On Trial: Social Cost of Carbon

by Judith Curry

The Social Cost of Carbon is on trial in Minnesota.

The backstory for this trial is given in an article Social cost of carbon gets its day in court in Minn.  Excerpts:

Required by state law to establish a dollar value for the environmental damages caused by power plants carbon dioxide emissions, state utility regulators sent the contentious issue to an administrative law judge.

If it plays out like it has so far, the case will pit advocacy groups that successfully petitioned the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to refresh outdated values for damages caused by CO2 emissions against utilities and big power users, which will try to poke holes in the methodology used by the federal interagency work group and experts.

The federal social cost of carbon already has been used in 60 federal proceedings, including the regulatory impact analysis in EPA’s Clean Power Plan released June 2, Grant said. And an Aug. 25 Government Accountability Office report concluded that the interagency working group established by the Obama administration to estimate the social cost of carbon had used an open approach that relied on consensus-based decisions (Greenwire, Aug. 26).

“We don’t have a better approach to coming up with a value than the one in front of you right now,” he told commissioners. “It’s not as if this isn’t an untested value.”

Opponents disagreed. They argued that the commission’s original order in February to update power plant pollutant externality values indicated that a new CO2 damage value would be would play out in a contested case before an administrative judge.

The CO2 externality value represents a dollar estimate of the incremental damage caused by each ton of carbon emitted from a power plant stack.

A law enacted by the state during the 1990s requires the PUC to establish externality values for CO2 and other power plant pollutants to help guide utility planning decisions. The commission in 1997 adopted a range of values, from 42 cents to $4.37 per ton of CO2. They have been updated annually for inflation since 2001, but there has been no further effort to quantify the damages caused by carbon pollution from power plants.

Clean energy advocates last year petitioned the PUC to refresh the environmental damage values for CO2 and three other criteria pollutants. The commission agreed, and ruled that the 17-year-old CO2 value was no longer scientifically supportable — a point commissioners were reminded of yesterday.

While environmental groups pushed for the PUC to include in the value damages caused by other greenhouse gases, coal producer Peabody Energy Corp. said regulators should factor in benefits of CO2 emissions.

In the end, the Department of Commerce recommended that the PUC adopt the federal social cost of carbon — a decision that would put a price of about $36 on each ton of CO2 emitted from Minnesota power plants in 2015.

But commissioners said putting the federal CO2 value on trial would build acceptance and provide transparency.

“I don’t want to find the errors later. I want to find the errors now,” Commissioner David Boyd said. “This is a very significant decision.”

Another article with further information: Coal giant Peabody Energy enters Minnesota Pollution Debate.

The Docket

The Minnesota Department of Commerce has an e-file with all of the documents filed in the case [link].   This is an enormously complicated case, with a large number of organizations involved on each side, and a very large number of witnesses.

The burden of proof in this case is described in this document.

Here I focus on the written testimony, rebuttals, and surrebuttals  of the following individuals related to climate science and its impacts:

Note: not all of the apparent files are on the MN web site.  John Abraham’s surrebutal (referenced but doesn’t seem to be available), and Lindzen’s testimony isn’t available (I obtained a copy from Lindzen).  Also, I saw Pat Michael’s name mentioned somewhere in the docket, but couldn’t find any testimony from him on the web site.

On the social cost of carbon, for background reference see this document: Technical Support describing the Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of Carbon [link].  The testimony and rebuttals from the following individuals are of interest:

The process seems to be this:  the individuals testifying for energy companies/industries (who brought the lawsuit) have the opportunity to testify. Then the individuals testifying for green groups or the utilities have the opportunity to rebut the the testimony.  Then the other side rebuts, and then there is a round of surrebuttals.  So this is really quite an interesting exchange, covering much territory in the climate change debate.

The climate science witnesses focused on a range of topics; of course the most relevant issue to the trial is climate sensitivity.  I don’t think any of the climate scientist witnesses exactly ‘nailed it’, but it is certainly an interesting exchange.

With regards to the economists (Tol and Smith), I found their testimony to be very informative.  I didn’t attempt to follow the exchange from economists on both sides of this.

The trial

Apparently, the trial started last week.  Roy Spencer wrote a blog post on his day at the trial [link]:

This was the first expert testimony I have provided other than the several times I have testified in Congress. Congressional testimony is much more free-wheeling…more like a show for entertainment value and political posturing.

The Minnesota hearing was more like what you have seen on TV, with objections being made, sustained, and overruled. There were even accusations of “badgering the witness”.

Scientists providing 5-minute opening statements along with me were Dick Lindzen and Will Happer. Lindzen mainly addressed climate sensitivity, Happer argued that CO2 emissions were actually a benefit, and I emphasized that the IPCC models used for the SCC calculations were demonstrably biased in their global warming projections.

As I recall, Happer received a minor question on cross-examination, while Lindzen was pressed on one of his claims regarding climate sensitivity, which he was forced to clarify. All five lawyers declined to ask me any questions on cross examination.

All of us provided written testimony well in advance of the hearing, which was responded to with rebuttal testimony from Andy Dessler and John Abraham. We also provided written rebuttal testimony in response toDessler’s and Abraham’s original written testimony. Another round of surrebuttal testimony then ensued. I believe that Dessler and Abraham provided opening statements this week, but I haven’t heard how that went.

No matter which way the judge rules, I hear the ruling will likely be appealed. Then, no matter what the final ruling is, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission can probably just do what they want to do, anyway. I believe that the Commission simply asked the judge to help them with the process. I will admit that legal issues sometimes confuse me, so people are free to correct me on any of this I got wrong.

I suspect we are going to see more state-level challenges to the “social cost of carbon”, which is basically addressing the unintended “negative externality” consequences of our use of carbon-based fuels.

My suspicion is that we are in for years of debate and legal challenges on this issue. It seems like the social cost of carbon is an unusual case for the environmentalists to make, when the supposed damages caused by CO2 emissions are not really demonstrable, and future damages are largely theoretical.

JC comment: Its a pity they didn’t have someone like Steve Koonin doing the cross-examination (recall Koonin led the questioning at the APS workshop).  The written rebuttals/surrebuttals, combined with penetrating cross-examination on the stand, would have been extremely interesting.

JC’s take on the social cost of carbon issue

I’ve written two previous blog posts on the topic of the social cost of carbon, specifically related to the report by the US Interagency Working Group (IWG):

My previous post Climate sensitivity: lopping off the fat tail is also relevant here.

It is propos to show a table that I created for a recent version of my Uncertainty Monster talk:


Note:  the 6.0 value from AR5 is actually 90th percentile.

The IWG published its response to comments in July 2015. With respect to criticisms related to climate sensitivity, the IWG stated:

“At the time the 2013 SCC update was released, the most authoritative statement about ECS [equilibrium climate sensitivity] appeared in the IPCC’s AR4. Since that time, as several commenters noted, the IPCC issued a Fifth Assessment Report that updated its discussion of the likely range of climate sensitivity compared to AR4. The new assessment reduced the low end of the assessed likely range (high confidence) from 2°C to 1.5°C, but retained the high end of the range at 4.5°C. . . . The IWG will continue to follow and evaluate the latest science on the equilibrium climate sensitivity and seek external expert advice on the technical merits and challenges of potential approaches prior to updating the ECS distribution in future revisions to the SCC estimates, including (but not limited to) using the AR5 climate sensitivity distribution for the next update of the SCC.”

On July 23, 2015, Patrick Michaels presented highly relevant testimony to the House Committee on Natural Resources.  Excerpts:

“In May 2013, the Interagency Working Group produced an updated SCC value by incorporating revisions to the underlying three Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) used by the IWG in its initial 2010 SCC determination. But, at that time, the IWG did not update the equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) employed in the IAMs. This was not done, despite there having been, since January 1, 2011, at least 14 new studies and 20 experiments (involving more than 45 researchers) examining the ECS, each lowering the best estimate and tightening the error distribution about that estimate. Instead, the IWG wrote in its 2013 report: “It does not revisit other interagency modeling decisions (e.g., with regard to the discount rate, reference case socioeconomic and emission scenarios, or equilibrium climate sensitivity).”

“Clearly, the IWG’s assessment of the low end of the probability density function that best describes the current level of scientific understanding of the climate sensitivity is incorrect and indefensible. But even more influential in the SCC determination is the upper bound (i.e., 95th percentile) of the ECS probability distribution. Apart from not even being consistent with the AR4, now, more than five years hence, the scientific literature tells a completely different story. And this is very significant and important difference because the high end of the ECS distribution has a large impact on the SCC determination—a fact frequently commented on by the IWG2010.”

It is COMPLETELY INDEFENSIBLE for the IWG to continue to use such high values of climate sensitivity, which are even higher than those from AR4 and AR5.

Our understanding of climate sensitivity is arguably bi-modal, with separate modes for observational versus climate model determinations.  It should be a top priority to understand these differences, to clarify the situation regarding aerosol forcing, and have climate models and energy balance models use realistic values of aerosol forcing in determining climate sensitivity.

Even with these substantial uncertainties in climate sensitivity, this is but one of numerous highly uncertain elements in integrated assessment models.

A good summary is given in Anne Smith’s testimony of the uncertainties and assumptions made in the calculations of the social cost of carbon. Her concluding statement:

In conclusion, however, I believe that the primary insight that one should develop from a close reading of this report is that the SCC estimates are unreliable as a basis for making public policy for how to manage climate risks.  Alternative approaches, such as avoided cost of control, may be at this time more reliable and less subject to undue speculation.

It is relevant to mention this new paper [link] that examines the uncertainties in integrated assessment models, and finds probability of CAGW “fat tails” is quite unlikely.

And finally, Richard Tol sums it up with the last statement in his rebuttal:

In sum, the causal chain from carbon dioxide emission to the social cost of carbon is long, complex and contingent on human decisions that are at least partly unrelated to climate policy.  The social cost of carbon is, at least in part, also the social cost of underinvestment in infectious diseases, the social cost of institutional failures in coastal countries, and so on. 

Using these models to dictate energy policy in a quantitative way, which the state of Minnesota is doing, seems completely indefensible to me.

JC reflections

As I understand it, this hearing will continue for some time, it will be very interesting to see how this is adjudicated, although according to Roy Spencer both sides will appeal whatever the decision.  But I suspect that this case is a harbinger of things to come – we will see more of these kinds of cases.  Lukas Bergkamp has another interesting essay – Courts should not rule on scientific debates in climate science.

I would also like to remark on the researchers (university faculty members) that testified in this case.  Presumably each of them was paid for their testimony and for travel expenses (it looks like a heck of a lot of work) — on one side by Peabody Energy or whoever, and on the other side by the Clean Energy groups.  Does anyone think that this pay influenced anyone’s testimony?  Does anyone think that the fact that these scientists testified for one side or the other, will influence their subsequent research?  Even if the pay influenced the testimony, would this be a problem?  Isn’t the U.S. justice system based around each side making its best case, and the adjudication (by jury or by judges) decides which side has the strongest case?

I suspect that each of these scientists testified based on a confluence of interest with the organization that asked them to testify.  In the case of Spencer and Lindzen, they have a clear interest in making their arguments about low climate sensitivity.  In the case of Abraham and Dessler, they have a clear interest in defending the IPCC consensus.  Whether any of these individuals have policy preferences regarding Minnesota energy policy, I have no idea (although John Abraham lives and works in Minnesota).

Does anyone think that such testimony is biased by this funding, or that the funding biases future research?  If so, why is funding from Peabody better or worse than funding from a green advocacy group?  Climate scientists testifying in an actual court trial (as opposed to Congressional testimony), is something relatively unusual, as far as I know.  Anyone know of other examples?

The RICO20 implications of scientists testifying for big energy/industry – ‘fossil fuel industry and their supporters‘ – highlights the insanity of persecuting Lindzen, Spencer, Happer, Tol, etc. for engaging with the fossil fuel industry, apparently receiving funding from them, and providing scientific arguments that the fossil fuel industry finds useful for their interests in a court case.

And finally, does anyone on either side of the debate think that the IWG should NOT be called out for continuing to use indefensible values of climate sensitivity?  Does anyone think that the financial benefits/harms of CO2 is settled science?  Does anyone think that the substantial uncertainties and the nature of the assumptions made in calculations of the social cost of carbon should not be called out to be debated public on this issue?

Hopefully this trial will help point U.S. energy policy in a more sensible direction, that does not rely on highly uncertain and subjective quantitative estimates of the social cost of carbon.

160 responses to “On Trial: Social Cost of Carbon

  1. We all live in a LSD fantasy. LSD fantasy. LSD fantasy.

  2. Pingback: On Trial: Social Cost of Carbon | Enjeux énergies et environnement

  3. “Does anyone think that such testimony is biased by this funding, or that the funding biases future research? If so, why is funding from Peabody better or worse than funding from a green advocacy group? ”

    Well, as I’ve said before, scientific papers need to be reproducible and someone needs to attempt to reproduce them, especially if said science is being used as a legal bludgeon. If they are reproducible by other, hopefully neutral or even opposed scientists, then it does not matter if the funding came from Peabody, an alleged green NGO, or the government.

    But in any case, basic science should never be decided in court.

    • Flawed science should be exposed and tossed out in court.

    • What is really the worst is biased funding by the government.

      • There is a great deal of money to be made debating religious dogma in court. There is no objective way of deciding right and wrong as everything is, at best, conjecture.

        No judge at any level right up to the Supreme Court has the ability to decide this case. Decades of fannying about driven by lots of cash will result in nothing of use and events will overtake this absurdity.

      • I think funding is overrated. In most cases, elbow grease does the job faster and better.

      • 99% perspiration, but look who’s sweatin’ now. The Glow of Paris Nigh!

    • One thing we can predict with some certainty is that the green mobblob will use this trial as an example to “prove” that all scientist appearing as witnesses for peabody are in the pocket of the evil ff industry and are therefore automatically discredited.

    • “But in any case, basic science should never be decided in court.”

      I disagree. When the decision will result in dramatic financial, economical, social, political, or other tangible effects, it must be decided in an open venue, with all testimony under oath, and with cross examination / rebuttal opportunity for both sides, moderated and adjudicated by an impartial body. This is what our court system provides, and it IS necessary, and it WORKS. Not perfect, but by far the best we’ve got.

      • I should add, when there are two legitimate opposing sides. Hard science, where there are conclusive, repeatable, empirical results that clearly show what is correct, does not run into disagreements that can’t be settled by scientists. Climate science is one of the “softest” sciences I can think of (I don’t even consider it science). How does it happen that the softest of the sciences also has more at stake than most sciences? This is an unusual case of science. One might wonder if that was part of the plan from the beginning?

      • “But in any case, basic science should never be decided in court.”

        “But in any case, science has never been decided in court.”

        Fixed it for you — think the Stokes trial. Courts make decisions, science evolves — decisions are over turned as a part of the process.,

        So, there is much sloppy thinking here:
        1) The court is not deciding a question of science. but instead a question of how much each carbon emitter should pay to society for the privilege.
        2) The court is not deciding a question of economic damage either, see 1), .for in both cases the models are not adequate for engineering trade studied. In both 1) and 2) decisions will be arbitrary despite the pretenses of objectivity.
        3) The is much sloppy language, e.g., an estimate of sensitivity isn’t the sensitivity. There are mathematical ways of weighing estimates which should be used to improve the estimate (i.e. weighing inversely according to uncertainty) .

      • You probably meant The Scopes Trial not the Stokes trial.

      • Kitzmiller versus Dover Area School District (Creationism in schools) is a recent case of court involving the evaluation of scientific evidence.. The republican conservative judge sided with the scientific evidence. I think there is a large segment who thinks that climate change could be similarly vindicated in court. I don’t find the two situations analogous.

      • Danny Thomas

        “I don’t find the two situations analogous.” I think ‘tobacco’ should be included in that comparison.

      • “The republican conservative judge sided with the scientific evidence.”

        I’m sorry. What evidence was that?


      • Bad Andrew, you can characterize the case however you see it. Massive amounts of evidence were submitted on behalf of the plaintiff. The Judges office was filled with volumes of supporting documentation. I understand you may not be impressed by the quality of it. I do not equate quantity with quality either. However, in any case I find the evidence behind Kitzmiller to be vastly superior in breadth, scope and rigor as compared to what might be marshaled to support a definitive defense of climate alarmism.


      • A good question is, “how is climate skepticism, different from Intelligent Design”. Those who think the answer is they are not different (whether as both good or bad) work to marginalize climate skepticism.

      • I’m just dubious that a court has any greater ability to evaluate science than you or me. These things should never get to a court if science is the subject.


      • I agree with you there. Judicial rulings can be capricious and can reflect serious misunderstandings of the evidence. Sending science decisions to a judicial body is a crap shoot at best. My intent was not to praise or critique but rather describe. In Kitzmiller V Dover you dd have two sides giving their best perspective on the debate and a serious effort to have it evaluated neutrally, The outcome there was that the theory of ID (intelligent design) as advanced was ruled not to be science. What might happen in a trial on issues around climate change? What might be ruled as non-science? Arguements that iignore a concensus, strong confidence in computer models, evidence outside a peer reviewed process, post normal science, research impeding policy goals, evidence by improperly credentialed researchers, …. For me I see that it would be hard to call a lot of skepticism as non-science and easier to call much of what bolsters alarmism as outside science. While I don’t advocate for a judicial determination, I also don’t think alarmist are likely to get the same type of condemnation of those they call “deniers” that was received by ID in the Dover trial. That would only happen as a charade in an overly politicized judicial environment. I hope we are not there.

      • From Planning Engineer’s NCSE link:

        Climate change deniers have faced a similarly impressive foe: Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor of Meteorology at Penn State. More than almost anyone else, Mann has been the public face of climate science. The author of more than 160 peer-reviewed papers, Mann has appeared before countless Congressional committees, battled climate change deniers in court, and written breakthrough books (such as The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars). Along the way, Mann co-authored the report that won the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. NCSE’s Friend of the Planet award will join a crowded trophy case. [emphasis mine]

        That’s the National Center for Science Education (NCSE).

  4. A comprehensive study was just completed by lead authors William Nordhaus and Kenneth Gillingham (White House Senior Economist, Council of Economic Advisors) and issued under the Cowles Foundation banner head (Yale Economics). One of the major conclusions was that fat tails had very low likelihood if any of ever occurring. if the social cost of carbon is strongly influenced by the assumption of fat tails occurring, then all of the conclusions and policy recommendations that are based on the current SCC figures should go back to the drawing board, they are invalid. If you look closely there are other suspicious things going on in the official SCC being used. What would the SCC be without fat tails and using reasonable figures for climate sensitivity? Anyone?

  5. Bah, it is negative.

    • The mild and beneficial warming, the miraculous greening feeding an extra billion people, the tremendous enriching in the last few centuries; these are all built on the use of fossil fuels. Calling these ‘costs’ is a magnificent delusion.

      • You are right. Not only do the industrial processes resulting in CO2 producion have a huge positive social benefit (not cost), it is also the positive moral choice. People thrive and are prosperous when using energy, but suffer when without it.

      • Should also be noted that 2015 will be the first year on record in which LESS than 10% of the world’s population live in poverty, according to the World Bank (a rather left-of-center organization).

      • 2015 will be the first year on record in which LESS than 10% of the world’s population live in poverty
        that is the true social cost of carbon. it has raised people out of poverty. even the IPCC acknowledges that warming of less than 2C is beneficial, so how can CO2 emitted today have a net social cost? Today’s CO2 won’t put us over 2C, so today the SCC should instead be factored as a benefit.

      • ‘ Mild and beneficial warming.” Needs repeating.
        ” Mild and beneficial warming.”

        Fergit the phantassmaGorea of social costs – let’s
        not git subjective here, stick ter bleeding costs to the
        economy by grants and subsidies in the trillions and
        will be more with fuchure co$tly doomsday policies.

        The cli sci model projections failed ter correlate with
        real world temperature data, more correlation mebbe
        with soaring costs of green policies measures in the
        trillions per tenth of a degree of temperature.

        Re top down technocrats costs on productivity, jest
        look at what the Euro has wrought!

    • But what’s a mere industrial civilisation compared to feeling cool during 60 minutes of iPhone deprivation for Earth Hour?

      I mean, if middle class urbanites can hold out for 60 minutes, imagine how long you can keep the ordinary wallies under-powered and under-resourced.

  6. This is a wonderful event.

    They can win easily in the media court, but in the law court, they must produce the data, which does not support their claims.

  7. daveandrews723

    The alarmists are losing the scientific battle, day by day. The evidence does not support their claims. But they still are winning in the court of public opinion thanks to the sympathetic and ignorant mainstream media. It will all probably come down to the world view of the judge in the case.

  8. I commented under the last ‘science edition’ that if the benefits dominate in the next 50-70 years and there is uncertainty in the science esp. climate sensitivity then we should use the precautionary principle and NOT pursue draconian climate policies that penalize the poor disproportionately. And this gives plenty of time to continue work to nail down so to speak the climate attribution. It is not now nailed down. https://judithcurry.com/2015/10/02/week-in-review-science-edition-23/

    • You misunderstand the precautionary principle: it means one must panic about the tiniest risk, not weigh costs and benefits. Weighing costs and benefits is for old-fashioned uptight conservatives….who built everything.

  9. How does Abraham pass himself off as some sort of expert on climate? He is a professor of fluid mechanics at a small liberal arts college.

    • Well, if you look at his c.v., he has published a number of climate papers in recent years. I assume his home state status (MN) tipped the balance in favor of selecting him

      • I would point out that, if the “social cost” of fossil fuels is represented by the “problems” that are “assumed” in these “unbiased” government-paid social study exercises, then the entire state of Minnesota needs to be shut down, and the people there can return to their pre-fire, pre-electrical, pre-electrical lives of early death by starvation and disease in the dark nights this winter. No person can live in that state without fossil fuels. No person has EVER lived in that state without abundant, immediately available fossil fuels.

      • RACook is wrong claiming no person ever lived in Minnesota without fossil fuels. The Sioux and Chippewa tribes lived in Minnesota without fossil fuels. I might add that people have lived in the Arctic without fossil fuels too.

      • The human race survived without fossil fuels for millennia, and we can do it again.

      • I might add that people have lived in the Arctic without fossil fuels too.
        Life is hard without low cost energy.
        But they killed more whales then.

      • They needed some one in the room to properly pronounce Minn-eh-soo-ta!

      • Yes, people have survived in Minnesota without fossil fuels, but not at anywhere near the population levels that live there now, nor at the civilization level. No one in Minnesota wants to return to the living mode of the ancient natives, not even the modern Native Americans. The same applies to the arctic. Modern Inuit depend on fossil fuels to heat their houses.

      • The innuit used to burn seal oil – which would really cause the greenies to get their undies in a bunch. They didn’t have native animal rescue in those days. Found a baby seal? Yumm!

      • Burning fossil fuels saves trees. Wanna see life without ff or electricity? Go to a “forest preserve” in a third world country sited next to some very poor people living a subsistence agricultural lifestyle. Nary a tree in sight, but lots of machete-hacked stubble, all consummed to make charcoal. I have seen it first hand, and it is no greenie green dream. It’s a green nightmare.

      • “he has published a number of climate papers in recent years”

        Honestly, Dr. Curry. Does this really mean anything?


      • So, Andrew. What would you consider meaningful work by this man? Inventions of a AlGoreythm that turns climate proxies on their head? That seemed to have worked for Mann, whom I’m sure you adore.

      • Yes, my dad lives in northern Minnesota and doesn’t use fossil fuels for heat but he burns a lot of wood. I’m sure that’s much better than natural gas for the environment. And St.Thomas is about as elite lefty as you can get, btw.

      • @kim: The human race survived without fossil fuels for millennia, and we can do it again.

        Outstanding point, kim. If Hannibal was able to get one of his 40 elephants across the Alps without fossil fuels back then, Ringling Bros. ought to have a third of a chance of gettnig one of their 13 elephants to Florida that way by 2018 as well.


      • The Dark Ages supported, ( barely) a tiny population,
        hand to mouth. Approach 9 billion what will we do
        with inefficient, intermittent, back-up-requiring-land
        hungry-renewable energy to support a hungry, city-
        dwelling-populace? Oh ye philosopher kings and
        modellers in cloud towers, never required to be
        tested by Hammurabi Code feed-backs, never had
        ter sleep under a bridge of yr own building, take a look
        at what yr UN philosopher kings have wrought in the
        European Union with their bureaucratic regulations
        and single currency, the EU Machine from Hell.

    • Saint Thomas could be described as elite being a MIAC school. Its smallness and influential graduates are some of its selling points. It is expensive. If I had to guess who would be in the role of local alarmist, it would be him.

  10. Hopefully, the judge will be impartial going in so that the scc can be revealed for what it is – nothing more than a political tool to be used by the green mobblob to destroy the energy sector and therefore the economy. Peobody should not just point to the fact that the scc does not consider benefits of co2, but should point out that fossil fuels in general are what makes the lives we live possible. Without fossil fuels, we would all be living a subsistance lifestyle.

  11. Minnesota Star Tribune: “Removing snow cost MnDOT a lot of cold cash: $130.1 million”

    If only the place would warm up…

  12. What I fail to see here is an attempt to also calculate the social cost of reducing carbon. https://thelukewarmersway.wordpress.com/2015/07/25/what-is-the-social-cost-of-reducing-carbon/

    There of course is a social cost of carbon. It is a negative externality. Sea level rise and increased flooding may cause harm to our grandchildren and their children. It may be appropriate for us to spend money and utilize resources to minimize this threat.

    But there is a social cost to reducing carbon. Anyone who goes on (and on) about tackling the social cost of carbon without acknowledging that the sacrifices involved are very real and will be selectively paid, not by those calling for this sacrifice, but by the poorest of those in the emerging countries as well as the more developed nations is engaged in bombastic propaganda.

    Because they keep good statistics, this is perhaps clearest in the United Kingdom, where government support for green energy in large part consists of allowing utility companies to charge customers more to cover the costs of investing in green energy. The number of English people suffering from fuel poverty has risen every year since this support started and thousands die every winter as they cannot afford the cost of heating their homes.

    • In the end, the greatest “social cost of carbon” most likely will come from excessive litigation, draconian regulation, wasted subsidies, and disruption of economies. If they’re not putting those enormous costs into their calculations, they’re fools wasting everybody’s time and treasure.

  13. The Social Cost of Carbon is a political construct that seems to assume zero benefit from that evil atom. Those creating this artificial construct refuse to realize that the evil atom is responsible for the human progress that allows them the luxury of creating such laughable artificial constructs and allows us the luxury to discussing it on carbon-powered media.

    SCC is turning into quite a cottage industry of wise people figuratively stroking their gray beards and wise pronouncements. How many totally useless doctorates have been generated on this laughable artificial construct? There was a time that such silliness would have been laughed out of any respectable university. Now, I betcha there are endowed chairs in SCC and supposedly respectable schools.

    At one time I thought SCC was just a political construct for more taxation. Now it seems to be quite a funding source for all sorts Doesn’t make it any less laughable.

  14. What about the social benefits of carbon which are numerous. In pre fossil fuel days life expectency was short and life was brutal. Hard labor was the norm as there were no modern convenience made possible via the use of fossil fuel to ease the burden. Moreover, increased CO2 has greened the planet increasing food production.

    Not to mention the fact there is new scientific data that refutes the IPCC model basic assumptions. Bottom line is the math the models are based on just doesn’t add up. http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/opinion/miranda-devine-perth-electrical-engineers-discovery-will-change-climate-change-debate/story-fnhocuug-1227555674611 … …

    • This is Peabody’s argument (long championed by Fred Palmer). Policy should be based on the net of costs and benefits, not just the cost half of the cost-benefit equation. Since this is a procedural argument, not a scientific one, the Courts might actually rule on it.

  15. “White elephant climate solutions cost trillions and all I got was this lousy Yes We Can T-shirt.” – your grandchild

  16. Well, hello from Minnesota
    Maybe I will move.
    All of this is making me understand to a greater degree something which was always a bewilderment to me. How could we actually believe in witchcraft?! Now it seems every weather phenomena is blamed on one of the most basic molecules needed for life on earth.
    —-and there is a great desire to throw climate deniers (what? those who deny that climate exists!) in jail or hang them if it would be possible.
    In exchanging info with Will Happer, he as indicated that it often is not even allowed to discuss the possibility that there may be very little AGW if any.

    Personally, I find that most professors/instructors in various institutions of higher learning are willing to respond, until they find out that I might challenge their thinking. Then, I am simply another ignorant denier, who should not bother them with a question

    More and more I am finding that those same institutions of higher learning are often the least tolerant of free speech in various venues, if it does not agree with their enlightened position.

    I have been looking for a response for the following, I have gotten several, but I am looking for more.

    I have been trying to find as accurately and precisely as possible the time between collisions in the pressurized lower atmosphere, and likewise the times, (assuming a unique time for specific frequencies) between absorption and emission in the CO2 molecule. Everything that I can find suggests that the time for re-emission may be several orders of magnitude higher than the time between collisions. Therefore most energy exchange would be kinetic and not by photon emission.

    I believe the CO2 absorption is saturated close to the earth. and this is a very complicated problem because only a small percentage of molecules can absorb the relative frequencies. Of course the absorption bands get widened slightly and most of the story lies in the common absorption frequencies of CO2 and H2O. The huge variable is the amount of water and at what altitude it is and in what form. The absence of the mid-latitude warm spot, where much of the earth’s surface is water, is IMO a significant telltale observance.

    • Wicked Witch of the West carbon-guilt.
      # carbon-guilt.
      # energy-guilt.
      # productivity-guilt.
      #f ree-speech-guilt.

      • If course, if one joins the right tribe and goes through the right oogah-boogah rituals, guilt is absolved.

        What’s the bet that after making countless jet miles and jet trails, the COP21 guests will be treated to some locavore dining? Within limo distance there are bound to be bicycles available. All sorts of high bourgeois indulgences and goodies will be sanctified with “organic”, “fair trade” and (ugh) “ethical” – especially the jet-freighted stuff. The guests will fairly choke on their piety.

        Because no contradiction or absurdity is too great for a sycophant media in the service of Green Blob. (Thank God for riotous serfs.)

    • The emission of infrared by the CO2 molecules only depend on the temperature and the concentration, not whether the molecules have recently absorbed a photon or not. The CO2 molecules often get the energy from collisions with the other molecules and atoms with available energy.

      You can believe that the absorption of CO2 is saturated all you want, but look at Venus, it’s not saturated there.

      • bobd
        It was known 100 years ago that all CO2 absorption was saturated with respect to certain IR frequencies. That is why scientists for a long time thought adding more CO2 would not have any effect. There is not any debate on that issue from either frame of thought. However, that was before there was an understanding of quantum mechanics.

        I am not sure where you got the information for your first sentence. Molecules simply absorb a photon of a specific frequency, that is of a specific energy, and that causes electrons to jump to an excited state, whereupon they can re emit the photon. The question becomes if there is an increase in downward radiation due to the fact that CO2 is saturated closer to the earth. Also, the feedback effects on water vapor become the real deciding factor.
        My question was first whether excited atoms could transfer energy kinetically, which has been shown to be true and in which case an atom would return to the ground state. If it can, than it becomes much more likely that an excited atom would release its energy kinetically rather than by photon emission when the gaseous particles are close together.

        It would be true that if a given air sample was in a higher concentration of CO2 molecules more photons would be emitted, that would be only logical
        However temperature is not related to the internal energies of atoms, only to the average speed, really average kinetic energy of the entire molecule. At higher temperatures, the molecules are moving at higher speeds and they simply bounce off each other more increasing the likely hood of absorbing KE.

        Quantum mechanics is taught in general chemistry at the high school level.

      • I got the first sentence from the Maxwell-Boltzmann equation for the ratio of the population of the ground and first excited states.

        n1/n0=(g1/g0)e^(−(E1 −E0 ) / kBT)

        In order for the effect to be saturated the population of the ground state would have to be low, and this only occurs at high temperatures.

        It is true that excited atoms can transfer energy through collisions and it is just as true that they can acquire energy the same way, and at the temperatures in the atmosphere these energy transfers are occurring faster that the emission and absorption transfers.

        One way Temperature is defined is as the partial derivative of internal energy with respect to entropy, so no it’s not just related to the average kinetic energy of the particles.

        Quantum mechanics taught in general chemistry in high school?

        You have to be kidding me right?

        I believe the prerequisites were one year college chemistry, 3 semesters of physics, and the calculus sequence plus linear algebra or differential equations.

      • Bobd
        thank you for a respectful reply.

        I know Quantum is taught, lightly in general HS chem because I taught it.
        I also taught advanced placement chem which of course was more rigorous and we went a little deeper into quantum mechanics.
        But most of AP was involved in reactions (and with it energy) thermochemistry, bonding, kinetics/rates, and equilibrium in various aqueous solutiions. Much of the gas laws were covered in general chem.

        With that I have gotten the sense that earth the atmosphere/ocean system with many outside forcings is constantly being forced, at various levels, out of equilibrium and is constantly moving toward equilibrium as a whole and in parts. The more I study it, the more I realize how complicated it is.
        So much so, that I think that climate science is very much in its infancy

        Much of the whole world is now assuming significant AGW, because it has been sold very well and thousands of people have made a career out of it. Many have made a religion of it. A large number of scientists are in some ancillary subfield and have no clue as to the climate
        science involved. I have read many abstracts covering three decades of change in the last half of the 20th century That always makes me ask the first question of how were things before that.
        So money, ego, and political power are involved. We are now moving to a point where observations may be contradicting the hypothesis (I do not believed it should be considered a theory yet) However, the MSM rarely picks up on any of it. Sometimes, I believe because they also have become advocates.
        Right now, I really think the best conclusion may be that there may have been a small amount of CO2 induced warming, but as far as making any kind of decision upon predictions it would be foolish.

        Two bad outcomes of all of it in my opinion is that other significant problems may be overlooked, especially involving water. Secondly,
        eventually the science world will become gradually as mistrusted as are
        politicians. at least in the U.S.

        For certain reasons I ended up being asked to teach generals at a nearby University, probably because many in the field were involved in studies to be published. In doing so I got to look at the syllabus and materials for most courses. The AP course in high school was about at the level of second year chem, definitely more than first year chem.

        I am going to respond in greater detail after I check on some things regarding your comments.

      • Bob, of course it would only be logical that KE could kicki an electron to a higher level.
        My question now involves the likelihood. Does energy have to be specific? That is can it absorb the energy of a photon (like 13.6 ev for H)
        for n = 1 to n =2, which is a minimum, and then
        with energy being left over which would be absorbed kinetically.

      • Darryl,
        I don’t think it needs its own theory, I think of it as just applications of other theories.

        Unfortunately, a lot of the predictions that have been made by climate scientists have and are coming true. Not that there isn’t a fair amount of BS predictions by non scientists that get a lot of play.

        More rain, floods and fire. Less ice at the polar caps and sea levels are rising, all as predicted.

        I think you should look closely at the saturation argument, because it is true that there is enough CO2 at low levels in the atmosphere to absorb all the infrared from the earth’s surface, but the CO2 there could easily absorb more, so IMO the CO2 is not saturated with IR, but all the IR is absorbed. Of course, all the CO2 is capable of emitting at each level, so the atmosphere is still emitting at all levels.

        The part of Quantum Mechanics that applies to CO2 induced warming of planetary atmospheres was not introduced to me until 3rd year college and the harmonic oscillator, but it is true the concept of orbitals was taught in high school, though true understanding of that may still elude me.
        Truly part of the wave/particle duality if you ask me.

      • Darryl,

        For CO2, we are talking the bending and stretching energy levels which are a lot lower.

  17. ==> ““Does anyone think that such testimony is biased by this funding, or that the funding biases future research?”

    How many times have you, yourself, made the argument that funding biases the research of climate scientists, let alone read comments to that effect on your blog without raising a peep of objection?

    • Federal funding biases research in terms of ‘deciding’ which research gets done. In terms of individual researchers, I have argued many times that fame is a bigger driver than ‘fortune’ for many researchers.

      • Which means media bias must be factored in.

      • Notoriety is a type of fame.

        I’d suggest it’s a big driver for bloggers.

      • From fame follows fun.

      • From fame follows funding, so the goal of fame is also funding induced, in the broad sense. If you look at the job ads in Science magazine, all the senior position require outside funding, and not just of the Professor, but of others as well. Funding-induced bias should not be confused with personal wealth. It is a matter of position. For example, Mann has an entire Institute at Penn State.

  18. I think Roy Spencer ‘nailed it’: “…he supposed damages caused by CO2 emissions are not really demonstrable, and future damages are largely theoretical.”, in other words “you have no evidence for it now, and any future protection is just guesswork”. That is absolutely no basis for public policy.

  19. I am not a fan of doing science in court.

    However, the social cost of carbon is a mix of facts and values. The court can rule on the values. For instance, the social cost of carbon is the cost to the whole world. To what extent should impact outside the USA be included? As another example, the social cost of carbon equals the social costs minus the social benefits. Should we consider the net costs or the gross costs?

    On such matters, the legal profession has a lot to offer.

    • As I read through the testimony of the expert witnesses I was thinking of the challenges for the administrative law judge to be conversant in the numerous areas of expertise. Values certainly are at the core of the proceedings, defined in multiple ways.

      I was heartened that the term “cherry picking” was able to make it into the testimony, in this case by Dessler. The Cherry Capital of the World is a favorite vacation spot of mine and the growers can always use some free publicity.

    • Under Executive Order 12866, agencies are required, to the extent permitted by law, “to assess both the costs and the benefits of the intended regulation and, recognizing that some costs and benefits are difficult to quantify, propose or adopt a regulation only upon a reasoned determination that the benefits of the intended regulation justify its costs.”


      The costs of regulatory CO2 reductions are immediate, continuing and reasonably certain. The benefits are delayed, scientifically uncertain, and contingent on the behavior of others not subject to the regulation.

      The Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of Carbon essentially accepted these facts but concluded that, therefore,

      When these considerations are taken as a whole, the interagency group concluded that a global measure of the benefits from reducing U.S. emissions is preferable.

      Preferable for what purpose? Certainly not the legally required analysis of the costs to US regulated entities compared to US societal benefits (since that is, by admission, negative). Instead, this is a blatant policy-driven decision which evades the true intent of the mandatory cost-benefit justification of major regulations.

      • Opluso:
        There are good arguments for including impacts outside the USA, and good arguments for excluding those. The EPA is not particularly consistent even here, as estimates of the impact of climate policy exclude foreign impacts and estimates of the impact of climate change include foreign impacts.

      • Richard Tol:

        Agreed. There are good arguments for considering global impacts. They just do not happen to be contemplated by the original language of EO 12866 as signed by Bill Clinton in 1993. https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/executive-orders/pdf/12866.pdf

        Of course, minor obstacles like that have never slowed the bureaucratic juggernaut.

        By the way, your work on uncertainty in social cost calculations is cited in the first footnote to the Interagency working group report.

    • David L. Hagen

      Richard Tol – is your testimony available (vs the rebuttal above)?

    • David L. Hagen

      Richard Tol Thanks. Compliments on your eloquent effective rebuttal:
      Interesting Extracts

      It appears to me as though the parties retaining Dr. W. Michael Hanemann (/ Dr. Stephen Polasky ) have requested him to provide testimony outside his area of prior experience and expertise. . . .
      “Dr. Polasky cites a speculative estimate by Weitzman that a 6˚C warming would cost 50% of GDP, but omits other estimates that put the number closer to 7% of GDP . . .
      In 2011, FUND estimated a social cost of carbon of $8.0/tC; in 2014, was $6.6/tC. In other words, FUND as used by the FUND team shows a lower social cost of carbon, whereas FUND as used by US Federal Government shows a higher social cost of carbon. . . .
      Cook and colleagues thus broke all rules about scientific data gathering. . . .Cook’s paper illustrates everything that is wrong with climate research. Studies are praised because the results are politically expedient rather than scientifically valid. Research scandals are covered up. Whistleblowers are vilified. . . .
      a new constitution was introduced in 1849 that gave the Netherlands a strong central government that was broadly representative of the population. The new government promptly invested in one of the electorate’s main concerns: flood protection. Bangladesh is among the worst-governed countries in the world. As long as that is the case, it cannot muster the large-scale infrastructure projects needed to protect its population against floods. A competent and caring government can. . . .
      The social cost of carbon is, at least in part, also the social cost of underinvestment in infectious disease, the social cost of institutional failure in coastal countries, and so on.

      PS Richard
      Suggest correcting the typo in 79-80 (which is clear in 82-83

      The social cost of carbon declines rises sharply for higher discount rates. Because the initial impacts of climate change are positive, due to carbon dioxide fertilization, reduced winter heating, and few cold-related deaths, the social cost of carbon is negative for the highest discount rates, that is, carbon dioxide emissions should be subsidized rather than taxed.

  20. Danny Thomas

    But, risk………….?

    And it almost sounded like Peabody Energy ‘volunteered’ for being ‘RICO’d based on: ” He also said a “recent study” — presumably referring to a January report by the industry-backed American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity — “concludes that the benefits from fossil fuel energy outweigh the so-called cost of carbon by a magnitude of 50 to 500 times.”

    This whole thing might just call for a double order of popcorn and beverage.

  21. Isn’t there a limit on how far into the future you can consider these things?
    Compare the societal make-up of years 1950 with 1980 or 1900 with 2000.

  22. Oh boy. Never mind the social cost, just think about the legal costs of arguing about the social costs… I see a win for “big legal” here.

  23. The mild warming and greening of the planet thus far, along with allowing civilization to exist are demonstrably beneficial. Perhaps we should pay energy companies more for past and present benefits, and if any of the hypothetical negative consequences happen in the far off future, they can pay for it out of those funds which will have been generating interest for 100 years.

  24. “The RICO20 implications of scientists testifying for big energy/industry – ‘fossil fuel industry and their supporters‘ – highlights the insanity of persecuting Lindzen, Spencer, Happer, Tol, etc. for engaging with the fossil fuel industry, ” – JC

    There are zero RICO implications for “engaging” with the fossil fuel industry in terms of ‘persecution’.

    Maybe worth toning down the rhetoric a notch or two. .

  25. With various assumptions, one can make this SCC any value one wants. Particularly worrisome is that they don’t ever count the negative externality of the $36/ton tax on the economy nor the benefits of rising CO2 for crops/forests.

  26. This was inevitable. Science SHOULD maintain the same standards of evidence as law. The reality is it hasn’t.

  27. Curious George

    I am simply amazed at the qualities of a U.S. legal system. They declared carbon dioxide a pollutant. Now they are setting a price of it. Do you know the difference between the God and a U.S. judge? (The God knows that he is not a U.S. judge.)

    Time for a revolution.

  28. CO2 emissions are a benefit. They have an immeasurably small effect on the climate and are a huge benefit to plant life.

  29. What I find amazing in these discussions is that no one mentions that most of the supposed damages from today’s emissions occur in the 100 to 300 year timeframe. My understand is that most come from sea level rise. Projecting economic development and climate change for 300 years seems absurd on its face, but there it is.

  30. What about the social cost of renewable energy like wind, solar, biomass, corn ethanol, etc.?

    • Indeed, there is the social cost of decarbonization.

      • how ’bout the social cost of the witless headlines we’re exposed to ceaselessly
        “permanent drought”
        “1000 year flood”
        “war caused by climate change”

        “social cost” – another buzz cliche’ with open ended potential for political division and government largess … oh, but that’s the point

      • Nevermind
        that’s where we’re all going with this
        social cost free, decarbonized, globally stable, renewable, sustainable, non-anthropogenc fantasy world that ‘progressive’ thinkers imagine for us all

  31. There is much good that can come out of this trial, irrespective of the result in this particular case. Warmists generally argue and talk in general terms and refuse to debate specifics. In a trial, there will be a real debate over real issues and costs. Additionally, if the court does find a high cost for carbon and raises rates, the rate rise will be transparent and there will be people to affix responsibility to for the increased cost.

    As one who practiced workers compensation law for a long time, representing claimants, I came to realize that much of what people instinctively view as dangerous or unhealthy is not in fact so. Not infrequently, I thought that a potent chemical had caused my client’s condition and then in looking at it more closely (and consulting with the client’s doctors), it appeared not to be the case.

    I am very suspicious of the EPA’s findings linking CO2 and chemicals to bad results in different circumstances. In just skimming over their conclusions on several occasions, it appears that the EPA cherry picks its evidence, by focusing on the study showing the most harmful results even if the study is only based on a small sample and is not rigorous. If in fact, this sleight of hand is occurring, it will come out at this trial or another trial. I remember that Gerard Harbison of the University of Nebraska had a very good comment about this at Pielke Jr.’s blog several years ago, but I can’t locate it now.

    I will add that this is a very difficult case for the lawyers and the trial judge because the modeling and statistical issues are far beyond what 99.9% of lawyers are exposed to. However, if there are 4 or 5 of these trials in different states, then certain lawyers will develop expertise in these matters, and all of the testifying experts will be put under a very searching gun.


    • Highly speculative, societal damages along with intergenerational compensation requirements should keep climate cases out of court. Unfortunately, legislatures (including the US Congress) like to pass laws that sound nice to garner the support of voters in the next election. It is not the science but the law that is actually on trial.

      In Minnesota, as in the infamous Massachusetts v EPA, I expect the court to interpret legislative language rather than decide between competing scientific hypotheses. In these situations, the science merely has to rise above absolute gutter nonsense to provide support for a stupid law.

  32. If I were the lead attorney, I would argue that the science “consensus” is built on badly flawed science (not difficult to establish) and demand that only studies which have been replicated be used in evidence. Any assessment, etc. which isn’t limited to replicated work should be barred from use.

    Of course, this would leave the alarmists without any evidence, but justice works that way.

    If cross-examination is available, I’d ask every expert regarding his personal knowledge of the accuracy of every study. Establish that no one has ever checked most studies. Given the demonstrated rate of error, no one should assume any study is accurate.

  33. Typical Warmist Junk Analysis: The first part of the record I analyzed was Kevin Gurney’s testimony on behalf of the Minnesota Department Commerce that was introduced pursuant to a Sept. 22 2015 letter by attorney Linda S. Jensen. See doc 195-01 here https://www.edockets.state.mn.us/EFiling/edockets/searchDocuments.do?method=eDocketsResult&docketYear=14&docketNumber=643#{9CECAE52-1921-408B-98B8-A4D0BD95ED11}

    In it, Gurney states that yes, there is a CO2 fertilization effect as was explained by Dr. Bezdek (who testified for Peabody) but that it was a complicated matter. (Have no issue with this statement per se.) However, rather than address specific effects of CO2 on plants (for instance, possibly with respect to potential differences between corn and green beans, or whatever) he simply deals in generalities. He criticizes Bezdek for relying on non-peer reviewed literature (fair enough as far as it goes), but then he does not specifically address, in particular why the literature is wrong. Also, he cites an IPCC analysis in a general sense as supporting his opinion, but he doesn’t state why, in particular, it is right.


  34. David L. Hagen

    Forceasting Global Warming Audit: Fail
    Science requires objective methodology with model validation against evidence. To date, audits of the IPCC’s climate models systemically breach the objective criteria for scientific forecasting. These are documented in Global Warming Audit by J. Scot Armstrong, K. C. Green, W. Soon et al. in 28 links to evaluations, presentations etc.
    The objective double blind methodology now essential to medical and drug research is nowhere to be found in climate science.
    The Right Climate Stuff finds IPCC fails science
    Evaluations by ex NASA era engineers and scientists similarly find climate models severely wanting at TheRightClimateStuff.com

  35. You start with pure fog notions such as “cost” and “benefit” then pick whatever you like in the way of “data” or “proof” to turn the fog into bogus numbers. One is only limited by imagination (abundant) and spin (super-abundant).

    From all this it’s clear that the dodgy quasi-sciences of economics and climate should not rule our destinies. Intellectuals who think in such literal, mechanistic, channelled, stilted and segmented ways on subjects of fantastic complexity are a giant step back. I won’t say “to the medieval” because that would be unfair to the medieval.

    Sack the climatariat. Abolish the climate industry. It’s getting urgent.

    • It’s past urgent Moso!

      “From all this it’s clear that the dodgy quasi-sciences of economics and climate should not rule our destinies. Intellectuals who think in such literal, mechanistic, channelled, stilted and segmented ways on subjects of fantastic complexity are a giant step back.”

      I’ve switched to Gin lately to assuage the idiocy of CAGW.

      • Mark, when the revolution comes there will be no drinking at the barricades. Just so you know.

        The good thing about this revolution is that we won’t have to replace anything. Once we cart away the dogmas, catechisms and Publish-or-Perish junk of the last decades we can just have clear intellectual space. People can be right or wrong again, free again.

      • A Black Plague of Bad Ideas is at hand.

  36. The concept of social cost of carbon is another insanity concocted from belief that addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere produces greenhouse warming. That has been proven completely false. You can only create warming with pure carbon dioxide in the laboratory. The atmosphere is not pure carbon dioxide but contains other greenhouse gases such as water vapor. The greenhouse theory of Arrhenius, the one used by IPCC and warming activists, only handles carbon dioxide and no other gases. MGT (Miskolczi greenhouse theory) can handle several greenhouse gases simultaneously. According to MGT, water vapor and carbon dioxide, both greenhouse gases, create a joint optimal absorption window in the infrared whose optical thickness is 1.87. This is an empirical value derived from analysis of radiosonde measurements. Using NOAA radiosonde data going back to 1948 Miskolczi showed in 2010 that optical thickness of the earth atmosphere remains invariant even when the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide is doubled. Lets follow what happens if we add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. The first thing that happens is that it will start to absorb in the IR, just as the Arrhenius theory says. But the addition of this carbon dioxide has also increased optical thickness and water vapor reacts. It starts to diminish, rain out, and the original optical thickness is restored. What we observe is that the amount of carbon dioxide goes up but there is no parallel warming that Arrhenius theory predicts. And that observation precisely describe what we have been observing for the last 18 years. The carbon dioxide we added of course keeps absorbing, just as Arrhenius predicts, but the reduction of water vapor has removed the excess absorption we introduced with CO2 and no greenhouse warming is possible. And with that, the social cost of carbon becomes zero. To demand that someone pay for an imaginary, non-existent entity is absolutely insane and any laws and regulations involving it are invalid. They must be nullified. A few more observations are relevant. We know that there has been no warming for 18 years. Often a key corollary is left out, namely the fact that despite lack of warming, carbon dioxide that is alleged to cause warming keeps increasing. Clearly, this fact alone is sufficient to invalidate the claim that carbon dioxide causes greenhouse warming. The Arrhenius theory that made this prediction has made a wrong prediction and is therefore invalid. This hiatus (‘pause’) has gotten more than two dozen people to write articles proving that it does not exist. They have not succeeded. Furthermore, they and the general public din’t even know that there was another hiatus in the eighties and nineties that has been covered up by a false warming called “late twentieth century warming.” I discovered it accidentally in 2008 while studying satellite records. For the last five years I have been mentioning it in comments but gotten no response. Finally, this September, somebody discovered a NASA record from 1997 proving that they knew about the lack of warming. Let us remind ourselves that James Hansen was in charge at NASA in 1997. That hiatus lasted from 1979 to 1997 or 18 years, as long as the current one has lasted. These two hiatuses jointly block the entire satellite era which started in 1979. Greenhouse warming is thereby eliminated, and the two together are enough to make the entire satellite era greenhouse free.

  37. Let’s also remember that more CO2 means more agricultural production and that has a negative social cost (positive benefit). The life of carbon in the atmosphere is short (~10 years), so today’s emissions cannot have any social cost more than a decade away. The only prudent thing to do now is “nothing”. Reacting now is all cost and no benefit (to the masses).

    • “The life of carbon in the atmosphere is short (~10 years), so today’s emissions cannot have any social cost more than a decade away. ”

      Can you show how you reached this conclusion?

      • Rob Starkey (@Robbuffy) | October 7, 2015 at 2:39 pm wants to know how the short life of carbon(about 10 years in the atmosphere) is determined. There are two possible ways. The first one depends upon the seasonal growth and shedding of leaves in the northern hemisphere. As the leaves drop and [hotosunthesis slows atmospheric carbon dioxide increases. When the new leaves sprout in the spring carbon dioxide is used up. This seasonal variation of carbon dioxide shows up in the Keeling curve as a yearly wave pattern. From the extent of yearly variation the residence time of a carbon dioxide molecule in air can be calculated and it turns out to be of the order of ten years. It is not a thousand years as IPCC propaganda keeps repeating and its distribution does not have a magical tail that can extend that residence time. A similar result comes from measuring the decay time of carbon-14 produced by atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons. It was all produced before the ban on atmospheric testing went into effect and its decay rate tells us how long a carbon dioxide molecule stays in the air. Both methods give similar results. The scare stories of CO2 staying in the atmosphere for centuries to warm future climates even if we stop adding more now are typical of incompetent (criminal?) pseudo-science that emanates from the IPCC.

  38. marlolewisjr

    Citing recent literature, many commenters argued that the Interagency Working Group (IWG) should have used lower sensitivity estimates in its 2013 Technical Support Document (TSD) than in its 2010 TSD. In its response to comments (https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/inforeg/scc-response-to-comments-final-july-2015.pdf – p. 12), the agencies explained that AR4 was still “authoritative” when the 2013 TSD was released. Implication: Although the IWG may update its sensitivity estimates in light of AR5, it will never challenge the IPCC, regardless of issues raised by subsequent research. Thanks, EPA et al. for fessing up to that!

  39. You can’t logically complain about the concept of “the social cost of an alleged pollutant” unless you are against the regulation of alleged pollutants per se. Any other form of pollution control–technology standards, for example–can only be justified via cost-benefit analysis, which means constructing the equivalent of a “social cost” for the targeted emission. Of course, you can just slap controls on without regard to whether their cost exceeds the social cost of what is being regulated, but all that does is implicitly assume the social cost is high, which favors the pro-regulations side. The incredulity of mosomoso at these proceedings is a step forward–by making these calculations explicit, we can expose the uncertainties, something that the pre-pointy-headed approach of the 1970s-1980s failed to do completely. Forcing the regulators to generate this number and justify their decisions is a victory of the economists over the lawyers and green zealots.

    • stevepostrel: See my comments regarding EO 12866 above. https://judithcurry.com/2015/10/05/on-trial-social-cost-of-carbon/#comment-735293

      Consider that there are important differences between actual pollutants (soot, heavy metals, etc.) and theoretical or potential pollutants (CO2). The question of harm can be demonstrated in the former yet can only be hypothesized in the latter. Courts may enjoin activities that present a sufficient likelihood of imminent harm but even there, CO2 emissions are theorized to produce harm only in future generations. That is one reason the courts have not entertained a large number of anti-CO2 lawsuits.

      In addition, the remedy for harm from actual pollutants typically allows the beneficial activity (power generation, ore smelting, etc.) to continue operations economically even after removing the specific pollutant. Such is not the case for CO2 emissions from power plants and fossil fuel burning vehicles. In those cases the courts are essentially being asked to impose enormous burdens on specific fossil fuel users to produce uncertain, dispersed benefits at some unknown point in the future.

      So it is legitimately possible to support controls on sulfur emissions from a power plant while simultaneously opposing CO2 controls on the same smokestack.

    • I don’t disagree about the substance of differences between CO2 and true pollutants. I disagree about whether forcing regulators to justify their proposed restrictions via constructing a “social cost of X” is a favorable PROCEDURAL step. In my opinion, merely putting the problem in this framework forces everyone to entertain the possibility that the game is not worth the candle, something that never happens when the problem is framed as “should we apply technology to reduce harm/risk?” without regard to cost/benefit. The shakiness of the harm link for CO2, and its interdependence with other policies, is actually highlighted by requiring the calculation and justification.

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  43. If we’ve averted an ice age, as even Schellnhuber seems to have weighed in with, the social benefit of carbon becomes almost incalculably large, and future understanding will scoff at ‘social cost of carbon’.

    • I think we should be more concerned with the social cost of ignorance.

    • IPCC AR5 is 4,900 pages. But nowhere does it clearly make the case for mitigation in conventional, rational economic policy analysis terms.

      If the case cannot be stated clearly and concisely the case must be weak.

      The case should be made in WG3. But if you look at WG3 it’s mostly moral arguments and socialist mumbo jumbo – e.g. about: about ethics, justice, equality, responsibility, values, wellbeing, rights and duties. E.g.: IPCC AR5 WG3 chapter 3: http://mitigation2014.org/report/publication/

      • @PL If the case cannot be stated clearly and concisely the case must be weak.

        I fully agree with Peter on this point.

        That said, one man’s “mumbo jumbo” is another’s corroborative detail giving scientific verisimilitude to each Summary for Policymakers in the IPCC’s three-part report. (h/t W.S. Gilbert)

        How are those admirably succinct summaries not a clear and concise statement of the case, Peter?

      • VP, asked,

        How are those admirably succinct summaries not a clear and concise statement of the case, Peter?

        If you can show me where, in AR5, WG3, the net benefit of GHG emissions to 2050 and 2100 is clearly stated, I’ll be persuaded I’d missed it and am wrong in my criticism. However, i have not be able to find it.

        Net benefit is the discounted reduced climate damages minus the abatement cost. It will be stated in units of 2013 US $ trillions (or another year). That is the nub of the issue as to whether or not GHG emissions abatement makes sense with the policies that have been advocated by climate scientists and the climate cultists for the past 25 years or more.

      • Peter Lang (et al.) is right. (Though I seem to remember a bit about direct “net benefits” from AGW until ~2060.)

        It goes two ways. First, the direct benefits of FF consumption are a demographic H-bomb. Coal and oil, in all their “unfiltered glory”, have saved or extended the lives of hundreds of millions, if not billions, and has enabled modernity.

        Second, the effects — so far — are net-positive. The relevant question is when and if we reach a point of diminishing return, eventually leading to net damage.

        If the trend continues in a “business as usual” scenario, in light of the reduced TCR/ECS estimates (even from IPCC lead authors), we may expect perhaps 1.5C/CO2 doubling (ECS). Feedbacks are ~net-neutral, as is obvious from the empirical data (even the adjusted stuff).

        Bear in mind that even Stern (2006), with his hideously low discount rates, and flatly incorrect “very extreme weather” and risible “dumb farmer” scenarios estimates that AGW will cost us ~20% of GWP in 200 years (most of that being in the second hundred years). And he also concedes that GWP will be many times what it is today by then. That’s with 5C – 6C warming.

        But it is looking more and more that we will top out near the top of the warming-benfit curve at a third to a quarter that if we just go about our business. That would be a win-win. Are we to “compensate” the FF companies for that “damage”? I say we just be big about it and call it even-steven. #B^)

      • evanmjones,

        Thank you for your reply.

        First, the direct benefits of FF consumption are a demographic H-bomb. Coal and oil, in all their “unfiltered glory”, have saved or extended the lives of hundreds of millions, if not billions, and has enabled modernity.

        No rational person should ignore or disagree with the enormous benefits fossil fuels have provided to both humanity and the environment to date. This explains it pretty well:
        Humanity unbound – how fossil fuels saved humanity from nature and nature from humanity http://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/humanity-unbound-how-fossil-fuels-saved-humanity-nature-nature-humanity

        However, my question about net-benefit of GHG emissions abatement is about the projected costs and benefits of GHG abatement policies to the world and to individual regions and countries to 2050 and 2100. As far as I can see, AR5 WG3 avoids addressing the issue. It spends chapters on trying to make a case based on alarmism and arguing moral and ethical issues. But they never manage to bring it together and make clear case for spending $ trillions on mitigation policies and the “climate industry”. Clearly, if they cannot state the case clearly in economically rational terms, there is no case for abatement. It cannot be justified on economic grounds.

        The red line on this chart shows that the net benefit of optimal mitigation is negative for all this century.

        For non-optimal policies, the hypothesized benefits would be less and the cost would be more. Optimal is not practically achievable. And the projections are based on assumptions that make the benefits much greater than likely and the costs less. See these two posts for explanation:

      • Fascinating graph. Puts a picture to that durn Stern Report (which I actually read, lord help me). Hideous cost, negligible return.

        I am taking a further step. I am simply looking at net benefit from warming at the current rate with an expected modest top-out: In demographic terms, we may (conceivably) double CO2, but we will never, ever redouble. And I figure, we’ll walk away from FF long before we double current concentrations (for electricity generation, at least) — uncoerced by the UN or anyone else (and it very probably won’t be wind/solar).

        So I think we’ll wind up with great benefits doing “nothing”, and any mitigation efforts will do nothing but cut into the economic component (which equals needless megadeaths, at the least, all on its own). If we just go about our wealth creation unimpeded and we top out at +1.5C, the world gets a max win.

        If one is a flat-out alarmist and one wants to be semi-rational about all this at a high, but arguably affordable cost, then do a Hansen and go nuke. If one is convinced that AGW is an existential threat, it surely outstrips the limited danger of nukes.

      • I mostly agree with you. I will happily support ‘no regrets’ policies and de-regulation – i.e. the opposite of command and control policies like carbon pricing and regulations and subsidies to incentivise renewable energy. That’s madness, as is wasting $1.5 trillion per year on the c”climate industry”.

      • Evan,

        If one is a flat-out alarmist and one wants to be semi-rational about all this at a high, but arguably affordable cost, then do a Hansen and go nuke. If one is convinced that AGW is an existential threat, it surely outstrips the limited danger of nukes.

        I agree. I’d also add, regarding “danger of nukes” the only danger is not having them or delaying them. If they replaced coal for electricity generation they’d avoid about 1.3 million early fatalities per year now. If their development hadn’t been delayed by 50 years of anti-nuke activism, which has caused their cost to increase by a factor of about 8 over what it would have been, global CO2 emissions from electricity would be 10% to 20% lower now than they are and tens of millions of avoidable fatalities would have been avoided. That’s what the irrational anti-nukes have caused.

      • If one did genu-inely believe that
        AGWwas an existential threat, one
        would go fer nuclear – if one did, but
        most ones don’t, ’twas never about
        the ‘science’ was it, one-tree-hockey-
        theory-ocean-warmists and BOM-

      • Agree, BTS.

      • I’d also add, regarding “danger of nukes” the only danger is not having them or delaying them.

        Yes, quite.

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  46. If a court with access to the world’s leading experts on a subject can’t figure out the truth, what chance does the general public have?

    Every comment in this thread reflects nothing better than the commenter’s bias. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

    • If a court with access to the world’s leading experts on a subject can’t figure out the truth

      Who gets to decide who is an expert?

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