by Judith Curry
The Social Cost of Carbon is emerging as a major source of contention in the Trump Administration.
Andy Revkin has an article summarizing the issue: Will Trump’s climate team accept any social cost of carbon? Excerpts:
But there’s probably no more consequential and contentious a target for the incoming administration than an arcane metric called the “social cost of carbon.”
This value is the government’s best estimate of how much society gains over the long haul by cutting each ton of the heat-trapping carbon-dioxide emissions scientists have linked to global warming.
The contention arises because the social cost of carbon underpins justifications for policies dealing with everything from power plants to car mileage to refrigerator efficiency. The carbon valuation has already helped shape 79 regulations.
The strongest sign of a coming challenge to the social cost calculation came in a post-election memorandum from Thomas Pyle, who was then president of the industry-funded American Energy Alliance and Institute for Energy Research and who now leads the Trump transition team for the Department of Energy. In the memo, he predicted policies resulting in “ending the use of the social cost of carbon in federal rule makings.”
In 2013, an economist from Pyle’s energy institute testified in a Senate hearing that under a proper calculation, the social cost of carbon “would probably be close to zero, or possibly even negative.”
A deep cut would be both dangerous and unjustified, given the basics of both climate science and economics, said Gernot Wagner, a Harvard economist focused on climate risk and policy.
Some illumination on the controversies and uncertainties is provided by a new draft report from the National Academies of Sciences Valuing Climate Damages:
Updating Estimation of the Social Cost of Carbon Dioxide.
The NAS Report is a fascinating read, and describes in detail all of the sausage making that goes into evaluating the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC). Andy Revkin provides the following summary:
The main recommendation is to “unbundle” the mix of models behind that seemingly simple dollar figure. The models, melding climate science, demographic change and economics, project harms by looking at possible shifts in human populations, technologies, economies and the climate in coming decades.
The assumptions and uncertainties for each step could then be more clearly laid out in transparent ways that might constrain misinterpretations and boost societal, and political, acceptance.
Myles R. Allen, an author of the report and a climate scientist at Oxford University, said in an interview that such a structure could help clarify where data ends and societal and political choices begin.
“There are obviously political decisions which need to be made in any calculation like the social cost of carbon,” he said. “On the other hand, the way the climate system responds to greenhouse gas emission levels is not really up for political discussion.”
I’m not going to make any attempt to summarize the report here; it is valuable for highlighting many areas of uncertainties. My comments on this subject are based on stepping outside of the SCC frame of the NAS report.
Scope and magnitude of the uncertainties
After reading the NAS report, I was overwhelmed by the HUGE uncertainties associated with the estimates of the Social Cost of Carbon. However, these HUGE uncertainties are overwhelmed by MASSIVE meta-uncertainties not even considered in the NAS report.
For purposes of discussing these uncertainties, I will adopt the terminology Risbey and Kandlikar (2007):
The physical climate system is regarded as the least uncertain of all the various modules in the SCC determination (which I agree with). However, with regards to the physical climate module proposed in the NAS report, there are the following meta-uncertainties that are not acknowledged in the report:
- Sensitivity to doubling CO2 remains highly uncertain, much more uncertain even than the IPCC AR5 (which could not determine a median or ‘best’ value). Recent assessments that aerosol forcing is much less than assumed by the AR5 and refinements to observational methods for determining climate sensitivity considerably lower the estimates of climate sensitivity, beyond what is considered in the NAS report (e.g. Nic Lewis’ work) RK score: 2.5
- The carbon cycle (both land and ocean) is poorly understood in quantitative terms, so it is not a simple task to translate emissions into atmospheric CO2 concentrations with any kind of accuracy or confidence RK score: 3
- The other requirement is for additional climatic variables related to damage, such as extreme weather events, regional changes, and sea level rise — variables that the climate models currently do not predict with any accuracy at all. RK score: 3
These meta uncertainties in our understanding of the physical climate system do not even allow us to bound these, let alone produce a pdf that makes any kind of sense.
With regards to the Damages Module, this one might be the most uncertain of all (although it is rather a toss up with the Socioeconomic Module and the Discounting Module). Apart from the obvious demographic and socioeconomic uncertainties:
Assessing damages from CO2 requires three steps: 1) determine that warming is ‘bad’ (costly, dangerous, whatever) RK score: 5; 2) link the warming to extreme weather events or other factors that are associated with costs RK score: 5; and 3) attribute the warming to CO2 RK score: 2.8.
With regards to attributing the warming to CO2, that is an unresolved problem in my opinion. If only 51% of the recent warming is caused by humans (which is technically within the scope of the IPCC AR5 attribution statement), that would halve any benefits of attempting to reduce warming via eliminating CO2 emissions. And given what we don’t know about natural climate variability, there is plenty of scope for human causes to have contributed less than 50%. Climate models effectively find that 100% of the recent warming is caused by humans, which is the implicit assumption going into the SCC estimates.
Linking extreme weather, sea level rise, etc to human-caused CO2 emissions has remained elusive, as per the IPCC AR5 WG2 report [link]. Whether or not sea level rise is accelerating remains a subject of debate (I have had many previous posts on this). It is very difficult to attribute any extreme weather events to warming, let alone human caused warming.
And finally, it is not at all clear to me that on balance (with all the complexities, feedbacks, adaptations, etc.), that a warm climate is more costly than a cold one, on the timescale of the 21st century. I am not convinced by the arguments that I’ve seen.
The Socioeconomic Module requires making projections of population, technologies, economic development, etc., 300 years into the future! RK score: 4.5 Voodoo.
And then we have the Discount Rate RK score: 5. To me, the whole concept of discounting over several hundred years makes no sense. What you assume for discounting can change the sign of the SCC outcome. This tells me that the whole exercise does not rest on a robust foundation.
So, does this SCC exercise make any sense? Well, I think that it is an interesting thing to pursue academically — all these interactions are rather fascinating.
However, these huge to massive uncertainties render SCC as largely useless for cost/benefit analyses, since the number and magnitude of these uncertainties violate the premises behind cost/benefit analysis: uncertainty should be well characterized (RK score 1 or 2), and model structure should be well known. You can disagree with my RK scores above, but it is very difficult to argue any of them into 1 to 2 territory.
A paper by Andrea Saltelli et al. also makes this point: Climate Models as Economic Guides: Scientific Challenge or Quixotic Quest?. Their concluding statement:
The uncertainties associated with mathematical models that assess the costs and benefits of climate change policy options are unknowable. Such models can be valuable guides to scientific inquiry, but they should not be used to guide climate policy decisions.
See also the paper by Robert Pindyck: Climate Change Policy: What Do the Models Tell Us? Short answer: “Very little.”
As a basis for policy, I will argue that the MASSIVE meta-uncertainties (or even just the HUGE uncertainties identified by the NAS Panel) put this whole topic well into the territory of ‘deep uncertainty’. I’ve written and spoken about deep uncertainty many times [link].
Deep uncertainty is characterized by situations in which:
- phenomena are characterized by high levels of ignorance and are poorly understood scientifically
- modelling and subjective judgments must substitute extensively for estimates based upon experience with actual events and outcomes
- ethical rules must be formulated to substitute for risk-based decisions.
Different decision making frameworks are more useful than cost/benefit analysis once you are in deep uncertainty territory.
And there is little to no evidence that climate change is a ‘ruin’ problem on the timescale of the 21st century [link].
Where do we go from here?
Since I’ve argued that the cost/benefit approach doesn’t really make sense for such a wicked problem with massive uncertainties, does this mean I think we should ignore the problem?
NO, we should not ignore the problem, but we should reframe it in ways that put some realistic bounds on what we are dealing with– not just climate change, but also population increase and concentration of wealth in vulnerable coastal regions. Not to mention the growing needs of this increasing population for energy, water and food.
I would challenge the policy making community and the science-policy interface communities to consider the following questions and proposed analyses:
1.How many different combinations of assumptions in the SCC models can produce a SCC value that is not significantly different from zero, or within some ‘tolerable’ limit?
2.Imagine the worst plausible future climate outcome on the time scale of the 21st century (consistent with the AR5), and estimate the damages in the 21st century. Assess whether any conceivable path of CO2 emissions reductions in the 21st century would make a significant dent in those damages.
3.Estimate the costs of extreme weather in the 21st century, based on weather statistics from the 20th century while accounting for 21st century changes in population, demographic, property, GDP, etc. Then compare the impact of socioeconomic changes on 21st century costs relative to the hypothetical delta of extreme weather events as derived from climate models. I wouldn’t be surprised if population increase and concentration of wealth in coastal regions is a much bigger factor here than climate change.
4.Estimate the costs of sea level rise in the 21st century based on three different assumptions: 1) applying the average sea level rise rate over the 20th century; 2) applying the average rate of sea level rise for the past 50 years for each coastal location, which also includes land use, geologic factors, groundwater withdrawal, etc.; 3) apply the average rate of sea level rise from the IPCC AR5. I suspect that #2 will be associated with the most damage, since the most vulnerable locations have local sea level rise rates that far exceed anything that can be explained by warming. Apart from geologic and land use effects on sea level rise, the increase of population and concentration of wealth in coastal regions may also be a bigger factor than sea level rise associated with warming.
5. Estimate regional per capita water needs (globally), using population and socioeconomic projections for the 21st century. Compare that with 20th century water availability (total and per capita). Estimate the per capita water availability in the 21st century using climate models. Is the decline in 21st century per capita water availability caused by population increase or climate change? (Hint: whether or not you find them convincing, climate models predict overall MORE rainfall in a warmer climate; melting glaciers will help at least in the short term.) Assess the costs of meeting per capita water needs using 20th century rainfall versus 21st century projected rainfall.
6.Based on estimates from #3, #4, #5, decide on how much resilience we can afford, in terms of infrastructure, and work on other clever ways to reduce your vulnerability through land use policies, advance warning of severe weather, etc.
This list is by no means exhaustive; once you think about reframing the climate problem and the solutions, lots of new ideas pop up. Such analyses would provide the basis for a pragmatic climate policy that puts people first in the 21st century, which is a reasonable thing to do given the deep uncertainties surrounding the wicked climate change problem. Any rationale that supports rapid reductions of CO2 emissions needs to provide pathways for improved technologies for energy, transportation, agriculture, etc. Not to mention supporting human development in regions that currently do not have access to grid electricity.
The bottom line is: water, food, energy. Heck, even the folks attending Davos get it [link]. People need it and large numbers of people want more of it. And there are more and more people all the time. A single minded focus on reducing CO2 emissions neglects a lot of real problems facing many nations across the globe.
Climate variability and change impacts water, food and energy. But there isn’t much we can do to influence the climate on the timescale of the 21st century — however much we have impacted the climate over the past 70 years or so, those impacts (large or small) will work their way through climate system over the next centuries as the oceans act as a big flywheel on the climate system.
Back to the question posed by Revkin: Will Trump’s climate team accept any social cost of carbon? Well, I hope not. Here’s to hoping for a more pragmatic approach to all this in the Trump administration.
Can’t we all at least agree that CO2 is not a poison?
Pingback: Rethinking the Social Cost of Carbon – Enjeux énergies et environnement
“Assessing damages from CO2 requires three steps: 1) determine that warming is ‘bad’ (costly, dangerous, whatever) RK score: 5; 2) link the warming to extreme weather events or other factors that are associated with costs RK score: 5; and 3) attribute the warming to CO2 RK score: 2.8.”
I would score these as 666. The devil is in the details.
All this discussion of the social cost of carbon is based on voodoo economics. The cost of warming is negative. Just witness the global greening for just one factor. There is no increase in extreme weather, just an increase in reporting coverage. All the discussion leaves out the far more important fact that ours is a carbon based economy where producing a ton of CO2 results in a large increase in GDP. For figures see here: http://notrickszone.com/2015/10/15/social-benefit-of-carbon-is-ten-to-a-hundred-times-the-estimated-social-cost/#sthash.YZOfuR5m.dpbs
The problem of estimating the social cost of carbon is, in fact, a good bit more complex than sketched above.
The first estimate of the social cost of carbon was published in 1982, and 113 papers have been published since with new estimates. (And another 100+ bitching about those estimates.) These papers do all that is suggested above, and more.
An overview is here: https://ideas.repec.org/p/sus/susewp/7515.html
Richard, what do you make of the statement:
In 2013, an economist from Pyle’s energy institute testified in a Senate hearing that under a proper calculation, the social cost of carbon “would probably be close to zero, or possibly even negative.”?
Carbon cost will change over time, so present carbon costs could be net negative while some future date’s carbon could have positive costs.
( Revkin’s surprise at this is telling ).
Also, I recently tallied the leading CO2 emission nations and their total fertility rates. What I found ( I stopped after Uzbekistan ) was that 72% of 2014 CO2 emissions were from countries with lower than replacement fertility rates. That certainly is consistent with the recent fall in emissions.
If CO2 emission costs are never positive ( because CO2 emissions continue to fall from secular factors ), how should we consider the costs of expensive conversion to alternatives?
With a high discount rate and high inequity aversion, the social cost of carbon is indeed negative — that is, a social benefit. This is because carbon dioxide fertilization is good for plants. This effect is particularly important in the short run (because of saturation) and in poor countries (where a large share of income is spent on food).
Which proves two things: the enormous uncertainties, and that the SCC outcome is essentially political because of all the assumption degrees of freedom buried therein.
As I said on the previous thread about SCC…yup. It is the illusion of information. Far worse than acting based on complete uncertainty.
“….a good bit more complex…”
Richard, you have just sent it off the charts. Even before reading Judith’s comments I thought any efforts to make a reasonable estimate was nearly impossible. Taking her comments and then upping those with your comment puts it into the why bother category. But going through the process will have value for policy makers since it forces them to confront reality. The more nebulous a challenge, the easier it is to blow it off.
The wickedness is that the emerging economies will be the mass emitters of carbon abd bite their own tail so to speak, the “old” economies have made the world a better place, the energing economies will make the workd a worse pkace, why let the old economies pay yhe bill for dane done by the energing economies?
Of course the future damage is still hypothetical, depending on emission scenarios, carbon uptake and climate sensitivity, which are all tuned to worst case scenario’s.
%#%$ ipad keyboard
Development of the remaining undeveloped world is a good thing.
Both for the lives of those there, but the the ecology as well.
Economic development is what leads to falling population.
Now, falling populations may cause other problems ( stagnating economies leading to revolutions? ). But contrary to many beliefs economic development benefits the environment.
Richard, how about hard numbers instead of estimates? What was the actually incurred cost of carbon in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015? (Make it an actually incurred social cost, if it happens to be different – in which case I would appreciate the explanation of a difference).
George: Don’t be a monkey. You cannot observe a marginal. You cannot observe the future.
Richard, are you saying that you can not determine the social cost of carbon for any given year? Only for the complete future?
George: I referred to your “hard numbers instead of estimates”. I assumed you mean “measurements” when you say “hard numbers”. You cannot measure a marginal. You cannot measure the future.
All this discussion is then about marginals that we can not measure.
Tol is correct here. You can only estimate the “what would have happened with less CO2 emissions,” just as any counterfactual. The punchline, though, is that to an economist all costs are counterfactual estimates–what did we give up by doing X instead of the next-best thing is the “cost of X” and what did we give up by doing X instead of Y is “the marginal cost of X vs. Y.” Explicit dollar amounts accrued in private or public spending data may be above or below these true economic costs.
Thanks for that.
There are two kinds of policy analysis, prospective and retrospective.
In retrospective policy analysis, we compare the world-as-is to the world-as-would-have-been.
In prospective policy analysis, we compare a world-as-would-be to an alternative world-as-would-be.
The social cost of carbon is prospective.
It would be good if people understood this fundamental characteristic of policy analysis.
Prospective – with what level of confidence? With no data at all yet? Fantasy. A fantasy reaching into my pocket, today.
It is not possible for you to claim such progress in the face of the strong evidence of wickedvproblems, perhaps some with no known ways to solve.
Your comment then verges on unethical, incorrect, self promotion.
We need answers that are useful, not false claims that are not.
Show me a formal proof that CO2 change has had a measurable effect on global climate change.
You cannot. Nobody has done that so far, with an acceptable error certainty.
Apologies spell check Tol.
Richard (or anyone),
Have researchers attempted to bound the impacts of warming and cooling from paleo evidence of biosphere productivity in much warmer and cooler times?
The below chart suggests that, for approximately 60% of the past 540 Ma, global average temperature was more than 5 C warmer than now. I understand paleo evidence shows life thrived when warmer and struggled when colder than now. I would interpret this to demonstrate that 5 C warming is not dangerous and not catastrophic.
The middle chart from the IPCC AR4 WG1 graphic for the past 65 Ma is roughly consistent. It shows deep ocean temperature was more than 5 C warmer than now until about 40 Ma ago and again in the Mid-Miocene warm period (about 15 Ma ago). Life thrived in these periods,
Reblogged this on Climate Collections.
“Deep uncertainty is characterized by situations in which:
phenomena are characterized by high levels of ignorance”
And there is the rub. Funding directly determines where ignorance hides.
” These meta uncertainties in our understanding of the physical climate system do not even allow us to bound these”
Are you arguing that you can’t bound sensitivity?
So… it could be -5 billion or 6 trillion?
I’d give it and RA of 1.5. We can bound it but not give a well defined pdf because of the difficulty of weighting pdf from various different methods. .
Exactly! We are essentially certain we do not know the answer!
“I’d give it and RA of 1.5.”
Haha! It’s much closer to 6. We don’t even know the effect of CO2 is positive or negative! Global biomass production has increased 14% in the past 25 years, that argues for a very good effect of increased CO2. (I know correlation is not necessarily causation, but anti-correlation is definitely evidence of no causation)
Wrong. I’m referring to ecs. It’s positive.
Here is another variable. The SCC assumes perfect government. Assume ‘government failure’ in the quest to correct ‘market failure,’ and you get more into negative territory.
Perfect government and perfect policy advice. Promoting diesel cars and biodiesel in Europe produced a new set of unintended consequences. Biomass may reduce CO2 but it still has emissions and environmental impacts. etc.etc.
Correct, but that always provides a self-reference paradox in public debates about government policy. “We should do X.” “The political system will not do X.” “But we are the political system, so if we decide to do it, it’s done.”
The correct way to phrase this might be “If we give government officials a mandate to do X, they will instead do X’ which is predictably worse than X.”
In my experience, government failure is much more common than market failure.
Yes, government failure has been especially prevalent with energy and energy-related policy. As Rob knows, I wrote a book about the many decades of costly efforts by the government to correct market failures that in some cases were nonexistent and in others where the market-failure cure led to a much greater failure by the government. As Ronald Coase noted we should be very careful about imposing government “special regulations” as an automatic response to market failure lest we wind up with something much worse.
Sometimes, “market failure” is claimed because it gives a great excuse to do what one wanted to do anyway, or it rallies the troops against some adversary. Hence the war on big servings of soda in NYC: no evidence that big soda servings are causing obesity for example.
Revkin makes the usual mistake, saying “…looking at possible shifts in human populations, technologies, economies and the climate in coming decades.” SCC tries to forecast these thing for the next 300 years, not coming decades. See my https://judithcurry.com/2016/12/30/discussion-thread-social-cost-of-carbon/.
Referring to decades is dishonest.
Technically it is the NASEM report not just NAS. There is an appendix showing 300 year IAM runs with CO2 at 2000 ppm and temps up 8-9 degrees C. Easy to bet big damages with this nonsense.
Took a look at the IAMs. Total hash. Agree the SCC concept should be abandoned as hopelessly unworkable for climate purposes. It puts an unwarranted veneer of ‘studied’ on essentially a purely political outcome. Lipstick on a pig.
Problem is that SCC variants are imbedded explicitly and implicitly in law. For example, explicitly by the 1990 CAA Amendments which a federal judge just ruled the EPA did not properly follow (ignored economic impact of job losses in coal country). So there would need to be rather significant changes to laws and associated regulatory policies. Put Pruitt on point to develop a set of proposed legislative changes. IMO cleanest is to revise the definition of pollutant from ‘that which pollutes’, which via the back door Mass. v. EPA sue and settle resulted in the CO2 endangerment finding the Supreme court found was within the EPA’s authority under CAA as legislated. Problem is getting that passed by the Senate. OTH, Fiddling with SCC and revising the endangement finding without revising enabling legislation (swamp business as usual) would result in endless legal challenges and could be redone by a subsequent ‘green’ admin.
So best might be a good SCOTUS nominee, then letting the state’s CPP and WOTUS unconstitutional lawsuits play out. Both have been stayed pending that outcome, as the unconstitutional arguments in both are very strong. That outcome leaves such regulations to the states; California can commit green suicide while fly over country watches in amazement. Meanwhile, Pruitt can clean out EPA’s Augean stables, such as the incestuous NGO relationships revealed by the CPP formulation process.
No harm in working all three approaches simultaneously.
I love seeing half an issue explored in depth.
There is also a social cost to removing carbon.
The World Bank and both the United States and the United Kingdom have chosen not to help developing countries build fossil fuel plants to generate the electricity these countries need to move ahead.
This refusal is designed to reduce emissions of CO2. But there is a social cost associated with it. If the people who otherwise would have had access to electricity are forced to continue burning dung and firewood, many will die from the attendant pollution caused by those much dirtier fuels. The conventional pollution and deforestation may not only harm human health but the surrounding environment as well.
Climate activists make the case that fossil fuel companies should not be subsidized. I happen to agree with them. However, subsidizing green energy sources is different, they claim. New industries with the potential to revolutionize our energy infrastructure deserve government support.
And again I agree with them. I think green energy should receive modest levels of subsidy, as should innovative efforts to improve storage and distribution.
But I at least am aware that there is a social cost to doing what I favor doing. That money might be better spent on vaccines, micronutrients, access to fresh water and more. So far it seems that those other worthy causes are receiving adequate funding, in no small part thanks to private charities. Yanking money away from research into new energy seems a bit like eating the seed corn. But there is a social cost to this spending.
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.
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.
If you want to discuss the issue, I’m happy to. But the issue has two sides–at least.
It never occurred to me that such a trade-off analysis would not be made. But I just read the NAS report and it apparently has not been. So, 1000+
TF2, very thoughtful comment. Spot on.
We need to figure out the SCCSCC (Social Cost of Countering the Social Cost of Carbon).
Why I miss your blog Thomas.
This may seem cruel, but after the debacle in the Middle East and given the fact that we have enabled China to become a military power, we need to think carefully before we help society or nation X advance. This could be to our detriment.
The SCC is a political tool and not a reliable scientific / technical concept. The accuracy of the data and assumptions – and the insane approach of discounting centuries of data based on uncertain models – to derive these numbers make them unsupportable for any use in setting regulatory / policy. The last EPA update issued in 2013 received a huge volume of comments which were largely ignored in the final report. The latest update increased the SCC’s by 60% across the board for all discount rates – 2.5%, 3%, 5%, 3.5% – 95th percentile – the favored precautionary 95th percentile SCC being preferred for policy setting.
In agrarian societies, children aged 5 or so were already producing labor ( feeding the chickens, etc ) to offset their expenses.
In digital society, children as old as 26 are not yet producing labor ( still in grad school ) and incur much greater expense.
Given this new economic reality and available birth control, it is not surprising that developed economies exhibit fewer and smaller families than they did even a generation ago.
There are many uncertainties, but one may ask what would reverse this trend? Economic de-development perhaps ( post apocalyptic subsistence ). Short of that, falling population in the developed world appears not only likely but imminent. Fertility rates ( CIA 2016 TFR: 2.42 ) are below the medium variant of the infrequently updated UN projections. The trends are consistent with falling world population by 2055. Even before then, aging population and falling populations in developed countries may have this remarkable effect on the carbon debate:
Consequently, CO2 emissions may well have already peaked in 2014:
If CO2 is never a problem, there would be a social cost of avoiding carbon.
“NO, we should not ignore the problem…”
Seems like a definition of the problem would be helpful, particularly since the above only talks about cost and not benefit; or is the possibility of positive cost implied.
As NASA recently pointed out
carbon dioxide fertilization explains 70 percent of the greening effect of the earth.
As you note, the SCC demands formal proper and accurate estimates of measurement uncertainty, both in bias and precision.
A hobby-horse of mine, with examples from Pat Frank and others, methodology framework from places such as the Paris Institute of Weights and Measures, BIPM. It is easy to say it is needed, near impossible still to find a showcase example anywhere in climate science publications.
There is possible need for national authorities to be given teeth, or created if not there already, so that no data for purposes like this SCC is allowed for official use unless formally endorsed by such a body.
I note this is only the second time ever that this earth scientist has made a public call for another bureaucratic entity to be created/armed.
Such a step can backfire and become a large error of the unintended consequences style.
Thank you for highlighting error.
While a sound suggestion in general for much climate data used in the debate (temp, SLR, ice mass loss, OHC, sea ice extents,…) it probably isn’t feasible for SCC. Too many of the necessary inputs are not data, but rather assumptions about the future based on IAMs that cannot be validated or verified. Even if data with proper uncertainty is used in them, all the IAM outputs are grossly outside the ‘QC’d’ data range. In Arts of Truth, I used a 2000 JAMA analysis of Miss America pageant winner BMI trends from 1920 to 2000 to statistically ‘prove’ Miss America would be dead of starvation by 2020. Grossly out of range means terra incognito, and the problem is inherently insoluble for such long time frames because ceterus paribus does not hold.
In that case, the data should not be used for any significant social purpose.
There is no case for social policies based on data unfit for purpose.
Practical people dump junk science as soon as they become aware and go on to more productive work.
Then you sleep better at night.
I don´t see “Voodoo” in Table 5 by Risbey and Kandlikar (2007), but I agree that anything below a “Well defended trend expectation” is best termed Voodoo. :)
That being said, why not use the expressions under the column justification? The full expression is much easier to relate to for readers than a “Score figure”.
Thank you. Excellent post. Summarises the most important issues in a nutshell.
I hoped this is the beginning of a new focus for CE in 2017 to deal with what is most important – i.e the policy relevant issues and want information is most important for informing rational policy analysis.
As part of this, I hope CE will increase focus on Impact functions and damage functions in 2017. These are much more uncertain than ECS and the other climate parameters which have been the focus climate scientists’ research for the past 30 years.
Peter, more of that would be welcome. But it will be inherently squishy no different than SCC. I hope CE doesn’t lose three classes of discussion I find important and useful, and where knowledgable guest posters and commenters add tremendous value: core climate science (e.g. the recent biology/physics post), overblown consequences papers (my Totten Glacier post), and renewable foibles (PlanningEngineer posts).
I am not suggesting stopping the folow of papers you mention. I am urging that a much greater focus is put on what it mot important – i.e information that can inform policy because the bad policy that has been advocated for the past 30 years and is costing the worked enormously. there was a massive slow down in world growth rate and neegy consumption rate in the 1970’s as a result of the ideological obsessions with environmental activists and conservationists. The research you are talking about may be academically interesting to you but is not the most important research that needs to be done to improve human well-being for the world. See my comment below and the link included in it.
Hertzberg and Schreuder, 2016 concludes with ” Nothing in the data supports the supposition that atmospheric CO2 is a driver of weather or climate, or that human emissions control atmospheric CO2.”
This supports Salby’s contentions. If we can’t even show that our emissions effect the atmospheric content I would have to conclude we cant compute the effect on any problems we think might occur let alone the cost of those potential problems.
> Hertzberg and Schreuder, 2016
I suppose it’s the paper from Energy & Environment with this abstract:
I’ve added the emphasized sentence to my Matrix:
I can add your name in my thanks if you want, DavidA.
(Sigh). Don’t forget we are running out of fossil fuels, emissions won’t be as high as projected in the “Business as usual” cases, because prices will rise and either some sort of technology emerges to replace oil, then gas, and finally coal. And no, there’s no magic bullet, those shales are over hyped, deep water is getting too deep (we aren’t going to find oil in oceanic plates), and we are simply out of ideas.
Fernando, I agree strongly for oil, and that oil shales are overhyped. Essays Reserve Reservations (Monterey) and Matryoshka Reserves (Bahzenov) gave specific examples in ebook Blowing Smoke. The oil shoe is going to start pinching in a decade. Peak conventional production (API>10, reservoir porosity >5% and permeability >10 millidarcies) already peaked in 2008 just as predicted. Am now much more optimistic about natural gas for rest of this century. More gas window shales, higher recovery factors. US, China, Europe, South America, maybe Australia. And we already have two replacements for coal generation, CCGT at 1/3 emissions and nuclear at zero, should that be necessary on other than economic grounds.
So the pinch is liquid transportation fuels, globally ~70% of crude consumption. Autos can go hybrid electric. But not trucks, planes, ag, mining, construction, (and most ships will not be nuclear). Extensive analysis in Gaia’s Limits. Biofuels cannot eventually fill the gap; essays Wishful Thinking, Salvation by Swamp, and Bugs, Roots, and Biofuels demonstrate that. Only glimmer of hope is Siluria Tech OCM then ETL catalysis of natural gas. But then that significantly shortens the natural gas abundance window.
Gaia really does have two fundamental Limits: food starting about 2050 and liquid transportation fuels starting about 2030. Water is not a problem assuming virtual water. Took three years to research and write that ebook.
Agree the interesting problem is transport fuels, but hybrids will have their place in aircraft (see NASA aeronautics roadmaps) and heavy duty cycle transport seems to be kicking its tyres (as it were).
The other thing to factor in is the impact of ICT technologies on transport. E.g. I suspect that Skype and Uber each on steroids will have a much greater impact on fuel use/emissions than any alternative vehicles and fuels. The uptake will be faster because the platforms to support them are being bought for other reasons.
HAS, hope you are right. The problem as I see it is adjustment lag time. Suppose we see the transport fuel problem, and everybody gets hybrid auto religion. Well, the design to ship is ~5 years for a new platform. The average vehicle life is >10. So two decades later, the shift becomes palpable. What if the shoe pinches in less than two decades? Argued one US scenario in chapter 6 of Gaia’s Limits. Not gloomy. Just dicey.
I agree that the easy oil has already been found. Fracking is a symptom
of declining reserves. Humanity does have a problem, it is our supply
of dense portable energy. The alternative energy sources, Solar, Wind,
Tide, ect. have duty cycle constants, and will only be functionally useful
with some type of practical energy storage.
I think storing the surplus of the alternative energies as hydrocarbon
fuel makes the most sense in the near term.
The latest technology is said to be 70% efficient, which means it would
take about 50 Kwh of electricity to create a gallon of gasoline.
The Hydrogen comes from water, the CO2 from the atmosphere.
The process is similar to the cracking unit in a modern refinery.
Solar, if widely implemented, would create large seasonal surpluses.
These surpluses could be stored as fuels and sold through existing
distribution. The fuels would be carbon neutral, as a side effect.
At the current wholesale electricity rates, of roughly $50 Mwh,
Oil will need to be about $90 a barrel before these technologies
become the more profitable path for the refineries to take.
Since the change is transparent to the end users, it allows the transition
to better transport technologies, at a slower rate.
I would eventually expect to see hydrogen stored as hydrocarbon fuel,
reformed for a fuel cell hybrid.
Mr Carnot and his heat engines may at last get to retire.
It’s interesting that you write this under a post about social costs. What would have been the social costs of government action in the ’60s and ’70s based on the prediction that oil was going to be depleted by 1980?
How do peak oilers and Gaia’s Limits devotees claim “just as predicted” when the predictions were for mass starvation in the United States during the 1980s?
People who were skeptical of “science-based” predictions of imminent mass starvation 40 years ago were branded “deniers” and uneducated. Do you think that experience had any impact on the fact that, today, similar doomsday prophesies have difficulty finding traction?
Is it easier, or more difficult to persuade when activists for a cause are unwilling to acknowledge when they were completely wrong and revise their theories? I have a relative who is (was to a certain extent) a peak oiler. He’s been assuring me for almost 2 decades that projections for what the US is currently producing were impossible and amounted to “blowing smoke.” At some point, just scratching out the old date and writing in a new one (in pencil, of course) should cause some level of self-awareness. As an aside, this guy is also a devoted warmist. I live 6 miles from the Atlantic Ocean on land that’s above flood zone in Cat 5 hurricanes and he’s assured me more than once that sea level rise will destroy my house in my lifetime (I’m over 50). But then he was also positive in ’08 that oil would never be below $150/barrel again.
Last year a friend cautioned me not to move to Florida due to SLR. I’m 72. I’ll be pushing up daisies long before the water approaches the dune grass. What a dumb###.
I am this second looking over the Gulf where the base of the seawall is 6 feet
above high tide and the is an additional
8 feet high. All houses are on stilts because people are not dumb and they adapted to hurricanes generations ago.
The storm surges from those hurricanes over the last 150 years have risen more in one night than what SLR will do in hundreds of years.
When I visit again next year, things will be just as they have been for many, many decades.
What’s so amazing about that is that you could probably drive along the Gulf Coast and every single newspaper would absolutely agree that your friend is unquestionably right. And not one of those newspapers have any plans to move their offices or printing presses inland. And most of the editors and reporters would jump at the chance to move closer to the water.
The disconnect between what these folks are politically required to say and what they actually believe is staggering. AGW has become a combination of Soviet ag quota projections and revised editions of The Population Bomb.
I agree. But we do need to know the impact and damage functions. If we don’t have them we have no valid justification for any policy that will damage the global economy
I am far from convinced this approach is viable in the real world. Any decisions will be dictated by the dominant ideology and politics of the time. Look at the Abstract, Figure 5 and footnotes 7 and 8 here: https://ideas.repec.org/p/een/camaaa/2017-04.html for an example of the damage bad policies, driven by ideological belief and political responses to it, have done.
It’s as bad as the Drake Equation: a guess multiplied by another guess multiplied by yet another guess (etc. etc.) magically equals science. It’s just that this science will cost us a fortune.
NM, very nice analogy. Sciency does not equal sound.
agreed. except the last part. “will cost us”. I live in Ontario, CA. Where “will”= “has, and is”. :-)
The impact of the difference in a discount rate of 2.5% vs 5% is 1000 fold to the terminal date. I think that was on page 222 of the NAS report.
Dr. Judith, an excellent post. The problem with the SCC is that what we are really talking about is not carbon at all.
It is mostly temperature. And whether a 2°C increase in average temperature mostly in the extratropics, mostly in the winter, and mostly at night is a plus or a minus depends on who you ask.
As a simple example, consider my previous statement. How many estimates of the SCC take into account the daily, monthly, and spatial variations that I point out above?
Ask the street people in Vladivostok if they care if the winter nights are a bit warmer … call me crazy but I’m guessing no.
So for me the SCC is just voodoo.
However, I am interested by your final concept. If I understand it correctly, basically it amounts to a multi-factorial piecewise sensitivity analysis of the various proposed climate futures. I’ll have to think about that.
Well done, well considered as usual.
Need to consider three other terms.
The social cost of national debt.
The social cost of taxation
The social cost of inflation
Wonder if there were lofty discussions on the social costs of the War on Drugs?
And Davos …
somebody please stop them before the drive ALL the money to the top in the name of the poor.
Google “Robert Murphy, Social Cost of Carbon”
Even simpler to visualize the social cost of not having enough fuel….
Truncating at 2100 loses a major aspect of the problem. Do people prefer a climate of 700 ppm (which is a low-end BAU estimate) and rising in 2100 over one that is less than 500 ppm and stable? What are the relative costs (damages and adaptations) of these climates compared to today’s, and the trend at 2100 has to be considered in that cost too.
That’s a big part of the problem with SCC – which you would have picked up on had you read what Judith posted. Truncating at the year 2100 does not produce a figure that is high enough to justify a lot of policy currently based on SCC. Yet anyone who believes you can push assumptions out 200 or 300 years is delusional.
Actually $40 a tonne is not much, and people just need to realize that part first, but it makes mitigation cheaper. This is the analogy of continually bailing out the boat forever (adaptation) or just plugging the hole once and for all (mitigation), which is ten times cheaper by the cost estimates.
Enormous LOL at the notion of “a stable climate when CO2 below 500 ppm”
You so funny.
Thanks, you too.
Wow, the great posts just keep coming…
Craig Idso wrote this, copied and pasted, (his site co2science is offline at the moment),
The Positive Externalities of Carbon Dioxide: Estimating the Monetary Benefits of Rising Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations on Global Food Production: Several analyses have been conducted to estimate potential monetary damages of the rising atmospheric CO2 concentration. Few, however, have attempted to investigate its monetary benefits. This study addresses this discrepancy by providing a quantitative estimate of the direct monetary benefits of atmospheric CO2 enrichment on both historic and future global crop production. Results indicate that the annual total monetary value of the increase in the air’s CO2 content (since the inception of the Industrial Revolution) for world crop production grew from about $18.5 billion in 1961 to over $140 billion by 2011, reaching the staggering sum of $3.2 trillion over the 50-year time period from 1961-2011. And projecting the monetary value of this positive externality forward in time reveals that it will bestow an additional $9.8 trillion on crop production between now and 2050.”
Now is that a social cost? I will add the link when he is back online.
The link: http://www.co2science.org/education/reports/co2benefits/co2benefits.php
Thermalization of terrestrial EMR absorbed by CO2 and reverse thermalization, nearly all to water vapor, because of its plethora of lower energy absorb/emit wavelength bands, explain why CO2 has no significant effect on climate. Discover what else contributes to climate change (98% match 1895-2015) at http://globalclimatedrivers2.blogspot.com
INSTEAD OF FIGHTING TO STOP CLIMATE OF CHANGING – TRUMP NEEDS A GOOD PRESENT FOR HIS INAUGURATION; ANYBODY CAPABLE TO GIVE HIM A LINK TO THIS POST, WILL MAKE DONALD HAPPY; TO SHARE IT WITH HIS NEW CEO’s OF NASA, EPA, NOAA. SHOW YOUR COMMUNICATION SKILLS:
There’s also a social cost of using/requiring a SCC estimate for policy decisions and getting the SCC wrong (not only the aggregate number but also the regional and other impact distribution).
Perhaps the process should be amended by demanding the calculation of the social cost of getting the SCC (and perhaps other estimates wrong) (SCWSCC).
The report raises the policy issue of the Feds developing a new SCC model, which presumably would be official. I vote no.
Seconded. No point in replacing not-fit-for-purpose nonsense with different nffpn.
“The Socioeconomic Module requires making projections of population, technologies, economic development, etc., 300 years into the future! RK score: 4.5 Voodoo.”
300 years ago …
December 24–December 25 – Christmas flood: A disastrous flood hits the North Sea coast between the Netherlands and Denmark; thousands die or lose their houses.
Thomas Fairchild, a nurseryman at Hoxton in the East End of London, becomes the first person to produce a successful scientific plant hybrid,
Dianthus Caryophyllus barbatus, known as “Fairchild’s Mule”.
February 26–March 6 – What is now the northeastern United States is paralyzed by a series of blizzards that bury the region.
Oh yeah … a mere 241 years ago, the United States of America declared its independence from the Kingdom of Great Briton.
A lot can happen in 300 years.
A lot can happen in 5-10 years. Who ten years ago foresaw the GFC, Brexit, Trump, the US retreat from it’s world leader position, Russia taking Crimea and replacing US influence in the Middle East, Chinese militarisation of the South China Sea, not to mention changes in technology and related business models such as Uber? And who foresaw that we would have a greener planet in 2017 with more food than ever produced from less land area? Or (good grief) that Iceland would beat England in a major tournament?
If one examines the causes of premature death, one finds the majority are preventable, brought on by modern lifestyle. And the causes of extended morbidity follow a similar pattern. There’s growing evidence that dementias and cancers have a strong metabolic component. At the same time, while not zero, weather and climate do not even make the lists of causes of death nor presumably the causes of morbidity.
This is telling. Humans are a much bigger threat to their own life and happiness than all of humanity’s CO2 is a threat to them, so the climate change meme is needless anyway.
But, we have agreed that there’s a social cost of tobacco.
Before considering the social cost of carbon, we should consider
the social cost of ice cream. And orange juice. And access to more than a certain amount of calories per day.
And the social cost of the police state to enforce any of the above.
2007 US Annual Energy Outlook
Total coal consumption is projected to increase from 22.9 quadrillion Btu in 2005 to 34.1 quadrillion Btu in 2030 in the AEO2007 reference case, or from 1,128 million short tons in 2005 to 1,772 million short tons in 2030.
Coal consumption in the US declined to approx 800 million tons between 2005 and 2015. The trend line is going in the wrong direction.
No one can possibly know what market forces will do to CO2 emissions 10,20, 30+ years from now without government intervention.
Avoiding CO2 emissions may very well end up having a negative direct cost.
The US Energy Information Authority projects that oil and gas will supply about 66% of American energy use this year, rising to 68% in 2050; and that in the mid-2020s, the US will for the first time be a net exporter of energy. And these projections don’t appear to allow for pro-energy policies under a Trump presidency.
Meanwhile in Australia, most State governments are intent on destroying our economy by over-taxing or refusing access to fuels which could supply low-cost energy and with these and other policies forcing the closure of coal and gas plants on a which low-cost, reliable energy depends, while subsidising for no obvious purpose costly intermittent renewables which cannot in the foreseeable future replace such sources. Madness.
180ppm CO2 : lowest level of CO2 in recent glacial maximum
150ppm CO2 : Extinction of eukaryotic life
Social cost of carbon: life itself.
Pingback: Rethinking the Social Cost of Carbon | privateclientweb
fernandoleanme | January 17, 2017 at 4:44 pm
Egads, fellow bird watchers, I’ve spotted a rare Peak Oiler far from his natural habitat. Notice his distress cry, a repeated squawking that sounds like “Almost Out! Almost Out!”
Normally he would be likely to be joined by others, as they are known to flock together for safety and mutual comfort. However, given their diminished numbers, this may be the only one in the area.
Amazing. I thought that they were nearly extinct in the wild.
I believe Rudd is also a “peak oiler.” One who missed his $80/bbl prediction for the end of last year.
But, the near price of oil is notoriously difficult to predict and I don’t hold it as a flaw of this talented man.
J2, That I did. I expected $70-80, up from 35-40. We are at $55-60. Three factors. Did not anticipate how far services(Halliburton, Schlumberger) would cut prices to stay in operation. Did not fully appreciate the lower Permian cost structure; was thinking Bakken. And thought China demand would rebound more that it did.
I am most definitely a peak oiler; wrote about it extensively with lots of data in Gaia’s Limits and Blowing Smoke, and in a comment to Fernando above. Several years of research, mainly 2009-2012. Conventional peaked in 2008 as others (LaHerrere of Total, Deffeyes of Princeton) predicted. Conventional defined as API> 10, from a reservoir with porosity > 5% and permeability > 10 millidarcies. However, I think the back side decline including unconventional crude post ~2025 will be slower and gentler than others foresee because Hubbert’s logistics function is the wrong one to use. And the clearing price will be ~$125-150 to bring on deepwater, Arctic (Yamal), and Orinoco. All the data (the books use North Sea and North Slope examples) says the correct function is a gamma. This does not affect peak timing given the inherent uncertainties. But it does provide a longer slower decline tail, which eases adjustments and damps price shocks.
Rud, thanks for your comment. Given what I read in it I would not describe you as a peak oiler. I’d put you more in the category of a long-term oil price elasticity analyst …
A peak oiler to me is a chicken little who thinks the end in near and thinks we need to do something about it now, today.
However, I would say that it is a bit of a stretch to say “Conventional peaked in 2008 as others (LaHerrere of Total, Deffeyes of Princeton) predicted.” EVERY year has been predicted as the peak oil year for the last century. Color me unimpressed with their prediction. Someone had to win.
I also find the conventional/unconventional oil distinction to be a distraction. The market doesn’t care whether the oil was tight oil or not. The issue is oil.
Next, to some degree the fossil fuel sources are substitutable. South Africa ran for some time on oil made from coal. And in turn, natural gas is replacing coal for new power plants.
So the real question is not when conventional oil might run out, or when gas might peak, or when tight oil might peak. The question is when the sum of all three phases of fossil fuels (liquid, solid, and gas) might run out.
Here is the main problem that I have with the whole issue of predicting the future utilization of hidden resources. Their availability is a function of one thing—our own cleverness at finding and extracting those resources. Like my wonderful Dad used to say, “Imagination is free”. The Japanese were doing some work breeding sea sponges to extract uranium from seawater … go figure.
The problem is that the technologies involved are like lightning—we don’t know when and where they will strike. Here’s an example:
There is no way to predict something like that, it could happen in any industry at any time, and we can’t say which industry, when, or where.
Finally, I was interested in your thought that the tail would be longer. Nature seems to run that way.
And as always, your thoughts kick off more new and interesting thoughts.
All the best,
W, thanks for the comment. The conventional/unconventional distinction is important for three reasons, all of which because all crude oil is not equal. First, the costs, rates of extraction, and recovery factors are very different. For example, the recovery factor for Ghawar is about 65% with simple water flood, and it pumps about 4.5 mbpd at present (peak was ~6). The recovery factor for Athabascan bitumen sands using SAGD is about 20%, and all the Athbasca production together is less than the single Ghawar field. Recovery factor for tight shale oil is 1.5%, which maybe can be pushed to 3% with tighter laterala, plug and perf, and more proppant. Second, decline curves. A new fracked ahale well declines by 75-80 percent in 36-48 months. A conventional reservoir past peak production (like Ghawar) declines about 5-7% per year. Third, refinery value. The Athabasca bitumen is hydro-upgraded using natural gas, and still sells 20% below WTI (a semi heavy semi-sour blend) and 30% below light sweet Brent. The reason is that even after upgrading, it refines less transportation fuel per barrel. Globally, about 70% of crude goes to transportation fuels, about 15 percent to lubes, just under 10% to petrochemicals (plastics, mainly) and about 5 percent to bunker and asphalt. The highest value is gasoline, diesel, and jet kerosene.
W, a separate set of thought on substitutability. It is true Fischer-Tropsch can convert coal to liquid fuels, but at a price above $150/bbl, with an energy efficiency of about 50%, a terrible waste of energy. Shell’s Pearl project in Qatar uses FT to convert stranded Pars field natural gas to diesel for Europe. $20 billion for 140kbpd at 62% efficiency. Only viable because the stranded wet gas is free and coproduces 210kbpd of NGLs. Pearl was planned in the days of $100/bbl crude. If the gas were at European market instead of free, Pearl would be about $170/bbl. So while conversion to liquid fuels is technically viable, the energy cost and economic pain is enormous.
Thanks, Rud. It is true that some conversions are energetically expensive. Again, however, this is a question of technology and ingenuity. Remember that before the F-T process the conversion was even MORE energetically expensive.
Due to the recent advances in both nanomaterials and deeper understanding of catalysis, newer, more efficient, less toxic, cheaper catalysts are being discovered daily for all kinds of chemical reactions.
However, what I said was a bit different. I said:
Consider that currently gas is being substituted for coal in power plants. If we run out of gas tomorrow, we will substitute coal.
Now, this is least true for transportation fuels. However, the number of natural-gas fueled buses in the US is quite large …
That is why I said what counts is peak fossil, not peak oil.
All the best,
W, again we find ourselves mostly in agreement. Plus, I like your lightening strike innovation analogy. I have a set of issued US energy storage patents based on a carpet shuffle to door knob ‘lightening strike’.
A nanomaterials insight acheived by simply thinking and reading at my kitchen table. Very much a W type common sense type operation. Turned out was so,heretical to ‘established science’ was easily patentable in two basic ways in several permutations. (My materials company’s slogan is Lightning in a Bottle, since the energy storage mechanism is Helmholtz double layer capacitance. Physics geeks and google fu will get the intended pun.)
As for your general nanomaterials and catalysis comment, could not agree more. Check out Siluria Technology. Designer nanocatalysis solving (so it seems at first commecial scale with Braschem) all the previous problems with OCM. And at pilot scale, also ETL. A potentially really big deal changing the liquid transportation fuel equation. Lightning.
Willis @ 2.22: I have long argued that our greatest asset is our ingenuity, innovativeness and adaptability; and that the warmist alarmists have totally failed to take this into account; as does the so-called precautionary principle.
Willis @ 2.22: I have long argued that our greatest assets are our ingenuity, inventiveness and adaptability, something which warmist alarmists fail to take into account; as does the precautionary principle.
There has even been recent progress on technology for oil from true “oil shale” (kerogen) recently, which will be yet another backstop to mid-term oil supplies when conventional costs rise.
I think it would be prudent (and expensive) for our government to help try to find the best 4rth gen nuclear design. Development and testing seem likely to take a long time.
Amen to that. Wrote about it in essay Going Nuclear in Blowing Smoke. There are several approaches. Bill Gates backed TerraPowers traveling wave reactor. General Atomics is working on SMR. A very attractive molten salt approach is TransAtomic Power. Their white paper is well worth downloading to understand both the potential and the remaining engineering problems.
That’s one area of research I do support the expenditure of tax payer dollars. Well worth it, IMO.
I’d go with what we got.
Preferably the GE Hitachi ABWR
But the Westinghouse AP1000 would do as well.
Michael Shellenberger’s TED is worth seeing for those who haven’t already:
Thanks for the link to Michael Shellenberger’s TED talk. He’s an excellent communicator.
Michael Shellenberger has an even newer video:
The biggest problem with nuclear power is the fear of not getting a return on your investment for the 5 to 15 years it takes to get a plant built.
That’s the problem.
Correct. It’s all be downhilll since around 1968. And that is thanks to the effects the environmentalists and anti-nuke protest movements. The first plants were built in under 2 years.
Since liberals seem to have now become the party that supports the deep state, the CIA and the warmongering pro-NATO anti Russia neoconservative American hegemony machine, how does this sort going back to the medieval way of life and doing away with carbon reconcile with inventing new industrial strength and war machines to destroy all the opposition?
The demonisation of carbon is completely unnecessary. It entirely depends on belief in the Millenarian myth that humans are changing the climate by burning fossil fuels. It is a myth which can be shown to be false for the following reasons:
There has been no significant change in global average temperature over the last century and a half. Observed changes are due to the “red noise” character of environmental temperatures and are not significant.
The bomb-test curve implies that observed recent increases in atmospheric CO2 concentration are largely natural.
The total amount of CO2 added to the ocean-atmosphere system since the beginning of the industrial revolution is only one percent of the total.
Climate models have no predictive power and should therefore be ignored. There is no social cost of carbon.
One can use the NASEM report to argue that (1) the present SCC is no good and (2) a new model will still be completely unreliable. There is much to support that. But the report does not draw that conclusion, quite the opposite. This failure is its chief fault. The report implicitly endorses SCC forecasting, despite its absurdity.
DW, that is the essence of the problem.
I am not convinced that “Different decision making frameworks” can replace cost/benefit analysis for policy analysis, given that the government has to justify policies with large public costs, such as “climate policies”. For policies to be politically sustainable over the long term they have to be economically rational. They have to be seen to produce net benefits. A government needs policy analysis that justifies the expected costs of the policy. They have to compare options for spending their limited funds on “climate policy” compared with the other policies such as education, health, defence, infrastructure, etc.
All Treasuries have to do the cost benefit analyses to justify government expenditure. Often Treasury is under pressure from the government of the day to distort the analyses. Treasuries should not do this, but they do – examples are the UK use of Stern to get the numbers the UK Government of the day needed to justify their over the top carbon reduction policies; and the Australian Treasury’s analysis to justify the 2010-13 Labor-Greens Government’s carbon pricing policy. The Australian Government Treasury’s analysis is given the government directed title: “Strong Growth Low Pollution: Modelling a carbon price” – see here: http://carbonpricemodelling.treasury.gov.au/content/default.asp
Chart 5.13 here: http://carbonpricemodelling.treasury.gov.au/content/chart_table_data/chapter5.asp
To calculate the reduction in GDP to 2050, total ‘Medium Global Action’ and ‘SGLP Core’ policies and subtract the totals. The GDP reduction (undiscounted) is $1.345 trillion, or about the equivalent of one year loss of Australia’s GDP. However, it is much worse than this because “Medium Global Action” was highly optimistic and never going to happen. It included assumptions that the whole world would proceed according to implement carbon pricing at the assumed UN Copenhagen Agreement rate – for example, US by 2016 and China by 2020.
However, my point is that rational policy analysis (as is required of Treasuries) needs the information needed for proper cost benefit analyses. This cannot be avoided. They will use the best data they can get. If they judge the most widely accepted and authoritative data currently available is from IPCC and EPA, that is what they will use.
If we want to change this, we need to advocate strongly to improve the estimates and reduce the uncertainties of the inputs – especially the damage functions.
Cost-benefit analyses are unavoidable. It is incumbent on climate scientists and economists to provide the scientific information needed to properly inform the policy analysts. Arguably the most important input parameter, and currently the most uncertain, is the damage function. The damage function requires impacts functions for each sector and region (aswell as other inputs).
It’s a disgrace that after 30 years of climate research we do not have valid impact functions and damage functions by sector and region.
“It’s a disgrace that after 30 years of climate research we do not have valid impact functions and damage functions by sector and region.”
Peter, the problem is that the alleged CAGW issue kicked off in the 1980s with an assumption that it was happening, would be catastrophic, and required drastic remedial action. Once the bandwagon got rolling and so many jumped aboard, they weren’t interested in the data you seek, there was always the chance that it would weaken their story – why take that risk when everything is going your way? There has been a serious dereliction of duty by politicians and advisers in many countries, who did not seek to determine where the public interest lay and what damage would be caused by emissions-reduction policies – cf Australia, which is rapidly becoming uneconomic for many industries and is no longer attractive to the international investors on which our economic well-being depends, both because of costly and unreliable power and sovereign risk which has increased from zero to high.
The reaction against the ruling classes and bureaucrats seen in the UK, the US and the EU is in part because they were in a self-serving, self-confirming world which depended in part on genuflection to CAGW: woe to any nay-seekers, as we’ve seen here with people such as Bob Carter.
Will Trump’s ascension be a turning point? Let’s hope so, but it’s by no means certain.
I agree with everything you say in your comment.
The point I am trying to make to others who understand and accept the veracity of what you say in your comment is that we need to be able to estimate whether or not GHG emissions are doing more harm or more good, globally, and quantify the net benefits or net damages; and we also need to be able to quantify the net-cost or net-benefit of proposed mitigation policies. If we cannot quantify these, then any policy is likely to be driven by ideology, which is what has been happening for the past 30 years.
Until we can quantify damages or benefits of GHG emissions we cannot say whether they are net beneficial or net damaging. The Alarmists, who keep saying “dangerous climate change” and climate change is potentially dangerous or catastrophic, have no valid evidence to support their beliefs. They are justifying their beliefs with innuendo, unsupported assumptions, assertions and appeals to authority (where the authority is mostly doing the same).
Faustino, it would be great if you could write a comment explaining for CE readers how Treasury goes about comparing policy alternatives.
Yep, it’s a catastrophe alright. From the article:
“This is clearly a record,” NASA’s Dr Schmidt said in an interview. “We are now no longer only looking at something that only scientists can see, but is apparent to people in our daily lives.”
Dr Schmidt said his calculations show most of the record heat was from heat-trapping gases from the burning of oil, coal and gas. Only about 12 per cent was due to El Niño, which is a periodic warming of parts of the Pacific that change weather globally, he said. “Of course this is climate change, it’s overwhelmingly climate change,” said Corinne Le Quere, director of England’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, who wasn’t part of the NOAA or NASA teams. “Warming (is) nearly everywhere. The Arctic sea ice is collapsing. Spikes in fires from the heat. Heavy rainfall from more water vapour in the air.”
This is the third straight year which has been marked by record temperatures. …
According to NOAA, 2016 was 0.94 degrees Celsius warmer than the 20th Century average. The first eight months of 2016 all broke heat records.
NASA has last year at 0.99 degrees Celsius warmer than their mid-20th Century average and about 2 degrees warmer than the start of the industrial age in the late 19th Century.
“The effects are more than just records, but actually hurt people and the environment,” said Oklahoma University meteorology professor Jason Furtado.
“They’re harmful on several levels, including human welfare, ecology, economics, and even geopolitics,” he said.
In a resplendent rain of BS, the snowflake tsunami slammed into a phalanx of geopolitics.
More gnomic than poetic, but could be further developed.
Well, after a year of lying low, this is fun; sorry for the double post earlier, first attempt seemed to have failed.
An interesting academic question. But not ready for prime time. The default position is do nothing with the SSC. Say for instance a local government included it to the detriment of making decisions in the best interests of their taxpayers. Say they put up solar in Minnesota on the roof of City Hall.
They could argue we included the SCC in our decision and it’s cheaper to do this than to not do it.
I’d ask in real money in the city’s books?
No, in fake money that doesn’t exist.
Cheaper for who?
The whole planet. I don’t care about the whole planet, I care about my property tax payments.
Today Scott Pruitt, Trump’s pick for EPA Administrater had his confirmation hearing and held his ground. Here is an exchange that demonstrates Senator Sanders distorted knowledge and Pruitt’s patience:
“Still, during a heated exchange with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), Pruitt did not say that human activity is causing climate change.
“As I indicated in my opening statement, the climate is changing, and human activity contributes to that in some manner,” Pruitt said.
When Sanders replied, saying 97 percent of climate scientists have named human activity as the leading cause of climate change, Pruitt said the extent of that correlation is “subject to more debate.”
“I believe the ability to measure with precision the degree of human activity’s impact on the climate is subject to more debate on whether the climate is changing or whether human activity is contributing to it,” Pruitt said.”
Pruitt seems to dance around the direct questions like the lawyer he is.
Pruitt was straight forward. He was being interviewed for the job of EPA Administrater; a job that requires administering laws, not making laws, and his opinion about what causes climate change was irrelevant. Sanders effort to lead him into a rats nest failed.
He appears either uninformed, uninterested, or misinformed on one of the main subjects that the EPA addresses. This is worrying, but not surprising.
Prognostications of doom will continue to come from the Left: it’s all they’ve got and all they know– the spotlight is on them now and have been caught lying about everything. “Considering how much may be predicted about the climate consensus from one single fact, i.e. it is a culture… that is bulldozing its way through our morals and laws and infra-structure… that could never have happened without the stalking horse of science, from going bad on us.” ~Andy West (Climate culture)
Jim D | January 18, 2017 at 10:35 pm |
Not much? Suppose we could fulfill the green fantasy and actually charge the energy users all over the planet a “carbon tax” of $40 per tonne.
Human emissions last year were about ten gigatonnes of carbon. That means that the carbon would be a drag on the economy of nearly half a trillion dollars … and you think that is “not much”??
Not only would it cost that much, but it is applied at the wrong end of the manufacturing / farming / extraction cycle. You don’t want to tax inputs to things that create wealth, you want to tax the output. The short version is, you don’t want to tax the seeds. That discourages planting. Instead, tax the fruit produced by the seeds. Not only is the fruit worth more than the seeds, but when the fruit is sold the farmer has money to pay the tax.
It is 40 cents a gallon. Gas prices have varied several times more than that without an impact on the economy. That’s if it is done as a tax. Even if not, it can be used in cost-benefit analyses as-is. However, Exxon favors a carbon tax. A revenue-neutral version even helps the less well off pay their fuel bills.
I’ve read a lot of stupid stuff on the Internet, in newspapers, and books. It’s hard to top that one.
Remember it would be phased in, maybe 10 cents a year, which is hardly noticeable against the regular seasonal changes, and gas prices in Europe are already many times higher than in the US, but they get along just fine. Hard to believe Europe has survived so many decades of such high prices, right?
Of course it impacts on the economy. Your low fuel costs directly benefit consumers and industry. As we saw when prices here rose 30 pence per gallon it meant goods were more expensive to produce, cost more to deliver and directly affected driving habits. (more online, less high street visits, fewer social visits or days out for pleasure)
In Americas circumstances it would be great from your competitors point of view as it is a high percentage of your fuel costs. It also directly impacts on the lower paid more, or don’t you care about the deplorables?
Prices here have risen as much as a dollar in a few months before. No collapse noticed. Now they are well below their previous max and 40 cents also would not bring it to that level. Europe does fine with fuel a few hundred percent higher and probably a lot of other taxes included in that. We can see it is no big deal.
The EU is (largely) a basket case which is why we want out. However, If the price of fuel/energy was reduced there to that of America it would become much more competitive globally (but would obviously lose taxes they can fritter away on two parliaments and gold plated pensions)
Good speech (at last ) from Teresa May
Trump wanted a full Red Square type military parade for tomorrow, tanks, missiles, marching troops, the lot, as seen in Russia and North Korea. The military turned it down because the heavy equipment could damage the roads (they say). I think it is because that sends the wrong message. He will get a flyover apparently. This kind of thing makes Trump look even more like a despot, and May looks sensible in comparison.
“The United States federal excise tax on gasoline is 18.4 cents per gallon and 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel fuel.”
It’s that penny a mile that’s killing me. Cost my son about $14.00 to drive to Maine last summer. It wasn’t a deal breaker. I generally don’t make incremental arguments. I suppose the gas tax is a use tax. What do we pay for? About $50 billion of stuff each year. Are we paying for all the roads that we use? Those things that allow efficient shipment of stuff all the way from the coast to the local Amazon delivery hub. They carry grain, Spam, turkeys and Cheerios.
Better roads, less subsidies, and the Greens ought to be happy. Let’s bump the gasoline and diesel tax up. It’s not hard unless you’re a politician.
“The military turned it down because the heavy equipment could damage the roads (they say). ”
They say, because it is true. A M1A1 Abrahms tank weighs in at close to 70 tons. And tracked vehicles of almost any weight are hard on asphalt.
Half a trillion on a world wide GDP…of what..60 trillion?
Half a trillion taken as a carbon tax… 1/2 plowed into basic research to accelerate the innovations in energy we need..1/2 plowed into a insurance against damages you folks think may never come to pass. Less than 1% of gdp.
What were damages caused by carbon in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015? (It is too early to ask for 2016 damages). I just want to see how the insurance companies would spend a quarter trillion.
So is this a revenue source for new government spending? Or a revenue-neutral tax designed to get people to stop driving?
The latter means it won’t work unless it’s painful to the economy (there’s no reason to avoid something painless.).
As for the former- the Democrats already have a long list of friends and supporters to subsidize in their new ventures and we all have a list of their (corporate) bankruptcies after the money disappeared into salaries. No thanks.
Steven Mosher | January 19, 2017 at 12:27 pm | Reply
The key metric is not GDP. It is GDP growth. This typically runs about 3% per year or so. This growth is vital to both meeting the needs of our increasing population as well as bringing the poorer nations out of poverty.
This carbon tax would cut that growth by about a third in perpetuity … I’m sorry, Steven, but that is not a trivial change.
Yes, that is the part they don’t understand. The carbon tax is not lost to the economy, it is put right back in there, but in places where it is useful to have money given the issues of climate change. This could be for adaptation, mitigation, or just energy rebates for all.
Jim D and Steven Mosher show an unfortunate misunderstanding of basic economic theory. No, the full carbon tax is not “put right back in there” and available for other uses. General equilibrium models are not static. There is a real GDP cost to decarbonization. Stern addressed this, as did the CBO (among many others). Hopefully, they will read and learn.
The Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) Monte Carlo computational process computes trajectories of transient global mean surface temperature (GMST) response over a 300 year period from a statistically selected ECS value and an emissions scenario selected from a uniform probability distribution for 5 different emissions scenarios using an undisclosed magic formula. Four of the 5 emissions scenarios put more CO2 in the atmosphere than the max 600 ppm that could be achieved by burning all of the official US Government Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates of world-wide reserves of coal, oil and nat gas. Coal is the biggee here and dwarfs the emissions possible from the official oil and nat gas reserves. Peak oil is not the driver in this issue.
The “made-up” probability density function for ECS, used to select 10,000 samples of ECS to compute 10,000 different GMST trajectories, allows ECS values as high as 10C and has 20% of the statistically selected ECS values > 4.5C. The computational process was clearly rigged with this decision for the totally “made-up” ECS pdf to make sure the statistical “expected values” obtained for SCC computed, was high enough to satisfy Congressional guidelines that proposed CO2 emissions regulations must be economically beneficial. Small probability of extreme world-wide flooding damage gives the desired high “expected value” for SCC. Don’t believe it? Read the 3 Technical Support Documents (TSDs) released by the Interagency Working Group that describe (incompletely on several key points) how they concocted this bizarre scheme.
I suspect some federal statutes were violated by those civil servants that created the SCC computational process. This process needs an in-depth scientific review by a panel composed of qualified experts without conflicts of interest. Why was ECS selected as the applicable metric for a forecast limited to 300 years? Why not a more reasonable transient climate sensitivity metric like TCR that has much less uncertainty than ECS? My list of grievances regarding the SCC calculation is long.
Un-validated models have no place for use in critical decision-making when potentially severe adverse consequences are likely, or even possible. NASA policy documented in NASA- STD- 7009 forbids use of un-validated models to support critical design or operational decisions affecting human safety. EPA has the power to wreck havoc on our economy that could be far more detrimental to the USA than loss of a Space Shuttle and crew. The EPA house needs a thorough clean-out of ideologues so that the Scientific Method can guide their critical decision-making.
Despite this, Jim D(enier) and other Deniers will still deny the bleeding obvious – i.e. there is no valid evidence to support their belief the GHG emissions are doing net damage, let alone dangerous.
Interesting article from Ross McKitrick.
Try that again . . .
Can somebody please give an example on how the $36/ton charge works in practice. An actual example would be a big help.
Obama’a failed 2009 proposal worked roughly as follows. Take an electric utility. FERC has a data base of all generating units, their age, capacity, fuel type and so on, plus annual electrical output. The fleet coal average efficiency is ~34%. EIA calculates from that and coal rank that (for example) subbituminous coal (e.g. Powder River) produces 2.16 pounds of CO2 per kWh on average. Its on their website. So the utility gets hit with a calculated carbon tax bill based on its plant/fuel mix and electrical output. For liquid transportation fuels, calculate CO2 per gallon combusted and tax the fuel at the pump or upstream. For natural gas, calculate CO2 per mmcf combusted and tax the pipeline operators who know how many mmcf got piped. Similar notions for steel, for refineries, and other differentiable CO2 emitters.
The interesting question is how “they” plan to make such a tax revenue neutral.
It’s much simpler than that: you just tax carbon fuel (coal, oil or gas)
I assume this was never implemented. Can it be implemented without Congress getting involved? This is a carbon tax.
“The carbon cycle (both land and ocean) is poorly understood in quantitative terms, so it is not a simple task to translate emissions into atmospheric CO2 concentrations with any kind of accuracy or confidence RK score: 3”
Untrue. Try harder and you will find that it is easy to understand. The carbon cycle is the cause of past climate change.
The atmosphere and carbon dioxide behave as ideal gases and accuracy is anticipated. All what is needed is basics of ideal gas laws. The carbon cycle and this warming trend can be calculated with reasonable accuracy. The fact the current science cannot address the carbon cycle does not mean it cannot be figured out. The current main-stream science is simply wrong and based on this science nothing can be understood.
Available physical data show the following:
1. IPCC AR5 report concluded that since the beginning of the industrial age the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration is only 48% of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere by burning coal, oil and natural gas.
2. More detailed data analysis by Stegemeier presented at 20 minutes into the video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qr-723Ohtxk
found that since 1980 when more accurate records on world-wide production of coal, oil, and nat gas became available in official US EIA records, each year the atmospheric CO2 level increases by only 48% of the CO2 emitted by burning all of these fossil fuels produced, plus considerations of how much nat gas was flared. This constant 48% value was obtained by averaging fossil fuel production and atm. CO2 increase in 5 year increments. The key finding (for me) is that this 48% value is the same for recent years when CO2 emissions were much higher than back in the 1980-85 time period and is independent of rate of emissions. Processes in the climate system that scavenge CO2 from the atmosphere are growing along with growth in emissions. Any validated carbon cycle model must explain these data.
Our research team at TheRightClimateStuff.com determined that if this 48% factor remained constant while we burn all of the official EIA estimates of current world-wide reserves of coal, oil and nat gas, we could only achieve 600 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere. This isn’t much more than the 570 ppm we will have when we double the 1850 value of 285 ppm.
We need more scientific research on CO2 emissions scenarios constrained by actual economically recoverable carbon-based fuels reserves, and how burning those reserves will create actual CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere, to understand the kind of AGW threat we are dealing with.
Harold Doiron, thank you for your post.
It appears to be the case that CO2 levels fluctuate in line with climate change yet, not as a precursor rather as a follower. So, CO2 levels reflect climate change and do not drive it. Further, I suspect that CO2 is a relatively small contributor to the overall GH effect and man-influenced emissions remain insignificant to nature’s own CO2 emitting cycles which ebb and flow with changing climatic temperatures
Am I missing something somewhere?
It is disturbing that so many ‘experts’ have been successfully deceived into the misguided perception that CO2 has a significant effect on climate. I wonder how much wider the separation between the rising CO2 level and essentially flat average global temperature will need to get for some people to begin to realize that perhaps they missed something.
” I wonder how much wider the separation between the rising CO2 level and essentially flat average global temperature will need to get for some people to begin to realize that perhaps they missed something.”
It helpsifyo lookat the totality of the observational data -and not just the one you prefer:
It’s only “flat” when looking at one data series (as a far outlier) – UAH v6.05 TLT.
RSS v3.3 TLT is essentially disowned by RSS due drift issues and the replacement “surface” product is now v4.0 TTT which shows a 20 year trend of …..
Meanwhile the explanation for the “cold” UAH v6.05 TLT product lies at the point that the AMSU sensor took over in ’97 ……
It is disturbing that so many ‘sceptics’ have been successfully deceived in viewing climate science purely through an ideologically driven mindset, that brings reflexive confirmation bias to exclude (in this case) everything but the outlier.
And yes you “missed something”.
Well everything it seems (from previous contact with you).
Clearly you have not yet understood. Temperatures are not a measure of net-benefit or net-damages. They tell us nothing about whether increasing GHG concentrations will do more harm or more good – i.e. improve or diminish global economic growth and human well-being. We need impact functions and damage functions to convert temperature change to expected benefits or damages. We don’t have valid, justifiable impact and damage functions. Until we do there is no valid argument that human caused GHG emissions are damaging. It’s just an assumption that has become a religious-like belief, unsupported by rational, objective, valid justification.
FYI, the latest submission in the Steyn v Mann case.
National Review is seeking a rehearing before the whole DC Court of Appeals. They could have gone to trial. They could have appealed to the Supreme Court (which is inevitable once they lose this time wasting maneuver).
But no, they are going to give one of the most progressive courts in the country another chance to delay the whole litigation.
They make a good case, though, even for such a court.
My brother sent me an article this morning about 3 workers who died when they foolishly entered a manhole into a chamber that had accumulated hydrogen sulfide and methane from decaying vegetation. I had trouble believing that could have been the cause of their rapid deaths until I looked it up. “Fifty percent of people exposed to hydrogen sulfide for just five minutes at 800 ppm will not survive, and a single breath at 1000 ppm causes immediate death.”
I wonder what the social cost of hydrogen sulfide is? All those believing it is zero please move to the front of the line forming by the manhole cover. I’ll be glad to hold your wallets while you demonstrate the certainty of your knowledge if not the accuracy of your opinions. Be skeptical..especially of what you are sure you know..
Carbon dioxide is not poisonous, and h
Carbon dioxide is not poisonous, and has no side effects on humans below around 8,000 ppm.
Next you’ll be making other silly comparisons.
But I’ll tell you one valid comparison between H2S and CO2. Both are heavier than air. If a large tank or pipe bursts holding or carrying either of these gasses, the gas displaces air upwards. it flows down valleys and suffocates all animal life. Cars wont run. You are dead in minutes. Now think about the consequences of carbon capture and storage.
Fossil fuel plants with carbon capture and storage do not reduce the fatalities from released pollutants (about 600 times worse then nuclear per TWh) but add the additional risk of leakage along the way from the generator to the sequestration site.
H2S is about as toxic as cyanide. CO2 isn’t.
If you jump off a tall building you would likely die. OMG, we need to tear down all the tall buildings!
I’ve worked in sour gas oil fields before and know people who have been rendered unconscious by hydrogen sulfide.
I know of two people who died when one entered a tank and the other went in to help him not realising there was H2s settled in the bottom of the tank. That was at Syncrude Canada Limited tar sand mine, Alberta.
I also worked on building a dam at a city’s sewerage treatment plant. We warned about the tanks up hill from where the dam was being constructed. If the leaked a H2S would flow down hill and cover us without us knowing. We’d all died. The site had alarms to warn us; they were just emphasizing the important of getting up to high ground immediately.
This highlighted for me the risk of leaks from pipes transporting highly compressed CO2 from power stations to sequestration sites. if the pipe is fractured (intentionally or unintentionally, Many people could suffocate.
In the location where I was working, the wind was so high at times, neither downhill nor uphill were safe. Upwind was the best choice :)
johnvonderlin: I wonder what the social cost of hydrogen sulfide is?
That’s a spoof of people who are worried about the social cost of CO2, right? It reminded me that death from CO2 poisoning is a risk in scuba diving. There is, presumably, a review of the social cost of carbon monoxide: my mortgage company required me to install CO detectors, and it’s the active ingredient in suicide by auto exhaust.
“Where do we go from here” Below I respond to each paragraph:
Cost-benefit analyses are standard practice for justifying public and private funding for policy, investments, projects. They’ve been the basis for justifying government decisions to spend public funds and for business to spend on projects for at least 3000 years. They are locked in. They cannot be avoided. It is not politically sustainable over the long term to run hugely expensive policies without justifying them with convincing evidence they will be net beneficial. To date climate policies have been supported by ideological beliefs and innuendo about threats of catastrophe. It’s a religion. Ongoing funding for climate policies is not sustainable on that basis. So, we need to accept that cost-benefit analysis cannot be avoided. It is an essential part of justifying policies and funding for them.
Repost with format corrected
“Where do we go from here” Below I respond to each paragraph:
Cost-benefit analyses are standard practice for justifying public and private funding for policy, investments, projects. They’ve been the basis for justifying government decisions to spend public funds and for business to spend on projects for at least 3000 years. They are locked in. They cannot be avoided. It is not politically sustainable over the long term to run hugely expensive policies without justifying them with convincing evidence they will be net beneficial. To date climate policies have been supported by ideological beliefs and innuendo about threats of catastrophe. It’s a religion. Ongoing funding for climate policies is not sustainable on that basis. So, we need to accept that cost-benefit analysis cannot be avoided. It is an essential part of justifying policies and funding for them.
Yes, we need to bound the potential damage from humans’ contribution to climate change, but the remainder of the suggestions are not a role for intervention by governments or by world government. Population growth will sort itself out. Energy is unlimited and potentially cheap. It will sort itself out without government interference. Water is effectively unlimited with cheap energy. Food is effectively unlimited with good governance. This will come as world poverty recedes; and poverty will recede as the world economy continues to grow over time – with declining cost of energy, free trade, globalisation, free and fair competition, etc. What is retarding progress is the very thing being suggested – i.e. interventions by governments and activists to force business and industry to do as the activists think is best.
I don’t understand the question. It could be interpreted as a loaded questions. Is the question asking how many different combinations of assumptions can produce values of SCC that are high enough to justify policy, whether or not the values are valid? If SCC is zero, shouldn’t we want to know that? Shouldn’t we instead be asking what inputs and assumptions are needed to produce a valid, and well-justified, estimate of SCC (with acceptable uncertainty), irrespective of the number of assumptions and inputs required?
However, more important than SCC is to quantify the values of impact functions and damage function by sector and region. These are what are needed for cost benefit analyses to justify policy (together with the expected cost of the policy and the uncertainties on the damages with and without the policy and the cost of the policy).
No, we should not “imagine” it. We should analyse the paleo evidence to determine worst case scenarios at 2C, 3C, 4C, 5C increase in GMST from paleo evidence when these temperatures occurred in the past.
We should also develop probability distributions of reaching these temperatures (and of cooling) by 2100.
My question: How do we “estimate the damages in the 21st century” without valid impact functions and damage functions by sector and region? My answer: we can’t. We are back to the fundamental issue. We do not have valid estimates for the impact functions and damage functions by sector and region. The research has not been done. It’s been focused on the wrong issue for the past 30 years.
Agree. But it does not help us to understand and quantify whether GHG emissions are doing more harm than good or whether hypothesised human contribution to climate changes is doing more harm or more good.
Agree. Also see my response to #3. I’d also add that, I understand, FUND can do what is being suggested, but what is needed is valid, justifiable values for the input parameters for the impact functions and damage functions.
I do not see supply of fresh water as a significant long term issue. Water can be plentiful if we have good governance and cheap energy (which is possible but development is blocked, mostly by the same people who are the climate activists).
Sort of agree with the concept, but not the exact wording. We do not want to “ decide on how much resilience we can afford. We want to estimate how much makes sense – i.e. how much would deliver net benefits. For this we need to do cost-benefit analyses.
Until we have valid, justifiable impact functions and damage functions, the CAGW scaremongering will survive and continue to do massive damage to global economic growth and continue to retard improvement in human well-being.
Hail to The Chief!
One of the reasons they go out 300 years is that some of the costs don’t get big enough by 2100. Sea level rise, for example, only becomes “bad” way down the road. Keep in mind, however, that for sea level rise that takes 300 years to occur, a city could assign a single individual with a backhoe who could build sufficient defenses in that amount of time. The Dutch built dikes with very primitive technology and drained their country. Thus assumptions that people would just stand by and let damages happen is just…words fail me.
All of this of course ignores the benefits of rising CO2 for crops and ecosystems. Simulations of forest growth in response to climate by 2100 show that including CO2 benefits leads to positive growth trends on average (some local areas with drought are negative) even with the RCP8.5 scenario. (based on a literature search) These positive effects are never included–they generally base results on models that do simple temperature impact projections without the compensating effects of rising CO2 on plant growth.
Thus assumptions that people would just stand by and let damages happen is just…words fail me.
The qualling assumptions of plume-plucked harpies…?
“….single individual with a backhoe…”
Maybe even 10 guys with a spoon. In reality 10 generations of defense could be built in 300 years. With ingenuity and commitment there is no limit to what can be protected.
Tol’s IAM, FUND, does make allowance for humans’ adaptability and for replacement of infrastructure – especially for his damage function for sea level rise. And I think all the IAMs do include an allowance for “benefits of rising CO2 for crops and ecosystems” . However, I doubt the allowance is enough. It seems to me life thrived when GMST was much higher than now, e,g 5C to perhaps 8C or even 10C warmer than now. See my series of comments and charts starting here: https://judithcurry.com/2016/11/25/week-in-review-science-and-policy-edition-3/#comment-826494
I see no convincing argument that GHG emissions are dangerous or a serious threat to life or civilisation. I am not even sure they are net damaging. That’s my main reason for arguing we need to get much better quantification of the benefits and damages of GHG emissions. We need to greatly improve the impact functions and damage functions. Therefore I strongly disagree with those who argue against using cost-benefit analyses, IAMs, and quantifying the benefits and damages of GHG emissions. We really need all of this. We need it to show there either there is no serious threat or there is a threat, the risk (i.e. the consequence and probability) of it, and the expected costs and benefits of proposed policies to mitigate the threat.
Peter Lang: Therefore I strongly disagree with those who argue against using cost-benefit analyses, IAMs, and quantifying the benefits and damages of GHG emissions. We really need all of this.
Thank you for your posts.
Peter, you say:
You seem to be under the mistaken impression that a cost/benefit analysis where present benefits are observable now (greening of the planet) but we have NO EVIDENCE of present costs can establish whether “there is a threat”. You seem unclear on the correct process.
FIRST you go out and find the observations that bear out your claims of harm.
THEN you decide whether they are a serious threat or not.
But what the SCC does is gets out a crystal ball and says, well, IF CO2 continues to rise for 100 years, and IF CO2 is the secret temperature control knob, and IF the rising temperatures do cause physical damage, and IF we can estimate the economic damage from the estimated physical damage, and IF we pick the right discount rate then the damages will be $X … riiiight.
Do you have the slightest conception of what the uncertainty of that calculation is? The error bars go from the seafloor to the stratosphere. It is useless for anything, it is a mathematical joke.
I’m sorry, amigo, but we do NOT “really need all of this”. It is mere mathturbation.
Thank you for your response to my comment and for all your comments. I appreciate them.
However, your opening line suggests you have read little of what I’ve written. It seems a bit presumptive to begin with
If you’d been following my comments for the past few years you’d recognise I’ve been advocating as best as I can for a change of direction of climate research from analysing temperatures, temperature trends and ECS, to focusing on gathering the evidence to define and validate the impact functions and damage function. Could I ask you to please look at:
1. My series of comments (in sequence) starting here: https://judithcurry.com/2016/11/25/week-in-review-science-and-policy-edition-3/#comment-826494
2. Lang, 2015, Why carbon pricing will not succeed https://anglejournal.com/article/2015-11-why-carbon-pricing-will-not-succeed/
3. My comments on the recent thread about SCC https://judithcurry.com/2016/12/30/discussion-thread-social-cost-of-carbon/ , especially my questions to Richard Tol (not answered):
4. My previous comments on this current thread
I suspect we are not far apart. But beginning with presumptive, dismissive responses like this, without apparently having no idea what I’ve been arguing nor what I’ve been doing for the past 25 years, is unhelpful.
I look forward to a rational constructive discussion on this important topic.
Peter, thanks for your comment. Indeed, as you point out, I was only looking at what you said in your comment. I was looking at you saying that we need cost-benefit analyses of GHG emissions, viz:
I told you why I disagreed, because we have no evidence of current costs from CO2 but we do have evidence of current benefits of CO2. This apples to oranges comparison makes any such analysis much less than useful.
On one side we have real data about real gains from CO2.
On the other side we have a statement that IF CO2 continues to rise for 100 years, and IF CO2 is the secret temperature control knob, and IF the rising temperatures do cause physical damage, and IF we can estimate the economic damage from the estimated physical damage, and IF we pick the right discount rate then the present value of the possible future damages will be $X.
In response you accuse me of not reading your previous work … I don’t understand what that has to do with my objection.
All the best,
You won’t understand until you read it. I can’t write all the background in one comment. I understand the point you made but feel it is you that misunderstands. I hope you will read the links I referred to so we can proceed once you have some understanding of what I’ve been saying.
In short, I understand the points you’ve made. However, it seems apparently misunderstand what I am arguing. I can’t repeat it all to explain it to you, so I hope you’ll read the links I gave you.
It’s just another area where the skeptic tanks have really fallen down, because even after all these years they don’t have an IAM between them. Why are they so slow to do this? Call Cato, GWPF or Heartland and ask them. It looks hopeless for them at this point because they don’t have any ground to stand on.
From This Day Forward, It’s About Putting the Scientific Method First. ~Sceptic In Chief
Good essay. Thanks, and thank you for the links.
Yes, the scaremongering Whitehouse climate change website disappeared almost as soon as Trump took the oath of office. I like to think that whoever pushed the delete button was watching the ceremony.
Numerous Federal agency websites are larded with climate scaremongering. They will all have to be rooted out and deleted or rewritten, probably thousands all told. A nice project, one I would be happy to help with.
Voodoo economics premised on politicized science. What could possibly go wrong ?
The whole notion of negative externalities is rife with misconceptions and inappropriate use. SCC is simply an application of negative externality theory and it is meaningless in insolation. Simply stating the cost of any X tells us zero about it’s value. Just as there is virtually no focus in scientific inquiry into all possible causes of climate change (notably naturally occurring – both terrestrial and extraterrestrial), there is little focus in economics on the vast social value of using fossil fuels. Thus, I propose a new measure be investigated – the social value of carbon (SVC). By accurately and comprehensively getting at the value we can then and only then make any relative meaning out of the SCC as it is the difference between them that matters; SVC – SCC = Meaningful Metric; a metric that would then allow for a rational discussion of policy.
If we want to know if GW will be harmful or beneficial, we need valid impact functions and damage functions. Until we have these, the arguments will continue to be driven by innuendo, beliefs and ideology rather than facts.
This chart shows that GMST was 5C to 13C warmer than present for around 60% of the past 542 Ma.
More here: https://judithcurry.com/2016/11/25/week-in-review-science-and-policy-edition-3/#comment-826495
I understand paleo evidence shows that life thrived through much warmer times than now (e.g. 5-10C warmer than 2016 GMST). This does not suggest warming is dangerous.
We need to collect and analyse the evidence to show whether or not life thrived more in warmer times. One way to do this would be to quantify how much carbon was tied up in the biosphere when GMST was at different temperatures. I argue, climate scientists, geologists and palaeontologists should have been studying this for the past 30 years. Perhaps they have.
These statements from IPCC AR4 WG1 show something like this has been done before:
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I would like someone to calculate the social cost of carbon with the NPV300 method for anti-nuclear activism. Think if the world had followed from the 70’s the French example of using 80% nuclear for electrical generation. Not doing as the U.S. did and inflate nuclear power station costs by 2-3 times due to regulation aimed primarily in stopping nuclear power. Think if we had safe, repeatable breeder reactors that would make huge reduction in waste .
China and India would be building safe nuclear plants instead of commissioning coal plants at a rate of >1/week for the next ten years and beyond.
If you believe in the SCC @ 3% discount rate, the unintended costs of nuclear activism must be enormous.
Of course it’s really the unintended consequences that are the problem with either anti-nuclear or AGW activism.
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