well welcome only in the sense that an Arctic recovery remains the great white hope of all skeptics in destroying the warmist mantra.
    Under 500,000 sq K for the first time in a while with a high piomass and extra heat exiting in the tropics meaning the poles can become quite a bit colder.
    People change is what needs thinking about, better contraception, less but healthier, smarter children, an ability to cope with both boredom and hard work and yet some carte blanche for the more adventurous amongst us to do the crazy things, drinking, partying and crashing if they want and so long as it is with others of their ilk.Impossible while nationalism and religion demonise other people.
    New year predictions
    2014 to be the second last hot year in the next 30.
    Sea ice in the Arctic to increase for a third year before a dip and then ongoing recovery.
    Michael Mann and Steyn to find they quite like each other at 70 and 65 even though their case is still going.
    Happy New Year all.

  58. lemiere jacques

    cold logic? is there a hot one?

  59. What a well-written essay! If there are rational arguments opposing Tol’s views then I’d like to see those laid out in an equivalently straightforward way with a minimum of hand-waving.

  60. It still, like all the others, allows the field to exist as a field into which all results will be funnelled.

    Instead of ignoring the field as a field, like everything else is ignored before somebody finds that there’s money and power in it.

    That is, the cold logic is still naive about the sociology of groupthink.

    The route to power and wealth is

    1. Find a new “public problem”

    2. Take ownership of it.

    The fewer public problems the better. It’s the method of bureaucracy.

    That’s where all the cost is. It goes dysfunctional and cannot be killed.

  61. Today’s USA Opinion piece (‘Our view,’ Land of the free, home of the wuss?) asks a key question society must answer in this age of alarmism:

    All of this raises the question of why so many are so scared.

    • Because first world life, due to abundant cheap power, is so easy. Thus, we call them first- world problems. They have to be afwaid of something or the fear gland will sit idle and atrophy. No starvation, freezing to death, fatal childhood diseases, man eating tigers, pogroms, Huns, Gengis Khan, … What to do? We need new bogeymen like GMOs, fluoride, nuclear radiation, brain eating microwaves, terrorism and, of course, the mostest scariest thing evah, Anthropogenic Global Warming. I can hardly sleep at night!

    • Fear is easy to explain. Too much free time, lots of propaganda, a nihilistic “man is the problem” world view, and an echo chamber environment. The press has bought into the climate change, man is a problem meme.

      There is a cadre of people dedicated to creating fear because it increases newspaper sales and can be used to drive public policy.

      There is a viewpoint that man is bad, fossil fuels are bad, any change to the environment is bad. This viewpoint ignores the fact the 280 PPM is a crazy level for CO2, only a step up from the starvation level of 200, and isn’t optimum for anything.

      Warming theory provides the fear to drive public policy in the direction a minority of the population (less than 30%) prefer.

      • ha, afraid of starving the plants.

      • Someone has to speak for the plants – they get ignored by environmentalists. The greens are agro-insensitive.

      • 280 ppm … Lowest in 500,000,000 years.

      • They will also sell you a windmill and a solar panel.

      • This viewpoint ignores the fact the 280 PPM is a crazy level for CO2, only a step up from the starvation level of 200, and isn’t optimum for anything.

        It’s pretty close to optimum for C4 grasses, when you factor in competition from less effective CO2 extractors. As well as for the entire ecosystems built around them.

      • dont mind PA, AK, he’s got some settled science.

        gotta love those skeptics who think skepticism is restricted to things they dont believe rather than the things they do believe.

        half a skeptic

      • Dagnabbit:

        “Semi-skeptics.”

      • “gotta love those skeptics who think skepticism is restricted to things they dont believe rather than the things they do believe.”

        Is skepticism supposed to be restricted to the things we do believe? Do you mean “rather than also including the things they do believe”? Are you saying skeptics are not supposed to believe anything? Aren’t we all entitled to be skeptical of some things, while at the same time believing other things?

      • Speaking of skepticism, Steven, do you suppose agriculture wasn’t invented to feed people? In Australia, the natives didn’t wear (non-ritual) clothes, and didn’t invent agriculture.

      • Don

        “Is skepticism supposed to be restricted to the things we do believe? Do you mean “rather than also including the things they do believe”? Are you saying skeptics are not supposed to believe anything? Aren’t we all entitled to be skeptical of some things, while at the same time believing other things?”

        There are two kinds of skepticism. maybe more, but lets start with these

        1. Philosophical skepticism. The systematic doubt of any claims to knowledge.
        2. methodological skepticism. Using Doubt as a tool.

        When you use it as a tool it’s best if you follow Feynman and doubt what you believe. after all you are the easiest person to fool.
        You cant doubt everything. But start with what you believe. works better that way

      • Starting with what others believe is a more target rich environment in my experience.

      • @AK re; c4 photosynthesis

        True dat C4 plants don’t respond as well to increased CO2 but they respond better to higher temperatures so the net result is the same. Rising CO2 floats all botanical boats higher.

        https://books.google.com/books?id=oiJXe1mu_dwC&lpg=PA166&ots=DtSyJJCdUJ&dq=optimum%20co2%20c4&pg=PA166#v=onepage&q=optimum%20co2%20c4&f=false

      • @ “David in TX”…

        From your own link:

        With further increases in CO2 from 380 to 700 ppm, the C4 A/T response is little changed, with only a small enhancement occurring near the thermal optimum (Fig. 2c). By contrast, C3 species still show a substantial enhancement of A by rising CO2 above 20°C, and as a result, can exhibit A/T responses at high CO2 that mimic those of C4 Species (Fig 2; [ref]). [my bold]

        At subsaturating light intensities, A in C4 plants exhibits low sensitivity to variation in temperature, and thus the A/T curve becomes flattened with a broad thermal optimum (Fig. 3). Light requirements for A are highest at the thermal optimum, so the flattening of the A/T response with declining light begins at the optimal temperature, then spreads to lower temperatures as light levels drop further ([ref’s]). Consequently, the generalization that C4 plants are more responsive to temperature and have a higher thermal optimum than C3 plants only refers to the light saturated condition. [my bold]

        Now, with rising pCO2, as the C3 “A/T curve” begins to “mimic those of C4 Species”, what are they going to do? Provide shade! Thus subjecting competing C3 grasses (low compared to trees) to “declining light”, and as the competition tilts in their favor, “light levels drop further”.

        Point being, C4 grasses are best adapted to low pCO2 conditions, not because they can’t grow better with more CO2, but because competing C3 plants (e.g. shrubs/trees) can grow better, faster, and overshade them.

      • Good link though…

        I wish I had $250+ to spend on it.

      • David in TX.
        You just fooled yourself.

      • Off into the philosophical weeds again, Steven. Practical skepticism is part of the learning process. I suspect most of us are born with it. By the time we are 7 or 8, we believe a lot of stuff pretty much for sure. No need to be actively skeptical about that stuff any more. And we accumulate more stuff/beliefs that we rely on to navigate through life and help us avoid bad sh-t happening to us. Perpetual navel gazing skepticism will just bog one down. One can’t navigate deftly, whilst navel gazing. Not to say we should not be open to re-examining our beliefs, when we encounter new evidence, or just somehow see things in a different light. Epiphanies are are almost as gratifying as sex , Montecristo torpedoes and single malt scotch.

        In the context of this blog, discussing who is skeptical or who is half-skeptical, psuedo-skeptical, etc. is a trivial game joshie probably dreamed up. It can be fun, but it’s not useful. Almost all of the alleged discussion here involves the soldiers of one side and then the other attacking and counter-attacking the same old partisan arguments using the same old links as ammunition. I think very few are skeptical of their own position. I am. I started out as a denier and evolved into a firm believer in lukewarm, lukewarmism. I could be a full-blown militant alarmist, if I get hit with the epiphany. I’ll chain myself to a smokestack and hold my breath, until I am blue in the face. In the meantime, the pause is killing the cause.

      • C4 Plants Adaptation to High Levels of CO2 and to Drought Environments

        In theory, increases in atmospheric levels of CO2 above current levels can increase photosynthesis by decreasing photorespiration (fixation of O2 rather than CO2 by Rubisco), which increases with temperature and is higher in C3 than C4 and crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) plants ([ref]). In addition, rising CO2 generally stimulates C3 photosynthesis more than C4. Doubling of the current ambient CO2 concentration stimulated the growth of C4 plants to the tune of 10–20% whereas that in C3 plants was about 40–45% ([ref]). [my bold]

        The above blockquote is a sample: I highly recommend reading the entire article.

      • Steven Mosher | December 28, 2014 at 8:24 pm |
        David in TX.
        You just fooled yourself.
        ————————————————————–

        Nope.

        You just fooled yourself into believing I fooled myself.

      • AK writes: Point being, C4 grasses are best adapted to low pCO2 conditions, not because they can’t grow better with more CO2, but because competing C3 plants (e.g. shrubs/trees) can grow better, faster, and overshade them.

        ——————————————————————
        Wrong.

        http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/biology/phoc.html#c2

        “C3 plants have the disadvantage that in hot dry conditions their photosynthetic efficiency suffers because of a process called photorespiration.”

        “C4 plants almost never saturate with light and under hot, dry conditions much outperform C3 plants.”

        CO2 raises temperature which is an advantage to C4 at the same time a disadvantage to C3. The result is a wash with net primary productivity rising globally as CO2 increases. Individual niches may rearrange which plants prosper the most during different times of year and differences from year to year.

        The greening of the planet over the past 30 years is a satellite observation not a hypothesis.

      • @”David in TX”…

        Again, from your own link:

        The drawback to C4 photosynthesis is the extra energy in the form of ATP that is used to pump the 4-carbon acids to the bundle sheath cell and the pumping of the 3-carbon compound back to the mesophyll cell for conversion to PEP. This loss to the system is why C3 plants will outperform C4 plants if there is a lot of water and sun. The C4 plants make some of that energy back in the fact that the rubisco is optimally used and the plant has to spend less energy synthesizing rubisco. [my bold]

        IOW the “outperformance” depends primarily on availability of water.

        If the effect of increased pCO2 includes substantial desertification, the added benefits to local C4 plants might balance the benefits of increased CO2 to C3 plants. OTOH, if the primary effect of increased “greenhouse” effect is increased evaporation, as many commenters here, including somebody named (something like) Dav1d Spr1nger, have (IIRC) often asserted, we could reasonably expect the effects of increased rainfall to far overbalance any effects of increased temperature.

        More importantly, both observations and models strongly suggest that the major temperature increases from increased GHG’s will be observed in northern hemisphere continental winters, places where increased temperatures are unlikely to benefit C4 angiosperms, especially grasses.

        Finally, as I understand your earlier link, and the numbers therein, a few degrees of temperature increase can be expected to have little effect compared to the large (50% or more) increases of pCO2 needed to drive them.

      • @”David in TX”…

        Again, from your own link:

        The drawback to C4 photosynthesis is the extra energy in the form of ATP that is used to pump the 4-carbon acids to the bundle sheath cell and the pumping of the 3-carbon compound back to the mesophyll cell for conversion to PEP. This loss to the system is why C3 plants will outperform C4 plants if there is a lot of water and sun. The C4 plants make some of that energy back in the fact that the rubisco is optimally used and the plant has to spend less energy synthesizing rubisco. [my bold]

        IOW the “outperformance” depends primarily on availability of water.

        If the effect of increased pCO2 includes substantial desertification, the added benefits to local C4 plants might balance the benefits of increased CO2 to C3 plants. OTOH, if the primary effect of increased “greenhouse” effect is increased evaporation, as many commenters here, including somebody named David Springer, have (IIRC) often asserted, we could reasonably expect the effects of increased rainfall to far overbalance any effects of increased temperature.

        More importantly, both observations and models strongly suggest that the major temperature increases from increased GHG’s will be observed in northern hemisphere continental winters, places where increased temperatures are unlikely to benefit C4 angiosperms, especially grasses.

        Finally, as I understand your earlier link, and the numbers therein, a few degrees of temperature increase can be expected to have little effect compared to the large (50% or more) increases of pCO2 needed to drive them.

  62. Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

    “A fifth of official development aid is now diverted to climate policy. Money that used to be spent on strengthening the rule of law, better education for girls, and improved health care, for instance, is now used to plug methane leaks and destroy hydrofluorocarbons.”
    ______

    This statement suggests the choice is between spending money on climate policy or spending money on things like better education and health care. It’s as silly as my boss telling me I can buy a case of beer or a bottle of bourbon, but not both, because she’s buying another pair of designer shoes (which she doesn’t need).

    • ‘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 – post 2015 MDG

      • Max_OK, Weird Citizen Scientist

        If money wasn’t wasted on that silly Copenhagen Consensus Center, more would be available to do social good.

        Here’s an idea. Fund micro grids for poor African villages. All you need for a village is a few wind turbines and solar panels and a back-up diesel powered generator. The payoff is less pollution (no need to burn cow chips and wood) and an improved standard of living. You get two birds with one stone. For more details, see

        http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/18/opinion/wind-solar-clean-power-off-the-grid.html?_r=0

      • Max:
        At your link, they provide enough information to do a quick and dirty calculation:
        200,000 gallons per year
        $10 per gallon
        Fuel cost: $2,000,000
        Alaskan village population: 200
        Cost per individual per year: $10,000 using only diesel
        Proposed components: Diesel generator, solar generation, wind turbines and batteries
        Seems feasible. A bit more resilient which would be nice when it’s cold outside. Part of what makes it more feasible is the high cost of transportation of fuel to the village I imagine.

      • ‘Faced with a perceived conflict between expanding global energy access and rapidly reducing greenhouse emissions to prevent climate change, many environmental groups and donor institutions have come to rely on small-scale, decentralized, renewable energy technologies that cannot meet the energy demands of rapidly growing emerging economies and people struggling to escape extreme poverty. The UN’s flagship energy access program, for example, claims that “basic human needs” can be met with enough electricity to power a fan, a couple of light bulbs, and a radio for five hours a day.’ http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/programs/energy-and-climate/our-high-energy-planet

        Microgrids are all over the place. It is not sufficient to power stoves. But it is a start.

        Add simple toilets that people can afford.

        And much cleaner stoves.

        http://biolitestove.com/homestove/

        And we have improvements in health and education. What we are aiming at is a high energy future.

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

        I am always mesmerized by Maxy’s comments. It’s the train wreck effect.

      • Here’s is a hugely sophisticated system with real time data.

        http://www.kingislandrenewableenergy.com.au/

        It contrasts with Indian microgrids.

        ‘Mera Gao’s customers pay about 100 rupees — $1.60 — and receive enough electricity to power two LED lights and a mobile phone charger for seven hours a night. Husk can supply about 400 households from one of its rice husk gasifiers. Two stories tall and painted green, the gasifiers are usually situated near the center of town, next to a giant pile of rice husks and surrounded by a rickety fence. Also for 100 rupees, a Husk user gets two CFL light bulbs and a cellphone charger, along with a power cable that supplies electricity for five hours a night. ‘

        http://e360.yale.edu/feature/indian_microgrids_aim_to_bring_millions_out_of_darkness/2729/

        The former is a sophisticated and expensive system for western off-grid applications. The latter is a small first step.

        ‘A commitment to a high-energy planet empowers growth and development using the broadest array of energy services, technologies, and policies that can meet the manifold needs of developing societies. The way we produce and use energy will become increasingly clean not by limiting its consumption, but by using expanded access to energy to unleash human ingenuity in support of innovating toward an equitable, low-carbon global energy system.’

      • ‘The UN s Open Working Group has proposed 169 targets. But we need to know which are most effective. Copenhagen Consensus has asked 30+ of the world’s top economists to highlight phenomenal, good, fair and poor targets, weighing up the social, environmental and economic benefits and costs.

        The world will spend $2.5 trillion in development aid from 2015-2030, and these goals will influence a large part of that spending. Making just one target better can do hundreds of billions of dollars worth of good.’

        http://www.copenhagenconsensus.com/post-2015-consensus

        Maxy – intellectual train wreck much?

      • Max_OK, Citizen Scientist

        Re comment by Ragnaar on December 28, 2014 at 5:30 pm
        Of course installing the wind turbines and solar panels would be more expensive than just having the diesel-powered generator, but the fuel savings would compensate for the extra expense. How long it would take for these renewables to pay for themselves. if ever, would depend on the case. Of course, there would be environmental benefits in addition to the savings on fuel.
        Putting a dollar value on these benefits might be difficult.

      • Max:
        In my rough analysis, cost per person as is, is $10,000/year. My household cost is about $1,500/year for electricity for 4 people. Their diesel generator is nowhere near as efficient as a larger sized typical power plant. Renewables do have a place in these villages based on the economics it seems to me. Renewables can beat weak competition.

  63. John Smith (it's my real name)

    taxes and prohibitions
    the rich legally avoid and profit from the black market
    the poor illegally avoid and service the black market
    the middle pays and obeys the law
    that well is running dry

  64. The problem with Tol’s analysis is that he doesn’t look at the nominal or worst case economic effects of climate change. The only numbers for damage that he quotes are for 1975. It is not likely that the ultimate damage caused by GHG increases by that time will be visible. Temperature, and sea level rise will continue even if CO2 levels top out by then. CO2 rises are not naturally reversible for about 1000 years. A lot of harm can accrue during such a large period of time.
    This deficiency in analysis renders his article worthless.