What Actual Climate Progress Looks Like

By Keith Kloor | August 27, 2012 10:05 am

It has been suggested by some that political action on climate change will require a grassroots uprising similar to the Civil Rights movement. The analogy strikes me as wishful thinking. In 2010, Leigh Ewbank laid out why:

Unlike the civil rights movement, climate change has a complex causation. Its effects are indirect, systemic, difficult to perceive, and will increase over time. This is compounded by an absence of directly affected and disgruntled citizens in developed nations to demand action. The fact that future generations and people that are living in the developing world are, and will be, hardest hit by our changing climate, means that this crucial driver for effective grassroots mobilization is missing in the west.

Yesterday, Auden Schendler made a similar argument:

Not being served a cheeseburger because you’re African American is about as in-your-face as it gets. Climate change, while increasingly omnipresent, is never quite so personal. And that’s why calling for a civil rights style revolution on climate might not be the best analogy.

He adds that, while there is persistent confusion over the specifics of climate science, which muddies the climate debate, you can’t say the same for issues like apartheid  or gay marriage:

And therefore it’s going to be hard to generate the same outrage, a key ingredient of grassroots movements.

Schendler goes on to suggest that any revolution addressing climate change is likely to be spearheaded by influential elites and business leaders. He mentions New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who he notes (in the comment thread):

while not perfect, has done more on climate than probably any mayor and more than many large philanthropists, and who really understands the challenge and some solutions.

Well, it so happens that Bloomberg co-authored a recent op-ed in the Washington Post that championed one of those immediate (and interim) solutions:

We can frack safely if we frack sensibly. That may not make for a great bumper sticker. It does make for good environmental and economic policy.

If Bloomberg can get the environmental elites to agree, who knows, maybe they can build on the climate progress that’s already been made.

UPDATE: Just after my post went up, I saw news of an interesting related development, which I tweeted:

@EnvDefenseFund & @MikeBloomberg partner on shale gas campaign (responsible fracking) http://bit.ly/OosTRO  Will greens follow or recoil?

CATEGORIZED UNDER: climate change, fracking
  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Because climate change is a multinational issue, a more apt comparison and standard to judge by would be with anti-nuclear weapons movements.  Pugwash, Bertrand Russell, etc. 

  • Rick

    Climate is definitely much more wickedly complex than civil rights, there’s no doubt about that. But anyone who thinks that elites will spend the next 50+ years reshaping what John Broder has termed “the sinews of modern life” without the support of constituents and consumers is delusional. Do elites have a role to play? Certainly, and a substantial one. But will they have the political capital to do anything in the same league as meaningful without broad-based grassroots support? No. Even if the grassroots doesn’t ever provide a huge immediate spark or catalyst in the way that they did during the classical civil rights era, there is such a thing as a “long climate movement”, just as there was a long civil rights movement that often goes untaught and thus forgotten. 

  • BBD

    I thought switching to gas wasn’t really going to make that much difference to US emissions? There are references for this, but I cannot remember who said/published what.

    If fracking isn’t a big lever for emissions reduction, then it’s a false comfort, if not a dangerous distraction, not to mention an excellent way of edging nuclear off the table.

  • grypo

    Yeah, BBD, but that really hurts the power narrative on display. Just sit back and let Bloomberg take care of it! You know he’s looking out for us.

    You’re probably searching for this.

    The problem is one of CO2 accumulation and crowding out of low-CO2 energy options. It would be nice to get things written about the implications of relying on fracking to save us.

  • BBD

    Re # 2 – this kind of analysis by David Appell was what I had in mind:

    Converting, I estimate the US used 70 trillion MJ of energy in 2011, or a power consumption of 2.2 terawatts — 7,100 Watts per person!

    Converting back, if all this energy were produced by natural gas, we’d have emitted 4,800 Mt CO2, which is still a per capita emission of 15.3 t CO2, or 13% less than what we emit today.

    So we would save some significant carbon emissions. But it would not nearly be enough to stabilize climate, which requires emissions cutbacks of roughly 80% by the US.

    Transitioning to natural gas is a good thing (as long as your drinking water isn’t getting fracked up). But really solving the carbon problem requires a game changing technology.

  • BBD

    grypo – thanks for the link – we crossed.

  • Keith Kloor

    Speaking of Bloomberg, I have an update in the main post on a related development.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    @BBD and grypo

    here’s an interesting presentation that looks at the economics of small modular reactors and the impact of natural gas prices.

  • Joshua

    #2 – Rick –

    Excellent post.

    I agree. It’s one thing to say that the civil rights movement “might not be the best analogy, but that argument also breaks down if you think that the kind of grassroots effort needed to bring about changes with civil rights won’t be needed
    to create the political will that will be required to implement policies that target climate change.”

    Further, the value of that argument is weakened to the extent that it implies that “influential elites” are crucial for climate change policy implementation but weren’t needed to bring about civil rights for African Americans.

    I think that there is value in evaluating to what extent “average individuals are going to anchor this revolution.” Along those lines, analogizing the fight over climate change to the fight for civil rights can be facile.

    But that doesn’t negate the reality that there are parallels: Primarily among them – there are entrenched social and political structures that will mobilize to resist change to the currents system that unevenly distributes benefits to those at the top of the economic ladder

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    I wonder how about the transfer of shale gas fracking technology. China has a lot of shale gas and is desirous of shifting away from coal. They are not alone.U.S. companies have a huge advantage in fracked gas, as they can drill a well for an average of $1.7 million, compared to about $15 million in Mexico and $10 million in Canada.Lots of oil service companies are now helping the nationalized energy companies in developing countries. Helping them get shale gas would seem a logical development.

  • Tom Scharf

    Ah yes, the search for the alleged victims of climate change.  Everyone knows a proper political movement needs a designated victim group they can exploit, and a designated oppressor group they can punish.

    The fact that future generations and people that are living in the developing world are, and will be, hardest hit by our changing climate…

    The fact?  Hmmmmm…not so much.  Overstating the *potential* impact of global warming has become so second nature to this movement that they no longer even question it themselves.  Portraying a dubious projection as fact is the hallmark of propaganda, not science.  Chanting it repeatedly in unison does not help.  Credibility is important.

    The message is in disarray, and the last 5 years has been pretty much random groups throwing up random propaganda and talking points to see what sticks.  Extreme events is the stickiest so far, with its numerous opportunities for retrospective “in your face victims” of climate change.  If only the “facts” would line up to support this assertion, it might be more effective.  The power of suggestion only goes so far.

    This is all argumentative, but the real problem is the incoherent solutions offered up to combat climate change.  Anti-nuclear and anti-fracking stances make no sense.  Much of the messaging seems aimed at ??????  What?   It’s not that I disagree with it, I just don’t get it.  Incoherent.

    The case is being rejected on its merits.  That’s a hard pill to swallow.  

  • harrywr2

    #3 BBD

    thought switching to gas wasn’t really going to make that much difference to US emissions?

    It’s a twofer. The average US coal plant has a thermal efficiency of 31 or 32%. Combined cycle gas plants have an efficiency of 45-60%.

    Then add in the impact of US CAFE Standards and biofuels.

    Then there are positive developments on the conservation/efficiency side. In 1998 a SEER 14 central air conditioner was considered ‘state of the art’, now it’s considered ‘bottom of the barrel’..a SEER 21 is considered state of the art now. Standard fiberglass insulation for a 2″x4″ wall cavity used to be R-11, now it’s R-15

    The meme that ‘nothing is being done’ to address climate change in the US has been false for 20 years.

    In the US we have been ‘working the problem’ since at least the energy policy act of 1992 signed by Bush Sr.

    http://www.afdc.energy.gov/pdfs/2527.pdf

    Of course the impacts of more efficient buildings and more efficient space heating/cooling and more efficient appliances etc take a long time to show up in emissions numbers.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Not that long. They’ve been showing up in emission totals quite a lot in recent years.

    Of course the alarmist brigade really doesn’t want to highlight that. Every story I’ve seen from that side of the fence has been ‘The US is making temporary progress but it’s swamped by emissions from China, etc.’ 

    Can’t let any good news escape the media bubble. 

  • Joshua

    Anyone seen where a “lukewarmist” applied the concept of the “rebound effect” to the switch from coal to fracked natgas?

    As I understand it, according to that theory, wouldn’t any reductions in emissions per unit of energy consumed (as the result of more fracked gas) be negated by increased consumption of  cheaper energy?

    I think there is some merit to the benefits of a more indirect approach, and to advocating for policies that combine exploiting the market drive to produce lower cost energy, but at some point it also seems to me to be true that: (1) A more direct approach will be required and, (2) some level of (at least temporary) sacrifice is inevitable – which leaves unanswered the questions as to who will be making the sacrifice, and how much they will be sacrificing.

  • Tom Scharf

    And for those of you keeping score at home, skeptics are being transparently compared to holocaust deniers, tobacco companies, and now racist suppressors of African American civil rights (oh, but I’m sure this was not intentional;, right?).  I’ll have to check what chapter of “Honest and Effective Messaging” this tactic belongs to.  

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Joshua I have talked about that on my weblog. The rebound effect is real, but does not equal 100% of savings achieved by energy efficiency. 

    In the next few decades it will be extraordinarily difficult to identify what portion of rising energy use is due to the rebound effect as opposed to billions of people climbing the rungs of the energy ladder.

    The second phenomenon is likely to swamp the first by several orders of magnitude. We want those people to use energy. Don’t we?

  • jim

    “wouldn’t any reductions in emissions per unit of energy consumed (as the result of more fracked gas) be negated by increased consumption of  cheaper energy?”

     
    So far that’s not the way it’s playing out.  US emissions are falling.  People are arguing whether or not that fall is the result of economic downturn or coal downturn + shale gas upturn, but in the end it doesn’t matter.  It shows that lower gas prices don’t create a large enough uptick in energy use to offset the lower carbon intensity of nat gas.
     
    I’m not a Bloomberg fan, but I complement him and EDF on their advocacy for safe fracking.  Whatever we do in terms of energy, we MUST do something that contributes to, instead of detracting from, the economy here at home.  At present, nat gas is the only such option: it reduces carbon intensity, creates jobs ““ especially for lower-skilled labor, reduces energy prices and eliminates the back-door cost to consumers of adding to national debt.  It may or may not be the perfect long term solution.  But perfect solutions seem in short supply at the moment.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Tom Scharf, we may have to re-evaluate the relative merits of those like tobacco companies. After all, if the evile crony minions of tobacco companies–the cursed lawyers–can represent Michael Mann, perhaps there is hope for them yet…

  • Marlowe Johnson

    The meme that “˜nothing is being done’ to address climate change in the US has been false for 20 years. 

    Pretty weak Harry, even by your standards.

    The astute reader will of course note that there is a significant difference between nothing and enough.

  • Joshua

     It shows that lower gas prices don’t create a large enough uptick in energy use to offset the lower carbon intensity of nat gas.

    Well, that was kind of my point. I’m sneaky that way. So, is RPJr’s going to have to head back to the drawing board?

    People are arguing whether or not that fall is the result of economic downturn or coal downturn + shale gas upturn, but in the end it doesn’t matter.

    Well – actually I think it does matter – because it complicates simplistic conclusions. What does it mean if some folks are lauding the benefits of fracking if actually they are the “benefits” of an economic downturn? I have been watching this happen, to some extent, among “skeptics.” Which puts into question their arguments against mitigation policies based on (IMO somewhat simplistic) assumptions about lowered economic growth that would result from making some forms of energy more expensive relative to others.

  • Tom Scharf

    #14 – Although there is some merit to the simplistic “low cost / low carbon energy” only results in increased energy consumption and therefore doesn’t solve the problem, the net effect is a message of low cost energy is unacceptable.  Support for keeping energy prices artificially high.with “temporary” carbon sin taxes in a global recession only shows how out of touch the messengers are with economic reality.  It stand almost zero chance of becoming implemented, and paints the messengers as anti-growth and anti-development.  That’s a pretty small tent.A more prudent course would be to support low cost / low carbon energy and wait and see if the suggested effect takes hold.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    The DOE was explicit in segmenting the areas driving reduced energy consumption / emissions. They published on it.

    One-third due to economic downturn.

    One-third to conversion from coal.One-third due to a variety of other factors (better gas mileage, energy efficiency, etc.)

    They may be wrong. But they were explicit.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Sort of a final thought on the DOE’s writings…

    They predict that the U.S.population will increase to about 378 million by 2035, that our GDP per person will almost double and that our CO2 emissions will remain below our 2005 levels.

  • BBD

    Tom @ 23

    our GDP per person will almost double and that our CO2 emissions will remain below our 2005 levels.

    The main reason for that is that the US (along with the rest of the developed economies) has exported much of its emissions to China.

    Also, may I inject my habitual caution against parochialism here? The US is not the world.

  • BBD

    And now would be a good time for a long, hard look at the Keeling curve, with the *rest of the world firmly in mind*. If you think that looks encouraging, I’d be interested to learn why.

  • http://planet3.org mt

    He adds that, while there is persistent confusion over the specifics of climate science, which muddies the climate debate, you can’t say the same for issues like apartheid  or gay marriage:

    Huh. Is that a “deficit model” I see lurking here? Sure looks like one to me.

  • http://planet3.org mt

    Re fracking, nope. Good fracking is less bad than bad tracking. Good fracking is less bad than good coal which is less bad than bad coal. But good tracking is, nevertheless, bad, unless it is part of a larger plan to get to the Last Ton.

    The only game in town is the Game of the Last Ton.

    The lower the number of tons ever emitted, ever, over all time, the better. That is the dominant factor in how bad things end up getting. If new gas technology replaces old coal technology, it is far from clear that there is a net gain in the Game of the Last Ton. 

    A total all-time emission of about a trillion tons, of which we have already emitted over half, is the equivalent of the 2 C total warming target much bandied about in the last few years, which for practical purposes we have already missed. Can I hear a trillion and a half?

    The investors in the gas infrastructure expect it to pay for itself. Therefore their interest is in keeping the gas going as long as possible. It appears they have found a lot of gas. Therefore more fracking is likely to work against getting to the Last Ton.

    Anyone trying to distract you from the Last Ton is, whether they know it or not, they are the opponent of the world, its life, its people and its civilization. Most of those opponents don’t in fact know it. They have an information deficit.

  • Keith Kloor

    Michael (27)

    By your logic, Bloomberg and EDF would be considered opponents of “the world, its life..and its civilization.”

    Is that correct?

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Dr. Tobis, you are arguing again by assertion. You have no evidence to back up your claims, basically because that evidence doesn’t exist.

    More importantly, you are missing the opportunity (once again) to profit from lessons learned elsewhere. 

    Instead of jumping up and down saying emitters are mugging old ladies and we have to get emissions to zero (which only hysterics insist on), you could spend a morning looking at movements that have succeeded.

    Keith’s usage of the Civil Rights movement is a bit unfortunate, as it took about 200 years to get where we are with it, and it still isn’t done.

    But nuclear weapons have decreased in number due to a successful campaign by the people of the world.

    Not eliminated, reduced, with work ongoing and expected to continue through our lifetimes.

    Aren’t you interested in something that has worked?

  • Keith Kloor

    Tom (29)

    I agree that the civil rights movement is not an apt comparison, which I thought was clear in my post. 

    My “usage” of it was to highlight just how inapt it is–and to draw attention to a solution being proposed by a leading environmental organization and a billionaire, green-friendly advocate.

  • Tom Scharf

    Tobis is just exercising his right to sanctimonious moral superiority.  Yawn.

  • BBD

    Tom @ 29

    Instead of jumping up and down saying emitters are mugging old ladies and we have to get emissions to zero (which only hysterics insist on), you could spend a morning looking at movements that have succeeded.

    This is Prof. David MacKay of Cambridge University, who is the chief scientific advisor to DECC:

    These possibly-safe trajectories require global emissions to fall by 70% or 85% by 2050. What would this mean for a country like Britain? If we subscribe to the idea of “contraction and convergence,” which means that all countries aim eventually to have equal per-capita emissions, then Britain needs to aim for cuts greater than 85%: it should get down from its current 11 tons of CO2e per year per person to roughly 1 ton per year per person by 2050. This is such a deep cut, I suggest the best way to think about it is no more fossil fuels.

    Emphasis as original. Now, is he ‘a hysteric’?

    Or are you just horribly wrong, as usual?

  • Keith Kloor

    Can some of you folks–who treat comment threads like bood sport–try to keep this civil? Just for once?

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    #28 It is possible that people are playing the Last Ton game in a cagey way, that they are aware of the situation and being or trying to be constructive in some way that is too subtle for the pedestrian likes of myself.I don’t know exactly what EDF and Bloomberg are doing. I don’t like to accuse specific people of things without taking a lot of care to know the details of what they are up to. But if they are explicitly or privately playing some other game, other than limiting net emissions to so near zero so that total accumulated emissions stop rising significantly as soon as is economically tolerable, they are not helping.Gas replacing coal is replacing bad with less bad. All I am saying is that if bad is replaced with less bad for a longer time, the overall result can be as damaging, or worse. If people mention the less bad and sort of gloss over the longer time, they are missing the point.The necessity of the Last Ton view has been explained elsewhere and it’s on my list to try to explain it myself as well. I am sorry to appear sanctimonious. I understand that it sounds that way. But it’s a simple point and it is true. I have learned my lessons. I have decided it would be best to make the point in simple terms.The point is the Last Ton.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    fwiw i’ll do my best keith but i make no promises :). but let me suggest that what michael and BBD are alluding to is that investment in natural gas infrastructure is not a good thing because it means that we are ‘locking-in’ more carbon emissions. I asked you in the previous thread if you thought that the public understands that ‘carbon is forever’, as this has very important implications in terms of the trade-offs that must be made if we’re going to avoid cooking the planet. you didn’t anwser at the time. Would you care to give it try now?

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    #28 It is possible that people are playing the Last Ton game in a cagey way, that they are aware of the situation and being or trying to be constructive in some way that is too subtle for the pedestrian and socially awkward ways of someone like me.

    I don’t know exactly what EDF and Bloomberg are doing. I don’t like to accuse specific people of things without taking a lot of care to know the details of what they are up to. But if they are explicitly or privately playing some other game, other thanlimiting net emissions to so near zero so that total accumulated emissions stop rising significantly as soon as is economically tolerable, they are at best not helping.

    Gas replacing coal is replacing bad with less bad. All I am saying is that if bad is replaced with less bad for a longer time, the overall result can be as damaging, or worse. If people mention the less bad and gloss over the possibly longer time, they are missing the point.

    The necessity of the Last Ton view has been explained elsewhere and it’s on my list as a topic as well. I am sorry to appear sanctimonious. I understand that it sounds that way. But it’s a simple point and it is true.

    I have learned my lessons. I have decided it would be best to make the simple point in simple terms, add the caveats later, and then repeat the simple point.

    The point is: How Many Tons Before The Last Ton?

  • Keith Kloor

    Michael,

    During the cap & trade debate in 2009, I seem to recall a lot of people on the (pro) side saying, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

    Marlowe (35)

    Unlike you and Michael, I wouldn’t begin to think I know what the public knows and doesn’t know.

    But you guys should by all means go on with this all or nothing mindset Get back to me in another decade or two and see how that’s working out.

  • grypo

    “see how that’s working out.”

    Does this mean what Bloomberg is suggesting is “working out” and we will know this within “another decade or two”.

    I suppose the phrase “working out” needs an inspection, especially a definition of what ‘working out’ or ‘worked out’ or ‘will work out’ means to different players.

  • Keith Kloor

    grypo,

    You can torture that phrase all you want, but I’m not going to get into a ridiculous semantic debate with you, based on what you extrapolate from my comment.

  • Tom C

    If the AGW scenario laid out by Hansen, Tobis, et. al. is correct (and it might be) then Tobis is absolutely right.  Reduction in emissions is useless since anything short of CO2 flux balance only delays the day of reckoning.  What I object to is the dishonesty with the public when it comes to the consequence of this.  The average guy is brainwashed to think that emissions are something that “big oil companies do”, not what he and Mildred do.  If you think there is little support for CO2 reduction now, wait until everyone is told they can have only 1 shower per week and must walk to work.  Hansen and the GCMs will get a lot of attention at that point.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Keith, it’s not even the ‘perfect being the enemy of the good.’ It’s just more ‘my way or the highway’ stuff. Nobody except the worst of the hysterics thinks that CO2 is a potential civilization-buster. Not the IPCC. Not Stern. Nobody who has looked at the SREs has come away thinking that CO2 will be anything other than one of several major problems.Moving to a ‘last ton’ scenario will condemn the developing countries to immiseration. Dr. Tobis’ ‘strategy’, or goal, is the opposite of the Civil Rights movement. It keeps the poor in chains.

  • steven mosher

    Tom
    “I wonder how about the transfer of shale gas fracking technology. China has a lot of shale gas and is desirous of shifting away from coal. ”

    Muller’s proposed that. However I suspect some will make the perfect enemy of the good. They think life is burger king. They want it their way. It’s a dangerous game of chicken they are playing with the planet

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    I still remember standing in line at a Burger King. Spoiled kid in front of me whining to his mother about this, that and the other.

    Finally the classic line that got the whole place jumping…

    “I want more cheese on my Whopper!”

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    I’m not a skeptic. But one theme a lot of skeptics have sounded sometimes has me wondering.

    Natural gas puts out half the CO2 of coal. If you don’t want that, how much do you really care about CO2?

    It isn’t natural gas vs. pure wind and solar. It’s natural gas vs. coal. Dr. Tobis cannot change the alternatives available to the world. If you don’t want natural gas, you get coal.

    If you don’t want nuclear power, you get more coal.

    If you don’t want hydroelectric power, you get more coal.

    The usual hysterics keep babbling about ponies. I think some ponies should come with a mirror on the side.

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    For what it’s worth, I thought Waxman/Markey was a terrible idea, but I shut up in favor of people I respect who claim to know more about politics than me. I’m still not sure that I’m unhappy it failed.

    Until he starts ranting about unnecessary poverty (about which we can argue further), Tom C surprises me by getting it right. I guess he gets it right because he thinks my position is politically untenable. Unhappily, he may be right about that as well.

    In fact, most of us (those of us who don’t actually own fossil fuel reserves) really don’t have to give up all that much to give up fossil fuel. That’s an especially enervating aspect of all this. 

    Anyway, for the rest of y’all, let me offer an analogy.

    If you’re about to drive off a cliff, driving at thirty miles an hour is better than driving at sixty miles an hour, but only because it gives you a better shot at stopping.

    Too much emphasis on natural gas is like setting the cruise control at thirty. It’s not that it’s between good and best. It’s between stopping being crazy versus changing the kind of crazy a little.

    How much emphasis on gas is too much? That’s a quantitative question that I haven’t seen worked out. It makes me suspicious that the advocates of gas don’t seem to be willing to consider it.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    grypo,

    Unlike you, I would stop beating my wife and find another bood sport to work out.

  • BBD

    Keith

    My apologies if I was a bit hysterical back there.

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    I’m all for wind, solar, hydro, algae, sawgrass biofuel, thorium, fusion, carbon dioxide sequestration, accelerated weathering, mirrors in space, whatever. There is a wide array of promising technologies. (Conventional nuclear and corn ethanol do not look promising.)

    I don’t think any of them will be cheaper than fossil fuels as long as we continue socializing the costs and privatizing the benefits of fossil fuels.

    The damage from continued use of fossil fuels is cumulative and persistent. The accu,ulation has to practically stop, as soon as feasible.  All energy policy must take that goal as second only to reliability.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Dr. Tobis, there is no cliff. If temperatures rise it will be expensive and messy.

    We will need to move buildings and roads to deal with sea level rise. We will need to move homes to deal with changing flood plains and river courses. We will need to reconfigure how and for what we spend our insufficient funds for foreign aid. 

    There are other steps we will need to take. The longer we wait the more expensive these steps will be.

    But there is no cliff the car is about to plunge over. Except in your mind. 

    Climate change is not going to be a civilization buster. Until you can accept that, it will be impossible for you to speak intelligently about the subject. You will be forever stuck on Last Ton or Mugging Old Ladies tropes that mean nothing to anybody.

    My hero Carl Sagan preached Nuclear Winter. He was wrong. A man I have criticized roundly, Stephen Schneider, showed Sagan to be wrong.

    There’s a lesson in there. Climate Change is a messy, difficult problem that we should start to address now. If we fail to address it, we will just have to spend extra money on it later.

    Read the literature, Dr. Tobis.

  • steven mosher

    “In fact, most of us (those of us who don’t actually own fossil fuel reserves) really don’t have to give up all that much to give up fossil fuel. That’s an especially enervating aspect of all this.”

    A trillion ton target divided by the number of people on the planet means that I have to consume nothing, zip, nada, after three years. no electricity. no gas. no nothing. In california my electricity alone produces 20 tons a year, and Im average.

    Considering that I have already emitted more than my fair share of carbon ( sorry, my parents drove me places) I’m already in debt. There should a debtors prison for folks who have already spent their allotted carbon.

  • steven mosher

    Tom

    ‘”I want more cheese on my Whopper!”

    Yes, I suspect as one digs deeper into certain faction’s positions you will find it is the desire for more cheese that makes negotiating with them so difficult. As a proud leftist I would think you could school them about the incrementalist approach that drives us on the right mad.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Steve, we already have our (left) foot in the door. All we have to do is continue on the path. But that ain’t good enough for some…

  • BBD

    But there is no cliff the car is about to plunge over. Except in your mind.

    Dai (2010). First linked for you many weeks ago at Bart’s. You’ve had time to read it by now. Think about this in the framework suggested by Hansen’s latest, unrefuted examination of the frequency and extent of extreme hot summer events (HSR12). I think the term Marlowe favours is ‘Pollyannish’.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #45,

    You’re not the only one to say it’s better to stick it out for a full solution rather than making ineffective gestures that’ll cost a lot to no effect…

    “Whereas greenhouse gas emissions of Developing Country Parties are rapidly increasing and are expected to surpass emissions of the United States and other OECD countries as early as 2015;

    Whereas the Department of State has declared that it is critical for the Parties to the Convention to include Developing Country Parties in the next steps for global action and, therefore, has proposed that consideration of additional steps to include limitations on Developing Country Parties’ greenhouse gas emissions would not begin until after a protocol or other legal instrument is adopted in Kyoto, Japan in December 1997;

    Whereas the exemption for Developing Country Parties is inconsistent with the need for global action on climate change and is environmentally flawed;”

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    #50 Yes, in the west we are in carbon debt. And yes, we probably missed the trillion ton target. But almost everything depends on the number on the last ton. The fact that it’s not a pretty picture does not constitute a refutation.

    #49 It was not intended as a tipping point argument. 

    I do not know if there is any tipping point. It seems very plausible to me that the West Antarctic and Greenland Ice Sheets will be doomed long before they actually disintegrate which will be very tipping-pointy. Maybe it’s too late for them already. And if there is a clathrate bomb out there, it’s very tipping-pointy but as it happens I’m rather skeptical about that one.

    But that wasn’t the point of the analogy. The point of the analogy was that we have to stop at some point, long before we run out of gas. That means applying the brakes, not going into cruise control at a lower speed. 

    Forget the cliff. Let’s make a new analogy where we just stop for cheeseburgers. The thing is, while slowing down is part of stopping, it is not enough to slow down and call that progress toward stopping, if you just plan to keep going!

  • Tom C

    mt writes: “In fact, most of us (those of us who don’t actually own fossil fuel reserves) really don’t have to give up all that much to give up fossil fuel.”  Michael – I guess it is no accident that you don’t understand economics.  You also don’t seem to understand value chains.  You might be able to walk to work.  Bully for you.  But do you want to enjoy a glass of wine?  work on a computer? get a stent put in if you have a heart attack?  All the things we use and enjoy come about as the result of a long chain of industrial operations that are very energy intensive.  Moreover, most of the people involved making these things have to get to work somehow, not to mention to the kids’ dance lesson.  No, an awful lot would have to be given up.  And people are going to put up with being a little warm before they do give anything up.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Dr. Tobis, there will probably never be a point when this planet ceases to consume some significant level of fossil fuels. Never.

    As for ice caps, I believe that we’re looking out past the end of this millenium for significant ice loss from either Greenland or Antarctica. And that’s assuming global warming ….never….stops…. and never…slows… 

    You can take a car going sixty down a road and stop it by running into a brick wall. That doesn’t save anybody inside the car.

  • http://ifyouaer Matt B

    @ 32 BBD – of course MacKay is no hysteric. But, in that passage I believe he was talking about one possible path to reach one possible outcome; I do not think he was firmly advocating that position….although there is no doubt he believes business as usual is foolishly risky & the bigger the reduction in CO2 emissions, the happier he will be.In any case, even if he was advocating that goal, he is among the very few that outlines how it is possible to make significant cuts in CO2 emissions. He outlines what works, what will not, and why. He’s done a great job bringing reality to these discussions with his book and the 2050 Pathway Calculator”; whether DECC or anyone else is listening to him is sadly unclear…..

  • Keith Kloor

    Michael (55)

    I was going to play the top-the-analogy game by saying that you don’t starve yourself when the doctor says you have to lose a 50 pounds. Just as you don’t join the gym and go full throttle from day one.

    Then I realized: It’s really about which diet or work-out regimen you say is best. It’s not about possibly achieving the same goal through different means.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    However, Keith, you have hit on the analogy that will actually work to communicate with the public. Dr. Tobis and his buddies will find it sooner or later and re-invent the wheel. 

    Try and sound surprised when they finally figure it out.

  • Howard

    The focus on climate change erodes environmental justice gains for poor people.  So do many other environmental causes that “White People Like”.  The proposition that poor people are clamoring for climate action and habitat for the kangaroo rat does not pass the straight-face test.  The poor need improved access to clean air, water, food and modern sanitation.  These existing (not predicted) problems already have off-the-shelf (not theoretical) solutions. 

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    #56. You do not have to give up air conditioning or television. You do not have to give up private vehicles. You just have to give up emitting carbon. 

    The economically details are complex but the only major aspect of our lives that wasn’t totally technically feasible until recently was aviation. As I recall, a zero-carbon flight of a commercial jet using biofuels was achieved in the last few months.

    The amount of money that is at stake is indeed enormous, for the fossil fuel industries. The rest of us do have costs to pay either way, but the costs of switching to new technologies seem be small and controllable compared to the costs of further delay.

    I would be happy, as a compromise, to fund the fossil fuel companies to provide the new technologies in exchange for their leaving their reserves alone. This way most of the beneficiaries of the new expenditures would be the ones that lost money on the old investments.

  • steven mosher

    MT.

    You wrote: we dont have to give up much.
    I wrote: based on the last ton and an equitable
    allocation I have to stop consuming everything.

    now you reply:

    “Yes, in the west we are in carbon debt. And yes, we probably missed the trillion ton target. But almost everything depends on the number on the last ton. The fact that it’s not a pretty picture does not constitute a refutation.”

    So which is it?

    A) most of wont have to give up anything.
    B) not a pretty picture?

    The bottom line is we missed the target and there is no good way to hit the target or to convince others to hit the target. At some point people will start to focus on adaptation. I hope you dont continue to mislead people with the false hope that anything else is feasible.

  • BBD

    Keith

    It’s not about possibly achieving the same goal through different means.

    13%? See # 5 and #32. I’m not at all sure that mt and others have this goal in mind. Hence the pushback.

  • steven mosher

    MT

    “#56. You do not have to give up air conditioning or television. You do not have to give up private vehicles. You just have to give up emitting carbon. ”

    I live in california. I rarely drive. I dont take mass transit. I don’t fly. My electricity bill alone puts me at 20 tons a year. Given that 8 billion people have a 1 trillion ton budget to spend when do I have to shut off my lights, my fridge? I’ve already given up the TV and the AC. I already recycle. will you allow me to breathe out C02?

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Well, Steve, you know what they say.

    The most passionate are the least numerate…

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    #59. There’s losing weight, and there’s giving up smoking. 

    Suppose you’re a smoker, and a doctor told you you could only consume so much more nicotine in your life. Suppose you asked the doctor if it would help if you switched to a low nicotine cigarette. What should the doctor say?

    Obviously, that it will help you put off quitting, but you still have to quit.

    So the question is whether switching to fracking amounts to a long term commitment to gas. If it does, it’s problematic. And all the middle-of-the-road energy spin machines are not talking about that. I suspect that there are long-term capital investments going into fracking. Certainly what I see when I drive around Texas these days indicates that they’ve got a lot of heavy equipment on the ground, but a lot of it is just ordinary trucks and drilling rigs. I’m not sure how that works out in terms of amortization. Maybe there’s not that much capital investment involved. It’s a crucial question and I haven’t seen any answers. The way to get me to back off is to convince me that we can quit anytime.

    In short I object to Keith’s conclusion quite vehemently. It is not that I insist on the means to a goal. It is that we apparently have not agreed on the goal.

    In informed opinion, the goal is not to reduce emissions. The only workable goal is, to a rough and ready approximation, to quit emitting altogether. It took us twenty-five years to even get across that there is a problem so I don’t expect this to get accepted overnight. But if nobody says it or emphasizes it because it is irritating, I don’t see how people are going to come around to understanding it.

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    “My electricity bill alone puts me at 20 tons a year” That doesn’t seem right. How many KwH per month?

  • BBD

    Re the 20 tons. Here’s the (2009) figure MacKay provides for per capita tCO2e. I suppose if you stay put and run lots of computers and A/C 24/7 you might manage it :-)

  • Joshua

    I have to say, I see more merit to MT’s argument in this thread than I have previously. I wonder if a difference in tone is responsible, and if so, is the change in my receptivity due the the possibility that a different tone is accompanied by a different argument structure, or simply my response to a superficial change in rhetorical style. 

    Here’s where the debate pretty much begins and ends for me.

    I don’t think any of them will be cheaper than fossil fuels as long as we continue socializing the costs and privatizing the benefits of fossil
    fuels.

    I really have a hard time understanding why this isn’t at least the starting point for the basic conversation about the economic impact of different
    approaches to mitigation.

    It seems to me that we have enormous social costs to burning fossil fuels on top of concerns about ACO2 impact on our climate.

    It seems to me that the discussion about the future economic impact of making fossil fuel more expensive needs to start with factoring in a full account for the existing costs. Otherwise, how to we generate a comprehensive comparative evaluation?

    Further, I think that the oft’ hear equation that “cheap energy = economic growth and feeding poor people” is pretty facile. Certainly, we can think of countries where energy is cheap and many people in the constituent citizenry lack basic resources  We can also think of countries were energy is expensive and a solid % of the constituent citizenry enjoy a high standard of living. The equation needs more variable, I I would nominate adding  two specific variables as a starting point:

    1) Democratic governing processes that equitably distribute agency and power.

    2) Efficient maximization of human capital

    Certainly, BAU with large corporations distributing energy in such a way as to maximize profit for a small % of the population is not an ideal method for giving full weight to those two missing variables to balance the equation. No – that is not blaming big oil for the problem, and it is not saying that we need to dismiss capitalism as a means to solve our “energy problem.” If you read that in my comment, then read it again. If you still read that in my comment, then you’re wrong.

    Now fleshing out how to maximize the use of human capital as a way to approach the energy problem is obviously a vague concept. Fleshing it out is enormously complicated. But I see little reason to have much faith in any arguments for any solutions without explicitly giving human capital due consideration.

    I would appreciate the thoughts that anyone (in good faith) might offer in that regard.

  • http://planet3.org mt

    Well we can work it backwards, if this site is right. A kilogram of coal works out nicely to a kilowatt-hour in the worst case. (We are trying to figure out the least amount of electricity Mosher us use, so the worst case is appropriate). So he would be at 20,000 KwH/year or 54 KwH per day. A bit more if he is basing it on a utility that uses better coal. Quite a bit more if there are other fuels in the mix. If it’s 100% natural gas he is using 127 KwH per day in electricity; that’s probably a better estimate. This is about quadruple the national average. So it’s not impossible, but it’s a bit weird, especially in an urban setting. 

    A more representative number would be a quarter of that.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Dr. Tobis,The key question then is whether our problem with CO2 emissions is more like losing weight or giving up smoking.

    Your contention–the backbone of your argument–is that climate change is a threat to civilization. You say ‘informed opinion’ backs your claim. I say it does not.

    All the rest of this back and forth is useless until we settle that question.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Joshua, you write, ” Certainly, we can think of countries where energy is cheap and many people in the constituent citizenry lack basic resources.”Do you have examples in mind? In many of the poorest countries energy is more expensive than in the rich world. Of course, in India 600 million people buy kerosene for heat and light, and it of course is about as expensive a form of energy as you can get at the per capita basis. But even where there is some form of transmission grid, Madagascar for example has electricity at twice the price of the U.S.

  • http://planet3.org mt

    #63 Talk about false hopes! Do you think adaptation is enough?

    The concept of adaptation without mitigation is the “you’re in a hole, but keep digging and get used to it” strategy. Is this really the best we can do?

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Dr. Tobis, what is the size of the hole? How big is the problem?

  • Joshua

    I also have to say that the back-and-forth about which  inadequate analogy is better seems to me to rather miss the point, and I find it kind of funny.

    Analogies are useful: (1) if they really help to illustrate a point – to shed new light on a topic, to cast it in a new way so as to give new insight, to approach a topic from a novel angle, etc. or, (2) as rhetorical devices to make one argument seem like a wining argument.

    The level of wrangling here – about which analogy is best or which minor tweaks might make an analogy more accurate – seems to me to track away from analogy as useful explanation and towards analogy as point-scoring. It seems to me to be beneficial only within a very limited realm – the realm of wining an argument.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Joshua, framing the argument is halfway to winning it. It’s true here and just as true with descriptive language.

    The planet has a fever frames the problem. (It’s a semantically null statement, but it’s very effective.)

    Choosing smoking/cancer/nicotine frames the problem as potentially lethal, must be stopped, etc.

    Choosing diet is more about control, management, regime compliance. Even at Overeaters Anonymous they tell members that they have to eat three times a day.

    What you think is superficial is actually what the alarmists have been fighting over with the skeptics just as much as the science.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    #74

    More fundamentally, we all tend to be wildly over-optimistic. Many of our institutions are, in Kahneman’s view, monuments to our irrational optimism. Take the finance industry, a large portion of whose business consists in taking people’s money and investing it for them. Many of us entrust a portion of our savings to someone in a finance company who promises to provide us with an above average return. It isn’t only individuals who do this: institutions such as pension funds and charities do so as well. Finance companies charge fees for taking your money and investing it for you “” but they almost always fail to keep their promise to provide better returns. They frequently lose money for their investors.

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/issues/28-july-2012/mad-money

  • http://planet3.org mt

    #75 It’s in the queue. I believe William Connolley wants a discussion of the same question. I started composing a quick answer but the question deserves some care.

  • Howard

    JoshuaIt’s not just energy.  Placing environmental priorities on CO2 and Climate ahead of bacteriological, toxic and carcinogenic pollution is criminal.  You said we need more human capital to work the carbon-energy problem.  If we assume that’s the solution, then doesn’t it make more sense to help lift 5-billion people out of a pre-20th Century lifestyle?  Just think of all of the potential Steve Jobs’ and Wright Brothers of those billions who live, suffer and die in squalor never having the chance of reaching their potential. 

  • Joshua

    Tom – I’m thinking of some oil-rich counties like Russia, Venezuela or countries in the ME like Bhutan or Iran – where if energy prices to consumers are high, it is only because of a lack of evenly-distributed agency  not the actual cost of acquiring the resources in those countries. On the other side of the equation, I’m thinking of countries like Denmark or Finland.

    You know more about these things than I, and obviously localized resources like hydro-power need to be considered – but am I wrong that both distribution of agency and cost of acquiring resources are relevant metrics in understanding the benefits from cheap energy? I don’t get how it makes sense to look at these considerations in isolation. (Keep in mind that I’m talking about benefits as distributed across the citizenry – not benefits concentrated in the hands of specific sub-sections).

  • http://planet3.org mt

    Joshua #76, since I like to say nice things about Tom Fuller when he gives me the chance, and since I actually disagree with you, I will say I disagree with you. #72 is a useful formulation of the issue I have with the people who consider themselves the “rational middle”.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Joshua at #81, I do not understand what you’re saying–sorry.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Keith, I can’t decide if you’re being tribal (i.e. refusing to acknowledge legitimate criticisms of your preferred narrative) or simply have a fundamental misunderstanding about the nature of the problem we face when it comes to climate change and the trade-offs that different approaches entail. Despite your continued refusal to engage the substance of the arguments that I and others are directing your way, I will, in the interest of your readers, try one more time in the form of a list. Again, I’ll leave it to readers to determine who is acting in good faith and who isn’t.

    1. the goal of climate  policy is to avoid ‘dangerous interference’ with the climate system.

    2. Given what we know about the most likely value for climate sensitivity and the earth’s ecosystems, warming above 2C constitutes dangerous interference.

    3. Because of the cumulative nature of CO2 emissions, it is more appropriate to think about emissions in terms of an overall budget rather than in terms of emission rates.

    4. The current best estimate for the total budget of CO2 that can be emitted to the atmosphere without risking dangerous interference with the climate system is about 1 trillion tonnes.

    5. We’ve currently emitted about 560 billion tonnes, so we have less than half our total budget left to emit.

    6. Policies which reduce the rate  at which we emit carbon can only be considered ‘progress’ if they are consistent with an overall strategy of zero ‘net’ emissions in the future.

    7. Absent the invention of some ‘breakthrough’ technologies, the cost of mitigation will be higher the longer we delay because reductions will need to occur more quickly to make up for previous emissions. This would presumably result in lots of stranded capital (e.g. power plants, refineries, steel plants) and expensive mitigation options such as carbon capture.

    7. On a lifecycle basis natural gas is marginally less carbon intensive than coal.

    8. The positive climate effects of cheaper natural gas (in terms of displacing existing coal plants and delaying the construction of new capacity) may be offset by other negative efffects (e.g. retarding the deployment of nuclear and/or renewables).

    @ Michael,

    FWIW, I think many of the WG I inclined folks (e.g. you) have been far too pessimistic about the usefuleness of waxman-markey. for the record, i’d prefer a carbon tax, but ACES was the only game in town at the time. when it was making its way through the sausage grinder (aka D.C.) the main complaint was that allocations were far too generous and the provisions for compliance via offsets would make the whole thing leak like a sieve. i still have nightmares about additionality arguments :). 

    I think those criticisms were for the most part on the mark but miss the larger context. Once you have a system setup, you’ve got a price signal in place. now the price signal may be weak in the beginning -owing to the weaknesses outlined above – but at least there is an opportunity to improve the system moving forward; either by tightening the caps, reducing free allocations, stricter offset rules etc.I think the loss is understood even better when you place it against the narrative that keith is presenting. once those investments in shale gas are made you’re stuck with that carbon. sure you might tinker around the edges a bit to reduce fugitive emissions and groundwater contamination, but those are small potatotes relative to the potential scope of emission reductions that you could contemplate under a cap and trade system, warts and all.

    Tom Fuller Says: August 27th, 2012 at 6:37 pmWell, Steve, you know what they say.The most passionate are the least numerate”¦

    speaking of numeracy…unless mosher lives in one of rupert murdoch’s mansions or he has a boatload of mp3 players charging he’s off by 500-600% give or take ;)

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Tom, as usual, is wrong in insinuating that the trillionth tonne target is somehow a fiction of Michael’s panic stricken mind.

    From Allen et al:Global efforts to mitigate climate change are guided by projections of future temperatures1. But the eventual equilibrium global mean temperature associated with a given stabilization level of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations remains uncertain1, 2, 3, complicating the setting of stabilization targets to avoid potentially dangerous levels of global warming4,5, 6, 7, 8. Similar problems apply to the carbon cycle: observations currently provide only a weak constraint on the response to future emissions9, 10, 11. Here we use ensemble simulations of simple climate-carbon-cycle models constrained by observations and projections from more comprehensive models to simulate the temperature response to a broad range of carbon dioxide emission pathways. We find that the peak warming caused by a given cumulative carbon dioxide emission is better constrained than the warming response to a stabilization scenario. Furthermore, the relationship between cumulative emissions and peak warming is remarkably insensitive to the emission pathway (timing of emissions or peak emission rate). Hence policy targets based on limiting cumulative emissions of carbon dioxide are likely to be more robust to scientific uncertainty than emission-rate or concentration targets. Total anthropogenic emissions of one trillion tonnes of carbon (3.67 trillion tonnes of CO2), about half of which has already been emitted since industrialization began, results in a most likely peak carbon-dioxide-induced warming of 2″‰°C above pre-industrial temperatures, with a 5″“95% confidence interval of 1.3″“3.9″‰°C. 

  • Joshua

    Howard –

    If we assume that’s the solution,

    To clarify, I don’t think that I’m making any such assumption – so much as arguing that it needs to be considered, explicitly. I am not saying that such considerations will be easy..

    then doesn’t it make more sense to help lift 5-billion people out of a pre-20th Century lifestyle? 

    Well – yes. So then we might consider the question of whether it makes sense to keep spending trillions of dollars (arguably) to keep oil flowing in countries where despite massive income from oil many citizens remain living as you describe. Or whether it makes sense to keep investing in expanding a system that diverts so much profit to one extremely profitable industry as opposed to exploring other capitalistic enterprises that distribute profits across a wider cross-section of the population.

    Fracking is an interesting question in that regard. One potential benefit of fracking is that it potentially distributes profits across a wider cross-section of the population than other forms of energy harvesting. The arguments I read about people in struggling communities who stand to gain from selling royalties are pretty compelling to me. More compelling, perhaps, than the differential gains w/r/t ACO2 emissions. Still, there are a lot of problems there – more specifically in weighing the potential  negative impact across everyone in the local communities – questions that may well be swept under the rug by “lukewarmer” arguments about the ACO2 benefits of fracking.

  • Joshua

    # 83 – Tom.

    Maybe in time I’ll be able to articulate it more clearly. For now, I will repeat my assertion that an equation that says that cheap energy = fewer starving people is simplistic. Large-scale improvements in global average standard of living, it seems to me, is as closely related to more equitable forms of government and/or developments in perspective on human rights (in other words, more people having more voice) as it is to technological developments than enabled access to cheap energy. I don’t see how to isolate one factor from the other.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    That’s what happens when you start drinking too early, Johnson. Your numbers are all screwed up. We went over this trillion ton crap on another thread. Go and read Dr. Tobis’ concession to reality. It’s 1.8 trillion tons of CO2 in your crazed budget. We have 1.3 trillion left to burn.

  • Joshua

    #82 – MT –

    Joshua #76, since I like to say nice things about Tom Fuller when he
    gives me the chance, and since I actually disagree with you, I will say I disagree with you.

    Now that I’ve brought you and Fuller together on an issue, my life mission has been fulfilled.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller
  • Joshua

    Tom – Are you saying that the graph negates my point? 

    Yes, per capita energy usage is greater in countries with higher standards of living. So what is causal there? And what is the direction of causality? Wouldn’t a graph of power distribution to the citizenry  follow a similar curve?

    What is the cost of energy in Nigeria? If is low, how does that translate in terms of the citizenry going hungry? If it is high, why is it high? Because of the cost of accessing the energy in Nigeria, or because of the structure of the government? What are the factors we should be evaluating to determine if it make sense to continue with a system that rewards the government of Nigeria for producing oil?

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    A lot’s been written about that subject, Joshua. A lot.

  • grypo

    Keith, I don’t think I’m attempting to extrapolate anything from your phrasing. What I am saying is that there are two distinct ideas happening in this thread. One is that (1)’working out’ constitutes finding economical ways to burn natural gas in order to continue a downward emissions rate. The other idea (2)’working out’ constitutes developing a long time plan, with or without natural gas, that brings the emissions rate to *fill-in-the-blank*, preferably zero, or whatever we all decide is no longer a disaster.

    Those that believe (2) think that only discussing (1) is not adequate, correctly so. I’m asking what those that believe (1) are going to do about (2).

    What I would add (my opinion) is that taking a specific road has consequences that I do not believe anyone is really aware of. Telling people that it is great that the switch to natgas has played a part in reducing emissions is only a small part of the story. Everyone, including yourself, should be concerned that this narrative is dangerous and incomplete.

  • Howard

    Joshua – I agree with your concerns about oil and the horrible despots, corporate enablers and the required US military protection forces.  Natural gas combustion contains much less toxic pollution than crude oil and has a relatively small conversion cost as a motor fuel and electricity generator.  I agree the CO2 benefits are more toward the “blue sky” end of the sales pitch, but that is an externality of carbon demonization in the twitter gossip era we enhabit.  ************************************************************************************The problem remains that despite our wishes, economic low carbon energy is a tough problem to solve.  To solve that problem, more people need to become middle class tinkerers, engineers and entrepreneurs to grow the human capital that will eventually develop the solutions.  Heavy taxation of fuel and energy to reduce CO2 is not the solution.  Unfortunately, the world needs to step harder on the gas pedal to create enough wealth to get past fossil fuels.  It’s already happening in China and India and they are cranking out more and more smart people every day.  Getting more smart people to emerge from China and India is the lowest hanging fruit.   Unfortunately, they are still living with 1950’s LA smog, drinking 1960’s Cuyahoga River water and pooping in the gutter.  I just don’t see CO2 being the top environmental justice issue now or in the next couple decades. 

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Tom it looks like you’re in denial. But of course your not a denier or a denialist are you? You’re a lukewarmer!

    Or perhaps I’ve completely misjudged your intellectual gifts and there is in fact a paper that you and the rest of the tinfoil hat club are working on to submit to Nature?

  • http://planet3.org mt

    It is easy to remember a trillion tons but not so easy to remember whether that measured as C or as CO2; different communities in the climate world prefer different ones. This is a scaling of about three and two thirds (3.67).

    According to the trillionth tonne website they are counting carbon not CO2. So the multiplier applies, as Tom Fuller suggests. But we are a bit over halfway so the amount left to burn is 440 GT carbon or 1.61 TT CO2. I don’t think Tom Fuller’s calculation is right but his point is. The whole trillion tons of C is equivalent to 3.67 trillion tons of CO2; of that we have 1.61 trillion left. Of these we presently consume at 30 Gt/yr so at the present rate we hit the wall in 53 years. However, the rate is climbing rapidly so that is less time than it sounds like.

    Again I refer you to the final graph in the Copenhagen Diagnosis which gives the flavor. The three trajectories compare three ways getting to 750 GT as the final ton, so a more aggressive target than I am advocating here. (This is the 2 C target also; 1000 GT probably misses 2 C and I think we missed that boat by a wide margin in Copenhagen. We will not have a treaty for a decade at least.) Still, the shapes of the curves are qualitatively illustrative of any target.

    I am not asking for anything unreasonable. In particular I am not asking for Mosher to impoverish himself, though it seems he really ought to seal his windows better. I am just suggesting that we need to get serious about getting to zero, and that policies that bring new sources of fossil carbon online need to be considered with care for more than just the shareholders’ stake.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    if you don’t like allen et al, try matthews et al:

    The global temperature response to increasing atmospheric CO2is often quantified by metrics such as equilibrium climate sensitivityand transient climate response. These approaches, however, do notaccount for carbon cycle feedbacks and therefore do not fullyrepresent the net response of the Earth system to anthropogenicCO2 emissions. Climate”“carbon modelling experiments haveshown that: (1) the warming per unit CO2 emitted does not dependon the background CO2 concentration; (2) the total allowableemissions for climate stabilization do not depend on the timingof those emissions; and (3) the temperature response to a pulseof CO2is approximately constant on timescales of decades tocenturies. Here we generalize these results and show that thecarbon”“climate response (CCR), defined as the ratio of temperature change to cumulative carbon emissions, is approximately independent of both the atmospheric CO2concentration and its rate of change on these timescales. From observational constraints, we estimate CCR to be in the range 1.0″“2C per trillion tonnes of carbon (Tt C) emitted (5th to 95th percentiles), consistent with twenty-first-century CCR values simulated by climate”“carbon models. Uncertainty in land-use CO2 emissions and aerosol forcing, however, means that higher observationally constrained values cannot be excluded. The CCR, when evaluated from climate”“carbon models under idealized conditions, represents a simple yet robust metric for comparing models, which aggregates both climate feedbacks and carbon cycle feedbacks. CCR is also likely to be a useful concept for climate change mitigation and policy; by combining the uncertainties associated with climate sensitivity, carbon sinks and climate”“carbon feedbacks into a single quantity, the CCR allows CO2 -induced global mean temperature change to be inferred directly from cumulative carbon emissions.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    I really have a hard time understanding why this isn’t at least the starting point for the basic conversation about the economic impact of differentapproaches to mitigation.It seems to me that we have enormous social costs to burning fossil fuelson top of concerns about ACO2 impact on our climate.It seems to me that the discussion about the future economic impact of making fossil fuel more expensive needs to start with factoring in a full account for the existing costs. Otherwise, how to we generate a comprehensive comparative evaluation?Further, I think that the oft’ hear equation that “cheap energy = economic growth and feeding poor people” is pretty facile.

    Methinks this pretty much excludes you from the RPJr/TBI/Kloor/Revkin tribe. If it helps I have a pony i can lend you…

    It’s curious that this tribe never seems to want to talk about the costs of inaction and evaluating policy options on that basis? i’m downright perplexed. 

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    I’d like to have a link to the “trillion ton crap […] thread”, pretty please with some sugar on it.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Crickets.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Here is one quote:

    Go and read Dr. Tobis’ concession to reality.

    Here is another one:

    Mr. Fuller,

    The Nature paper is the source paper for advocacy of limiting emissions to a trillion tons over all time. […] In short, then, you are wrong. I stand by every link among the five as directly relevant to my point. I am sorry you do not see it. I am not interested in your generalizations about me; nor, I would venture, is anybody else.

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/2012/08/07/a-new-chapter-in-the-climate-debate/#comment-116480

    Compare and contrast.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    I think your shirt’s ripped, willard. Not my fault if you can’t find it.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Another tidbit, at the end of the thread:

    He [Groundskeeper Willie] is so confident of his own position, perhaps he will argue against the dictionary. A pity. I’ve found an occasional admission of error to be good for one’s cognitive abilities.

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/2012/08/07/a-new-chapter-in-the-climate-debate/#comment-116557

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Keep searching, shirtless wonder. It’s hiding in plain sight.

    By the way–your shirt? I wrapped it around a stick, dipped it in kerosene and used it as a torch. Perhaps you should do something similar to light your way through the internet.

  • BBD

    This reminds me of the farce when I asked Tom for the source for his claim that climate sensitivity was 1.9C. There is a pattern.

    Tom, instead of playing silly b*ggers with willard, why not just tell him what he wants to know? Before things go bad for you like they did last time.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    BBD,

    Do you recall where you asked about that 1.9C?

    Speaking of shirt-ripping, here’s a time whence it did not go that well:

    I was playing their twisted game by their rules. I wasn’t writing with an audience in mind. But I stand by what I wrote”“they don’t care about science at all. To them it is a religion and I am worse than an atheist”“I’m a heretic.

    http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/dilemmas-in-science-communication/#comment-16515

  • Tom C

    Joshua wrote: “Maybe in time I’ll be able to articulate it more clearly. For now, I will repeat my assertion that an equation that says that cheap energy = fewer starving people is simplistic.” I’m sorry to be harsh here, but maybe in time you will learn basic economics.  The more money spent on energy the less money left over for everything else.  It’s that simple.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    BBD it’s no accident that Tom refuses to accept the fact that carbon accumulates on human timescales. it makes his lukewarmer pose rather awkward doesn’t it? of course he could always try the Judy Curry trick and suggest that there is no evidence that a 4C rise in temperature over the next century would be catastrophic. the freedom of tenure must be grand….

  • Tom C

    mt writes: “You do not have to give up air conditioning or television. You do not have to give up private vehicles. You just have to give up emitting carbon.  The economically details are complex but the only major aspect of our lives that wasn’t totally technically feasible until recently was aviation.”  I’m sorry, this is the most preposterous thing you have ever asserted.  It’s not that the “economic details are complex”.  The economic details come from fairyland.  It is impossible to maintain even a fraction of the Western lifstyle on windmills, solar, etc.  We are faced again here with a refusal to understand economics.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    > I’m sorry to be harsh here, but maybe in time you will learn basic economics.

    Perhaps we should tell that to those economists too:

    http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/post/30384880042

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    > the freedom of tenure must be grand”¦.

    Your estimate is at least 200 times too low, Marlowe.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Curry’s jaw-dropper that I was referring to is here:

    2C warming is a distinct possibility, even 4C. What has not been convincing is that such a warming in any way would be apocalyptic in the 21st century. 

  • Tom C

    OK Willard – So you are saying that if the US adopts a cap and trade policy we can stop the accumulation of CO2 and poor countires will benefit.  This is again something from fairyland.  I give up.

  • Keith Kloor

    Marlowe (84)

    Thanks for that clear distillation. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong with this post, though, or what “narrative” you think I’m pushing.

    I get that people want to put me on a team or a tribe or seem to believe that I have some devious agenda. Such is the nature of these debates. I think I saw a recent post somewhere (related to climate change or GMO’s) ask: “Who’s side are you on?”

    So what are you asking me, exactly?

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Marlowe,

    Another one for you:

    I like Ridley’s point about the excluded middle ground, “lukewarmers” in the case of climate change. I also like his points about the unintended consequences of policies intended to “fix” the problem. Overall, I think this is a very interesting and provocative article.

    http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/27/apocalypse-not/

    Overton would be proud

  • Joshua

    willard -Thanks for that link to that thread. It’s interesting. And unrelated to the interesting topic being discussed in that thread – I had to chuckle at the evidence it provides for the arbitrary (in the sense of “subject to individual judgement without restriction) way that Tom Fuller defines who is or isn’t a “troll.” 

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Tom C,

    I’m rather saying you’ might be pushing that “read economy, dummy” a bit too far.

    If you want to teach us, go ahead.

  • Joshua

    Tom C –

    Thanks for reading my comments. That’s a start.The next logical step would be for you to consider reading them more closely, and giving what I write some thought before you respond. Let me know when you get to that next stage in your journey.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Joshua/p>

    Links are very important.

    Groundskeepers around the world rely on the fact that people won’t take time to put links.

    In cognitive ergonomics, some refer to this as a trunk test:

    Because the typical user scans web pages rather than read them, Steve Krug proposes the following test of navigation. He asks us to imagine being blindfolded and stuffed into the trunk of a car. On running up on a web page imagine a quick peak around the blindfold and through a crack in the trunk. Did you locate all of the required navigation components? This is the trunk test!

    http://jrivoire.com/ED722/trunktest.html

    Groundskeeper are playing Word Placement games.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    keith,

    for starters:

    1. do you think that the MSM adequately conveys the crucial feature of the climate change problem (i.e. that carbon is forever and delay is costly)

    2. do you think the recent boom in shale gas investments are a sign of ‘progress’ from a climate mitigation POV?

    FWIW, i would say absolutely not to #1 and most likely not to #2.

  • Keith Kloor

    Joshua (118)

    Yes, I’m sure that a heaping helping of your patronization will grease that next step on his journey.

  • Joshua

    Keith (114) –

    Perhaps more simply than what Marlowe asks for in #120 – I would be curious as to whether you disagree with anything on Marlowe’s list in #84?

  • Marlowe Johnson

    I’m sorry to be harsh here, but maybe in time you will learn basic economics.  

    that kind of patronization Keith?

  • Keith Kloor

    Marlowe (120)

    Your first question betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the press (that is similar to MT’s).

    The mainstream media covers all the aspects of the climate issue that unfold from a scientific, political, policy, and cultural domain. The climate beat reporters cover the research that is published/announced (such as the latest Arctic news), the new policy developments domestically and internationally, and of course, the political conflict.

    Ditto for the energy beat reporters. (Many journos have both beats).

    So the stories are driven by what scientists, activists, politicians say. If you have a beef with how the climate problem is presented to the public, then it’s with the scientists, activists and politicians who frame the problem. 

    That said, the kind of bigger picture that you’re asking for definitely warrants coverage, but it would come via long form, explanatory journalism–the kind that is at magazines like the Atlantic and New Yorker. 

    As to your second question, I’m going to hold off for now. I have a longer piece addressing this very question appearing elsewhere later in the week. Maybe that will give you an answer.

  • BBD

    willard

    I am completely unable to post any kind of link to any other thread on this site. I’ve tried with IE and FF, but every time I post, my comment vanishes. Even when I truncate the link so that it shouldn’t parse as a link at all. It is beyond bizarre.

    Fortunately, I have no doubt that you will be able to find your way back to 19 June and the ‘no denying the implied context for climate denier’ thread. Once there, start at # 70, then see # 115. The real volley begins at # 189.

  • Joshua

    Keith (118)

    Yes, I’m sure that a heaping helping of your patronization will grease that next step on his journey.

    My intent is not to help him in any particular direction. I think I have no illusions that I have any influence in that regard. My intent is to have a chuckle at his expense. I think he’s a lost cause w/r/t my input because he has made it clear, repeatedly, that he has no interest in good faith discussion on any topic of substance with me. I think he’s going to respond to my posts how he has continuously responded to my posts irrespective of how I respond to him.

    But I’m open to a new way of looking at it. How would you suggest that I respond to Tom C’s posts directed at me? I think it’s an endless loop no matter which way I turn. Let me give you an example to explain my inability to see any option other than mockery. Here is the last sentence in the paragraph from which he lifted the excerpt he quoted.

    I don’t see how to isolate one factor from the other.

    Now he comes at me with a clearly patronizing implication that he has a far superior understanding of economics (indeed, that I have none – which he has stated numerous times). Seems to me that with an interest in actual dialog, he might direct a comment towards helping me to gain insight as to that question.

    But I don’t want to muck up your threads with flying food – so I am asking you with real interest how you’d suggest I respond.

    I could simply don’t respond and perhaps less jello will be flung. Short of that, how do you recommend that I respond?

  • Marlowe Johnson

    If you have a beef with how the climate problem is presented to the public, then it’s with the scientists, activists and politicians who frame the problem.  

     I agree that the problem has been poorly framed by activists and politicians to date, but i’m not sure that i would extend the blame to scientists quite so much, as they’re usually interviewed on the basis of specific research questions or weather/climate phenomena rather than the trade-offs of climate policy. When was the last time Nordhaus, Levi, or Robert Stavins were interviewed about policy trade-offs?

    I’m not blaming the media Keith in a personal sense. It’s not about you or Revkin, or Ed Yong or Wolf Blitzer doing a better job. It’s a systemic problem that I think traces back to the constraints imposed by profit-driven considerations above all else. 

  • grypo

    4C. What has not been convincing is that such a warming in any way would be apocalyptic in the 21st century

    I suppose we could hang on until 2101. Then perhaps Satan will rise from the ashes.

    I haven’t been to Judith’s in a while, and I see things going from bad to worse in the bridging experiment. The ‘apocalyptic’ stuff is the same as the CAGW stuff. A canard. What is it? Definitions are always nice.

    I suppose the right answer is to ask why no one has shown convincingly that such a warming in any way would be heavenly in the 21st century. Jeez.

  • Tom C

    Joshua, Willard, mt – Persons like Tom Fuller and Pielke Jr. are the subject of such animosity because, while acknowledging the potential seriousness of AGW, they understand economics and are realists. From your comments on this thread, the same cannot be said of y’all.

    There are economic constraints to using alternate forms of energy. You can’t just wish these things to not be true based on your passion or concern or anger, or whatever.

    Now to specifics. mt – Have you ever seen the calculations on what it would take to convert the energy infrastructure to nuclear, let alone wind and solar? The costs and time are mind-boggling. To just assert we can live our same lifestyles and not emit a pound of carbon is ludicrous, however stongly you might want it to be true.

    Joshua – When the price of gasoline goes up even $1 per gallon the media fill the airwaves with how this is taking a toll on ordinary Americans. Now raise it $5 per gallon and tell me it won’t have an effect on economic development in Kenya. Of course cheap energy leads to economic growth, how could it not?

    Willard – That 1/2 of economists who wrote an article on global warming for one journal think cap and trade will spur innovation is not that surprising. I think so also. Did you really offer that article to bolster Joshua’s claim that cheap energy would not necessarily help poor countries? These are two separate issues.

  • Joshua

    And BTW – Keith

    One of the reasons why I am focusing on the causal linkage between freedom and growth, as opposed to a more simplistic focus on the causal linkage between (free market) cheap energy and growth – is because of what I’m reading in Development as Freedom,   a book by Amartya Sen, who is a Nobel winner in economics. 

    Now certainly my interpretation of his writing can fairly be questioned, and certainly his analysis can fairly be questioned – I welcome such debate. I specifically asked for such debate. But how do I address someone who says that trying to discuss the influence of freedom – as a variable affecting growth – is a reflection of complete ignorance about economics?

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Tom C,

    People with whom you happen to agree know economics, while people with whom you happen to disagree do not. So the problem seems to be the knowledge of economics. Is that how we should read your argument?

    There are economic constraints to using alternate forms of energy. The people with whom you happen to agree know this. The people with whom you happen to disagree do not, in your opinion. Is that how we should read your example?

    You were saying something about pretension, the other day. Do you recall the context?

  • http://planet3.org mt

    “Now to specifics. mt ““ Have you ever seen the calculations on what it would take to convert the energy infrastructure to nuclear, let alone wind and solar? The costs and time are mind-boggling. To just assert we can live our same lifestyles and not emit a pound of carbon is ludicrous, however stongly you might want it to be true.”

    My estimate is that the entire fossil fuel infrastructure we need to replace is worth on the order $10,000 per capita. Given that those capitae include the indigent, the infirm, the under-educated and the under-resourced, that’s a pretty penny indeed. But amortized over the replacement cycle (say forty years) it is an achievable $250 per capita, just as building it over the past forty years was. 

    The problem is that we have to start, and the payoffs are far into the future. The longer the start is delayed, the greater the value of the reserves that the fossil fuel industry has in hand are. So they are woefully tempted to confuse the issue, and enough of them have done so that Tom C expresses the impossibility of the program. But the existence of an enormous infrastructure (which needs replacing) proves that such an enormous infrastructure can be built using resources of the past.

    If the all the intervening “growth” has been real, then surely we can afford to do as well or better. This ought to be true even though the replacement systems are construed as somewhat more “expensive”. 

    But that is a trick, really, given that somehow we have neglected the socialized costs of fossil fuels. (You can throw half the US military expenditures on the account just for starters.)

    Anyway, on to specifics indeed. My estimate is $10,000 per capita. What is yours? Given that we afforded it in the past, how is it that we cannot afford it in the future? Are you saying that all that intervening economic “growth” was so fake that we are worse off than we used to be?

  • Tom C

    Willard – If I jump off my roof I will meet the ground with unwelcome force.  The people with whom I happen to agree know this.  The people with whom I happen to disagree don’t know this.  Gravity is a reality that we have to deal with, despite whatever wishful thinking might be manufactured for emotional needs. mt thinks we can maintain our lifestyles wihtout emitting one lb of carbon.  Joshua thinks expensive energy won’t hinder development in poor countries.  I’m sure they have emotional needs that lead them to these conclusions, but I doubt they could find any support with real world economists.  And that is the issue.  It’s not that I have superior skills in economics.  It’s that I have accepted the overwhelming, 200+ years of consensus on economics.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Tom C,

    Incredibleisn’t it?

  • jeffn

    As for the Tom C, Willard, Joshua debate over whether gas prices affect the economy or have political support. Here’s President Obama on the question:
    “Ed, just from a political perspective, do you think the president of the United States going into reelection wants gas prices to go higher?” Obama said. “Is there anybody here who thinks that makes a lot of sense?”
    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0312/73685.html

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    I believe both the EIA and the IEA concur with industry estimates of $5-6 trillion to overhaul the existing energy transmission grid. That rises to $8 trillion if we make it a ‘smart’ grid.

    That doesn’t put a grid anywhere new. It’s just long-deferred maintenance and repair to grids that have been basically left untouched since they were put up–some of it a century ago.

    I guess my point is I would like to see what formed Dr. Tobis’ estimate of $10K per capita.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    I think you could do something useful with $10K per capita. Maybe make a 20% dent in emissions.

    (Solar on residential rooftops, charging EVs with sun, dramatic upgrades in mileage efficiency, mandatory energy efficient windows, etc.)

  • harrywr2

    #45 MT,

    In fact, most of us (those of us who don’t actually own fossil fuel reserves)

    Most of the worlds oil and gas reserves are owned by either state owned companies or the states themselves. Exxon Mobil is 14th in terms of oil and gas reserves. Exxon Mobil isn’t worried about whether if will get a return on investment from it’s existing reserves. They are puny by global standards.

    http://www.petrostrategies.org/Links/Worlds_Largest_Oil_and_Gas_Companies_Sites.htm
    In the US 400 million tons a year are mined and transported by rail from Gillette,Wyoming. The railroads make more off the coal then the mining companies do. The value of the reserves in private hands is trivial compared to the ‘delivered price of coal’. What has value is the existing investments in a mine. I’ve seen quotes that the capital cost of developing an underground mine can be in the range of $40-50/ton. Mines have a life of 20 to 30 years. Obviously if you’ve  already sunk $40/ton in capital costs to develop a mine you are going to fight tooth and nail to keep that mine profitable for 20 or 30 years so you can get a return.

    If you want to consider a ‘conspiracy’ then you need to look no further then the United Auto Workers. GM,Ford and Chrysler don’t know how to make a small car in the US paying the wages and benefits that the UAW membership would like to have.  It costs the same wages to assemble a big car as it does a small car, since people will generally pay more for a big car GM,Ford and Chrysler along with their friends in the UAW fight CAFE standards tooth and nail.

    If you want to ‘win a war’ then you need to do the hard work of determining who your enemy is and why.

    Big Oil and Republicans doesn’t explain why Harry Reid never brought Waxman-Markey to the floor of the Senate.

  • Tom C
  • Jeffn

    Tom, so a 20% reduction really would cost “a postage stamp a day”. For 61 years. 244 years for a family of four.
    Except, you caN barely upgrade your windows for $10k and that won’t reduce emissions 20% per capita in the house, will it?

  • Tom Scharf

    1. Read argument in paper that AGW is threat to civilization

    2. Convert argument to fact.

    3. Given fact, assume keys to economy will be handed to greens

    4. Mental mast***bation on how our new benevolent benefactors will rule the world and give peace and justice for all.

    Am I missing anything?  

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    JeffN, I was thinking more along the lines of $30K invested for a family of 3 in the developed world. You pay more for a higher mileage car, put leased solar on your roof, and upgrade your windows et al.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    > As for the Tom C, Willard, Joshua debate […]

    Please leave me out of this debate.

    If I had a beef, it would be with Tom C’s brand of incredibilism, viewed from the perspective of the remarks he made the other day about pretension.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Doing a little shirt ripping of your own, willard?

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    For the sake of clarity, we should remind our Groundskeeper Willie that shirt-ripping is a metaphor to express self-victimization:

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

    Yet another trunk test.

  • http://planet3.org mt

    #136, It hardly matters what the number is. We can afford it because we have already afforded something much like it. Unless all this “growth” the economists keep telling us about is a lie, we can afford something comparable but more expensive.

    Arguing otherwise is arguing that capitalism will not survive fossil fuel depletion. I don’t think that shows much confidence in the system. All we are trying to say is that the atmosphere will be used up before the fuels are depleted. The technical and economic problem is inevitable anyway. Only the regulatory problem can be avoided by taking huge risks. Let’s just get it all over with and leave a better world to the next generation.

    I don’t recall in detail how I got the $10 K estimate. We should start over.

    Let’s try to estimate the replacement value of the existing carbon-based part of the energy infrastructure and start from there.

  • Jeffn

    TomF, $30k per family is doable, but raises three questions:
    1. I just redid windows and upgraded to more efficient HVAC. Cost was $15k for both and I got a smokin deal. Am I halfway to my total obligation forever for AGW or is this one of those “it’s a good first start”? Oh, it didn’t reduce energy use by 20%, yet anyway.
    2. How do you, policywise, mandate that everyone spend $30k on green stuff- think through the consequences like price of rooftop solar in a world where everyone has to buy it.
    3. The answer to 2 is pricing carbon, but if you price carbon such that a 30k investment makes sense, how many go bankrupt from the increase costs while trying to put together 30k?

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Big Oil and Republicans doesn’t explain why Harry Reid never brought Waxman-Markey to the floor of the Senate. 

    I call liar liar pants on fire Harry.

    Working with Senators Lieberman and Graham, Kerry succeeded in getting the support of actors as diverse as T. Boone Pickens, the American Truckers Association, and all the major environmental groups. Nevertheless, he was able to secure less than the filibuster-proof 60 votes in backroom negotiations and none of the various iterations of the legislation ever reached the Senate floor.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Hiya JeffN,

    Well, first, I’m not proposing it–just saying it would make a dent. Second, the right portfolio of measures will differ dramatically by region.

    I would never mandate something like that–I would continue to experiment with tax rebates etc.

    And while I favor a carbon tax, I think it has to be introduced at a low rate–I’ve always said $12/ton–and then re-evaluated every decade.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Dr. Tobis, perhaps you can explain why the energy transmission infrastructure is in such a state of disrepair? 

    I don’t think anybody is arguing that capitalism wouldn’t survive such an energy revolution (for such is what you advocate). But there would be many losers as well as winners, and some of those losers are current winners with political clout. 

    Ponder the fortunes of General Electric…

  • http://planet3.org mt

    I am really not that interested in efficiency. I am interested in getting to zero carbon. Even if you cut your usage by half that doesn’t help enough if the source is still fossil fuels, and if the source is not fossil fuels how much you use is between you and your provider and your bank account, and goes back to being pretty much none of my damn business just the way you like it.

    I don’t mean to say I am against efficiency, but the closer our target is to zero carbon, the more efficiency is beside the point. So what you spend on efficiency is, like natural gas, a help in the transition, but it needs to be recalled that it is not the goal and so I don’t think most of it should be directly factored into the costs.

    I am not asking you to seal your windows, though that is a good thing. I am asking you to give up coal and petroleum and gas fuels, at least without in situ CO2 capture and sequestration. You will hardly notice the difference, except in your energy bills, gradually, over decades. But your present bill is ridiculously subsidized by socialized costs anyway, so you’ll probably be out of pocket pretty much the same right away, and much less in the long run.

    The issue is that we can’t get there without an international agreement, and the public doesn’t understand that and doesn’t support it. The issue is not cost, or even convenience. The issue is collaboration, and that rests on comprehension, and most people just don’t get it.

  • http://planet3.org mt

    “But there would be many losers as well as winners, and some of those losers are current winners with political clout. “

    Yes. Agreed. I think that is the root of our incapacity to deal with the problem to date. 

  • Jeffn

    Tom, fair point, I’m just trying to figure out where your interrogators a going with this. It’s gotta be top-down, gotta involve sacrifice, anyone who says its more expensive than a postage stamp a day is a right-wing denier scaremonger, gonna cost $10k per capita and results in zero emissions by 2050?
    And if You are concerned about the cost well you’re just talking to the wrong economists.
    But I certainly could be misreading this, perhaps someone will link to “the plan.”

  • Tom C

    Here are some facts on decarbonization from Pielke Jr., who has, actually, um, studied the topic:

    1) To reduce carbon emissions by the approximately 80% required to stabilize CO2 in the atmosphere at a target of 450 parts per million by 2050, the developed world would have to bring its “carbon intensity” (carbon emissions per unit of GDP) down to the level of Somalia and Haiti today.

    2)Hitting that target would require “in round numbers, construction of one nuclear power plant per day (worth of carbon free energy) between now and 2050 “” and that does not include the energy needed to provide energy to1.5 billion people who currently lack energy access.”

    I don’t have time to get my calculator out, but if 80% reduction takes “one nuclear power plant per day from now until 2050″, 100% reduction sounds like a lot more than $10 K per capita.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    I see your Pielke and raise you an IEA (ETP2012):

    Achieving the 2DS would require USD 36 trillion (35%) more in investments from today to 2050 than under a scenario in which controlling carbon emissions is not a priority. That is the equivalent of an extra USD 130 per person every year. However, investing is not the same as spending: by 2025, the fuel savings realised would outweigh the investments; by 2050, the fuel savings amount to more than USD 100 trillion. Even if these potential future savings are discounted at 10%, there would be a USD 5 trillion net saving between now and 2050. If cautious assumptions of how lower demand for fossil fuels can impact prices are applied, the projected fuel savings jump to USD 150 trillion. Of course we all know that harry and tom are way smarter than those communists at the IEA…

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    I think there is a lot of innumeracy and sloppy thinking from some commenters here.

    Dr. Tobis, a watt that is never consumed is a watt that never has to be generated by any source at all. It is the most effective way of reducing fossil fuels, and your disinterest in the subject is startling.

    Your blithe assumption that since we built an energy infrastructure once we can do it again would require reallocation of resources that ventures beyond the heroic and into the absurd.

    The drunken natterers that throw quotes in from the IEA are perhaps not familiar with what they do and how they do it. And yes, Marlowe, that means you–and I may not be smarter than those at the IEA (but I’ll bet harry is) but I count better. Because I don’t have to count to predetermined totals.

  • Jeffn

    From Marlowe’s IEA link.
    “Carbon capture and storage remains critical in the long term. CCS is the only technology on the horizon today that would allow industrial sectors (such as iron and steel, cement and natural gas processing) to meet deep emissions reduction goals. Abandoning CCS as a mitigation option would significantly increase the cost of achieving the 2DS (Chapter 10). The additional investment needs in electricity that are required
    to meet the 2DS would increase by a further 40% if CCS is not available, with a total extra cost of USD 2 trillion over 40 years. Without CCS, the pressure on other emissions reduction options would also be higher.”

    Funny how when you dig into a claim about cost, the assumption is that we’ll invent something and it will be cheaper than what we actually have.

  • Tom C

    Marlowe – I read as much of that document as I could stomach.  AFAIC, it should be titled “What we Want Santa Claus to Bring Us”.

  • Tom C

    This was precious from Joshua:

    Yes, per capita energy usage is greater in countries with higher standards of living. So what is causal there? And what is the direction of causality? Wouldn’t a graph of power distribution to the citizenry  follow a similar curve?

    So, apparently a country is poor because the government does not “distribute” power to the citizenry.  Want to pull Haiti up to the living standard of Switzerland?  Just have the government “distribute” enough power (as shown on the chart!) No need to worry about who will pay for the power.  Just have the government “distribute” it and everything will be OK.

    What is the cost of energy in Nigeria? If is low, how does that translate in terms of the citizenry going hungry? If it is high, why is it high? Because of the cost of accessing the energy in Nigeria, or because of the structure of the government? What are the factors we should be evaluating to determine if it make sense to continue with a system that rewards the government of Nigeria for producing oil? 

    I’m sorry to continue being mean to you Joshua, I really am.  But you need to develop some basic understanding before you try to solve the world’s problems.  The paragraphs above show that you do not understand the concept of a market.  You need to get a simple book on economics and read it. This is not a left/right thing or a liberal/conservative thing. It’s just understanding how the world works.

  • Joshua

    Keith –

    I like your analogy of rabbit  hole.

    Now look at this statement from my friend Tom C:

    Joshua thinks expensive energy won’t hinder development in poor countries.

    Now maybe you think that is a reasonable facsimile of my argument. If so, then I can see where you’d take me to task for my earlier condescending argument.

    But from where I sit such a statement from him – as are more or less all of his posts directed towards me –  is nothing but an entrance into a rabbit hold. I see no reason to chase down after him into that dark, dank warren – no doubt filled with his little droppings. 

    Clearly, Tom has a hard-on for me. Has for a while now. As is obvious from his follow-on posts that further distort my argument, even lack of response on my part doesn’t serve as a cold shower.

    I’m all ears, Keith. Really. I’m interested in exploring how to promote reasoned dialog in blog comments. Is it possible? If so, what does it take? 

  • Keith Kloor

    Joshua,

    I hear you and see your point. So if you feel someone is not debating in good faith with you, then why bother? Just for the sport of it?

    As for promoting reasoned dialogue, well, where possible, I don’t think matching sarcasm with sarcasm will do the trick. 

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Keith,
    an example of an the kind of article that i hope gets more attention moving forward appeared yesterday in the NY Times:

    The good news is that we could insulate ourselves from catastrophic risk at relatively modest cost by enacting a steep carbon tax. Early studies by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated that a carbon tax of up to $80 per metric ton of emissions “” a tax that might raise gasoline prices by 70 cents a gallon “” would eventually result in climate stability. But because recent estimates about global warming have become more pessimistic, stabilization may require a much higher tax. How hard would it be to live with a tax of, say, $300 a ton?If such a tax were phased in, the prices of goods would rise gradually in proportion to the amount of carbon dioxide their production or use entailed. The price of gasoline, for example, would slowly rise by somewhat less than $3 a gallon. Motorists in many countries already pay that much more than Americans do, and they seem to have adapted by driving substantially more efficient vehicles.A carbon tax would also serve two other goals. First, it would help balance future budgets. Tens of millions of Americans are set to retire in the next decades, and, as a result, many budget experts agree that federal budgets simply can’t be balanced with spending cuts alone. We’ll also need substantial additional revenue, most of which could be generated by a carbon tax.If new taxes are unavoidable, why not adopt ones that not only help balance the budget but also help make the economy more efficient? By reducing harmful emissions, a carbon tax fits that description.

  • Joshua

    Tom C –

    So, apparently a country is poor because the government does not
    “distribute” power to the citizenry.  Want to pull Haiti up to the living standard of Switzerland?  Just have the government “distribute” enough power (as shown on the chart!) No need to worry about who will pay for the power.  Just have the government “distribute” it and everything will be OK.

    I couldn’t quite tell, but you may have misunderstood my comment there. When speaking about “:power” in the paragraph you responded to, I was speaking about political power.

    =================================

    As to responding to your most your post directed towards me, I believe that the combination of cheap energy with other concrete factors, along with perhaps somewhat less concrete elements such as political power distributed to a citizenry, is what best promotes development (although the causality does not flow strictly in one direction).

    Here is a quote from Development as Freedom:

    Growth of GDP or of individual outcomes can, of course, be very important as means to expanding the freedoms enjoyed by the members of a society. But freedoms depend also on other determinants, such as social and economic arrangements (for example, facilities for education and health care) as well as political and civil rights [emphasis mine] (for example, the liberty to participate in public discussion and scrutiny). Similarly, industrialization of technological progress or social modernization can substantially contribute to expanding freedom, but freedom depends on other influences as well. If freedom is what development advances, then there is a major argument for concentrating on that overarching objective, rather than on some particular means, or some specially chosen list of instruments. Viewing development in terms of expanding substantive freedoms directs attention to the ends that make development important, rather than merely to some of the means that, inter alia, play a prominent role in the process.

    You may want to pick up Sen’s book. (He knows more about economics than I do, so it may be worth your wile)

    In the meantime, if you’re interested in a give and take discussion with me, that quote would be a good place to start. If all you’re interested in doing vis-a-vis discussion with me is to repeat over and over how I know nothing about economics, then please keep dropping those pellets. But be aware that while I have taken a first step towards your warren, it is a far as I will go into your little hole. I’ll look for your response as soon as I get back from cleaning off the bottoms of my shoes.

  • Joshua

    Keith – (161)

    Yes, sometimes just for the sport of it. I have no illusions that mocking Tom C will promote good dialog. My point is that not responding doesn’t seem to work either.

    I see Tom C as a lost cause either way. Where I think that good faith dialog may be possible, I approach it differently and if I go into mock-mode in such a situation, it is absolutely correct to call me on it. I offer an open invitation to all here to call me out when I break faith in a good faith exchange. (Which I kind of did earlier today with my snark directed at Tom Fuller who has, more recently, been open to exchanging views in good faith even when I’m not clear, he doesn’t agree, or he thinks that my views are naive.)

  • Marlowe Johnson

    So if you feel someone is not debating in good faith with you, then why bother? Just for the sport of it?

    absolutely. But also because other readers might benefit from the exchange. if there were only two of us in the room it would be a completely different story.

  • Joshua

    As for the sporting aspect – I will admit that with Tom C it’s a bit like a canned hunt. But think f it like target practice so I can work on basic skills I can later use when going after big game.

  • Tom C

    Joshua – I would not be so cocky if I were you.  You don’t seem to grasp simple concepts like what a market is and how oil and electrical power differ. 

    Be that as it may, the discussion on this thread turned to how mandating renewable energy would affect economic development. 

    You jumped in and said “For now, I will repeat my assertion that an equation that says that cheap energy = fewer starving people is simplistic.” And you said “Further, I think that the oft’ hear equation that “cheap energy = economic growth and feeding poor people” is pretty facile.” 

    Did you listen to the clip from Bill Gates on this exact topic.  He takes it as axiomatic that the tremendous increase in standard of living in the last two centuries has depended on cheap energy.  He takes it as axiomatic that raising poor people out of poverty requires cheap energy.  He takes these as axiomatic not because he is rich, or smart, but because THAT IS THE JUDGMENT OF ALL ECONOMISTS.  It is the necessary but not sufficient condition (obviously good government is also required). 

    If you and mt want to entertain daydreams to the contrary that is your business.  Informed climate realists like Fuller, Pielke, and Gates think otherwise.

    P.S. If you want to avoid coming across as a blowhard, try to not use phrases like “For now, I will repeat my assertion…”

  • Joshua

    Tom C –

    Thanks for that advice. I will take it under advisement with due consideration of the source. For now, I will repeat my assertion that you are misconstruing my argument. 

    It is the necessary but not sufficient condition (obviously good government is also required

    Now while you still have a way to go,  I will commend you for getting closer. My advise now would be for you to go back and reread the excerpt from Sen. As I said, that would be a good place to begin. Try thinking about what you just wrote as you reread what he wrote.

    And here’s an interesting and related article. It gives a little background on Sen, and it provides some information detailing his perspective on Gates’ approach. The last sentence on the section about Sen sums it up:

    “It can do a lot of good,” he said. “But it’s not the way of solving the problem.”

    http://www.harpers.org/archive/2009/06/0082533

    All-in-all not bad, though. I find only a few smudges that can be easily cleaned off. I do consider that progress. Keep this up and I may have to return some of that lettuce I bought in preparation for further discussions with you.

  • BBD

    Perhaps Joshua is pointing to a novel idea:

    There’s more than one way to skin a cat ;-)

  • Marlowe Johnson

    is it too much to ask for proponents of poverty alleviation to point to the vast body of literature from economists (of which bill gates doesn’t belong) which suggests that *cheap* energy is the yolk that keeps poor countries poor? I would think that Nigerians, for example, would beg to differ…

    oh and bbd, as bleeding heart liberal, i tend to prefer less gruesome metaphors. consider for example ‘feeding two squirrels with one nut

    just a friendly suggestion ;)

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    > I would not be so cocky if I were you.

    And what if Tom C were Tom C?

  • jim

    Michael Tobis Says:

    #44
    “I don’t think any [other technologies] will be cheaper than fossil fuels as long as we continue socializing the costs and privatizing the benefits of fossil fuels.

    Do you  not recognize the myriad “socialized” benefits cheap energy ““ that is, fossil fuels ““ have delivered in the preceding 100 years?  Vaccines?  Transportation?   Food surpluses?  Sanitation?  Educatoin?  Could any of these things have been achieved by burning wood and whale blubber and hay?  If so, would the environmental damage be lesser or greater?
     
    By your logic, what should we do with Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, Apple and all the other titans of the technology age that receive “socialized” benefits in the form of “incentives” (e.g., tax breaks) to locate in various areas, to innovate (reduced taxes on stock options) etc?  Do these firms and the products they produce provide insufficient social benefits to justify the cost of reduced taxes?

    #55
    “Yes, in the west we are in carbon debt.”

    How so?  How will the developing world repay us for the technology that we’ve developed and the knowledge that we’ve acquired and granted to them at no cost?

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    #172, lots of points of contention.I’ll give you the other items on your list, but the idea that education is related to cheap energy escapes me. Compare the average education in Kerala vs the US. (I’ve known a couple of Keralans and they both kicked butt, one as a scientist and one as an engineer.)Not sure why you want me to support the race to the bottom by local communities and states chasing jobs and cutting corporate taxes to do it. That not only seems like a bad idea, but a badness that left and right could agree upon.Of course cheap energy funded our progress. But at present and prospective scales it is no longer cheap. Just like a drink of wine can be healthy and a gallon of wine isn’t. The whole point of the debate is that the environment is creaking under the load of the carbon we have emitted already, and we have decades of emissions ahead of us even if we start acting. Of course if that weren’t happening there are other socialized impacts – conventional pollution and military implications most notably. These costs are not factored in at the point of sale, so it amounts to a hidden subsidy.The point of carbon debt is that if one accepts a trillion tons as the cap, and that the half billion already emitted was mostly emitted by the west with only a quarter of the total population, we’ve already used up our share. 

  • Howard

    One of the main thrusts of this post was a suggestion that environmental justice in developing nations may be the latest silver bullet to sell climate change remedial action by creating western guilt grassroots outrage.  I repeatedly made the point that climate action effectively reduces environmental justice in the developing world by sucking time, money, resources and human capital away from environmental research and development that deals with known, documented harm occurring IN THE NOW.  Climate change, however, seeks to solve problems that are predicted to perhaps impact decades to a century from now.  This de-prioritization of ongoing human and environmental harm is puzzling given the recent consensus about the wisdom of Alan Watts and other zenophyllic spiritual gurus who claim that the NOW is all there is.

  • Tom C

    Hi Willard – I read the “incredible” link that you provided.  I hereby join the large number of posters here who have no idea what you are talking about.  I did notice, though, halfway down the page that the two hapless archeologists who have an idea about the Easter island statues were again under attack.  I have to say, the prominence of this topic and these guys to climate alarmists is truly bizarre.

  • Tom C

    Joshua – I don’t have the time tonight to respond in a more detailed way.  But just one thing.  In your post # 91 you seem to say that energy would be cheaper if a government distributes it to its citizenry.  Is this really what you think?

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Tom C,

    Please point to me the last comment where you did not attack a commenter.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Tom C,

    Well, by some miracle #176 answers my question.

    Thus I will answer #175:

    The prominence has to do with mt’s Keith’s interest in the Easter Island story. You can find this bizarre all you want. Not that this comment of yours has anything to do with the price of tea.

    The post you do not get tries to make a distinction between two stances: the skeptical one and the incredulous one. I believe that #176 is a good example of a skeptical one. I believe that #167 and its copycats are a good example of an incredulous stance.

    In the case of #176, you are asking questions.

    In most if not all the other cases, you claim that lots of people hold a belief that goes against some (aluminium?) law of economics and are therefore (paraphrasing) barely rational individuals.

    I don’t know about you, but I certainly prefer the first stance.

    Your contempt toward Joshua makes might not suffice for you to teach anyone the valuable lessons in economics that you could provide.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    I count 12 rhetorical questions in #172.

  • jim

    #173
     
    Education is related to energy because it’s paid for by tax revenue generated through economic growth, and the economic growth is generated in substantial part by low-cost energy derived (currently) from fossil fuels. 
     
    Crank up the cost of energy by funding more costly forms of energy with taxpayer support (subsidies, carbon taxes, “green energy” quotas – all amount to a mark on the minus side of the ledger) and there is less wealth to spend on social programs, which include education.
     
    Re: Tech Titans, I agree, dropping taxes to attract employment is a bad thing.  OTOH, if govs didn’t drop taxes, off the Techs go to India.   So that’s the calculation governments make: what’s the minimum I can lower the taxes and still get the social benefit?  It’s the calculation Obama refuses to accept WRT foreign profits of US corps. 

    “at present [fossil fuel] is no longer cheap”

    The value of a product is determined by the price of that product relative to replacements available on the market.  “Cheap” is meaningless without a comparison. 
     
    Comparing the cost/benefit of electric cars to that of gasoline cars reveals that oil is still cheaper.  Comparing the cost/benefit of wind turbines and solar plants to coal plants reveals that coal is still cheaper.

    “[Environmental] costs are not factored in at the point of sale, so it amounts to a hidden subsidy.”

    This is conventional wisdom, and it’s true.  But it’s only half the story.  Long range benefits are not factored in at the point of sale either.  What is the long range value of vaccines?   What is the long range value of fertilizer?  Drought resistant corn?   Air transportation?  Sanitation?  3D printers?  Our patent system ensures that the company or individual that develops a marketable technology has time-limited rights to that technology.  Beyond that, the product becomes a commodity and its price falls.  As the price falls, the value to society increases, yet the creator of the technology no longer has rights to that value.    It is these long-range benefits that accrue free of charge to developing countries ““ they get the benefit but did not pay the costs of development.

    “the environment is creaking under the load of the carbon we have emitted already”¦”

    And yet every cent we devote towards poor technology today reduces our ability to improve tomorrow’s technology.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Dr. Tobis, even if you got a huge majority of people to agree that there should be a cap on emissions and it should be equivalent to 1 trillion tons of carbon (and I for one do not agree–I don’t think we know if a) there should be a cap and b) what if anything it should be), what on earth do you think would be the result of that agreement?

    What do you think the Western World will do if someone tells it that they can’t use any more fossil fuels? Do you think the West will stop? Moderate? Start feeling guilty and pay reparations? I would say none of the above.

  • http://planet3.org mt

    #181, perhaps, but that is a different argument. It seems to me that agreeing in principle comes before actually finding a mechanism. 

    The lack of agreement in principle is what prevented adequate mechanisms from being put in place at Copenhagen. We have an agreement to avoid “dangerous interference”, but not sufficiently understanding that an all-time cap is equivalent to avoiding dangerous interference. Once we understand the need for an all-time cap we can argue about the actual numerical threshold. The trillion tons is riskier in a climate sense, and more moderate in a policy/economics sense, than the Copenhagen target, which was about equivalent to 3/4 trillion. 

    At what point the actual damages actually cost more in dollars than the policy to avoid them is hard to estimate. Many people with a good sense of the problem think 3/4 trillion is pushing our luck. A trillion is likely suboptimal but it accounts for the decade we just lost on the political front. We won’t do better than that. The only question is how much worse.

    McKibben’s Rolling Stone piece shows that we are in much deeper trouble without a cap, as there are already more than three trillion tons in carbon equivalent in proven fuel reserves, on the books as assets.  If you are right and McKibben’s number is right, we are going to pretty much leave the earth in ruins in service of political expedience.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    well Tom if you’re right (and you may well be), it’s a good thing that sensitivity is 1.9 C and carbon doesn’t accumulate in the atmosphere. And hey, even if you’re wrong, you’ll be long gone by the time the shit really hits the fan right? 

    If only the rest of us were lucky enough to share your optimism and personal circumstance.

  • Tom C

    Willard – I realize that I am coming across quite nasty regarding Joshua and mt.  Perhaps that is not helping my persuasiveness, so thanks for pointing it out.  That said, my animus is due to the fact that the political agenda they espouse would be disasterous, not just for us in the West but most especially for those in developing countries.  Howard and jim have laid out the case very well.  I don’t know what jim does for a living but he understands economics.  If mt and Joshua want to propose grand re-structuring of the global economy they have to at least make an effort to understand the basics of economics.  Again, this is not a conservative/liberal thing.  This is a reality vs. fairyland thing. 

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Speaking of Bill Gates:

    [W]e put out a lot of carbon dioxide every year, over 26 billion tons. For each American, it’s about 20 tons; for people in poor countries, it’s less than one ton. It’s an average of about five tons for everyone on the planet. And, somehow, we have to make changes that will bring that down to zero. It’s been constantly going up. It’s only various economic changes that have even flattened it at all, so we have to go from rapidly rising to falling, and falling all the way to zero.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/bill_gates.html

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Tom C we’re still waiting for your links showing the consensus among economists that climate mitigation policy will doom the poor of the world to stay poor. you haven’t forgotten have you?

  • PDA

    One is often struck by the skepticism and doubt some evince toward climate change, as compared to the unquestioning acceptance of “disasterous” consequences of any mitigation.

    One might almost call it “alarmist.” Almost.

  • BBD

    Marlowe

    I’ve asked time and again for *evidence* that climate mitigation policy kills poor people. I have never, ever been shown a damn thing. Just opinion based on nothing. Same old same old. Reminds me of those nonsense ‘lukewarm’ ECS claims.

  • BBD

    willard

    Thanks for digging that out. It seems that Mr G does ‘get it’ after all.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Tom C,

    Thank you for your candor, which means a lot to me.

    I neither believe that mt or Joshua know nothing about economics, nor that jim and Howard know economics. As far as I can see, the discussion (let’s be generous and call that a discussion) is just one step below political slogans. These two pairs of commenters emphasize different material constraints, that’s all.

    Let’s take that Bill Gates talk I just linked. Gates starts with acknowledging what you said: the best way to improve our daily lives is to have more energy, and usually that means cheaper energy. But he follows that with this challenge: we need to get our CO2 emission to a full stop in a somewhat near (on a geological scale, at least) future.

    This is a very big challenge.

    I don’t believe there is a bigger challenge, standing aside understanding half of my comments.

    This challenge underlines two constraints.

    We won’t solve this challenge by forgetting about one of these constraints.

    Nor will we be able to solve this challenge by sticking to an analysis of the material constraints that stays just a bit below political slogans or by questioning each others’ competence. The competence of people should speak by itself, btw. If a commenter needs to underline another’s competence, chance are that we’re witnessing an illegitimate behavior that hides a weakness in one’s own competence, and perhaps more importantly, one’s incapacity to meet the challenge at hand.

    Speaking from my own experience, the polarization of constraints led to intellectual debates that were quite energizing, but perhaps a bit sterile in retrospect: rationalism vs empiricism, realism vs nominalism, formalism vs intuitionism, etc.

    There are other hypothesis that lack of knowledge of economics. Not that they matter much.

    What matters is the challenge of energy and CO2 emission, not what Joshua does not know about the aluminium law of economics.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Speaking of economics, Michael and Mosher might be interested in a recent presentation by Nordhaus here, wherein he discusses error rates in model code (begins around slide 35).

    The fact is that scientists and economists are amateurs at software engineering.

    paging the auditors!

  • Joshua

    One might almost call it “alarmist.” Almost.

    Almost the biggest irony to be found in the climate debate lunchroom food fight. Almost.

  • BBD

    On a general note, it’s been… instructive to watch this thread develop. The movement from debate over whether fracking is a false friend to ‘let’s do nothing‘ was fairly rapid.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    For those who tldr that last comment:

    We don’t know what to do exactly.

    We’re afraid of our selves.

    We’re waiting for Godot at Keith’s.

  • BBD

    Marlowe

    It was only when I read Oreskes & Conway that I finally understood where Nordhaus fits ‘historically’ into the climate debate. Which horse he backs, as it were. I should have read that book a long time ago.

  • BBD

    @ 194 yup. But I read your #190.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Speaking of Nordhaus, his  instructive rebuttal to climate the ‘wall street journal 16 skeptics’ can be found here. Now I don’t know much, but I do know that he’s an economist, so it would seem that Tom C and jim have some explainin’ to do. I predict no true scottsman. Oh and just in case you think you’re wondering where Nordhaus stands on the issue of mitigation policy:

    This leads to the second point, which is that the authors summarize my results incorrectly. My research shows that there are indeed substantial net benefits from acting now rather than waiting fifty years. A look at Table 5-1 in my study A Question of Balance (2008) shows that the cost of waiting fifty years to begin reducing CO2 emissions is $2.3 trillion in 2005 prices. If we bring that number to today’s economy and prices, the loss from waiting is $4.1 trillion. Wars have been started over smaller sums.

    My study is just one of many economic studies showing that economic efficiency would point to the need to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions right now, and not to wait for a half-century. Waiting is not only economically costly, but will also make the transition much more costly when it eventually takes place. Current economic studies also suggest that the most efficient policy is to raise the cost of CO2 emissions substantially, either through cap-and-trade or carbon taxes, to provide appropriate incentives for businesses and households to move to low-carbon activities.

    One might argue that there are many uncertainties here, and we should wait until the uncertainties are resolved. Yes, there are many uncertainties. That does not imply that action should be delayed. Indeed, my experience in studying this subject for many years is that we have discovered more puzzles and greater uncertainties as researchers dig deeper into the field. There are continuing major questions about the future of the great ice sheets of Greenland and West Antarctica; the thawing of vast deposits of frozen methane; changes in the circulation patterns of the North Atlantic; the potential for runaway warming; and the impacts of ocean carbonization and acidification. Moreover, our economic models have great difficulties incorporating these major geophysical changes and their impacts in a reliable manner. Policies implemented today serve as a hedge against unsuspected future dangers that suddenly emerge to threaten our economies or environment. So, if anything, the uncertainties would point to a more rather than less forceful policy””and one starting sooner rather than later””to slow climate change.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    oh and for those who like to play with models, Nordhaus has a nifty little excel model here.

  • http://planet3.org mt

    At the risk of having this hung round my neck forever, and whatever else you may say about Nordhaus, “The fact is that scientists and economists are amateurs at software engineering.” is plainly correct.

    However, to use my favorite ten dollar word, there are epistemological differences in the actual models used and the purposes to which they are put. Economic models are far less empirically constrained. One has to know a little bit about both fields and about modeling to make the comparison. 

    Climate models are adequate simulations for numerous purposes; they capture many features of the system they model. Economic models, especially those based in whole or in part on general equilibrium constraints, are crude models at best, even where equilibrium conditions arguably exist. Their purpose is purely conceptual and they have very little prognostic value.

    This is very unfortunate. We desperately need economic models which work to help us make these decisions. That all said, and in defense of economists, the “any constraint on carbon would be economically disastrous” folk, let’s note, are blog trolls and think tank work-for-hire intellectuals, not economists.

  • Joshua

    jim –

    MT:“[Environmental] costs are not factored in at the point of sale, so it amounts to a hidden subsidy.”

    YOU: This is conventional wisdom, and it’s true.  But it’s only half the
    story.  Long range benefits are not factored in at the point of sale either.  What is the long range value of vaccines?   What is the long range value of fertilizer?  Drought resistant corn?   Air transportation?  Sanitation?  3D printers?  Our patent system ensures
    that the company or individual that develops a marketable technology has time-limited rights to that technology.  Beyond that, the product
    becomes a commodity and its price falls.  As the price falls, the value to society increases, yet the creator of the technology no longer has
    rights to that value.    It is these long-range benefits that accrue free of charge to developing countries ““ they get the benefit but did
    not pay the costs of development.

    From where I sit, you haven’t really dealt with MT’s point. Yes, there are long-range benefits derived directly or more indirectly from fossil fuel energy. But those long-range benefits would also be derived from other sources of energy. The long-range benefits from commoditization would also accrue with other energy sources.

    Those issues could be the focus of interesting discussion, but for now, I will repeat my assertion (in part because it annoys Tom C), that an equation that cheap=energy equals economic growth and feeding poor people is simplistic. To quote my friend Tom C – cheap energy “is the necessary but not sufficient condition,” except I will point out that his use of the definite article there is not correct.

    It is a necessary but not sufficient condition (or perhaps depending on an examination of a less binary and simplistic conceptualiztion, we might have to modify the statement even further;  i.e., that statement is fairly meaningless without qualifying “cheap energy” into comparative structures that weigh cost of energy against other variables such as concentration of profits in small sectors of the population or cheap energy that concentrates economic and political power into the hands of authoritarian regimes) .I think that in order to unpack the simplistic equation of cheap energy = economic growth and fewer hungry people, I think it is necessary to discuss a couple of variables. I am suggesting a prioritization of those variables, and I am adding one more to an earlier statement:

    1) Democratic governing processes that equitably distribute agency and [political] power.

    2) Efficient maximization of human capital

    3) Quantifying the full range of externalities (positive and negative) associated with different sources of energy.

    I’m sure that there may be other, very important variables. But that third variable is the one that comes to my mind when I read your post. Again, I think that your treatment of that variable as reflected in your post needs more work. You seem to lean towards a focusing on the positive externalities associated with fossil fuels w/o full consideration of the negative externalities of fossil fuels or control for how the positive externalities associated currently with fossil fuel might be provided by other sources of energy.

    And again, I tend to think that in balance substituting other sources of energy will required sacrifice. But if we’re assuming that mitigating the impact of climate change is worth sacrifice, then the follow-on questions become how much sacrifice and how that sacrifice will be distributed.

    Just out of curiosity – did you read the article I linked that talks about Gates and Sen? I think that Sen’s arguments are relevant to this dicussion, although they aren’t directly focused on climate change policy but more on issues related to growth generally. Keep in mind that Sen pays a lot of respect to the economic theories of Adam Smith and Arthur Pigou.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Michael,

    IMO economic models of the FUND/DICE variety contain so many uncertainties that they are, at best, only useful for providing a very general sense of the costs/benefits. so many normative assumptions are factored into them (e.g. discount rate), that you’ll never be able to get the same kind of precision that you could with a model based purely on physics.

    But that is neither here nor there. Ultimately, decisions about how much and how quickly to mitigate must be based on political/normative considerations, not vague output from integrated assessment models. This is not to say that such academic exercises are useless, but rather that their utility in the overall policy making process needs to be kept in perspective.

  • Joshua

    MT  (199) -

    However, to use my favorite ten dollar word, there are epistemological
    differences in the actual models used and the purposes to which they are
    put. Economic models are far less empirically constrained. One has to
    know a little bit about both fields and about modeling to make the
    comparison.

    I don’t understand how you’re using epistemological there. Could you explain a bit more?

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Marlowe,

    Have you noticed that comments like #197 and #201 usually attract less response?

    We can almost expect that mt will be the next target.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Just a couple of quick questions–why do alarmists spend so much time slamming Nordhaus and now turn to him in this discussion?

    More importantly, for those of us who actually are doing something now, why do alarmists think they are the ones pushing for change when they in fact are either blocking it as inadequate or dismissing others’ efforts as irrelevant?

    And why are comments about the ability of scientists to hack code good to know in this context but not when evaluating climate models or HarryReadMe?

  • Howard

    Willard:  I agree: Cheap and carbon free energy is the goal.  Is it the most important?  Not now, but it needs be solved by 2050 and up and running by 2075 (swag).  How best to solve it?  The standard climate change policy advocating forced development of new infrastructure using theoretical, immature and/or expensive technology is a recipe for failure. The incessant promotion of sustainable and renewable pipe-dream buzz-words stink like W’s tumbrel remarks during Katrina.  India and China are not going to go for it because they still have billions of skinny people without internet access, automobiles, washing machines and nylon stockings.  They will probably want clean water and air and proper waste treatment before getting outraged by carbon dioxide and the inundation of Malibu beach homes.  The world needs to grow more smart people to solve your two constraint problem.  This requires wealthy societies with abundant leisure time. China and India have the greatest potential for contributing brains and brawn to the problem.  They are already contributing to our elite science and engineering institutions and corporations right now.   If we use what works TODAY to increase prosperity, we set the stage for future transformation and adaptability. 

  • Marlowe Johnson

    @203

    still early days, but your prediction seems to be holding up….

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    A few more questions to just gather electronic dust as they seem awkward to some:Why is nobody talking about what the U.S. has actually done with regards to energy consumption and CO2 emissions? Are there no lessons to be learned from recent successes?Being a bit suspicious of artificially round numbers, I have questions about 1 trillion tons of carbon. Is it tons or tonnes? Big difference…Who calculated the carrying capacity of the 5 great carbon sinks on this planet and when did our understanding of those sinks improve so dramatically?Why does nobody wish to discuss the juxtaposition of the two recent announcements–that in the U.S., 24 coal plants will be retired in the near future, to be replaced by natural gas, while in Germany they are building 23 new coal plants to deal with their decision to retire nuclear capacity?

  • Joshua

    (207) Tom –

    Are there no lessons to be learned from recent successes?

    To the extent that the lower emissions are a product of an economic downturn and more emissions in other countries, I’m not sure that those could be called “successes” or lessons (in that it was something we already knew would happen)

    We already knew that a price advantage for an energy source that results in less ACO2 would reduce emissions. So I don’t think that is a lesson.

    There is a related question that has existed all along – and I don’t think there are lessons gained from recent emission reductions about how to answer it That question is how to predict the impact of cost advantages resulting in lower emissions work when applied very differently: When it is applied by increasing the cost advantage non-ACO2 emitting sources by making fossil fuels more expensive.

    I think that the recent success does not provide instruction on how to affect the question of whether we need should be focusing on reducing the rate of ACO2 emissions as opposed to working on ending ACO2 emissions. It seems to me that MT and some others have made some strong arguments in this thread on that topic, and I don’t think I’ve seen anyone address the fundamental point they keep raising.With all that said – I would like to know what are the lessons you see that can be learned from recent success?

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Willard do you hear the sound of coconuts? does #207 qualify as a gish gallup?

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Okay, kiddies–nothing to see here, let’s all just move along. When you do your Trillion Ton March, it will be more like a Long March, but not because you got a lot of people to participate…

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Howard,

    Indeed, forced development using pipe-dream buzz-words to save Malibu beaches while India and China might not be the most important thing right now.

    More prosperity TODAY.

    Thank you for using my comment for your daily political speech.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Marlowe,

    Have you noticed how the shirt ripping in #210 helps our Groundskeeper Willie to respond to your argument (one rhetorical metaquestion notwithstanding), and that the “trillion ton march” jab almost fulfills our prediction?

  • PDA

    That was a very gnomic comment, willard. One might almost call it “zenophyllic.”

    Almost.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Hey willard–your shirt’s all ripped. What’s Up With That?

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Words disappeared:

    Have you noticed how the shirt ripping in #210 helps our Groundskeeper Willie to “forget” to respond to your argument (one rhetorical metaquestion notwithstanding), and that the “trillion ton march” jab almost fulfills our prediction?

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    > What’s Up With That?

    Reminds me of a team:

    http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/post/21794194024

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    #209,

    Well, this is a temperate zone.

  • Joshua

    Seriously?

    Fuller is in a picture titled “Team WUWT?”

    Say it ain’t so, Tom. Say it ain’t so.

  • Tom Scharf

    Has anyone ever had a problem finding an economist who made an argument supporting his side of an argument?  Can anyone make a coherent argument about the net value to society that economists bring and how their efforts rise to the level of a Nobel prize?

    Imagine a world without economists.  Pretty much nothing changes.  That is their value.  Imagine a world without scientists and engineers.  No Nobel prize for engineering.

    The fact that some on this discussion want to debate whether artificially increasing the cost of living through significantly higher energy prices will have a negative impact, well, that is a very weak argument.  Better off simply saying the cost now is worth the benefit later, that may have merit.  Trying to obfuscate this fact is disingenuous, and leads critical thinkers to dismiss your argument in entirety.

    It is curious that on both sides of any politicized argument, many feel that in order to win the argument, it is necessary to win *every* sub argument in the process.  Every counter point must be refuted as false, we accept *none* of your points.  Debate club for academic reasons is dreary.

    We run a hard to define risk of very negative consequences in the future if we do not cut carbon emissions significantly.    Cutting carbon emissions significantly in the near term has very negative economic consequences now.  Local near term economics wins every time (want to debate that?).  The puck hasn’t moved from here in ten years, and not likely to move in the next ten.

    Regardless of who scores more points in the endless climate war chatter on a daily basis, the end result will be the slow migration (i.e. marathon) to economically viable low carbon energy.  This where the focus should be.  

    Working within the confines of reality, such as accepting fracking and nuclear as not perfect answers pushing the world in the right direction, is reasonable.  Knee jerk obstructionism to fracking because it is from “big oil” and decommissioning nuclear energy plants and replacing them with coal plants, is not reasonable.  It makes people question what side of the fight you are on, and what your motives truly are.  A consistent focused message will help you win your fight.  Economic penalties, perceived or real,  must be justified, with a lot more than a hand wave, or.you.will.lose.

  • Joshua

    That’s what Eschenback looks like? If ever I expected anyone to look like shirt-rippin’ Willie, it would be Willis.

    In fact, I always assumed Willis was the inspiration for the character.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Now I don’t know much, but #219 is definitely a gish gallup. Now where is that swallow?

  • Joshua

    Has anyone ever had a problem finding an economist who made an argument
    supporting his side of an argument?  Can anyone make a coherent argument about the net value to society that economists bring and how their efforts rise to the level of a Nobel prize?

    Has anyone ever been able to find a true Scotsman?

  • Joshua

    Cutting carbon emissions significantly in the near term has very negative economic consequences now.

    An opinion obtained, obviously, without any input from any of those worthless economists.

    Ladies and gentlemen, I think we may have found a true economist, er…Scotsman.

  • PDA

    Cutting carbon emissions significantly in the near term has very negative economic consequences now.

    I don’t dispute that there will be consequences, but I question the timing and severity of those consequences. There may also be benefits to decarbonization.

    What I’m saying is, I’m skeptical. Why won’t those economists release their code and data? The burden of proof is on them.

  • harrywr2

    #199 MT

    We desperately need economic models which work to help us make these decisions.

    Economic models are incapable of predicting innovation. Some innovation is ‘incremental’  but a lot of innovation is ‘black swan’. 

    Here is an academic paper done by LBL in 1998 on the economics of central air conditioners.

    http://efficiency.lbl.gov/drupal.files/ees/Determining%20Benefist%20and%20Costs%20of%20Improved%20Central%20Air%20Conditioner%20Efficiencys_LBNL-47351.pdf

    The efficiency levels considered are 11, 12,and 13 SEER as well as a maximum technologically feasible efficiency level of 18 SEER.

    Here is an LG split system air conditioner with a SEER rating of 28

    http://www.totalhomesupply.com/Ductless-Mini-Split-Air-Conditioner-Heat-Pump-p/lg-ls090hyv.htm

    10/28 = 36% of the energy use per unit of cooling then the currently installed average air conditioner. Some currently installed air conditioners have a SEER rating of 6.  It’s safe to say every air conditioner in the US will be replaced at least once and possibly twice in the next 30 years.

    We don’t know what tools we will have to address CO2 emissions 10 years from now, never mind 40 years from now. We can only take the lesson of history that today’s tools are better then yesterdays tools so tomorrows tools will probably be better then today’s.

  • http://planet3.org Michael Tobis
  • http://planet3.org Michael Tobis

    #225 So that means costs of mitigation are systematically overestimated, right? Then we agree on something for a change.

  • Tom C

    Willard – I don’t have time to read the entire document and I don’t agree with all his assumptions, but as far as I can tell, what Nordhaus says in 197 does not contradict the points I am trying to make. Re Bill Gates, he is pointing out that (assuming AGW predictions are true) we are in a quandry regarding the effect on the poor.  Again, this seems to support what I am saying.  What I have objected to all along is the position that total transition to a decarbonized economy is feasible (mt) and that it won’t hurt the poor (Joshua). As far as 201, well, I don’t get what the point is.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Marlowe,

    Have you noticed #225?

    All we need is the guest appearance of our Knight of Ni shrieking about models, and we’ll reach another neverending thread at Keith’s.

  • Tom C

    Joshua – There are many factors that influence economic development: culture, political system, climate, etc.  But, all things being equal, more money spent on energy means less money spent on everything else, including investment, charity, education, you name it.  This is so basic as to not warrant debate.  Your excursions into Amartya Sen’s thought have no relation to the topic under consideration in this thread. Your posts #81 and #91 are incoherent and reveal a lack of basic understanding. 

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Tom C,

    I guess that the “does not contradict” operator will have to do for now.

    Please let’s beware that the numbers at Keith’s are sensible to moderated comments: my own #201 starts with:

    IMO economic models of the FUND/DICE variety contain so many uncertainties that they are, at best, only useful for providing a very general sense of the costs/benefits. so many normative assumptions are factored into them (e.g. discount rate), that you’ll never be able to get the same kind of precision that you could with a model based purely on physics.

    So I have no idea to which comment you are referring.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    @227

    I predict he’ll try and walk that one back pretty quick.

  • Tom Scharf

    #223, #224.  Well, it depends, doesn’t it?  Just on this thread we have people talking about “only” $30K per family.  Others like making statements about “only” 1% or 2% of GDP.  Those are very measurable negative consequences to the economy. Using more expensive energy in place of available lower cost energy is truly a zero sum game economically.  Willful ignorance about this simple point is not debatable, but you can keep trying if you want.Economic pain now for future benefits later (college education) is something people understand.  Make a compelling argument with this and you might win, obfuscation and economic denial isn’t likely to get you very far (and it hasn’t).  

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Sooner or later, comments like the one you posted on August 29th, 2012 at 12:58 pm will be used against you, Tom C.

    Such ceteris paribus clause alone makes you lose, as now you’ve just admitted using armchair economics.

    Such dismissal of Sen does not bode well for your integrity.

    Such constant questioning of your interlocutors’ competence fizzles as soon as we see that it’s based on a shameless caricature.

    A wasted opportunity.

  • PDA

    It’s a bit difficult for me to think of anything much more obfuscatory than pricing “doing nothing” at “free” and “doing something” at “disaster.”

    What do the alarmist economists have to hide? Release the code!

  • John F. Pittman

    #201 has a lot of general truth, it would be hard to disagree or specifically agree other than state it seems a reasonable comment.#197 depends on the part bolded My research shows that there are indeed substantial net benefits from acting now rather than waiting fifty years. The problem is that this is a very general comment in that the reasearch depended on the assumptions of value, cost, cost of externalities, etc. It may be reasonable, but is speculation.One can use other assumptions and paint the opposite picture. One of the problems in this discussion is the continuing refusal to acknowledge what the founders of Ecology determined, and that is the use of energy is what defines man. As far as the economics, there is a continuing refusal to acknowledge that if an energy source costs more it will have an adverse economic effect due to market inefficiencies. All the economic work I have read to date that agree with this research  have the following types of asssumptions: 1. Eventually oil/carbon will be as expensive or more than renewable; 2. the cost of the externalities are much higher than economists use for other future cost decisions; 3. ignoring the cost of failure in investing in immature technology; 4. discounting the cost savings of incremental capitalization versus capital outlays because of the assumptions of 1,2, and 3. The economics is every bit as wicked and I would say more so than climate science itself.

  • BBD

    Tom Fuller @ 204

    I don’t think someone who has his own private physics and  his own private ECS of 1.9C is allowed to call other people ‘alarmists’. Ever.

    More importantly, for those of us who actually are doing something now, why do alarmists think they are the ones pushing for change when they in fact are either blocking it as inadequate or dismissing others’ efforts as irrelevant?

    I’ve explained that most people do not share this perspective. They see the economy, exported emissions and American parochialism, not ‘recent successes’. Now Joshua has explained this too (#208).

    When are you going to start paying attention?

  • Tom Scharf

    #226  Wow, more really creative thinking, sarcasm.  When all you have is a hammer…

    Careful policy measures can enable a more compelling coexistence of natural gas and renewables. For example, one option would be to place a tax on natural gas (as well as coal and oil) that begins in ten years and increases by a set amount every five years. 

  • BBD

    Dear god it’s not hard:

    Policy choices like frakking create and lock in emissions generation. They are a decisive step in the wrong direction.

  • jim

    Joshua:

    Yes, there are long-range benefits derived directly or more indirectly from fossil fuel energy. But those long-range benefits would also be derived from other sources of energy.

    The long range benefits are exponentially reduced by the cost difference between any two sources of energy.  The cost difference already accounts for relative abundance, availability, portability, energy density, and likely short- mid-term environmental impacts. 
     
    The fact that FF were far cheaper throughout the 20th century than any other source of energy in terms of these cost tradeoffs is demonstrated by the rapid disappearance from the market of almost every other energy source. 
     
    Thus, I reiterate my point: so far, the socialized benefits of fossil fuels far outweigh the socialized costs.  We can argue about whether that will remain true in the future.

    “weigh cost of energy against other variables such as concentration of profits in small sectors of the population”

    The “concentration of profits in small sectors of the population” is allowed because it serves the public interest.  It drives innovators to compete for the capital that allows them to spread beneficial innovations rapidly through society. 
     
    Consult your government regarding the degree to which this concentration should be allowed.  From an economic standpoint, it should be set at the minimum level necessary to encourage the necessary risk and effort.  IMO, it is currently set far too high, allowing far too much concentration of wealth.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Tom C we’re still waiting for your links showing the consensus among economists that climate mitigation policy will doom the poor of the world to stay poor. you haven’t forgotten have you? 

  • Marlowe Johnson

    looks like we’re going to need more coconuts. anyone know what the record for gish gallups on a single blog post is? 

  • jeffn

    Marlowe, which mitigation policy? Post a link to the detailed policy that you want a detailed evaluation on, please.
    Thanks.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    i’m not doing your homework for you jeff. there’s lots to choose from. try google.

  • jeffn

    Marlowe, I didn’t think you had a plan.

    Shorter version of this debate:
    Marlowe- let’s make energy expensive!
    Everyone- that will hurt the poor.
    Marlowe- we will make it expensive in such a way that it has no negative consequences, but still pushes people to adopt a wholesale change in energy use!
    Everyone- how? That defies basic logic, much less econ 101.
    Marlowe- I’m not saying how! You figure it out!

  • http://planet3.org mt

    Hmm, I read it as

    Marlowe – Let’s stop hidden subsidies for the dirtiest and most dangerous forms of energy!

    Everyone – How?

    Marlowe – By making the people who do the damage pay for the damage.

    Everyone – Look! A squirrel!

    I guess, as ever, ymmv…

  • http://planet3.org mt

    Hmm, I read it as

    Marlowe – Let’s stop hidden subsidies for the dirtiest and most dangerous forms of energy!

    Everyone – How?

    Marlowe – By making the people who do the damage pay for the damage.

    Everyone – Look! A squirrel!

    I guess, as ever, ymmv…

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    I read it as the simile of this:

    If liberals respond to the provocations of the Right with rigidity, vitriol, outrage, and a growing unwillingness to compromise, they only strengthen the hand of their opponents, contribute to the gridlock of our political institutions, provide Republicans with an easy justification for obstruction, and ultimately make the unthinkable — the dismantling of the postwar welfare state — thinkable. Conservatives, in this sense, are playing a long game, happy to starve the beast and delighted by dysfunction, even when they control the government. For this reason, as liberals unwittingly conspire to turn American politics into a zero-sum game, conservatives win even when they lose.

    http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/journal/issue-3/the-polarization-paradox/

    Rhetorically speaking, of course.

    Or, to use the expression of our armchair economist, I see nothing in that quote that is contradicted by the content of the thread.

    Well, almost.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Oh, and that link was taken from Keith’s tweets.

    So here’s a toast to the Overton window, Marlowe.

  • Joshua

    jim -

    The long range benefits are exponentially reduced by the cost difference
    between any two sources of energy. 

    Makes sense.

    The cost difference already
    accounts for relative abundance, availability, portability, energy density, and likely short- mid-term environmental impacts. 

    I don’t really know what that means. I mean the underlying logic seems sound, but how are you accounting for illness due to particulate matter, environmental damage from, say, strip mining, deaths attributable to the coal industry, etc? Without quantifying those phenomena, how do you make that statement with such confidence?

    The fact that FF were far cheaper throughout the 20th century than any other source of energy in terms of these cost tradeoffs is demonstrated
    by the rapid disappearance from the market of almost every other energy source.

    See comment above.

    The fact that FF were far cheaper throughout the 20th century than any other source of energy in terms of these cost tradeoffs is demonstrated
    by the rapid disappearance from the market of almost every other energy source.

    […]Thus, I reiterate my point: so far, the socialized benefits of fossil
    fuels far outweigh the socialized costs. 

    See comment above. I would say that is certainly true to some extent – but I think that the discussion of how true it is really needs to be fleshed out to determine what the basis is for…

    We can argue about whether
    that will remain true in the future.

    That is the crux of the matter. How do we have that discussion without gaining some better assessment of those other questions you raised?

    The “concentration of profits in small sectors of the population” is allowed because it serves the public interest.  It drives innovators to compete for the capital that allows them to spread beneficial innovations rapidly through society.

    I see the relevant question as to determine whether it maximally serves the public interest, how well it “spread[s] beneficial innovations, and how it might compare in those respects in light of alternative policy options.

    Consult your government regarding the degree to which this concentration should be allowed.  From an economic standpoint, it should be set at the minimum level necessary to encourage the necessary risk and effort. 
    IMO, it is currently set far too high, allowing far too much concentration of wealth.

    Yes. That is one of the questions I’m trying to build on. How do different energy alternatives correlate with costs/benefits from centralization vs. decentralization of benefits? How do those costs/benefits correlate with maximizing the productivity of human capital?

  • Howard

    “How do different energy alternatives correlate with costs/benefits from
    centralization vs. decentralization of benefits? How do those
    costs/benefits correlate with maximizing the productivity of human
    capital?”<b> Natural Gas wins</b>

  • Joshua
  • Joshua

    Howard –

    I wonder if those are (largely overlooked) considerations that make natgas relatively advantageous compared to fossil fuels, hydro, and nuclear. Maybe not so much w/r/t solar and/or wind?

  • Jeffn

    So, MT, why not demonstrate some actual courage of your convictions. Way back in 162, Marlowe actually did present one tiny little specific idea- a $3 increase in the gasoline tax.
    It’s an election year here, be my guest and insist on a $3 gas tax hike. Make it a condition for receiving the vote of any believer in AGW. Ask – no, demand! – that Obama pledge to make gas cost over $7 gallon by Christmas.
    And by all means, tell us all about how this regressive tax couldn’t possibly hurt a poor person.

  • Howard

    Joshua:  The big advantage of gas besides the low toxic/particulate emissions are storability, existing distribution systems and easy motor and powerplant conversions.  The ramp-up costs and technical hurdles are very very low.  Wind and solar require too much land to bite into CO2.  Energy efficiency makes more sense to me than expensive and weak renewables.

  • http://planet3.org mt

    #254 We’re talking past each other. The political infeasibility under current conditions is real. That doesn’t mean something is a bad idea, just that the public doesn’t understand the necessity yet.That said, going after gasoline first makes little sense. Cars are good symbols but they aren’t the central problem. Go after electricity, industrial and freight uses first, and increase consumer-facing taxes very gradually, I’d say.But yes, a pure price mechanism is regressive. In the US, especially rural areas, fiercely so. Unfortunately that is true. All the bad news about the possible solutions doesn’t resolve the problem, though. It’s childish to suggest that since you don’t like any of the solutions there can;t be a problem. I’m not saying whether you personally do that or not, but that does seem to be the right’s position on it these days.

  • http://rabett.blogspot.com Eli Rabett

    So Eli was driving behind a truck today, operated by one of the big electrical supply houses in the area, and they has marked on the back what they do, or perhaps more to the point what they want the public to know about what they do. In order it was

    1. Solar installations
    2. Charging stations
    3. Electrical supplies

  • Tom C

    #234 Willard – I don’t understand how my use of ceteris paribus discredited me or invalidated my point.  I guess you will have to explain further.  But remember, opaque prose does not make for a compelling argument. Quite the opposite.  Also, I most certainly did not “dismiss” Sen.  I said that the points Joshua invoked were not germane to the argument.  Finally, I don’t know what you are referring to in regard to a “shameless carciature.” 

  • Tom C

    Marlowe -I never said that mitigation policies would doom the poor.  I said that mt’s objective of total decarbonization would be very detrimental to the poor.  Not all proposals for mitigation are based on the thoughts of mt. 

  • Tom C

    Marlowe – I have no idea what “gish gallop” and “coconuts” etc refer to.  That’s another reason why I have not felt the need to respond to you.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    google is your friend Tom C.  I moonlight as an energy economist so i take exception to the kinds of unequivocal statements that you’ve made in this thread. read up on what Nordhaus has written and then get back to me. the feigned ignorance schtick isn’t terribly convincing.

  • John F. Pittman

    Marlowe,as an energy economist, why do you make the kind of unequivocal satements you do? Is it point out others’ errors? Why don’t you include that what Nordhaus has written is dependant on the assumptions used and discuss that others who see costs different either fit in the CI’s or fit in with the same methodology by making differetn assumptions? Then we could discuss what these differences mean, and which are likely, important, or even unknowable in a strict sense, but still banded in terms of potential paths.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Tom C,

    If you would care to explain to your audience what you call your point and your argument, perhaps you’d see what I mean. Since you’re the armchair economist, you’re the one who’s supposed to lecture us right now. But I guess you prefer to state a simplistic principle over and over again and claim nobody understands it, except those who agree with you.

    I mean, just think about it: if your principle is so basic, how is it unrelated to Sen’s work? And if you’re right, how so? What the hell is your argument? Where is it? What are the consequences of this principle for our topic?

    You have lots of dots to fill, Tom C. Instead, you’re just playing the Knight of Ni game, expecting that people will do all the work for you.

    Please go find your shrubbery yourself.

  • Tom C

    Ok WIllard – I’ll give it one last try.  If gasoline prices rise the media point out that it will have greatest impact on the poor.  If a utility rasies the price it charges for electricity, concerned folks everywhere will anguish about the impact to the poor.  But for some weird reason, raising the price of gasoline or electricity does not impact the poor if it is for the purpose of fighting AGW.  Or so Tobis and Joshua, and I guess you, would have us believe.  The simple principle I have been trying to make is that raising energy prices has a detrimental effect on everyone, particularly the poor, regardless of the whether the cause if noble or ignoble.  If you want to dispute that, go ahead, I’m done. 

  • jim

    joshua:

    “How do different energy alternatives correlate with costs/benefits from centralization vs. decentralization of benefits?”

    The energy industry is not responsible for centralizing much wealth in the last 50 years.  Steve Jobs was 5x wealthier than the top five US Oil/Gas producer CEOs combined.  Jobs was a pauper among Tech CEOs.  Centralization of wealth is a societal issue, not an energy issue. 

    “how are you accounting for illness due to particulate matter, environmental damage from, say, strip mining, deaths attributable to the coal industry, etc?”

    Worker Health: in the modern era is protected by thousands of regulations, insurance costs, accident lost time costs, the threat of litigation and even personal liability.  Of course, before about the 1930s, workers covered their own health costs, there were no regs in the mines, and workers suffered.  From an individual standpoint, that’s tragic.  From a social standpoint, the ratio of those at risk to those benefiting was virtually zero, meaning that the outcome to society was still positive. 
     
    Public Health: Over the course of the 20th century, life expectancy at birth in the US rose about 60%.  I think that provides a fair approximation of the historical trade-off between socialized health benefits and health costs of fossil fuels. 
     
    Environment: In modern mines, environmental impacts, including remediation and restoration, are addressed in the EIS.  If the project can’t cover those costs, it doesn’t go forward.  It’s uneconomic.  For historical mining, billions upon billions have already been paid through any number of legal avenues, although in many cases the taxpayers have picked up the tab. 
     
    The overall balance is constantly being tweaked to improve the cost/benefit ratio.  Initially, we had no enviro regs.  Now we do.  Initially, we had no work place safety standards.  Now we do.  In some cases, regulation has been recognized as unduly burdensome and rolled back.  In fewer cases yet, it’s been rolled back too far. 

    “Without quantifying those phenomena, how do you make that statement with such confidence?”

    The quantification is in the outcome.  There’s no doubt whatsoever that people are substantially better off today than they were at the dawn of the petroleum age.  None.  Nor is there any credible energy source that could have produced so many social gains with so few external costs in such a short time.  The only way suggest otherwise is to be EXTREMELY selective in choosing evidence.  And even the highly selective approach is so unconvincing it’s necessary to seek extreme future “socialized costs” or “externalities” to push the balance sheet into the negative.

    I Said: “We can argue about whether that will remain true in the future.”

    We can’t know the value of undeveloped and unimagined technology.  We cannot predict the future.  We can, however, use sound, well-tested principles to guide our policy.
     
    The economy matters and it matters alot.  Economic growth reduces population growth.  It creates incentives to advance technology.  It provides tax revenues that support research, health care, education, environmental monitoring and management.  Contrary to popular belief, economic growth reduces pressure on the environment.Cost matters.  We need to get the most out of our expenditures.  That means we need to invest carefully and incrementally in a wide array of technologies, gradually increasing investment in promising technologies until they’re proven scaleable – and until we know how they interact with the environment.  In the mean time, FF need to expand inasmuch as it is economic for them to do so.We can also seek mutually beneficial solutions and make incremental progress ““ the recent CAFÉ standards are an excellent example.  Moving forward on fracking ““ with clear and manageable environmental regs/penalties ““ is another step in the right direction. 
     

  • jim

    Joshua ““
     
    Read your piece by DB investors.  Renewable energy investors seeking grounds for more Federal support for renewable energy investors?  Is this a credible source?  J
     
    Aside from that, I can’t imagine how one could quantify the myriad direct and indirect supports for energy research and development. 
     
    1)      Every utility, city, town, county, etc has different quotas for “renewable” energy and probably different definitions of what “renewable” actually means.
     
    2)      Today we spend billions of dollars on basic research that’s not credited to any single form of energy, yet contributes substantially to all.  
     
    3)      Computer technology alone is responsible for most of the gains we’ve made in recent decades and will make in future decades.  Its value is immeasurable.   Imagine doing these solar projects that concentrate reflected light to boil water without a computer to do the calculations!  Impossible.  
     
    Aside from that, R&D and subsidies for promising technologies are obviously necessary at some level ““ the minimum needed to encourage the risk.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Tom C,

    Here’s your principle:

    The simple principle I have been trying to make is that raising energy prices has a detrimental effect on everyone[.]

    Ceteris paribus, of course.

    Under that ceteris paribus clause, there are lots of stuff that remain equal. I mean: lots.

    In any case, here’s what I said in #190:

    Let’s take that Bill Gates talk I just linked. Gates starts with acknowledging what you said: the best way to improve our daily lives is to have more energy, and usually that means cheaper energy. But he follows that with this challenge: we need to get our CO2 emission to a full stop in a somewhat near (on a geological scale, at least) future.

    This is a very big challenge.

    So I’m not sure where you get that people disagree about that principle of yours, a principle that is supposed to be backed up by 200 years of economics, a principle that is allegedly irrelevant to what Sen is saying.

    Do you think that teaching algebra can improve reading skills?

    ***

    Under your principle, you insert two interesting clauses:

    particularly the poor, regardless of the whether the cause if noble or ignoble.

    I’d like to know how your principle alone can warrant the clause about the poor.

    I’d like to know if the last clause is there to make a point, and not simply there for rhetorical effect.

    ***

    Oh, and please bring me a shrubbery.

    Ni!

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    > Centralization of wealth is a societal issue, not an energy issue.

    Therefore, energy issues are not societal.

    Good to know.

  • Joshua

    jim –

    Public Health: Over the course of the 20th century, life expectancy at
    birth in the US rose about 60%.  I think that provides a fair approximation of the historical trade-off between socialized health
    benefits and health costs of fossil fuels. 

    Certainly we can agree that finding correlation does not equal an analysis of degree of causation, although I think that it is certainly reasonable to assert some level of causation. I have no wish to get stuck arguing about the fact of causation with someone who doesn’t listen to me in that regard. A binary approach to these issues nets zero benefit, IMO. These are not zero sum gain discussions for me.

    The energy industry is not responsible for centralizing much wealth in
    the last 50 years.  Steve Jobs was 5x wealthier than the top five US Oil/Gas producer CEOs combined.  Jobs was a pauper among Tech CEOs.
     Centralization of wealth is a societal issue, not an energy issue. 

    How big is the energy industry? $5 trillion per year, maybe more? Maybe some 10% of the global GDP? Perhaps 95% concentrated in oil, coal, and natgas? Given that 90% is left over, even if the profits generated from that industry were more evenly distributed among more people, it wouldn’t be the answer to income inequality on a global scale. But let’s be clear, examining the concentration of the wealth associated with that industry cannot be reduced to comparing Jobs’ income to that of a few oil (or even tech) CEOs. We can’t even focus only on where the profits go, let alone salaries – as it can reasonable be argued that the benefits associated with the profits of that industry are distributed widely.

    So yes, concentration of wealth is a social issue. That does not mean that energy is irrelevant to questions w/r/t how wealth is concentrated.  These issues are not either/or. I’m repeating myself, but we need to consider  the external costs associated with how we obtain energy, and how those costs compare to alternatives along with their associated externalities (such as less energy per unit cost).  This needs to be part of the discussion. Primarily, we need to consider the negative externalities associated with spending trillions to keep a system flowing where we obtain oil  from tyrannical autocracies with the directly attributable public health impacts as compared to devoting financial resources to alternative sources of energy.  And we need to consider that even while benefits from the current system of delivery accrue to people across the globe, other systems of delivery might distribute benefits in ways that are less concentrated to a smaller cross-section of the global population. As to externalities:

    Each stage in the life cycle of coal””extraction, transport, processing,
    and combustion””generates a waste stream and carries multiple hazards for health and the environment. These costs are external to the coal industry and are thus often considered “externalities.” We estimate that the life cycle effects of coal and the waste stream generated are costing the U.S. public a third to over one-half of a trillion dollars
    annually. Many of these so-called externalities are, moreover, cumulative. Accounting for the damages conservatively doubles to triples the price of electricity from coal per kWh generated, making wind, solar, and other forms of nonfossil fuel power generation, along with investments in efficiency and electricity conservation methods, economically competitive. We focus on Appalachia, though coal is mined in other regions of the United States and is burned throughout the world.

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1749-6632.2010.05890.x/abstract

    Given analyses like that I just quoted,  my point is that statements like this:

    There’s no doubt whatsoever that people are substantially better off today than they were at the dawn of the petroleum age.  None.

    Are essentially straw man arguments, based on false dichotomies.

    Ditto arguments like this:

    And even the highly selective approach is so unconvincing it’s necessary to seek extreme future “socialized costs” or “externalities” to push the balance sheet into the negative. 

    The question for me is not whether negative externalities “push the balance sheet into the negative.” I am trying to focus in on how the selectivity of different approaches leads to facile conclusions. These are complicated questions; I don’t assume one analysis to be definitive.

    I think that you raise some good points in your posts – questions that are a very important part of the discussion (such as examination of the direction of correlation between economic growth and environmental degradation) 

    And so in the end, I agree with this statement:

    That means we need to invest carefully and incrementally in a wide array of technologies, gradually increasing investment in promising technologies until they’re proven scaleable ““ and until we know how they interact with the environment.

    While I think that this statement

    In the mean time, FF need to expand inasmuch as it is economic for them to do so

    needs to be fleshed out despite the valid points that you raise. 

  • Joshua

    Tom C –

    I see it’s still raging, eh?

    You know, they say on those Viagra commercials that after four hours you should consult a physician. It has been considerably more than 4 hours.

  • Joshua

    Tom C –

    I see it’s still raging, eh? You know, they say on those ED commercials that after four hours you should consult a physician. It has been considerably more than 4 hours.

    (figured I’d save you the time of putting the previous post through moderation, Keith)

  • Howard

    Joshua:  Are you saying that cheap energy (which means available to the wealthy and poor alike) is not the essential lifeblood of Western Democracies that produce superior industry, housing, agriculture, education, healthcare, environmental protection, sport and recreation?

  • Joshua

    Howard (272) –

    My primary objection to your statement there lies in your use of the definitive article. I find the use of the definite article there to be inherently illogical.

    Further, I think that to evaluate the relative merits of different types of energy with different “costs” per unit, it is necessary to do a “full accounting” for each source of energy. I consider that as a starting point.

  • Tom C

    Joshua – I’m not very impressed that you are wandering around lost in a book by Amartya Sen.  Your posts, despite containing lovely pseudo-intellectual buzzwords like “binary” and “false dichotomy” are largely incoherent.  You seem to think that energy would be cheap if only governments would “distribute” it to the citizenry.  You seem to think that because Nigeria has oil resources that energy costs there should be low.  You don’t think that huge increases in energy costs will adversely affect the poor, as long as they are done in the name of AGW mitigation. So, to cover up all that ignorance you have taken to crude sexual insults. I would suggest giving up pretensions to inellectualism and a return to carpentry. 

  • Tom C

    Willard – Constantly throwing out obscure references does not make one a clear thinker.   Like many others, I have no clear idea what you are talking about half the time, so I’ll have to stop engaging.

  • harrywr2

    #239

    Policy choices like frakking create and lock in emissions generation.

    Really? How much ‘gas burning infrastructure’ was built in the US as a result of frakking? In 2008 natural gas prices were at record highs in the US yet we had 400GW(net summer)  gas generating capacity.The reality is that 70% of the electric generating infrastructure needs to be capable of being used for peaking and 30% of the infrastructure can be dedicated to base-load. Even if the US our 300 GW of coal fired capacity never achieved greater then a 70% utilization rate.If I look at France 50% of their generating capacity is nuclear..and that is somewhat made economically possible by the fact they can export ‘off peak’ to neighboring countries.The first power plant my brother in law built in the early 1970’s was oil fired. It still runs, about 80 hours per year. What creates lock in is building things that can’t be relegated to ‘reserve peak capacity’, like windmills or baseload coal plants that can’t be started quickly.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Tom C,

    Please provide a quote from this thread showing someone doubting that raising energy prices has a detrimental effect on everyone.

    As far as I can read, and whatever it means, no one ever doubted that armchair principle. And I just provided a quote showing that I don’t doubt that. In that quote, one also see that your quote of Bill Gates was only half of the story.

    This should be a simple challenge to meet.

    I’m sorry you do not get the Monty Python remark. The little game you’re playing here looks a lot like the Knight of Ni game, where one has to bring a shrubbery, or else is being forced to hear “Ni”.

    The game seems more popular than ever at Keith’s.

  • Tom C

    Willard – Please go back and read my comment #40 in this thread. I said that if the AGW threat were as real as the Tobis/Hansen tribe say it is, then reducing CO2 emissions to the requisite level would involve substantial pain and sacrifice for Everyman. I don’t think Everyman has been told the truth about this.  mt and Joshua both disputed this, saying that bringing CO2 emissions down to the necessary level would not involve substantial sacrifice.  What is your opinion?

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Tom C,

    I’m sorry I’m still not clear enough.

    When I am asking you to

    provide a quote from this thread showing someone doubting that raising energy prices has a detrimental effect on everyone

    I am asking for a quote from this thread written by Joshua, mt, me, or anyone who would seem to doubt, by virtue of that quote, that raising energy prices has a detrimental effect (ceteris paribus, of course) on everyone.

    An answer that starts with:

    Please go back and read my comment #40 in this thread.

    does not satisfy my request for a quote.

    I assure you I don’t need to read back your comments, since you keep repeating the same thing over and over again. Whence not playing any Knight of Ni games, of course.

    In other words, I’d like to have a quote.

    If you do not consider this request clear enough, I will try my best to clarify it furthermore.

    Many thanks!

  • Joshua

    Willard –

    You asked for quotes. I’d give more specific quotes but the Keith’s filter is angry at me today, so here are some references to statements:
    Check out Tom’s post at 1:47 today.Then look at my posts at 12:20 on August 27th, and 10:25 on August 29th

    I admire your persistence, your patience, and your ability to engage in good
    faith. A rabbit hole is a rabbit hole.

  • BBD

    Ain’t it just.

  • Howard

    Joshua 273 – Fair enough.  What would you suggest as other factors of equal or greater value than cheap energy?  Liberal democracy perhaps.  I cannot think of another vital thread that we depend on for all that is good and right in the developed world.  As for judging the relative merits and costs of energy sources, the quasi-free market, in response to customer demand and government restrictions has already done that.  This is why the US has favored dirty, filthy coal over clean, scary nuclear.  This is also why natural gas is now gaining momentum, ie:  Mike Bloomberg has calculated that responsible fracking is a winner. The question becomes, what additional government restrictions and/or popular preferences can be used to further distort the energy market forcing CO2 reductions without harming the economy to the point of restricting luxuries like toxic environmental protection, cheap food, affordable housing, abundant jobs and the development of technical human capital?  The over-drafting of groundwater, nitrates in groundwater, auto,  transport and energy toxic pollution currently impacting human health and the environment must be weighed against the computer model speculations of CO2 climate impacts that *might* occur at the end of this century.  IPCC needs to run those numbers to determine the human and environmental priority and feasibility of near-term climate policy actions.

  • Joshua

    Howard:

    What would you suggest as other factors of equal or greater value than
    cheap energy?

    I think that we run into danger when we try to define “other” factors of equal or greater value. The different variables are inherently linked to one another. My point is that it is facile to argue that cheap energy = development and fewer hungry people. That has been the point that I’ve been focusing on throughout this thread.

    Liberal democracy perhaps. 

    No doubt – a very, very important variable. And so then it becomes problematic when we spend trillions to ensure geopolitical structures to import oil from tyrannical and autocracies and theocracies.

    I cannot think of another
    vital thread that we depend on for all that is good and right in the developed world. 

    But even the notion of liberal democracy is associated with many other factors – such as shared perspective on human rights, and on the basic fairness related to equitable distribution of power and resources.

    As for judging the relative merits and costs of energy sources, the quasi-free market, in response to customer demand and government restrictions has already done that. 

    To some extent, yes – but not free from subsidization in a variety of ways. Please look at the excerpt I made above w/r/t the externalities of energy from coal. I am not saying that I have clear answers, but that I am not inclined towards conclusions reached w/o comprehensive consideration of important factors. 

    This is why the US has
    favored dirty, filthy coal over clean, scary nuclear. 

    Yes, which brings into question whether some people allow a fetish for the free market to bias their analysis. Many folks in the climate debate want to attribute a lack of nuclear energy to environmentalist scare-mongering. Not to doubt that environmentalists scare-mongering is a relevant question – it is not sufficient to give a satisfactory answer, IMO. Therefore, I am not impressed by argument that rely on idealizing the free market even while ignoring concrete manifestation of the “quasi-free market” when they don’t like those manifestations.

    This is also why natural gas is now gaining momentum, ie:  Mike Bloomberg has calculated that responsible fracking is a winner. The question becomes, what additional government restrictions and/or popular preferences can be
    used to further distort the energy market forcing CO2 reductions without harming the economy to the point of restricting luxuries like toxic
    environmental protection, cheap food, affordable housing, abundant jobs and the development of technical human capital? 

    Agreed.

    The over-drafting of groundwater, nitrates in groundwater, auto,  transport and energy toxic
    pollution currently impacting human health and the environment must be weighed against the computer model speculations of CO2 climate impacts
    that *might* occur at the end of this century.  IPCC needs to run those numbers to determine the human and environmental priority and feasibility of near-term climate policy actions.

    Agreed.

  • Tom C

    WIllard – Tobis makes the claim that substantial sacrifice is not required in posts # 45, 62, 146, and 151.  In the last he says we would “hardly notice the difference, except in our energy bills”.  The situation with Joshua is more complicated due to the fog of words he generates.  He forcefully disputes that poor people will be effected in # 70 and 200.  He will undoubtedly retreat to the all-purpose rhetorical dodges that “I only said simplistic” and that “externalities” are not factored into fossil fuels.  The fallacy here is that wind and solar externalities are never discussed. In fact, there are environmental externalities with these technolgies also, such as land use and rare earth metal mining.  The externalities argument would be a valid one to have, and I would not have taken to questioning his competance, were it not that he signaled his ignorance of economics by assuming that because Nigeria has oil resources there energy costs should be low. Also, that energy is cheaper when governments “distribute” it to the citizenry.

  • Tom C

    In short, Willard, Bill Gates presented this as a dilemma, a quandry, a problem that can’t be surmounted with current technology.  Tobis and Joshua say it is not a quandry because of externalities, blah, blah.  He is right and they are wrong.

  • jeffn

    #279, Willard. Here you go:
    Joshua at 7:38 p.m. Aug. 27:
    “Further, I think that the oft’ hear equation that “cheap energy = economic growth and feeding poor people” is pretty facile. Certainly, we can think of countries where energy is cheap and many people in the constituent citizenry lack basic resources We can also think of countries were energy is expensive and a solid % of the constituent citizenry enjoy a high standard of living.”

    There you go.

    I know, I know. Now you want to redefine what “enjoy a high standard of living” means. Who says you need food, air conditioning and the light bulb? Materialistic corporatist fat-cats, that’s who!
    Sigh.

  • jeffn

    Ooooh, here’s another one. MT on 8/28/12 at 1:36 p.m.

    “I am asking you to give up coal and petroleum and gas fuels, at least without in situ CO2 capture and sequestration. You will hardly notice the difference, except in your energy bills, gradually, over decades. But your present bill is ridiculously subsidized by socialized costs anyway, so you’ll probably be out of pocket pretty much the same right away, and much less in the long run.”

    Does “hardly notice” equal “detrimental” in Willardland?

  • Joshua

    jeffn –

    As with Tom C – I’m honored that you’re spending so much time reading and rereading and quoting my posts. 

    However, it seems that like him, you have misconstrued my opinions.

    Please feel free to ask me directly what I think. If, upon receiving answers to such questions, you still think that some of my arguments are inconsistent with other things that I’ve said, I would be happen to explore with you perceived (or real) inconsistencies.

    There – I have stepped towards your rabbit hole just like I earlier did with Tom C’s. I will wipe off my shoes and await your response. I have lettuce waiting, and you can have some also, but you won’t get any more lettuce by asking me to advance towards your warren. You will only get some if you move away. Training rabbits isn’t difficult, but you need to be disciplined in your approach.

  • Tom C

    Joshua – Do you think that Nigeria should enjoy low energy costs because they have oil resources?

  • Joshua

    Tom C -I have some lettuce for you if you want to come get it.

  • Tom C

    C’mon Josh – Display your erudition and large vocabulary (binary, facile, etc.).  Show us O disciple of Sen your deep understanding of economics.  Tell us O self-taught carpenter and anthropologist of libertarians, please, why energy is cheaper when governments “distribute” it.  But, please, no more crude sexual references.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Tom C,

    Thank you for providing indirect quotes. That’s better than nothing.

    Now, you seem to imply that when mt says:

    Substantial sacrifice is not required, such that we hardly notice the difference, except in our energy bills.

    contradicts a long-held principle of armchair economics, according to which:

    Ceteris paribus, raising energy prices has a detrimental effect on everyone.

    I’m not sure how the first claim entails the negation of the second one.

    Please mansplain your inference steps the clearest way you can. I’m trying to learn how to be as limpid as possible, and emulating your own thinking style can only be a boon to my life.

    Many thanks!

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    jeffn,

    Thank you for providing a direct quote:

    Further, I think that the oft’ hear equation that “cheap energy = economic growth and feeding poor people” is pretty facile. Certainly, we can think of countries where energy is cheap and many people in the constituent citizenry lack basic resources We can also think of countries were energy is expensive and a solid % of the constituent citizenry enjoy a high standard of living.”

    I’m not sure that is pretty facile amounts to say it’s false. Considering his argument, I believe that Joshua is asking for some empirical evidence. I’m not sure that telling him that this is one of the most deeply held principle of armchair economics would convince him, but perhaps with some lecturing by Tom C, with his most inspiring clarity of mind, Joshua would see the lights of armchair economics.

    ***

    Please also note that:

    cheap energy = economic growth

    does not seem to be the same equation as:

    Ceteris paribus, raising energy prices has a detrimental effect on everyone.

    are not exactly synonym. Would you care to mansplain the equivalence to those who do not share the gift of economical intuition of Tom C?

    ***

    Finally, you do underline a small problem with the word “detrimental”. Do you know what it’s supposed to mean, by any chance? If you do, please mansplain that the most concise and clear way possible, in a way that even I could try to grasp it.

    Many thanks!

  • jeffn

    292, Thanks for confirming your inability to read. Tom C didn’t provide the quotes and they were direct, not indirect.

    By your formula, “hardly notice” is the equivalent of “detrimental” because everyone is negatively impacted?
    But how does someone fail to notice something harmful? Perhaps you seek a better word to accompany those reading glasses.

    Joshua, remove the log from your eye. Willard sought a quote from anyone that suggested a high energy price would be anything less than “detrimental.” I provided.
    I have noticed that in different contexts and in different spots you agree that someone, somewhere must “sacrifice.” Your refusal to say who or how much is noted when coupled with your eagerness to demand evidence from anyone who says this sacrifice might actually be a sacrifice. Your discussion partners are assuming (based on your own vague pronouncements) that this sacrifice will have something to do with energy prices and they know, better than you obviously, that enforced energy price hikes are particularly regressive.
    But if you exempt those most hurt by a regressive price hike, you don’t accomplish the goal of the price hike- a shift in energy use. Hmm.
    But no matter, the poor can avoid all this by taking their entire life savings to the dealer to trade the used 1998 Ford Fiesta on brand new hybrid. And skip a few meals to find the cash to bolt solar panels on the roof.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    jeffn,

    Here’s what Tom C says in #284:

    Tobis makes the claim that substantial sacrifice is not required in posts # 45, 62, 146, and 151. In the last he says we would “hardly notice the difference, except in our energy bills”.

    I believe that “Tobis makes the claim” introduces a paraphrase, which is an indirect quote of four of mt’s comments.

    I also believe that the words hardly notice the difference, except in our energy bills are mt’s, and thus count as a direct quote.

    But now you say:

    Tom C didn’t provide the quotes and they were direct, not indirect.

    I do hope we can surmount this misunderstanding.

    Many thanks!

  • Tom C

    Willard – I am not going to fall into your pathetic trap.  Yes, I said that a large increase in energy prices would be detrimental to everyone,  especially poor people.  So, you are going to quote his statement in #151 and say “Tobis did not say that prices would experience a large rise, he said they would not rise very much!”  So, his statement is not at odds with yours.  So there!” 

    What is at odds with his claim is reality.  In another post you kept badgering Tom Fuller by incessantly (and obnoxiously) typing “300 quads” in every post, as if that was argumentation.  It would be better to incessantly refer to the 1 nuclear plant per day until 2050 that would be required to fulfill Tobis’s fantasy.  Add to that huge changes to distribution infrastructure, a new transporation fuel infrastructure, along with a new fleet of vehicles that run on said transportation fuel plus a massive increase in new manufacturing capability to support all this new stuff. 

    I’m sorry, this is “magical thinking” as Pielke says, or “demented” as I say.  So, the missing part of your comparison of statements is that just because Tobis claims prices will not rise that does not mean that it is true.

  • Tom C

    I envy Keith – He puts up these posts around which we expend hours of futility while he quietly goes off and gets work done.  I think I will follow his lead.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Tom C,

    I must admit that you do express yourself in a very clear way:

    I am not going to fall into your pathetic trap.

    I’m not sure in which trap you are afraid to trap. But your declaration sure expresses very well the way you feel. It might even justify why you do not show any willingness in clearly mansplaining your interpretation of mt or Joshua’s claims, and the inferences upon which your interpretation is based.

    I’m asking you to mansplain something to me. You say it’s a trap. No: a pathetic trap.

    Just when the audience crave for your brilliantly mundane mansplanations of armchair economics, you desist.

    Please don’t let your modesty interfere with the public need to understand long held principles of armchair economics.

    C’mon, Tom C!

    ***

    In any case, now you say:

    So, the missing part of your comparison of statements is that just because Tobis claims prices will not rise that does not mean that it is true.

    Are you suggesting that Tobis claims that?

    If yes, do you have a quote for that?

    Many thanks!

  • PDA

    Thanks for confirming your inability to read. Tom C didn’t provide the quotes and they were direct

    Somebody call an auditor!

  • harrywr2

    #282 Howard

    As for judging the relative merits and costs of energy sources, the
    quasi-free market, in response to customer demand and government
    restrictions has already done that.  This is why the US has favored
    dirty, filthy coal over clean, scary nuclear.

    You might want to read the 1979 US EIA Energy projections. The natural gas was going to be gone by 2000. We were going to need the coal plants as peakers. The US was also projected to be consuming 2.4 billion tons of coal in the year 2010 rather then 1 billion tons that ended up being reality. US Total Energy consumption was projected to grow from 80 Quads to 125 quads by 2010(we made it to 95 quads)http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/archive/aeo79/pdf/0173%2879%293.pdf

    Considering that 30 of the 45 Quads worth of increased energy demand that was supposed to appear, didn’t appear and the natural gas didn’t run out both coal and nuclear took big hits. Blame is on ‘conservation’.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Who you gonna call?

    Goat Busters!

  • Jeffn

    My apologies, Willard. It appears TomC and I Posted the same quote from mt and I missed it.

  • Howard

    Thanks Joshua.  I appreciate the common ground over many issues that go into the decision matrix.  I have read up a bit about Amartya Sen.  Very interesting guy.  It makes perfect sense that throwing money at despotic countries will not help poor people.  Also, freedom and democracy are required for sustainable elimination of poverty.  Obviously, cheap energy and the industrial revolution that eventually created the middle classes and doubled life expectancy was born from liberal democracies.  His theories also explain why the west won the cold war and supports my theory why militant Islamic radicals are their own worst enemies.  His points about freedom from pollution,  disease, starvation, etc. are spot on and highlight my assertion that basic environmental improvements are significantly more important now and in the coming decades rather than CO2 reductions.

  • Joshua

    jeffn –

    After reading this, I am willing to up your serving of lettuce:

    Your refusal to say who or how much is noted when…

    and with this:

    But if you exempt those most hurt by a regressive price hike,

    I will double your portion yet again. Here little rabbit. Here little rabbit.

    If you want to know my opinion on something, feel free to ask. And if you see something inconsistent between my stated beliefs and my arguments, I’ll be happy to discuss.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    jeffn,

    No worries. I knew we could surmount our misunderstanding.

    Let’s follow up with your second sentence:

    By your formula, “hardly notice” is the equivalent of “detrimental” because everyone is negatively impacted?

    First, I’d like you to acknowledge that this is not my formula, but mt’s. In fact, here’s the relevant part of his laius:

    I am not asking you to seal your windows, though that is a good thing. [1] I am asking you to give up coal and petroleum and gas fuels, at least without in situ CO2 capture and sequestration. [2] You will hardly notice the difference, except in your energy bills, gradually, over decades. [3] But your present bill is ridiculously subsidized by socialized costs anyway, so you’ll probably be out of pocket pretty much the same right away, and much less in the long run. [4]

    The issue is that we can’t get there without an international agreement, and the public doesn’t understand that and doesn’t support it. [5] The issue is not cost, or even convenience. [6] The issue is collaboration, and that rests on comprehension, and most people just don’t get it. [7]

    I’m not sure how to construe your rhetorical question. So let’s read what mt says in that excerpt.

    There are seven sentences, which I have taken the liberty to enumerate.

    The first one dismisses greenie small-talk.

    The second one offers what mt thinks to be done to meet the challenge. The challenge, paraphrasing Bill Gates, is the need to get our CO2 emission to a full stop in a somewhat near (on a geological scale, at least) future.

    The third expresses something different than “you will hardly notice the difference, except in your energy bills”, as quoted Tom C, because of what follows: gradually, over decades. I am still unsure how this sentence contradicts the 200 years axiom of armchair economics.

    The fourth is something that Tom C should be discussing, since he’s our beloved armchair economist. But he seems to prefer to misread the third sentence, if he reads it at all.

    The fifth, the sixth, and the seventh underline that what is being expressed in the third sentence is moot unless we focus on what he believes is the basic issue, an issue which is not the cost.

    So no wonder you and Tom C do look like Knights of Ni: the “Ni”, in this thread, is “cost”.

    Cost, cost, cost.

    As if mt believed there were no costs.

    As is economical catastrophe awaited us if we tried to tackle the challenge.

    A challenge we won’t evade by shrieking “cost, cost, cost”.

    I’m sorry if I am being unclear right now. I will try my best to &c.

  • Joshua

    Howard –

    I appreciate an opportunity to move enough of the garbage out of the way to find common ground. 

    … my assertion that basic environmental improvements are significantly more important now and in the coming decades rather
    than CO2 reductions.

    Well, as you know, a concern that now and the coming decades is the time when lowering climate change in priority may have exponentially greater impact in the future. Whether or not that is  a worthwhile trade-off is a subject worthy of debate. But even more so, I’m interesting in finding common ground w/r/t what the trade-offs would look like. Without reaching such common ground, discussion of what trade-offs would be worthwhile is pointless.

  • Howard

    Thanks for the kick in the head Harry, good to know when I’m full of prune juice and canal water.2010 data: http://science.energy.gov/bes/news-and-resources/energy-flow/energy-flow-diagram/coal (-30Q), nuke(-10Q) and “other” (-8Q) are about half of what was projected and oil and natural gas are about 10-Quads above what was projected.  126Q versus 98Q actual. 

  • Howard

    Willard… when you say “geological time scale” (repeating B. Gates) that means about 10,000-years to me.  Can you state the order of magnitude of what you really mean.  Thanks.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Howard,

    I don’t mean any order of magnitude: I’m just expressing Bill Gates’ point in a most obscure way.
    But I believe that some say that if by 2075, if our projected 3,000 quads by 2075. If they all come from coal we’re ruined. What would be your response to such a claim?

    Besides, is it not a question to ask to armchair economists? Or perhaps we could ask Marlowe: Dear Marlowe, what would be your own order of magnitude? Just a rough ballpark.

    But if you really want me to speaking for myself, for once, I’d say this: people should not throw insult they do not have the patience nor the talent to sustain. At the very least, people should be able to put cite and discuss the sentences they wish to discuss. That way, caricatures will become obvious.

    Prudence saves energy, cf. Hulk Hogan.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Let’s try that again, without a random CTRL-Z:

    Howard,

    I don’t mean any order of magnitude: I’m just expressing Bill Gates’ point in a most obscure way.

    But I believe that some say that if by 2075, our projected 3,000 all come from coal we’re ruined. What would be your response to such a claim?

    Besides, is it not a question to ask to armchair economists? Or perhaps we could ask Marlowe: Dear Marlowe, what would be your own order of magnitude? Just a rough ballpark.

    But if you really want me to speaking for myself, for once, I’d say this: people should not throw insult they do not have the patience nor the talent to sustain. At the very least, people should be able to put cite and discuss the sentences they wish to discuss. That way, caricatures will become obvious.

    Prudence saves energy, cf. Hulk Hogan.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    And just between us, Howard, I will confide that I have not reread mt or Joshua before asking for quotes. So our armchair economists could have very well be right, even if the way they present their caricatures can’t be right. I would not have minded much.

    As I see it, either you play fair or you learn to read. Or both, of course. But let’s not daydream: we’re on the Internet and we’re all dogs waiting for Dogot.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    And why not close this thread with Bill’s conclusion:

    So this is a wish. It’s a very concrete wish that we invent this technology. If you gave me only one wish for the next 50 years — I could pick who’s president, I could pick a vaccine, which is something I love, or I could pick that this thing that’s half the cost with no CO2 gets invented — this is the wish I would pick. This is the one with the greatest impact. If we don’t get this wish, the division between the people who think short term and long term will be terrible, between the U.S. and China, between poor countries and rich, and most of all the lives of those two billion will be far worse.

    So, what do we have to do? What am I appealing to you to step forward and drive? We need to go for more research funding. When countries get together in places like Copenhagen, they shouldn’t just discuss the CO2. They should discuss this innovation agenda, and you’d be stunned at the ridiculously low levels of spending on these innovative approaches. We do need the market incentives — CO2 tax, cap and trade — something that gets that price signal out there. We need to get the message out. We need to have this dialogue be a more rational, more understandable dialogue, including the steps that the government takes. This is an important wish, but it is one I think we can achieve.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/bill_gates.html

    Cf. with #285.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Just 14 years after Bjorn Lomborg wrote the same thing. Imagine that.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Was Lomborg talking about 2050 too?

  • jim

    “Given analyses like that I just quoted”¦”

     1.)    How do you square this “quantitative” “economic” analysis with the irrefutable simple observations that people are wealthier and live longer?   2.)    If there are such “costs,” as your quote claims, how are they currently being paid?  Show me the money trail, not some bland statement about what’s “costing” what.  This seems to confirm what I suggested earlier: the external “costs” claimed by anti FF advocates are hidden or shunted to the future.3.)    Again, you’re pointing out the costs.  What about the external benefits?  Your writers seem to assume that all benefits are accounted for in the retail price of energy while costs are not. 

    “my point is that statements like this:  “˜There’s no doubt whatsoever that people are substantially better off today than they were at the dawn of the petroleum age.  None.’   Are essentially straw man arguments, based on false dichotomies.”

     
    You’ll have to explain your explanation to me. 

     “But let’s be clear, examining the concentration of the wealth associated with that industry cannot be reduced to comparing Jobs’ income to that of a few oil (or even tech) CEOs.”

     Nor should it be.  However, the Jobs/O&G CEO comparison is representative of the relative distribution of wealth created by the two industries.  Tech companies earn 3x the profit per dollar of revenue.  Tech companies pay virtually no dividends (remember pension funds?).  Tech companies sit on piles of cash while O&G companies must return profits to the economy through on exploration to find more product.  Tech companies often fritter away profits on fruitless acquisitions, while O&G companies regularly merge to increase efficiency and maintain their modest profit margins.  In short, the salary differences reflect the financial demands on the businesses.
     
    The idea that FF companies are massive wealth generators is a myth.  They generate small return per dollar invested because they deal in commodities. 
     
    Thanks, man, gotta call it here.  Too much time on this!
     

  • harrywr2

    #305 Willard

    because of what follows: gradually, over decades. I am still unsure how this sentence contradicts the 200 years axiom of armchair economics.

    Innovation tends to go in step changes rather then gradually.

    I.E. If you talk to serious nuclear engineers about thorium  one of the problems is there will need to be a massive investment in  fuel cycle processing equipment. You can’t just build one or two as a result. You have to decide up front that you will build 100 or 1,000 of the things. As a result if and when thorium reactors become reality they will become reality in a big way. That’s why US DOE gave away to China everything we know about molten salt reactors.

    100GW of new baseload generating capacity in the US is huge. In China it’s small potatoes.

  • Joshua

    jim –

    One last response and then we can both call it a blog-day.

    1.)    How do you square this “quantitative” “economic” analysis with the irrefutable simple observations that people are wealthier and live longer? 

    Really? I was pretty clear. Correlation does not equal causation. I an acknowledging some level of causation – but questioning a blanket attribution. Read my exchange with Howard. I’m not sure how to be more clear than that. I have answered your question.

     2.)    If there are such “costs,” as your quote claims, how
    are they currently being paid? 

    They are being paid in many ways. The most obvious is in healthcare costs – much of those costs laid at the feet of the taxpayer.

    Your writers seem to assume
    that all benefits are accounted for in the retail price of energy while costs are not. 

    Actually, no.  I’m pointing to the costs while acknowledging benefits.  I’m saying that it isn’t sufficient to claim externalities w/o specificity in either direction.

    “my point is that statements like this:  “˜There’s no doubt whatsoever that people are substantially better off today than they were at the dawn of the petroleum age.  None.’   Are essentially straw man arguments, based on false dichotomies.”

      You’ll have to explain your explanation to me.  

    I, certainly, have never said that FF has not been one factor that has lead to people being “substantially better off today….”

     Nor should it be.  However, the Jobs/O&G CEO comparison is representative of the relative distribution of wealth created by the two industries.  Tech companies earn 3x the profit per dollar of revenue.  Tech companies pay virtually no dividends (remember pension funds?). 
    Tech companies sit on piles of cash while O&G companies must return profits to the economy through on exploration to find more product.  Tech companies often fritter away profits on fruitless acquisitions, while O&G companies regularly merge to increase efficiency and maintain their modest profit margins.  In short, the salary differences reflect the financial demands on the businesses.

    But the point is to examine the ratio of positive/negative externalities of the FF industry. If you think that comparing ratio to the same ratio in other industries, that might be worthwhile – but it won’t change the ratio for the FF industry.  


    The idea that FF companies are massive wealth generators is a myth.  They generate small return per dollar invested because they deal in
    commodities.

    Maybe overstated – but I wouldn’t say a “myth.” But you keep thinking that is my point of focus, and I keep telling you that it isn’t. 
      

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    harrywr2,

    I believe the subject of the qualifier is “difference”, and that this difference does not refer to innovation per se.

    Not that innovation shan’t be an important part of the package deal. Let’s recall Bill Gates’wish:

    [Countries] should discuss this innovation agenda[.]

    On the other hand, Bill’s wish does not stop there:

    We do need the market incentives “” CO2 tax, cap and trade “” something that gets that price signal out there.

    To talk about a “dilemma” (e.g. #285) might not render justice to Bill’s wish.

    Bill’s wish does not stop there:

    We need to get the message out. We need to have this dialogue be a more rational, more understandable dialogue, including the steps that the government takes.

    And yet, we still have silly debates about CO2, false dilemmas between adaptation and mitigation, wishful thoughts that a challenge of this scale does not rely on international efforts, and neverending goat busting.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    I would actually include in the silly debates such thoughtful topics as who is ripping shirts, who is keeping the grounds, who is a member of the Climate Elect, who has been banished for insufficient purity, how many Pielkes can dance on the head of a pin (or swing from the nearest noose), why Fox News covers climate skeptics, whether scientist X once gave a speech at a dinner funded by a conservative think tank that at least once a month publishes an article from Patrick Michaels, what the number of the Last Ton is (666 of course), discussion of who is funding each side of the debate, and more… these are not worth the time and attention of adults.

    More… I would actually include as silly debates the spread of malaria, the status of the polar bear, the back and forth movement of ice on glaciers (at least until we start studying more than a dozen), underwater cabinet meetings in the Maldives, etc. But these I would exclude because the issues involved have been answered.

    And you know what? Barack Obama was born in America and has done the best job he could on behalf of the U.S. And Mitt Romney would do the best job he could on behalf of the U.S. were he to be elected. I will happily vote for Barack Obama in November. The world will not end if Mitt Romney is elected.

    What is the sensitivity of the climate to a doubling of concentrations of CO2? What are the natural constraints and operational mechanisms of the 5 great carbon sinks? What information does history bring to us about the ebb and flow of ice at the two polar ice caps? How well do satellites today capture the thrust and subsidence of the ground beneath massive ice formations?

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    There is no debate about who is ripping shirts: Groundskeeper Willie is the only one playing victim, here and elsewhere, from time to time.

    When Groundskeeper Willie will stop his shirt rippin’, discussions about victimization will stop.

  • PDA

    It seems to me that the debate of substance is “what is the certainty threshold necessary for action?” Everything else are details consequent to that question… not irrelevant, not at all, but of less immediate import.

    N.B. All of the evidence, studies, arguments, who-shot-J.R.s and follow-the-moneys are interesting, but probably irrelevant, factors in this debate. Arguments and evidence are much less important than trust.

  • Joshua

    Tom (319) –

    As PDA picks up on – it’s all about trust.

    Those arguments you list are about trust. As such, I think that they are important.

    They are mostly ways that people express a lack of trust. Discussing them might be a way to build bridges of trust, but that can’t happen when good faith is lacking, and it won’t happen when people argue about them, specifically, to validate their distrust.

  • Howard

    Joshua and PDA are right.  IPCC and many celebrity status climate science stars have eroded trust.  Until fleshed out engineering studies, economic analysis, and risk assessments are conducted with all of the cards on the table, warts and all, there won’t be any trust.  Fear not, success does not mean consensus with the WUWT peanut gallery or the Romm true believers. 

  • Nullius in Verba

    #321,

    Interesting article.

    Again he smiles. “˜I am the same as everyone else. If I ask myself, “Why do I believe global warming is happening?”, the answer isn’t that I have gone through all the arguments and analysed the evidence – because I haven’t. I believe the experts from the National Academy of Sciences. We all have to rely on experts.’

    And most of the people who believe do the same. But then the next obvious question is how do they decide who to believe in? How do they identify the ‘experts’? On what basis do they decide who is trustworthy? Are there fixed criteria, or is the choice as irrational as all the others?

    It’s a magazine article so a bit of hyperbole is forgivable, but Kahneman goes a bit too far. People are less rational than they think they are, but what they do isn’t devoid of reason either. People operate according to a set of heuristics that have arisen because they’re often right.

    People act in what they believe to be their own best interests; a point economists like Hayek have made forcefully. Their ability to trade risk with one another allows individual irrationality and error to be mitigated collectively. It’s like an iterative scheme or a genetic algorithm – by applying a flawed but not meritless filter over and over, the effect is much more rational than we are individually capable of. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best we’ve got – and it’s why the economists’ idealised approximations still work despite their fundamental inaccuracy.

    Where it goes wrong is often when the signalling is distorted, most commonly by people trying to ‘correct’ the collective ‘irrationality’ in line with their own individual beliefs. (Or when the interests of the decision-makers are not aligned with those of the decision-owners. Like Kahneman’s example of market traders, who have individual career interests separate from those of their clients.) Ironically, they often use the fallibility of human judgement to justify their interference – “We’re only acting in your own best interests. It’s for your own good.” Who can you trust with that sort of power?

  • PDA

    But then the next obvious question is how do they decide who to believe in?  How do they identify the “˜experts’? On what basis do they decide who is trustworthy? Are there fixed criteria, or is the choice as irrational as all the others?

    It is the next obvious question, which is why it was addressed in the paragraphs that follow:

    But in a series of very careful experiments conducted on hundreds of people with Amos Tversky, Kahneman showed that it just isn’t true. We’re not reliably rational “” in fact we can, in many circumstances, be relied on not to do what will most effectively advance our own interests. 

    In essence, what they call “prospect theory” contends that people value gains and losses differently. Their experiments found that a person given two equal choices – one expressed in terms of possible gains and the other in possible losses – would choose the former, even when both achieve the same economic end result. 

    This would tend to discount the heuristic NiV proposes of the more-or-less rational actor. Over-confidence, as the magazine article points out, becomes its own justification for action.

    It would seem that this sword has two edges, of course. And here we find ourselves, stuck in a debate where we talk around what may be the fundamental issue: whom do you trust?

  • harrywr2

    #318 Willard

    something that gets that price signal out there.

    Coal mine productivity in the US has dropped 30% in the last 10 years. Coal transport costs have risen on average 6.5% per year in the last 10 years.The Chinese were exporting steam coal at $22/ton in 2002 and they are importing it at  approximately $100/ton in 2012.If you would like something more substantial then numbers that I can recall from memory then page 30 of the BP Statistical Review of Coal is interesting.http://www.bp.com/liveassets/bp_internet/globalbp/globalbp_uk_english/reports_and_publications/statistical_energy_review_2011/STAGING/local_assets/pdf/coal_section_2012.pdfNorthwest Europe Market price – 2002 = $31.65, 2011= $121.64Japan Steam Coal Import price – 2002 = $36.90, 2011 = $136.21Central Appalachian Spot Price – 2002 = $33.20, 2011 = $87.38How big a price signal was Bill Gates looking for?

  • Joshua

    NiV –

    People operate according to a set of heuristics that have arisen because they’re often right.

    If you haven’t read Kahneman’s writings on this topic, I suggest that you do. It’s not like he doesn’t address that issue. Not in the least.

  • Joshua

    Howard –

    IPCC and many celebrity status climate science stars have eroded trust. 

    I disagree to an extent.

    Yes, the evidence suggests that those disinclined to trust the IPCC see what they produce as reason to have trust eroded.

    But those who are inclined to trust the IPCC move in the other direction. Those not particularly inclined either way don’t move much in either direction. This is all fairly well predicted by research  that examine the cognition and psychology of reasoning, and these phenomena are by no means specific to the climate debate. I have found Kahneman’s writing on these issues to be quite interesting. You might also.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    I trust who wrote #325, because I agree with him.

  • Joshua

    I feel the same way about the guy who wrote #328. And in addition to being completely trustworthy, he’s also obviously very smart.

    And no doubt handsome.

  • Howard

    Joshua:”I have found Kahneman’s writing on these issues to be quite interesting. You might also.”  Another interesting guy.  Prospect theory seems to make a scientific study of what constitutes effective and ineffective sales techniques.   I couldn’t find any writings of his regarding how public views of climate change are predicted by his theory.  I did find this paper http://www.edf.org/sites/default/files/11678_climate-policy-hard-problem-soft-thinking.pdf  &nbsp; In which the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) explains that a useful majority of people are swayed by apocalyptic speculation to be manipulated into swallowing the go-green, feel good, accomplish nothing programs.  Recycling, based on the phony EPA assertion of landfill scarcity, was an earlier example.  They also admit that a phony catastrophe like three-mile island is required for the public to be scared into making sweeping decisions based on fear.  This is how GW Bush sold the Iraq war.  The EDF invented psychological phenomenon they call “cognitive dismissal” is a nice sales trick to justify top down usurpation of democratic decision making.  Fat tails and self-evident likelihood of disaster declarations show how Prospect Theory can be used to determine what is needed to manipulate the public.  This explains the theatrics of Hollywood disaster porn in AIT, etc. and the media focus on weather.  Thanks for the peak behind the curtain.

  • PDA

    Howard has uncovered the secret conspiracy, by Googling a publicly available document.

    Don’t laugh. How else would we have found out about Agenda 21?

  • BBD

    Nullius # 324:

    And most of the people who believe do the same. But then the next obvious question is how do they decide who to believe in? How do they identify the “˜experts’? On what basis do they decide who is trustworthy? Are there fixed criteria, or is the choice as irrational as all the others?

    The experts are easily identifiable. They are people whose ideas have not been falsified by their peers. Their peers (operating in their own professional self-interest) would cheerfully falsify them if they could.

    Think of the kudos for overturning ‘CAGW’. Think of the global gratitude, the Nobel etc. A welcome escape route from simply bilking the state/taxpayer year by year for neverending funding.

    People act in what they believe to be their own best interests; a point economists like Hayek have made forcefully.

    I’m sure even libertarian physicists can see the problem.

  • harrywr2

    #333 BBD

    The experts are easily identifiable. They are people whose ideas have not been falsified by their peers.

    And how does one define the universe of  peers?

  • Howard

    PDA there is nothing secret about it.  I just had no idea that an economist got the Nobel Prize for explaining to other academics sales and marketing 101- how people are convinced to buy stuff they don’t need with money they don’t have.  The funny thing is you and BBD think that “scientists” live in a bubble outside of and immune from human nature (Prospect Theory for you economists).

  • Joshua

    Howard –

    I couldn’t find any writings of his regarding how public views of climate change are predicted by his theory. 

    His writings on how people assess probabilities – even scientists and statisticians with expertise in evaluating probability – are useful for understanding how people view the climate debate (IMO). The value of his work for examining the climate debate is not limited by the amount of writing he has done specifically about the climate debate.

    FWIW – I see little of use in your discussion of the EDF document (btw, your link didn’t work). Quite honestly, your description of that document seems to me to be very inaccurate, and maybe even a touch paranoid. For example, although I basically skimmed the document, I did a search for TMI, nuclear, catastrophe, cognitive dismissal,  and landfill, and didn’t even get a single hit. You seem to be reducing Kahenman’s work to the degree to which the EDF finds it useful for framing the climate debate. That seems to me like a very odd way to look at the value of his work.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Speaking of Hayek and behavioral economics:

    What Hayek did not accept, yet is a major finding of contemporary behavioral economics, is that individuals can internalize social norms that bid them to behave in altruistic and virtuous ways even when these are personally costly. For a theory of social norms, which cannot be explained as the Nash equilibria of games played
    by rational self-regarding agents (Gintis 2009a), we must turn to sociological action theory.

    According to this theory, termed role theory in sociology (Linton 1936, Parsons 1967), upon encountering a social interaction, individuals first infer from social cues the nature of the interaction and deduce the social norms appropriate to this interaction. Individuals then use this information to constitute their beliefs concerning the likely behaviors of others on the one hand, the payoffs they attach to alternative actions, and the behavior appropriate to role-performance. Moreover, they use this information to constitute their preferences over these payoffs, because human agents have a socially constituted genetic predisposition to treat conformity to legitimate social norms as personally valuable and hence represented in their preference orderings.

    http://www.umass.edu/preferen/gintis/BehavioralHayek.pdf

    Herbert Gintis has a very nice collection of Amazon reviews.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Howard,

    Indeed, simple sales techniques. Forget Kahneman. Look, squirrel: EDF.

    People swayed by apocalyptic speculation to be manipulated into swallowing the go-green, feel good, accomplish nothing programs. Phony assertion. Phony catastrophe. Sweeping decisions based on fear.

    Cognitive dismissal. Usurpation of democratic decision making. Manipulate the public. Theatrics of Hollywood disaster porn. Peak behind the curtain.

    Trust.

    Whom do you trust?

    How to decide?

    Look for speech patterns.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Oh, and speaking of trust, some externalities:

    http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/post/30624669426

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Who to trust? Much easier to identify those not to trust.Those who hide behind a pseudonym.Look for speech patterns. Those who rely heavily on nicknames they have made up themselves. Those who instantly dismiss the arguments of others with insiderisms like DK, Overton Window, ad absurdium.Look for those who paste the same tired quotes in post after post, regardless of relevance. Those who send readers chasing after links that turn out to be less than relevant, less than authoritative, less than a normal human could have written into a blog comment in less than two minutes.Look for those who think that Monty Python is the only thing on YouTube.Don’t trust them.

  • Joshua

    Personally, I always trust people who assign labels to people by an arbitrary use of criteria. You know what I mean, Tom?

  • Nullius in Verba

    #325,

    “This would tend to discount the heuristic NiV proposes of the more-or-less rational actor.”

    Not really – you’re criticising heuristics for being heuristics, rather than exact reasoning. If you work out the consequences of an action and see gains and no losses, that’s a good decision, and if you see losses but no gains, that’s a bad one. That’s perfectly sensible, and usually works. The heuristic doesn’t check to see if the reason you don’t see losses is because there aren’t any, or because you just haven’t been given the information. It trusts that any forgoing analysis of consequences would have spotted this already, and that if the choice is phrased to discount one or the other it is for a good reason.

    You trust the questioner to give you an honest analysis of the consequences. In a test setting, there is conventionally a suspension of disbelief anyway, as you accept the hypothetical situation of the question for the purpose of answering it.

    #327,

    I’m sure. This was just a magazine article after all, as I said.

    #328,

    I don’t know about that. When I started in this debate, I was inclined to trust the IPCC. The impression I initially had was that there was genuine reason for concern based on the science, although the activists and media were probably exaggerating somewhat what the science said. As a scientist in another field, you tend to assume that other scientists have done their job properly.

    But when I first saw the science plausibly challenged on scientific grounds, as a matter of principle I looked into it. I do exactly the same when I see a good perpetual motion machine or faster-than-light idea – not because I’m seriously entertaining the possibility they’re right, but because it’s how you learn the subtleties of the science. If you look at the proposal and can’t instantly see why it’s wrong, it means your own knowledge of the subject is incomplete. Figuring it out is a good exercise, usually leads to a deeper understanding, and sometimes reveals where what you’ve been told previously isn’t quite true. Science education simplifies and glosses things over a lot more than people suppose. (You can’t trust your science teachers, either.)

    It was as a result of looking into it that my mind was changed. I will admit that I was previously sceptical of eco-catastrophist end-of-the-world claims generally, based on their past record, and that I was well aware of cases where the scientific community had gone off the rails in the past, but I truly hadn’t been expecting to find that.

    #332,

    So you’re saying that Agenda 21 can’t be a conspiracy theory because there’s actual evidence for it?

    #333,

    What they’d actually say, if their ideas were falsified, would be: “It won’t be easy to dismiss out of hand as the math appears to be correct theoretically”. Operating, as you say, in their own professional self-interest.

    You are implicitly assuming what you’re trying to prove. If the scientists are doing their jobs, then when they see problems like this they’ll object loudly. If they haven’t objected loudly then there isn’t a problem. And since there’s no problem, there’s no reason to suppose they’re not doing their jobs.

    And since there’s no problem and the scientists at the heart of it are all doing their jobs, when other scientists do object loudly, they can’t be real scientists, and there can’t possibly be anything to what they say.

    Privately, of course, the scientists at the heart of it were objecting (e.g. 1024334440.txt). But quietly, so they wouldn’t rock the boat. However, the toroidal knot of logic is so firmly established now that such minor details are easily dismissed.

    Trust and distrust can easily form an unbreakable circle – contrary evidence automatically dismissed because it comes from an untrusted source. Trust is another one of those heuristics – technically irrational, but used as a shortcut that often works. But it’s not science. Don’t take anyone’s word for it.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    > Those who rely heavily on nicknames they have made up themselves. […] Do not trust them.

    In other news:

    Am I the only person to receive notification of a supposed new CA posting “Lewandowsky Was Gleicked”, but which does not appear on CA ?

    http://climateaudit.org/2012/08/10/london-august-16/#comment-349017

  • BBD

    Nullius

    As I’ve been forced to point out before, you are a conspiracy theorist. Conspiracy theorists by definition exclude themselves from rational discussion, so this matters here.

    People who claim that ‘climate science’ is ‘corrupt’ would have us believe in a multi-disciplinary collusion aimed at deceiving the public over man-made climate change. I won’t bother speculating on the motive as it’s a waste of time.

    Strip away the rhetorical frills and what remains is simply a paranoid delusion of the standard type embraced by conspiracy theorists.

    Out of curiosity, what other conspiracy theories do you believe in?

  • harrywr2

    #344

    People who claim that “˜climate science’ is “˜corrupt’ would have us
    believe in a multi-disciplinary collusion aimed at deceiving the public
    over man-made climate change.

    One doesn’t need to believe that the potential deception is deliberate. Group dynamics says the opinion of the most confident member of a group will most likely become the opinion of the group. Rarely does a ‘doubting thomas’ rise to a position of prominence within a group until after a major failure within the group.

    We just witnessed this in the banking crisis. Banks employ many experts and auditors to examine their business models and practices to ensure they are sound and prudent. But the entire banking sector including multi-national banks was engaged in lending practices that were not prudent or sound.

    Surely there was no conspiracy among all the thousands of banks in the US. A few over confident banks began imprudent lending based on overconfidence and the rest ‘went along to get along’.

  • Howard

    Agenda 21 and conspiracies are bullcrap in this case.  Applying prospect theory is all you need.  CO2 AGW is real.  Catastrophic AGW is speculation.  Fears of apocalypse are hardwired into the human mind, probably based on the four horsemen who killed most of our ancestors.   It’s not a conspiracy that the right fears government power and foreigners while the left fears corporations and environmental collapse.  I believe this was one of Joshua’s points about how the different groups of people square off over controversial issues.  Great sales and marketing folks know this stuff and is how they sell their junk to everybody.  It’s quite pathetic, but there you are.  We must face the future with the gray-matter hard-wiring we have and account for it. 

  • Nullius in Verba

    #344,

    Oh, come now! You can do better than that.

    I’ve told you numerous times that it requires no collusion to explain – you’re the one who insists that a conspiracy is the only possible explanation.

    With that sort of reasoning, you could never question the honesty of anything said by more than one person, on the grounds that to doubt it would be to propose a conspiracy between all those who say it.

  • harrywr2

    #342 Niv

    Trust is another one of those heuristics ““ technically irrational, but used as a shortcut that often works.

    We all have to make an enormous number of fight or flight, friend or foe decisions everyday.  It’s called survival. If we had to stop and think about each individual fact or piece of evidence we would never make it out of bed. So we use bins.

  • BBD

    Howard

    CO2 AGW is real.  Catastrophic AGW is speculation.

    You are a conspiracy theorist too, I see, even though you apparently don’t recognise the fact. Please, consider the full implications of what you wrote. Remember that the scientific consensus is that more warming = greater risk.

  • BBD

    Nullius

    I’ve told you numerous times that it requires no collusion to explain ““

    Of course it does. Unless there is in fact no collusion at all.

    This is rather awkward isn’t it? Either you are a conspiracy theorist, or you are seeking to create fake doubt about ‘the science’ by insinuating ‘corruption’ which you actually don’t believe exists.

    Tricky.

  • BBD

    Re # 342 in response to # 333, note that ‘the science’ ≠ the Mannean Hockey stick.

    This is the usual false equivalence (and it’s boring).

  • Nullius in Verba

    #351,

    Are you saying the Mannean Hockeystick isn’t science?!

    Are we making some progress, then?

  • BBD

    :-)

  • Wastewater

    #338 True, but you cannot be trusted.

  • harrywr2

    394 BBD

    Remember that the scientific consensus is that more warming = greater risk.

    And the scientific consensus on radiation is that more radiation = greater risk, but you support nuclear power. Two of the workers at Fukushima didn’t make it to the earthquake/tsunami safety shelter, what if all of them didn’t make it.Fat tails is fat tails. We all accept the risk of fat tails based on our perceived cost/benefit analysis. I live in the Western US. Geologists tell me Yellowstone erupting again is a certainty and there is a possibility that all life in the Western US will end abruptly. Of course life ending abruptly in the Western US could be considered a blessing compared to those whose lives that will end as a result of  the global famine that will follow.

  • BBD

    harrywr2

    One doesn’t need to believe that the potential deception is deliberate.

    Deception, whether actual or potential, is by definition deliberate, and banking is not science. Reactors aren’t the climate system, fatalities at Fukushima had nothing to do with radiation, and I have no idea why you are dragging in Yellowstone. Can we clap a stop over the gallops of non-equivalence and start making sense? 

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    #354 shows what true anonymity looks like.

    HB Gary would be proud:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HBGary#Fallout

  • Joshua

    NiV – (342)

    I don’t know about that. When I started in this debate, I was inclined to trust the IPCC.

    FWIW – I will say that this seems to me like the kind of response that that leads Marlowe to call you a sophist. My guess is that you know what I was talking about, and that nominating yourself as an exception to what I was talking about does not really address my point. In any case, on the possibility that I’m wrong about all of that, I will elaborate a bit.

    Let’s use reaction to “Climategate” as an example. Despite claims of “skeptics” I have often read, only a small % of the public are very familiar with “Climategate.” Of those who are, only a small % had it change their views. Of that small %, some became more dubious of the dangers of climate change, (and some became less so). Political ideology was strongly correlated with the direction of movement.

    My guess is that prior to reading in-depth about the product of the IPCC, you were disinclined to trust the analysis of international organizations more generally, and the United Nations more specifically. My guess is that you were relatively disinclined to accept “consensus” opinions among groups of scientists. My guess is that you were disinclined to agree with conclusions favoring international action involving government interference into the energy market segment as a way to achieve positive policy outcomes.

    I would guess that other characteristics of your reasoning, as someone who subscribes to libertarian ideology, would disincline you towards the IPCC. Perhaps you were an exception in those respects, and you were not particularly disinclined towards the nature and or outcomes of the IPCC stripped from its scientific underpinnings. If so, then I’d say that you would be in a distinct minority of those who “lost” faith in the IPCC.

    My estimate is that most people who have “lost” faith in the IPCC had little to no faith in it from the outset, and who went from not having much faith to having less faith the more information they got. This is the predicted by analysis that describes the process of motivated reasoning – which shows how we use additional information to confirm biases. The type of analysis of reasoning that Kahneman does is related to the concept of motivated reasoning.

    If you haven’t read Kahneman’s “Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow,” I think that you might find it interesting. I certainly did, and I think that he helps me to understand the junior lunchroom food fight nature of the climate debate. In his writing, you will find much discussion of the role of heuristics in reasoning.

  • Howard

    Joshua:  Do you have any recommended links to writings of Daniel Kahneman (besides TFTS) that fleshes out his prospect theory.  I agree that he is definitely someone worth reading, least of which for this silly climate debate. Thanks

  • Nullius in Verba

    #358,

    My goodness, that’s a lot of guesses.

    You seem to know better than I do what I think. And it’s not like my believing all that conforms to your own preconceptions, is it?

    Anyway, you can probably work out for yourself what my answer to that is. :-)

  • Joshua

    Curious, NiV, that in your shock about what I supposed about your thinking, you overlooked confirming whether or not my speculation was correct.Well? 

    And regardless – whether or not your opinions are consistent with my speculation – I notice that you still didn’t address the more substantial point I was making. Twice.

    That, again, is a trait that I think Marlowe was referring to with his “sophist” comment. Let’s be clear – I don’t think that you’re a sophist; but it is frustrating when you don’t address the major points of what I’ve said to focus only on minor points – or anecdotal exceptions to the general phenomenon I was describing.

    Do you disagree with my point about whether or not “trust” in the IPCC is most likely correlated with inclination (based on social, cultural, or personal identification) towards its political context and the political implications of its findings? If so, why do you think that the data that are suggestive of that correlation are incorrect?

  • Joshua

    Howard -Outside of TFTS, I haven’t read anything of his that isn’t easily available through use of The Google – and nothing that I can think of that was particularly notable. If you do come across something, please drop off a link in this thread.

  • BBD

    Nullius

    How many conspiracy theorists trust the IPCC and ‘climate science’ in general? Gedankenexperiment, of course.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #361,

    “Curious, NiV, that in your shock about what I supposed about your thinking, you overlooked confirming whether or not my speculation was correct.Well?”

    I said I was initially inclined to believe them. You said I wasn’t. What’s to confirm?

    If you didn’t believe me the first time round, why should you believe what I say now?

    “Do you disagree with my point about whether or not “trust” in the IPCC is most likely correlated with inclination”

    Was that your point? I thought you was answering the comment to the effect that the IPCC behaviour had eroded trust, to which your answer was that you thought all the people who don’t trust them now didn’t trust them before – that the events around the Hockeystick and contents of Climategate had no effect, except to strengthen pre-existing ideologically-based beliefs.

    I didn’t think that was the case, since I and many other sceptics and lukewarmers I know have, at some point in the story, changed their mind about them. Take Judith Curry for another example – initially a strong advocate for the IPCC, now a critic.

    Of course trust in the IPCC is correlated with inclination – there are ideologically-invested people who would forgive it any behaviour. But that’s not an answer to the charge that the IPCC has eroded trust.

    My claim is that there are plenty of scientifically-minded people, on both ends of the ideological spectrum, who out of principle put scientific evidence ahead of their personal desires, who admire and respect science and scientists generally; and who consider the IPCC corrupt not because of their own preferences and preconceptions, but as a result of looking at the record on their behaviour. They believe it because of evidence.

    The main question I see here is whether you can say people only believe the IPCC process is corrupt solely because of their pre-existing ideology; that they’re not doing so on the basis of evidence. If all you’re saying is that there’s a correlation, I don’t disagree with that.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #363,

    How many people who believe in climate catastrophe also believe there is a conspiracy of big business oil interests running a well-funded denial propaganda machine, that explains the continuing public scepticism and political deadlock on the issue?

  • BBD

    Well, you had to dodge # 363. As for the evidence that vested interests misdirect politicians, you could write a book about it.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #366,

    So are you saying that you believe in the oil conspiracy? Or that the readers of that book do?

  • BBD

    Who cares, nullius? The facts speak for themselves. One’s attitude to the facts speaks for itself.

  • Howard

    Joshua:  I’m about halfway through this  http://www.princeton.edu/~kahneman/docs/Publications/prospect_theory.pdf &nbsp; Pretty interesting stuff.  So far, he shows how people are risk averse for positive prospects and risk seeking for negative prospects, like guaranteed outcomes when buying insurance, change risk perception based on the order of multiple choices with the same probabilities and are more willing to take a risk when playing with house money.  I’m just starting to get into the theory aspects.  This is really useful stuff.  Thanks for the heads up. 

  • Howard

    I know the previous link is bad…sorry.  Here is a nice interview about TFTS.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_UVDD7ErJ4

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Glad to see you refreshing your Marketing 101, Howard.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    > Take Judith Curry for another example ““ initially a strong advocate for the IPCC, now a critic.

    I’d like to see a quote showing Judy’s being an advocate for the IPCC.

    Not “I was an advocate of the IPCC”: a real quote showing advocacy.

    Since then, Judy is warning against scientific advocacy:

    http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/30/activate-your-science/

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    BBD,

    Here’s what you said:

    As I’ve been forced to point out before, you are a conspiracy theorist. Conspiracy theorists by definition exclude themselves from rational discussion, so this matters here.

    Since you’re the one labeling Nullius as a conspiracy theorist, you’re the one excluding him from the discussion.

    Saying over and over again “I don’t want to talk to you” leads to a related paradox.

    If you do not want to talk to Nullius, don’t.

    Take example on Nullius. See how he ignores #337 and most of #358. See how he insists on your “conspiracy” shtick. Why?

    If you’re interested in interacting with Nullius, at least focus on his gaming theory.

  • BBD

    willard, I am pointing out that NIV is a conspiracy theorist and consequently suffering from a credibility deficit. This is, to my mind, a central issue and one generally overlooked in our conversations. I do take your points, but perhaps you would do well to take mine.

  • BBD

    I cannot link to it directly, but the last time nullius gave a good demonstration of his beliefs that ‘the science is broken’ and the breaks are being covered up (a conspiracy theory) was June 5 (from # 7).

  • Joshua

    NiV (364)  - Thanks – in general, that response is more of the type I find useful to engage with:

    If all
    you’re saying is that there’s a
    correlation, I don’t disagree with that.

    Thanks for getting around to my point.

    The main question I see here is whether you can say people only believe the IPCC process is corrupt solely because of theirpre-existing ideology; that they’re not doing so on the basis of evidence.

    No. I would not be so absolute. Of course not.

    I should have used more well-qualified wording earlier. You and I, I would guess, disagree about the extent of the correlation (I would say it is quite strong), but certainly it isn’t absolute, and I’m not suggesting causation (but that both tendencies are driven by the same causal mechanism). 

    I don’t want to say that I don’t believe you —  I don’t know you personally and so have no reason to not take you at your word. But then again, I have to be honest that I find your description implausible because of your strong libertarian leanings. So what to do?

    If you didn’t believe me the first time round, why should you believe what I say now?

    Well – that’s why I brought up issues for clarification. That is why I explained my reasoning more explicitly by outlining my guesses.  To help me sort things out, why don’t you address those issues I raised that would suggest a linkage between libertarian ideology and an inclination to not trust the IPCC?

    I have seen not a few a self-described libertarians outline exactly that linkage that I described. Why are you an outlier among libertarians w/r/t your view of the United Nations, “consensus” opinions among scientific groups, orientation towards centralized international policies directed at addressing climate change, etc.?

    I didn’t think that was the case, since I and many other sceptics and lukewarmers I know have, at some point in the story, changed their mind about them. Take Judith Curry for another example ““ initially a strong advocate for the IPCC, now a critic.

    Judith would be a good example (willard’s caveat is interesting – but I think it is reasonable to say that she was a strong supporter of the “consensus” perspective previously).. But she is a rare example. I have seen very little evidence of “many other skeptics and lukewarmers”… “on both ends of the political spectrum.”…. who have had trust in the IPCC eroded. 

    How do we define “many?” Given that the world’s population is so large, can we call an tiny, tiny % of the world’s population “many?”

    The climate blogosphere is a tiny minority of people. It is a self-selecting group who are highly engaged. This group is not particularly representative w/r/t their level of engagement. Now in that group, I would say there is a remarkably consistent pattern w/r/t political ideology and orientation towards the IPCC. 

    So let’s look beyond the climate blogosphere. Outside the climate blogosphere,  people are less inclined to be strongly moved in either direction – which would suggest that very few people among the general public have had their trust eroded in any significant way.

    Among those that have – I would guess are most are quite likely to have a strong ideological orientation —  just as I see a strong ideological orientation inside the blogosphere.  Indeed, polls show strong ideological patterns in belief on climate change. More than likely, the stronger the political orientation the stronger the impact on views on climate change and the IPCC.  Do you think it likely that there would be that type of correlation true for views on climate change more generally but not for views on the IPCC?

    Analysis of samples who said their position was strongly moved by “Climategate” (a sample that is likely influence by a non-validated selection criterion, e.g., participants would likely downplay the extent of ideological influence as they’d rather think that their beliefs are based on an objective scientific analysis even if the aren’t.) show just such a pattern of ideological orientation.

    I have actually seen evidence of a false claim of a non-ideologically oriented conversion w/r/t distrust in the IPCC.

    Many times I have seen claims of an objective conversion only to later find an association with a strong ideological orientation.

    So – yes, there are quite a few who make personal statements such as yours in the blogosphere but I have seen time after time where the  degree to which those experiences are somehow representative of a larger phenomenon look to be significantly overstated by “sketpics.”

    And many of the times that I have seen statements of how “It wasn’t my politics it was my objective evaluation of the science,” it also becomes evident that those statements are being offered by people who are unusually focused on climate change and who have very strong ideological orientation. That doesn’t disprove the claimed irrelevancy of political orientation as a factor in belief about the IPCC for any one particular claim – but I’m sure that we can agree that in some cases it is likely a lie, and in other cases it is simply a reluctance to admit the truth, and in other cases people are just fooling themselves because they are blind to their own biases. This is completely consistent with what we know about how political, cultural, and personal cultural identities affect reasoning – even when we aren’t aware that they are doing so.

    You, yourself, frequently talk of some vague differentiation between your beliefs and many “skeptics” in the blogosphere – which suggests you yourself are identifying your orientation as being out of the norm — even among a group that is out of the norm by very definition. 

    Of course trust in the IPCC is correlated with inclination ““ there are ideologically-invested people who would forgive it any behaviour.

    Very cute. Since this pattern has now been  established, I will develop an acronym for future exchanges. I will call this kind of statement a STSWMWCYAS (Statment That Shows Why Marlowe Would Call You A Sophist). At least in this most recent post, more of your comments rise above that level.

  • Howard

    Willard: It’s never too late to brush on marketing skills in business.  In this case, Joshua’s references came at a very opportunistic time.  Interestingly enough, the marketing plan will include California Carbon Assignments to sell new technology.  How’s that for cognitive dissonance!

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    BBD,

    I understand your point. There is no need to say to someone that you don’t take him seriously. And if you do, you must be prepared to show why you believe so.

    Also, please bear in mind that it’s tough to prove a conspiracy. Would you be able to prove that Nullius is a conspiracist?

    Finally, how would you respond to YesButClimategate? Because that’s what’s coming, if you insist on talking about conspiracies.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #376,

    “I will call this kind of statement a STSWMWCYAS (Statement That Shows Why Marlowe Would Call You A Sophist).”

    I think Marlowe calls me a sophist because it’s a persuasive rhetorical technique. It uses the plausibility of an argument as evidence against it, without actually having to come up with any specific objections.

    In this case, it was my wryly humorous attempt to point out to you what you was doing, by doing the same thing in the opposite direction. Your comment on the connection between libertarian preconceptions and the corresponding IPCC conclusions was one-sided, considering only how libertarians were predisposed to mistrust the IPCC independently of the evidence. I simply reversed the logic, and acted as if it were left-wing preconceptions that led one to trust the IPCC independently of the evidence. And you objected, rightly; but shouldn’t I object just as strongly to you implicitly suggesting that it is not the evidence that has eroded the IPCC’s reputation, but our ideological preconceptions? If it turned out that the only people who didn’t trust the IPCC were of the libertarian/right, don’t the ideological predispositions of the left explain that as easily as those of the right?

    This attempt to ‘psychologize’ the debate is just the latest phase in the war – having gained no traction trying to portray sceptics as ignorant amateurs, paid shills, conspiracy theorists and cranks, there is a concerted effort to show that sceptics are only sceptical because of the way their brains work – either saying there’s something wrong with sceptics, or that it is just normal irrational human fallibility. Chris Mooney was one of the first to move into the area, and I had many long debates over there on the subject. So now we’re all trying to say beliefs (meaning sceptical beliefs) are formed by ideology and motivated reasoning. And if they’re only doing it because their poor li’l Republican Brains are malfunctioning, it’s OK to ignore them and override their views.

    And everywhere it’s tried, annoyed sceptics pop out of the woodwork to object that they believe as they do because of evidence, they only care enough to argue about it because of politics. I’m not alone in being annoyed by the tactic.

    It annoys left-wing climate sceptics too, to keep getting stereotyped as right-wingers. Steve McIntyre reports himself as left-wing, although he rarely refers to politics. According to the polls there are a significant number of them.

    There is, clearly, a correlation between politics and climate belief. But I don’t think it’s as simple as just motivated reasoning, although it no doubt contributes. I think a lot of it is just that different groups have different sources of information, different trusted authorities, and find arguments and counter-arguments more or less accessible. You will read about a new climate paper in an article where the conclusions are summarised approvingly and the climate catastrophe implications highlighted. I will read about a new climate paper in an article where the data and methods are being torn apart. It’s perfectly natural to draw a different impression.

    You could say that people of different ideologies choose where to get their information depending on their preferences, but then draw conclusions more rationally from what they find there. Libertarians and right-wingers mistrust the IPCC based on the evidence, but only libertarians and right-wingers would have gone looking for it.

    It’s a theory, anyway.

  • BBD

    nullius

    And everywhere it’s tried, annoyed sceptics pop out of the woodwork to object that they believe as they do because of evidence, they only care enough to argue about it because of politics. I’m not alone in being annoyed by the tactic.

    How many times have I asked you to present your evidence? You never have, presumably because there it doesn’t exist.  All you ever do is wheel out tired old irrelevancies like the Mannean Hockey Stick – because it is *all you’ve got*. There’s no scientific case that the mainstream is wrong. Your previous counter to this was to argue that the dissent was being suppressed, which is bollocks as you know perfectly well.

    Which leaves the insinuation of ‘corruption’, of conspiracy. But nothing else. No substance. No depth.

  • BBD

    willard @ 378

    Nullius demonstrates his belief in conspiracy and corruption in ‘the science’ regularly in comments here. You can see for yourself. Nullius believes that ‘the science’ needs ‘fixing’ (see non-link at # 375). 

    By happy coincidence, on that very thread, circumstance provided nullius with an opportunity to demonstrate that an actual climate scientist (James Annan) was wrong. I’m sure you recall. Go to # 347 to see what happened next – or rather what *did not* happen next. That was instructive, was it not? 

    Earlier on that thread, to demonstrate that nullius was in fact just saying stuff, I asked him this question, repeatedly:

    Which papers have been withdrawn as a result of this file being released to the public? Outside of CRU, which pillars of “˜climate science’ have fallen as a result?

    He refused to answer. That was instructive too. And now here we are again, as if all this stuff never even happened. It’s… tiresome. But instructive. 

    Thank you for your comments and sorry for being, ahem, ratty earlier. You are of course logically correct in what you say.

  • Joshua

    NiV –

    I think Marlowe calls me a sophist because it’s a persuasive rhetorical technique. It uses the plausibility of an argument as evidence against it, without actually having to come up with any specific objections.

    I think that part of what you are saying there is true – in that I often see the charge of “sophist” leveled in such a way. But I do think there’s something else at play. Your attempt at wry humor seemed much more to me like a rather useless avoidance of the point I was asking you to address.

    Your comment on the connection between libertarian preconceptions and
    the corresponding IPCC conclusions was one-sided, considering only how libertarians were predisposed to mistrust the IPCC independently of the evidence.

    That is incorrect. I didn’t use sufficiently qualified language, but I extended the effects of motivated reasoning out in all directions.

    I simply reversed the logic, 

    As such, your attempt at humor was not a reversal of my logic, but a distortion of my logic – one which could have no real impact of advancing the discussion (except, perhaps, as being a useful object lesson unto itself).

    and acted as if it were left-wing
    preconceptions that led one to
    trust the IPCC independently of the evidence.

    So this is one statement in a series of statements – others that follow that I will also comment on – that show a fundamental distortion of what I’ve been saying. I am saying that everyone acts in ways that are independent of evidence in the sense that the actions are a product of a motivated handling of the evidence.

    And you objected, rightly; but shouldn’t I object just as strongly to you implicitly suggesting that it is not the evidence that has eroded the IPCC’s reputation, but our ideological preconceptions?

    No – because I am applying that rule across the board – and basing it on what we know about the psychological and cognitive aspects of how humans reason.

    If it turned out that the only people who didn’t trust the IPCC were of the libertarian/right, don’t the ideological predispositions of the left explain that as easily as those of the right?

    If you would read what I am writing more closely, you would see that I have said that numerous times. You have been too busy deflecting the implications of what I am saying to “skeptics” and righwingers to see the full range of what I have said. Ironically, I would argue that your selective intake of what I’ve been saying is a evidence of the motivations behind your reasoning (no doubt, we could find a similar phenomenon in my reasoning).

    This attempt to “˜psychologize’ the debate is just the latest phase in the war ““ having gained no traction trying to portray sceptics as ignorant amateurs, paid shills, conspiracy theorists and cranks, there is a concerted effort to show that sceptics are only sceptical because of the way their brains work ““ either saying there’s something wrong with sceptics, or that it is just normal irrational human fallibility. Chris Mooney was one of the first to move into the area, and I had many long debates over there on the subject.

    Here, again, you show a propensity to show some of the motivations in your reasoning. What I am talking about is fundamentally different than the kind of phenomenon that Mooney thinks that he can identify. Further, even though they are fundamentally different, you can even find writing by Kahne and Mooney as to why they disagree about the validity of Kahne’s theory.

    I have discussed this with you before, and told you before that you are invalidly linking what I’m saying to what Mooney is saying. In fact, I see some serious problems with Mooney’s claims. If you need more information about that, then ask. But why would you repeat this mistake? Well, one reason is that apparently you haven’t bothered to read about the issues enough to have a better understanding of them. That may or not be a product of your “motivations.” But another, I would say, is that your repeated mistake reflects how your motivations are biasing your reasoning.

    So now we’re all trying to say
    beliefs (meaning sceptical beliefs) are formed by ideology and motivated reasoning. And if they’re only doing it because their poor li’l Republican Brains are malfunctioning, it’s OK to ignore them and override their views.

    Wrong, in many ways. In the very least that doesn’t resemble I am saying very much at all.

    And everywhere it’s tried, annoyed sceptics pop out of the woodwork to object that they believe as they do because of evidence, they only care enough to argue about it because of politics. I’m not alone in being annoyed by the tactic.

    See above.

    It annoys left-wing climate sceptics too, to keep getting stereotyped as right-wingers. Steve McIntyre reports himself as left-wing, although he rarely refers to politics. According to the polls there are a significant number of them.

    Irrelevant, for the reasons I’ve stated.

    I think a lot of it is just that different groups have different sources of information, different trusted authorities, and find arguments and counter-arguments more or less accessible. You will read about a new climate paper in an article where the conclusions are summarised approvingly and the climate catastrophe implications highlighted. I will read about a new climate paper in an article where the data and methods are being torn apart. It’s perfectly natural to draw a different impression.

    This phenomenon is not in the least separate from motivated reasoning. It is a phenomenon that rests on top of motivated reasoning. I really think that the problem here is that you are making assumptions about the concept rather than seeking to understand it. 

    There is, clearly, a correlation between politics and climate belief. But I don’t think it’s as simple as just motivated reasoning, although it no doubt contributes.

    This would be an interesting topic to discuss – but we can’t do that until you understand better what I’m describing as motivated reasoning.

    You could say that people of different ideologies choose where to get
    their information depending on their preferences, but then draw conclusions more rationally from what they find there. Libertarians and right-wingers mistrust the IPCC based on the
    evidence, but only libertarians and right-wingers would have gone looking for it.

    Of course. You seem to think that somehow what you’re describing there isn’t subsumed by the concept of motivated reasoning. It isn’t.

    And any time that you’d like to get around to explaining why you’re an outlier among “sketpics,” I’d love to read it. I have to wonder why you still haven’t answered that question.

  • Joshua

    Sorry – this should read…. “you can even find writing by Kahne and Mooney as to why they disagree about the validity of Mooney’s theory.”

  • Nullius in Verba

    #382,

    “If you would read what I am writing more closely, you would see that I have said that numerous times.”

    Where?

  • Joshua

    You: don’t the ideological predispositions of the left explain that as easily as those of the right?

    Me: If you would read what I am writing more closely, you would see that I have said that numerous times.

    You: Where?

    I’m not going to go back and search for specific references. It was part of the discussion when you last brought up Mooney’s ideas of how conservative and liberal brains differ. But I often speak about the topic of motivated reasoning, and I’m pretty careful to qualify that it impacts everyone in the debate as a foundational manifestation of attribute of human cognition and psychology, and I’m pretty careful to make sure that I don’t suggest that it is applicable to one ideology more than the other. Suggesting that it applies to one group more than the other is actually a product of motivated reasoning, fails a basic skeptical smell test, and unfortunately, characterizes most of the basic logical emptiness of most climate blog discourse.

    Anyway, the point is that if you read up a bit on motivated reasoning, you would realize that every single time I mention the concept it speaks to biases that underlie all reasoning, and therefore is not conditional on a particular ideological orientation. 

    Why don’t you focus on the larger points that I’m making rather than offer a relatively meaningless challenge like that?

  • harrywr2

    @274 BBD

     I am pointing out that NIV is a conspiracy theorist and consequently suffering from a credibility deficit.

    Do you ever hear yourself. How about how the ‘rich’ are taking over the rights of US citizens..or the evil Koch Brothers…or how Republicans are in the service of Big Oil.You are the #1 commenter here that is incapable of accepting that others have ‘life perspectives’ different then your own. You are far and above the greatest lover of conspiracies and the clearly one the most offensive people on the internet.Before you came along people of differing life perspectives could have constructive conversations. Now it’s just a bunch of huff and puff moral indignaion and superiority nonsense.One of my best friends is a retired Russia Officer whose plattoon was pretty much decimated by an American made rocket in Afghanistan during the Afghan/Soviet conflict. (I don’t ‘wonder’ how the rocket got into Afghan hands and neither does he).We could have meaningful discussions about world affairs. There isn’t a meaningful discussion to be had about anything on a blog where BBD isn’t banned.

  • Joshua

    And NiV – Just to repeat:

    This attempt to “˜psychologize’ the debate is just the latest phase in the war ““ having gained no traction trying to portray sceptics as ignorant amateurs, paid shills, conspiracy theorists and cranks, there is a concerted effort to show that sceptics are only sceptical because of the way their brains work ““ either saying there’s something wrong
    with sceptics, or that it is just normal irrational human fallibility. Chris Mooney was one of the first to move into the area, and I had many long debates over there on the subject.

    Theories like those of Kahan and Kahneman  stand apart from the climate debate. Using those theories as insight into the nature of the climate debate is not trying to portray “skeptics” as ignorant amateurs. Your reflexive reactions about people who try to “psychologize” the debate may be understandable if that is what I was actually trying to do. But that isn’t the case here – and I have given you the information needed to understand that multiple times. Sometimes when you’re carrying a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Dismissing their theories w/o really understanding them, and based on inaccurate interpretation due to insufficient information,  would be a perfect example of how motivated reasoning is manifest.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    One way to defuse false psychology is with actual data from sources considered unbiased by all participants.One such source is the U.S. Department of Energy. Although they make mistakes they have not shown signs of bias in either direction when speaking of energy.With that in mind I offer a link to a chart of Heating Degree Days by Month from 1949 through 2010. This is a metric used widely to estimate demand for energy. The link is here: http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/pdf/sec1_16.pdfSince 1949, the records for highest demand for each month has been 1978 or earlier, with the exception for December, when the record was 1989. There is lower demand for heating in recent years than previously measured. This tracks global warming theory–the number of very cold days in winter has been expected to decrease.However, the records for lowest demand for each month has only 3 of recent vintage–November’s record for lowest demand was in 2001, January’s in 2006 and March in 2000. Two records were set in the 50’s and one in the 60’s. Recent years have not been uniformly warmer than those in the modern record as measured by the DOE.Interesting.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Cooling degree days use a similar metric to measure demand for energy for air conditioning. The Department of Energy also publishes a record of CDD’s from 1949 through 2010.Here the data shows that recent years have been warmer in the U.S., with record high demand for 5 of the 7 months measured being recorded in the past decade. See: http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/pdf/sec1_18.pdfMost of the records for low demand are relatively ancient, with the most recent record low month being 1992.It has been getting warmer recently. But it doesn’t seem to be happening according to plan. Global warming theory has been clear that it should be happening primarily in the winter months.Explanations or educated guesses are welcome.

  • Howard

    Tom:  Energy as a proxy for temperature just verifies what most people not regularly commenting at WUWT or Bishop Hill already know.  The 70’s were cooler, it’s warmer now.  There is a very high probability that CO2 is responsible for a portion of that warming.  Psychology (see EDF-Columbia paper) and personal psychosis (my own paranoid conspiracy hero complex) is applied by everyone in the debate to frame and project probabilities of future prospects dominated by emotional and instinctual thinking.  There is no actual data to support these projections, just our own experience of climate, climate as documented in history and geology and highly sophisticated model ensembles of dubious predictive value.  One side believes that we must be free to invent our way out of any potential pickles, the other believes in unmitigated disaster lurking in phat tails unless government forces an immediate 180-degree flip to a carbon-free life.  

  • Nullius in Verba

    #385,

    “I’m not going to go back and search for specific references.”

    So you would agree that they’re not immediately accessible?

    I’ve noticed in the past you quite often make demands for references to support minor points. Is it an unfair question?

    “Why don’t you focus on the larger points that I’m making rather than offer a relatively meaningless challenge like that?”

    Because I don’t know which ones are the “larger points”, and in any case I have my own points to concentrate on. Several times now you’ve given long comments, I’ve picked out those bits I’ve felt worth commenting on, and you’ve complained that I’ve missed the main point, which often turns out to be some buried rather non-descript fragment. I’ve tried to answer those, or explain why answers aren’t applicable, but I’m still being told I’m not answering your points to your satisfaction.

    If you want an answer, try shorter comments that make your main point clear. And bear in mind that if I think it’s a “have you stopped beating your wife?” question I’ll reject the premise. People routinely don’t answer my points and questions, and I think that’s fair enough. We all have our own agendas.

    Oh and I’m not dismissing Kahan and Kahneman, or the concept of cognitive biases (motivated reasoning is only one aspect of that, and has a specific technical definition). Kahan has himself objected to some of the uses people have put his work to, to bash Republicans. But while we humans are less rational than we like to think, we’re not insane, and we’re still mostly rational. Don’t put everything down to cognitive bias, either.

  • Joshua

    I make no “demands.” Of course it’s up to you to decide what you will and won’t do. If you don’t want to address the more significant points I’m making, that’s up to you. If you want to ignore questions repeatedly asked, it is up to you. If you want to distort what I’m saying to respond off-point, or if you want to respond to points related to Kahan’s work by saying that you disagree with Mooney, it’s entirely up to you. Of course you can decide to do all of that if you want to.

  • John F. Pittman

    I also do not dismiss the importance of Kahan and Kahneman. However, I do think that Dr. Fischhoff’s work is more relevant. I note with irony that Fischhoff’s work directly addresses the communications issue that climate wars have devolved into. The irony is that it does not matter that the CAGW advocates started it first, as in the Mommyism: they did it first; but to note that Fischhoff’s work concerns SUCCESSFUL communication of risks and hazards. While I see mt and Joshua stating that the fat tail of climate change and disruption be considered, they have little but contempt for those who look at the fat tail of economic ruin and disruption. It is times like these I think Joshua should take some of his own advice, and words, and actually realize what they mean wrt himself and the argument he is in. On the economics, if you like Nordhaus at the time of writing, if present renewables cost as much as 15 times “dirty coal”, then yes, mt’s demand that we do something significant by 2050 is pipe dreams. This is because if you take half of the world economic growth, 4%/per annum, and use it to replace FF, it will take about 69 years to replace current energy production. Without agreeing to assumptions or at least discussing them to see the differences, an honest and relevant discussion, of costs and effects, is extremely unlikely.

  • Joshua

    John –

    Do you have a link for Fischhoff?

     While I see mt and Joshua stating that the fat tail of climate change
    and disruption be considered, they have little but contempt for those who look at the fat tail of economic ruin and disruption.

    Only some, John.I like to think that contempt isn’t a part of my processing at all, but I know that it is there sometimes. But I think you are overgeneralizing. If you can point out where you find “contempt” in what I write, please do so.

    I think that the fat tail of economic ruin and disruption are worthy of investigation. That is precisely what originally drew me into looking at RPJr’s work. The problem I have is when confidence is overstated. Now my inclination is to think that any statement in that regard are overstatements – and that’s what I need to control for. But I think that when projections of economic ruin and disruption are well-qualified, I have no contempt for them.

    The difficulty for me then lies in that I don’t have the brains or the skills to assess the full range of technical analysis. So, then, I look for “tells” of errors in reasoning process. When I see other statements being made that betray a weak attention to objective reasoning, then I speculate about the probability that such a pattern will be generalized. That is why I engage people in debate about the politics, to see how frequently they fail to carry out objective reasoning processes. When people are political extremists – (no matter which direction of extremism) – we can almost always find gaping holes in logic. 

    When I then offer a window into how “motivated reasoning” has biased someone’s conclusions, and they then show that they are closed to the very notion that their reasoning is so biased, then I have what I think is a fair confirmation of the problem with their analysis. 

    It is times like these I think Joshua should take some of his own advice, and words, and actually realize what they mean wrt himself and
    the argument he is in.

    No doubt. That’s (at least part of the reason) why I’m here. I offer my thoughts to you so that you can help me to gain those insights. You’ve been pretty good at that. For whatever reason (I have my theories), I have found that to be a rare commodity in these discussions. 

    The irony is that it does not matter that the CAGW advocates started it first, as in the Mommyism: they did it first;

    I agree that it doesn’t matter in as an issue of direct substance. But I do think that it matters when people think that they can say who did it first. For example, Climategate was not only a product of a apecific context that had well-identifiable antecedents, it also exists within a larger political context. It is only one example of many that display the same basic phenomena at work.

    Who started it isn’t important. That people feel compelled to identify who started it is important, and the fact that people reach confident conclusions about who started it is just another manifestation of motivated reasoning. The only way that you can reach a determination of “who started it” is by ignoring the implications of motivated reasoning. It is in itself a nonsensical determination,  in addition to the fact that it “doesn’t matter” in that it is irrelevant to the process of making progress.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    It wouldn’t take too many changes in text (and none substantive) to turn Joshua’s comments about economics into a Monckton-like rant about climate change.

    I’ve never seen someone say ‘it doesn’t matter who started the fight’ who didn’t start the fight.

    I am very willing to read what Joshua writes on motivated reasoning and contempt. I believe he has much to contribute to an understanding of the interplay between the two.

  • Joshua

    John (#394)

    Without agreeing to assumptions or at least discussing them to see the differences, an honest and relevant discussion, of costs and effects, is extremely unlikely.

    Agreed. Again, you go back to definition of terms as a necessary condition of honest discussion. I agree, I agree, I agree.

    Now my question to you is whether you agree that same rule applies to the issue of “in the pipeline,” and whether any discrete reduction in rate of ACO2 emissions is not really a part of a solution (unless it is explicitly defined as one part of an overall effort to reduce ACO2 to practically nil).

    I did not have much sympathy for MT’s arguments in that regard until I began to see how none of his interlocutors were really willing to agree to or discuss that assumption. I also have a sense that he has changed his tone in presenting his case, as well – which could also be a factor in my shift.

  • Joshua

    So here would be an example of what I’m talking about. A smart person making absurd overstatements that betray gaping logical holes that are a tell of motivated reasoning:

    I’ve never seen someone say “˜it doesn’t matter who started the fight’ who didn’t start the fight.

    So you can’t imagine a parent saying to two children, who have a long history of fighting with each other over myriad issues with each deflecting responsibility for their own actions by claiming that the other started it, in effect (obviously you wouldn’t use exactly this kind of language to children):

    “It doesn’t matter, children, who started the fight first. Your action was not acceptable, and blaming it on someone else is not the way to solve the problem. You have a long history of engaging in these kinds of fights, and you can’t just isolate one particular action from a chain of actions to say that the one action started it. What I am expecting from both of you is accountability for your own actions, not for you to justify your actions by blaming them on someone else.”

    Would that parent, then, have been the one who started the fight?

    I get it. Your “schtick” is climategate. It ascends to paramount importance in your mind, and you have written a book about who started it. Therein lies the motivation that led you to make such a stupid statement.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    I must admit I could have qualified my statement as referring to a discussion between (titularly titled) adults. So okay, Joshua, parents can ask kids that question.

    If you want to think my schtick is Climategate, go ahead. You won’t be the first to try and put my opinions in a box of your own sizing. You would be wrong, but that amounts to a minor error compared to some of the other things you write.

    Your own schtick is pretty easy to tease out of any of your long and irrelevant comments–we can just go to comment #396, where you write that you  

    did not have much sympathy for MT’s arguments in that regard until you began to see how none of his interlocutors were really willing to agree to or discuss that assumption.

    There’s a word for that. It has nothing to do with the understanding you might get by looking at the level of understanding of the operation of the five great carbon sinks or how much remains to be done to improve that understanding.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    > If you don’t want to address the more significant points I’m making [1] [or] to ignore questions repeatedly asked [2] [or] to distort what I’m saying to respond off-point [3] [or] to respond to points related to Kahan’s work by saying that you disagree with Mooney [4], it’s entirely up to you.

    Deck stacking [1], ignoratio elenching [2], red herring [3], and springboarding [4] are important tactics for gaming theorists.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Impressive use of brackets there, willard. 

  • Joshua

    I must admit I could have qualified my statement as referring to a
    discussion between (titularly titled) adults. So okay, Joshua, parents can ask kids that question.

    That example was meant merely to illustrate an extremely obvious context that contradicts your point, Tom.

    The debates about who “started it” in the climate wars are not only completely non-productive w/r/t advancing the discussion, they are also no more realistic or meaningful than the claims of “He started it” when it comes out of the mouths of children. In both cases, it is a product of people who don’t want to accept accountability for their own actions.

    “It” in the climate wars is not a discrete phenomenon. “It” is the product of political disagreements that are rooted in the very core of how we approach debates, in particular highly controversial debates that overlap with political, social, and personal identifications. 

    And Tom, if you think my comments are irrelevant, than the logical reaction would be to not respond to them. Why would you take the time to respond to irrelevancy? To do so would be inherently illogical. You generally do a good job of not responding. I would suggest that you continue doing so if you can’t offer anything that is of any more value than your recent series of responses to me. It all goes back to good faith. If you don’t want to exchange with me in good faith, why bother at all?

    Anyway, have a nice Labor day.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    > I’ve never seen someone say “˜it doesn’t matter who started the fight’ who didn’t start the fight.

    Spot the fallacy.

    Meanwhile, an audit showing that Joshua started the fight would be nice.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Oh, you too, Joshua. You, too.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    willard, {}. Not to mention <>. You’re pretty good at finding work for others to do. Do some yourself.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    In a rational conversation, people usually support their own assertions. They do not ask others to do so.

    Reminds me of the concept of adulthood invoked in #398.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Rational conversations and willard’s participation have a low correlation coefficient.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Willard and Joshua, I would like to extend my sincere apologies to you both for the recent series of comments. 

    I confess I was trying an experiment. I regret that I involved you two without your consent, but I needed blind participation for valid results.

    I hope you will accept my apologies and I also hope you can return to your previous conversation with others on this thread.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    > If you don’t want to exchange with me in good faith, why bother at all?

    Deck stacking, ignoratio elenching, red herring, and springboarding are important tactics for gaming theorists.

  • John F. Pittman

    Joshua, you state: “The debates about who “started it” in the climate wars are not only completely non-productive w/r/t advancing the discussion, they are also no more realistic or meaningful than the claims of “He started it” when it comes out of the mouths of children. In both cases, it is a product of people who don’t want to accept accountability for their own actions.” This would be true if there was not the institutional bias that was set up by the Rio Declaration and the precautionary principle. By locking in the discussion to preclude conservation of capital, they give up the backfall of being less than completely open and honest in their assessments i.e. just being human. This assumes that the claim that we must, as a species, not fail wrt CAGW is fully supported. It is trivial to show that wasting money can cause the C part, even the extinction part. What risk professionals do in high cost, high uncertainity to low cost, high uncertainty is to conserve capital.

  • John F. Pittman

    Examples: “” For now, I will repeat my assertion that an equation that says that cheap energy = fewer starving people is simplistic.”” It is not that all cheap energy betters all starving people; however, cheap energy = fewer starving people since even though not all starving people use FF or other energy, some do and due to near subsistance farming, would starve with higher energy prices. Another case are those who recieve surpluss as a result of excess, not all starving would be due to higher prices in energy causing fringe farmers to quit or switch, but that it would cause some farmers to react and thus some poor to starve. So, how could one make a simple argument to you if the conversation has to get to such a level? Another example: “”So here would be an example of what I’m talking about that ignores what institutional bias in the IPCC effects: “”A smart person making absurd overstatements that betray gaping logical holes that are a tell of motivated reasoning:

    I’ve never seen someone say “˜it doesn’t matter who started the fight’ who didn’t start the fight.””  

  • John F. Pittman

    http://www.markusschmidt.eu/pdf/Intro_risk_perception_Schmidt.pdf Here is one that tries to bring Frischhoff (Slovic et al) and Kahnemann et al together. It is a quickie read.

  • John F. Pittman

    Joshua:””Now my question to you is whether you agree that same rule applies to the issue of “in the pipeline,” and whether any discrete reduction in rate of ACO2 emissions is not really a part of a solution (unless it is explicitly defined as one part of an overall effort to reduce ACO2 to practically nil).””           My answer: There are good physical reasons for both “believing” and “not believing” of the in the pipeline issue. I tend to fall in the middle as it can’t be much or it would be measurable, and would have been measured. I disagree strongly with those who oppose discrete partial reductions in ACO2 because it “locks in” emissions. I understand their point. However, I have not read any analysis to date that was believable that did not include ACO2 to grow our economy such that we can afford what humans really do. In other words, they are talking about Organians  and not humans, or their understanding of costs and benefits is horrid. Some are economists who make assumptions to such items as discount rate, economy of scale, social costs, environmental costs, or some such, that are truly extremely low probabilities as the BASIS! I would rather read sci-fi, at least it tries to be believable, and can be entertaining without thinking you are catering to an idiot. Whether that is in the mirror or the pages of the book, I opine not.

  • BBD

    harrwr2 @ 386

    Sounds like butt-hurt to me.

    (Special thanks to Joshua and Marlowe who helped me understand this term).

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    > This [They Started It is fallacious] would be true if there was not the institutional bias that was set up by the Rio Declaration and the precautionary principle. By locking in the discussion to preclude conservation of capital, they give up the backfall of being less than completely open and honest in their assessments i.e. just being human.

    So “they started it” would make sense if they did not start it.

    So this justifies pushing any limits of dis-ingeniousness, in this case begging the question.

    Yet another important tactics in gaming theory.

    ***

    Note, Joshua, how by begging the question put forward by your comment helps John F. Pittman coat-rack the Rio Convention, the precautionary principle, openness and honesty.

    Is coat-racking part of ignoratio elenching or just springboarding? Tough question.

    ***

    BDD,

    Note how the concept of honesty suffices to insert intentional concepts into the discussion.

    I believe this is what you have in mind when you talk about the C word.

    Dishonesty entails one is beyond justified dis-ingenious. It would be interesting to know how far John F. Pittman will push the limits of justified dis-ingeniousness about honesty, and if he knows what he’s doing while doing so.

  • John F. Pittman

    Well Willard in that your comments show that you did not read or understand the link, take your pick about coatracking, or whatever.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    John F. Pittman,

    Is that a challenge?

    The last guy who told me I can’t read is not commenting in this thread anymore.

  • John F. Pittman

    Willard that you do not acknowledge the worth or history of capital conservation or its science, does not mean it does not exist.  That you do not know the importance of honest discussion of disagreement does not invalidate its worth or how it effects success in communication. I do know about honesty, but you seem to forget that your version of honesty and justice reflect a tribe, not knowledge, because it has not happened yet and thus cannot be known. If you knew risk management you would realize it is not begging the question, but one of the postulates of the system. That you do not recognize honestly does not mean it does not exist nor that I use the term correctly and the conclusions that follow such.

  • BBD

    John F. Pittman

    Odd remark about willard being ‘tribal’. Occasionally willard points out when my reasoning is less than crystalline, as is his prerogative (see above). He is good enough not to point to all flaws, and I am grateful. This is essentially useful and IMO intended constructively, but hardly the with us or agin’ us mentality implicit in tribalism. 

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    > If you knew risk management you would realize it is not begging the question, but one of the postulates of the system.

    I’m sure armchair economists can appreciate such a limpid sentence, John F. Pittman.

    To what exactly does the “it” refer?

    What are the postulates?

    Which system?

    What does it have to do with the simple fact that you’re claiming that “they did it first” would matter only if they did not do it first?

    Do you realize that this argument makes no sense whatsoever?

    Do you realize that the “they” is supposed to refer to Joshua, and not those who signed the Rio Convention?

    Do you realize that “they did it first” is a simple tu quoque?

    Please do continue with this furor of clarity, John F. Pittman.

  • John F. Pittman

    Risk management is as limpid as your “dis-ingeniousness,” except that RM is part of the science of engineering from the NSTB as recognized by the EPA, OSHA, and even international standards of safety. It is a continuation of ASME and other professional societies who were given the power to determine and enforce safety by many of the world’s governments. They have standards; and the preservation of capital is recognized as valid within the constraints of the standards. What are your postulates, system, and measurements for “dis-ingeniousness,” and what is its science, standards, and its history? You have not been specific. The first they is for skeptics, the second they is who wrote the Rio in the post 409. The point is that Rio precludes the conservation of capital by way of its postulates. The record of the Rio and climate science is that they did do “it” first. The Rio first got rid of a tool of risk management. The climate scientists did engage in restricting science through peer reveiw and data mangement, while claiming the opposite through the IPCC. The problem, besides invalidating the claim of openess and thoroughness,  is that the answer is biased with respect to conservation of capital. An example of this is not including items in the uninformative prior that CO2 induced warmth would be great for a number of degrees C, and we should take environmental risks in order to maximize warmth. This is not allowed by the Rio, and is specific in the precautionary principle due to risk. But if such a number of degrees C were true and desirable, then this optimum approach of maximizing is not allowed. BBD I consider him “tribal” in that he assigns such as dis-ingeniousn(ess) and does not define such that it can be discussed.

  • BBD

    The climate scientists did engage in restricting science through peer reveiw and data mangement, while claiming the opposite through the IPCC.

    You aren’t suggesting that there’s a c********y are you?

  • John F. Pittman

    LOL BBD. I think it  is funny that peer reveiw did work, and that it as far as I can tell made the science better. Kind of what happened in the public discourse. As the failure of Copenhagen may actually lead to a better policy. Funny how that works.

  • BBD

    JFP @ 422

    I agree to an extent. The confidence in the ~3C most likely value for climate sensitivity to 2 x CO2 has increased. And we now know the models are underestimating Arctic melt. The public discourse leaves a lot to be desired, as does overall policy response.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Whose confidence in 3C sensitivity has increased? The believers already believed. The skeptics haven’t changed their point of view. It certainly isn’t statistical levels of confidence that have increased… So who changed their mind?

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    > Risk management is as limpid as your “dis-ingeniousness” […]

    Yet another tu quoque.

    Yet another strawman: I said that the sentence was obscure, not RM.

    The question being ignored is this one: which postulates of RM justify to respond to Joshua’s question by a tu quoque coupled with the You Made Me Do It?

    The sheer amount of gaming theorical tactics looks a lot like a gish gallop, the ultimate tactic of gaming theory.

    For those interested, “dis-ingenious” has been introduced in the auditing sciences around this time:

    http://climateaudit.org/2011/02/17/n-g-reviewers-may-need-to-be-disingenuous/

    My favorite sentence from that post was:

    > End of story.

  • Howard

    Quien es mas Macho?

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    > Quien es mas Macho?

    Indeed. On a related note, an source who wishes to remain anonymous referred me to this new result:

    Press and Dyson seemed to shatter this cosy picture. They showed that there exists a class of strategies, which for technical reasons they call zero-determinant (ZD) strategies, in which one player can force the other to accept a less-than-equal share of the pay-off. The victim must either grit his teeth and accept this unfair division, or punish the other player at a greater cost to himself.

    http://www.nature.com/news/physicists-suggest-selfishness-can-pay-1.11254

    That ZD strategy is not always optimal. Other researchers found out that:

    ZD players are soon out-competed by others using more common strategies, and so they will evolve to become non-ZD players themselves. That’s because ZD players suffer from the same problem as habitual defectors: they do badly against their own kind.

    There is one exception: ZD players can persist if they can work out whether they are playing another ZD player or not. Then they can exploit the advantages of ZD strategies against non-ZD players, but will switch to a more advantageous non-ZD strategy when faced with their own kind.

    In other words, we have a formal result which could explain why gaming theorists take the risk of using gaming tactics: it pays.

    Until they interact with agents who knows gaming theory.

    When the tu quoque will be acknowledged, we’ll move to the equivocation about “they”. And when this equivocation will be acknowledged, we’ll look at the link, to see how relevant it is to these two points.

    So yes, quien es mas Macho?

  • Joshua

    JFP-

    Our exchange seems to have gotten a bit out of hand, so I think I’d like to walk things back with you a bit to see if I can understand better what you are arguing. I think that part of that walking-back process would be to work a bit on definition of terms – something that you have stressed the importance of in the past (and in my view, a much overlooked key point in blog discussions).

    I also do not dismiss the importance of Kahan and Kahneman. However, I
    do think that Dr. Fischhoff’s work is more relevant. I note with irony that Fischhoff’s work directly addresses the communications issue that climate wars have devolved into.

    I looked at the link you provided. Yes, it adds some depth to the application of the principles behind Kahan and Kahneman within the climate wars context. However, I don’t see what you find ironic about the application of his work. I don’t see why you say “However,” when you say that you find his work more relevant (suggesting a directionally-pointed nature to the contrast rather than just simply a contrast of depth which might be indicated with an “also” or “in addition” or a “perhaps more directly applicable,” instead of an “however.”). I  gather from your use of “however,” and your observation of irony that you see the information in the paper you linked as justifying a statement that “[they] did it first.” I don’t get that from reading the paper you linked. Could you elaborate?

    And as you are doing so, I really think it is necessary to define “it.” When you say this….

    The irony is that it does not matter that the CAGW advocates started it first, as in the Mommyism: they did it first;

    I can’t get past what seems to me to be an ambiguous antecedent problem here. I shouldn’t have reacted, previously, to your statement without first clarifying. What do you mean by “it?” You do seem to add a qualifier in the next clause:

    The irony is that it does not matter
    that the CAGW advocates started it first, as in the Mommyism:

    Does this mean the “it” is Mommymommyism? In other words, are you saying that the “CAGW advocates” were the first to say they did it first” as a justification for their actions? E.g., “CAGW advocates” were the first to say “they did it first?”

    Or, are you saying that “CAGW advocates” were the first to do “it?” In other words, they were the first to do something as opposed to say something - with perhaps “it” meaning: “CAGW advocates were the first to apply motivated reasoning.”

    The antecedent could also be “communications issue.” Are you saying that “the CAGW advocates “started the communication issue“?

    Maybe, based on the preceding sentence,  you are saying that the “it” the CAGW advocates started was the climate wars?

    As a side note – I think there is also a problem in that “CAGW advocates” is pretty ill-defined. At some point that needs to be addressed also, but at another level asking you to address that might rightly be called sophism. I do, roughly, have an idea of what you mean by that – so it is at least a workable concept and not really a foundational definition of terms issue. However, I also do think that the term is in itself problematic and that those problems are important.

    But that, as with the other points you raised, I think need to be addressed after I understand better what you’re referring to with these two basic foundational pieces. Again:

    1) What is ironic about the information in the article you linked?

    2) What do you mean by the “it” that the CAGW advocates started?

  • Tom C

    Is that a challenge?
    The last guy who told me I can’t read is not commenting in this thread anymore. 

    Willard – Don’t think that those of us who drop out did so because we were vanquished by you.  It is more due to weariness at your obtuseness and the farrago of Latin phrases and monty python references that you seem to think denote eloquence. Plus, in my case, at least, I work a job where I have to make decisions based on real-world information. The 24/7 blog world inhabited by you, mt, Joshua, etc is much different.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    TomC, for willard, a dropout due to fatigue is a victory.

  • John F. Pittman

    Yes, Joshua and Willard, “it” is the climate wars with the accent on communications and communications strategy. I also consider IPCC AR4 and peer reveiw as part of this phenomena as well as the blog wars. The irony is not that I am proposing a tu qouque, but that the skeptics and CAGW advocates are engaged in such an argument. So to help you understand who I mean as CAGW, it is those who throw WG1’s methodology away by procclaiming certainty for low probability climate sensitivity and throw away whole areas of methodology such as the proxy works that do not support their contentions such as Climategate does/did not matter. The irony is that Slovic and Frischhoff works point to successful commmunication. I think both skeptics, that I think of as obstructionists, and CAGW adviocates, that I think are alarmists, are unsuccessful in their strategies.I hope this clarifies what I was trying to state. Hopefully it will also help with avoiding sophisms or incorrect phrasing. As to the point of S&F, I understand your statement of depth, and would agree that “perhaps more directly applicable” would be better worded and less likely to be misunderstood.

  • BBD

    Tom Fuller @ 424

    Whose confidence in 3C sensitivity has increased? The believers already believed. The skeptics haven’t changed their point of view. It certainly isn’t statistical levels of confidence that have increased”¦ So who changed their mind?

    No Tom. Not ‘believers’. It’s the *scientists* that agree. The credentialled experts. Almost unanimously. This is why a scientific consensus has emerged over the last several decades that ~3C is the most likely value. Only contrarians, ‘sceptics’ and deniers reject this. The vast majority of these nay-sayers are not even scientists, let alone climate experts.

    None of them has a shred of good evidence to support their claims that ECS is significantly lower than ~3C, which begs the question of what the hell they think they are doing.

    They should by rights be ignored, but the politicised nature of the discourse means that these unsupported, fringe views are treated as if they actually carried the weight of scientific respectability.

    All efforts should be directed at ending this dangerous state of affairs, not prolonging it. 

    It certainly isn’t statistical levels of confidence that have increased”¦

    Rubbish. See Annan & Hargreaves (2006).

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Umm, 2006?

  • BBD

    Oh pathetic. But exactly what I’d expect given the facts outlined in # 432. 

  • Tom C

    Tom Fuller – I think Joshua is nearly Willard’s equal in stamina.  BBD, only on the CS = 3C question.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Last time I saw a PDF of sensitivity estimates it had not narrowed, except to the extent that the fat tail at the high end was being removed gradually. It’s still 1.5C – 4.5C, exactly as it was in the 1970’s. 

  • BBD

    Same old Tom. What’s your widely accepted scientific evidence for ECS being significantly below the most likely value of ~3C (the scientific consensus)?

    An anonymous ‘source’ doesn’t cut it, which is presumably why you went to such astonishing lengths to avoid admitting that this was all you had.

    I repeat, with apparently necessary emphasis, since you are skipping over it:

    It’s the *scientists* that agree. The credentialled experts. Almost unanimously. This is why a scientific consensus has emerged over the last several decades that ~3C is the most likely value. Only contrarians, “˜sceptics’ and deniers reject this. The vast
    majority of these nay-sayers are not even scientists, let alone climate experts.

    None of them has a shred of good evidence to support their claims that ECS is significantly lower than ~3C, which begs the question of what the hell they think they are doing.

    They should by rights be ignored, but the politicised nature of the discourse means that these unsupported, fringe views are treated as if they actually carried the weight of scientific respectability.

    Disagree? Feel butt-hurt? Then stop repeating the same old empty words and bring on your scientific case.

  • Joshua

    JFP -I need to take this one tiny bit at at time:

    Yes, Joshua and Willard, "it" is the climate wars with the accent on communications and communications strategy.

    I have to stop right there in responding to your comment and go no further without clarification.I still don’t understand. Are you saying that the CAGW advocates “started” the climate wars? Are you saying that they were the first to accent communications and communications strategy? If so, I can’t agree. I assume that you have seen the documents that lay out anti-AGW communications strategies prior to the first IPCC reports? Do you disagree that  the debate about climate change has long roots in long-standing political battles?How could a method of communication have started with this one particular group? Aren’t various forms of communication as old as the hills? Aren’t the political battles being fought by proxy in the climate war much older than the theory of AGW?I’m really torn here because as I said,  I think that the debate about who started it is nonsensical. There is no realistic answer possible.  I see it as (effectively) childish and shirking accountability (no matter which side is making the claim).  I don’t want to engage in that battle, but I want to get to the other points that you made and to the argument you’re making about why it is important, and I can’t get there unless we reach some clarity on these fundamental points. Keep in mind that I’m not saying that everyone in the debate is
    necessarily making these claims, and I  am not saying that some CAGW
    advocates aren’t guilty as charged of engaging in battles.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    BBD has fallen in love with two words and a hyphen. They symbolize his intellectual approach to scientific issues. 

    Beware the butt-hurt. 

    Does this indicate any predilections on your part that you feel you need to share with us, BBD? Your initials can form suggestive combinations–which may explain your desire for the anonymity which prevents you from being taken seriously…

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    BBD, I tried to claw that last comment back but it went through. My apologies.

  • John F. Pittman

    Have to get back with you later Joshua. I might agree with you and have to change my opinion as stated. I will look up some material, so don’t expect a quick answer. Most of the items I research are centered on such events as Rio, Climategate, and methodology wrt AR4. I will need to familarize myself with these anti AGW writings that you refer to.  If you have some that are especially relevant, I would appreciate it. If they are part of what I consider the “nutter” group, then I probably did not read them even if I started. Some are so bad that I know of in the present, that I don’t think I have finished but 1 or 2 in the past 5 years.

  • BBD

    Tom @ 439

    Not to worry. We’ve all hit Submit a little too soon.

    What’s instructive about this unfortunate slip is that your unedited response to # 437 contained *no references* to any published studies supporting your view. 

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Guess that means they don’t exist.

  • BBD

    We all know that there are some studies you could reference, but none presents a serious challenge to the scientific consensus on ~ 3C.

    So why hold an unsupported view on a serious matter that runs counter to the scientific consensus? 

    Why?

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    John F. Pittman,

    Thank you for your clarification:

    Yes, […] “it” is the climate wars with the accent on communications and communications strategy.

    This is a response to Joshua’s comment:

    The debates about who “started it” in the climate wars are not only completely non-productive[,] are also no more realistic or meaningful than the claims of “He started it” when it comes out of the mouths of children. In both cases, it is a product of people who don’t want to accept accountability for their own actions.

    The last sentence is emphasized because it explains why the You Made Me Do It game is so obnoxious.

    But please note that your response comes after this:

    I’ve never seen someone say “˜it doesn’t matter who started the fight’ who didn’t start the fight.

    You do seem to agree with that last sentence, since you quote it in #410, which comes just after my #402, where I asked to spot the fallacy, i.e. a tu quoque.

    ***

    Now, let’s summarize:

    (1) Joshua says that Who Started makes no sense.

    (2) You claim that those who, like Joshua, claims (1) always Started It.

    Now, either you can demonstrate that Joshua belongs to the tribe of those Who Started It (i.e. the CAGW advocates), you have no case.

    And even if you were right, your demonstration will necessarily put people into tribes, something that renders your accusation against me in #417 quite moot.

    And that’s notwithstanding the fact that you are assuming that those who signed the Rio Convention started all this, an historical claim, albeit irrelevant to Joshua’s case, which would deserve due diligence.

    Among all the things you did say so far, something has to give. Which is it?

  • Nullius in Verba

    #444,

    “So why hold an unsupported view on a serious matter that runs counter to the scientific consensus?”

    You should be telling us.

    The scientific consensus is that the value is poorly constrained, the 95% interval ranging from 1-6 C/2xCO2, with the mode of the distribution skewed slightly to the left at 3 C/2xCO2.

    You persist in misunderstanding the term “most likely”, thinking it means “likely”. It doesn’t and it isn’t.

    Your view is unsupported and runs counter to the consensus position. And even the consensus position is poorly supported, relying mainly on the assumptions built in to models. But far be it from me to criticise you for being sceptical of the science… :-)

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    John F. Pittman,

    In the spirit of openness, I won’t wait for your answer to agree with you that:

    The irony is that Slovic and Frischhoff works point to successful commmunication. I think both skeptics, that I think of as obstructionists, and CAGW adviocates, that I think are alarmists, are unsuccessful in their strategies.

    What I would surmise, though, is that the standoff has been co-created. For instance, if natural risks are more easily endured, it’s normal that those who would like risks to be endured to emphasize the naturalness of the risks. And vice versa.

  • John F. Pittman

    Joshua, I would state that the politics has been the debate about climate change and other environmental battles long before the science came in on either side of an issue. You ask how could a method start with one side or the other, and  most, if not all, are old as the hills. My answer is that is why I tend to want to discuss what is in the Rio and what was stated, claimed, or promulgated.  Much of what you listed I consider little better than gossip. I agree that most considerations of who started it are stupid, if I may be blunt. But this does not include demonstrable institutional efforts whether it is Cato or the IPCC. Though, I find persons on both sides tend to ascribe motives which I think is suspect. I try not to claim “all” either and I assumed that if I stated that CAGW activists were claiming such and such that you would realize this was shorthand for I think the majority or concensus of the CAGW activists was such and such. In defense of who started it meme, I would point out that I usually talk about Rio and institutional bias, and it is a matter of record who started that. But I would note that there have been claims that skeptics were started by so and so, funded by so and so, and the claim made that this is the majority or actual make up of skpetics. I would point out sometimes it is relevant who started something and how, though I usually think of historical starts of war. But even there one can find all sorts of c**********y theories that I like to avoid. On the question of have I seen the documents that lay out anti-AGW communications strategies prior to the first IPCC reports? Yes, as I have seen the pro CAGW and socialistic communication and policy strategies prior to the first IPCC reports. But it is this point that I ask did the anti-AGW occur as a reaction to the CAGW and socialistic agenda that occurred prior to the IPCC? This would be a case as to why it is important as to who started what when.

  • BBD

    Nullius

    Most likely value = most likely value.

    The range is now considered to be 2C – 4.5C (AR4 WG1) with a most likely value of ~3C. What we need here is a convincing (published and widely accepted) scientific case for ECS being right at the lower end of the range. As far as I know, there isn’t one but I may have missed it.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    There are no convincing cases for any specific value of ECS. Primarily because there is insufficient knowledge at present of the operation and constraints on the major carbon sinks.

    What little evidence there is would equally support an argument that the biota comprising the planet’s environment have been operating in a CO2 starved state for geological epochs and are gulping down our emissions and expressing Gaian gratitude for our generosity, repaying us with calmer weather and promising us increased biodversity if we only will continue with our pumping it into the atmosphere.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    BBD, Nullius is right, if you mean “most likely” the way the IPCC defined it.

    Cf. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/2012/04/11/climate-change-joins-the-culture-wars/#comment-106939

  • John F. Pittman

    Hopefully this will exit moderation shortly. Willard could you please check your that it was I who claimed (2) (1) Joshua says that Who Started makes no sense.(2) You claim that those who, like Joshua, claims (1) always Started It.If I did I apologize. If not, I did not make that case. I don’t think I can demonstrate an argument I did not make. I made the argument in 410 with repect the institutional bias being ignored was the same as what Joshua found fault with (2). Not understanding this bias can lead to “””A smart person making absurd overstatements that betray gaping logical holes that are a tell of motivated reasoning:”” I left in the (2) statement from habit. I agree such a statement is a rhetorical jab, not really either a discussion nor an argument, just an assertion of perhaps some tactical worth. I would not agree that it is those who signed it Willard, but in the case of 410 my point of not accounting institutional bias can lead to a poor argument.

  • BBD

    There are no convincing cases for any specific value of ECS. Primarily because there is insufficient knowledge at present of the operation and constraints on the major carbon sinks.

    Who said anything about a specific value? The scientific consensus is that the most likely value is *about* 3C.

    The lukwarmer position has no scientific basis. Once again, why are you arguing against the scientific consensus with no evidence to back you up?

  • John F. Pittman

    #447 Yes. That it could be co created is possible. Though it may be a matter of a reaction by one to a proposal by another. One of the points I like, or perhaps it would be a collary for the article I linked, is that this positioning should be expected with AGW. Because a percieved problem of AGW by CO2 would indicate a solution that effects most, if not all of mankind; and thus, one would expect tribes, camps, or a position in a Venn diagram that reflect their approach to risk taking. When one adds in the political, as in freedom or socialists attitudes (beliefs/values), I do not think a battle could have been avoided.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    John F. Pittman,

    Thank you for your clarification.

    I can now return to the bleachers.

  • John F. Pittman

    BBD, I think most luke warmers find the scientific concensus on ECS unconvincing. It may make them conservative in their attribution, but that is not the same as being unscientific. After all, in the literature, there is a range that goes from about 1C to 12C. This is the evidence that luke warmers use or point to.

  • BBD

    willard

    The empirical estimate of ~3C ECS in Hansen & Sato (2012) is persuasive. See ‘3.2 Fast-feedback climate sensitivity’. The extension of the analysis over 800ka (p.8 and Fig. 2) is worth a look.

    I doubt you are here to argue this as Nullius does; my point is that ~3C is plausible. Nullius’ efforts to cast doubt on this are not as convincing as H&S.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    BBD, nobody is saying that 3C is not plausible. It just is not more plausible than many other figures. 

  • BBD

    JFP

    BBD, I think most luke warmers find the scientific concensus on ECS unconvincing.

    Why? The scientists have argued this hard for decades and the emergent scientific consensus speaks for itself. The vast majority of sceptics aren’t climate scientists, so why do they disagree with the expert consensus? It doesn’t make sense.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    BBD,

    Nullius’ point (and kdk33 before him) is simply that “likely” and “very likely” have specific meanings:

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

    Saying that one point can’t be likely makes no statistical sense.

    As long as you stay away from this equivocation, I believe they have no case. That might explain why they do seem to use a Zero-Determinant strategy against you, and not against people who could use that same strategy against them, e.g. the authors of

    http://www.jamstec.go.jp/frsgc/research/d5/jdannan/GRL_sensitivity.pdf

    who rather say that

    Many different approaches have been tried, but for the most part, even though most agree that the maximum likelihood estimate is close to 3C , they have also concluded that the upper limit of climate sensitivity is difficult to constrain, with most estimates unable to rule out a climate sensitivityas high as 6C at the 95% confidence level, and many reaching even higher levels [Andronova and Schlesinger , 2001; Knutti et al., 2002; Gregory et al., 2002; Forest et al., 2002; Frame et al., 2005].

    All you need is a small terminological erratum, really.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    BBD,

    Nullius’ point (and kdk33 before him) is simply that “likely” and “very likely” have specific meanings. Saying that one point can be likely makes no statistical sense. Search for likelihood function.

    As long as you stay away from this equivocation, I believe they have no case. That might explain why they do seem to use a Zero-Determinant strategy against you, and not against people who could use that same strategy against them, e.g. the authors of

    http://www.jamstec.go.jp/frsgc/research/d5/jdannan/GRL_sensitivity.pdf

    who rather say that

    Many different approaches have been tried, but for the most part, even though most agree that the maximum likelihood estimate is close to 3C , they have also concluded that the upper limit of climate sensitivity is difficult to constrain, with most estimates unable to rule out a climate sensitivityas high as 6C at the 95% confidence level, and many reaching even higher levels [Andronova and Schlesinger , 2001; Knutti et al., 2002; Gregory et al., 2002; Forest et al., 2002; Frame et al., 2005].

    All you need is a small terminological erratum, really.

  • John F. Pittman

    I may have been unclear. With a probable range of about 2 to 4.5, they don’t necessarily agree to 3. The range is large. 

  • BBD

    Tom

    BBD, nobody is saying that 3C is not plausible. It just is not more plausible than many other figures.

    First, lots of people are denying the scientific consensus on ECS.

    Second, where’s your widely supported, published scientific case for these ‘many other figures’ being *as plausible* as ~3C?

    Third, since you will not be able to provide one, why are you arguing, with conviction and energy, as you do? It doesn’t make sense.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    I won’t be providing one because I don’t have time to look up the suite of PDFs published that had the vast majority clustering around a value of 2C. I won’t be providing it because I don’t have time and because you’ll just say they don’t measure ECS. But neither does Hansen. He models it and the assumptions are too wide to depend on.

    And understand me–Hansen might be right. But so might those who estimate 2C. And we don’t know the answer now. I hope we know it soon. But we don’t know now.

  • BBD

    willard

    All you need is a small terminological erratum, really.

    Sure. When I say ‘most likely’ I do not mean ‘likely’ or ‘very likely’.

  • BBD

    Tom

    You won’t be providing any scientific case because none exists. So why the determined effort to deny the scientific consensus on ECS? It doesn’t make sense.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    You’re repeating those two stock phrases as if repetition will constitute proof. That’s not the case.

    And I know you’ve seen that suite of PDFs–in fact I believe I’ve given you the link in the past. Just don’t have time to chase it down right now.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #462,

    Don’t forget that the range 2-4.5 is the 66% confidence interval (‘likely’ in IPCC jargon) which roughly corresponds to a 1-sigma interval on a Normal distribution (1-sigma would be 68%). The common scientific convention when quoting uncertainties is to use 2-sigma, or 95%, which ought to be about twice as far out if the distribution is roughly Normal.

  • BBD

    Nullius

    What’s your preferred estimate for ECS to 2 x CO2? On which widely accepted published *body of work* is it based?

  • Joshua

    JFP –

    We are clearly reaching a point of diminishing returns here. The conversation has become too fractured and repetitive to get much out of it at this point.Maybe just a couple more points for clarification:

    But I would note that there have been claims that skeptics were started
    by so and so, funded by so and so, and the claim made that this is the majority or actual make up of skpetics.

    There is a gap between identifying specific antecedents in the early opposition to AGW theory and saying that is the majority makeup of “skeptics” at this point. In terms of the discussion of “who started it,” the claims being made about the makeup of “skeptics” now is not relevant (and certainly not relevant to what I am saying). As related to “who started it,” I am speaking to the specifics of the antecedents to the scientific debate about AGW theory, and the early politicization of the AGW debate.

    But it is this point that I ask did the anti-AGW occur as a reaction to the CAGW and socialistic agenda that occurred prior to the
    IPCC?

    And my answer would be no. This all takes place in context. As far as I’m concerned, it is a fallacy to look to identify some discrete origin, and even more to look for an origin in the actions on one side but not the other. And even if it weren’t the evidence that I’ve seen is that there was a bilateral nature in the politicization from the very early stages. This is not the same thing as saying that there was no politicization in the early stages on the “CAGW advocate” side.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #469,

    I would say 1-6 C is the mainstream position, and is a reasonable statement of the current state of knowledge, although I’d tend to widen it a little further to account for structural uncertainty. (“Most studies do not account for structural uncertainty, and thus probably tend to underestimate the uncertainty.” as the IPCC say.)

    As a scientific matter, I would find it difficult to justify any other answer than the IPCC’s “we don’t know”. As a matter of personal belief, I would incline towards those empirical estimates putting it towards the lower end of that range, at least for the high-frequency (decadal) response. That’s partly on the basis of the Earth’s history of very high CO2 levels, partly that I prefer sceptical empiricism over motivated computer models. But I don’t consider the science ‘settled’ enough, and am still sceptical even about those results that accord with my preferences – there are still too many caveats and questions.

  • John F. Pittman

    I understand your point Joshua. My interest and point appear somewhat different. Though, I did like finding a couple of good links in the discussion, so let’s go to  other threads and next time perhaps we can find another area of overlapping interest that will yeild a few more good links and papers. Perhaps we will find common areas of interest on the politicization from a different direction.

  • BBD

    Nullius

    I would say 1-6 C is the mainstream position, and is a reasonable statement of the current state of knowledge,

    Nope. Nobody serious thinks ECS is lower than 2C; 1.5C is considered barely possible and 1C is unphysical. When you start like this, I am simply *forced* to discount everything else you say as existing only in the world of libertarian physics. 

    All agree that using short observational time-series to determine ECS is not the best approach, and only cherry-picking contrarians point to such as ‘evidence’ of a low value. See dear old Tom the homophobe.

    As for this about you preferring ‘sceptical empiricism over motivated climate models’ what can I say? Just because you twist everything to fit your libertarian agenda *does not* mean that scientists are behaving in the same partial manner. What’s more, you would have to provide a motive for them to distort their results, which brings us right back to conspiracy theory.

    there are still too many caveats and questions.

    Then wherefore the scientific consensus that ECS is most likely about 3C? Are you accusing the entire field of making things up? Because that’s exactly what it sounds like.

    Here in the real world (not the one governed by libertarian physics), the vast majority of relevant experts have reached consensus that ECS is about 3C. If you want to deny this and substitute a much lower value, you are going to have to back it up with a published and widely accepted body of work. Otherwise it’s just BS.

    As it stands, it remains just BS.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Someone repeatedly using the phrase ‘butt-hurt’ is a homeophobe. Just sayin’.

  • BBD

    Come off it Tom. Here’s the definition I understand, and that’s what Marlowe and Joshua said too. Homophobia was not mentioned.

    You should have the good grace to be silent regarding your unfortunate slip. Perhaps I’ll forget about it.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    BBD,

    Try shirt-rippin’. It fits Groundskeeper Willie really well. That and his ripped off shirt.

    Besides, we’ll note that our Groundskeeper Willie still fails to own his tu quoque in #395.

    Instead, we have yet another spitball.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Sorry, BBD. I think reasonable people have another idea in mind. And I seriously doubt if you’ll forget.

  • BBD

    Tom

    Ah. Since you imply that I’m not being reasonable, I’ll bookmark # 439. Any more nonsense and I’ll take willard’s advice and rip me shirt! Woo!

    ;-)

  • Nullius in Verba

    #473,

    “Nope. Nobody serious thinks ECS is lower than 2C; 1.5C is considered barely possible and 1C is unphysical.”

    I take it “serious” is confined to people who agree with you.

    If you filter people for credibility based on whether they agree with you, you’ll find the collation of credible opinions aligns with your own.

    “Then wherefore the scientific consensus that ECS is most likely about 3C? Are you accusing the entire field of making things up?”

    No, I’m pointing out that you have misunderstood what the ‘entire field’ is saying.The scientific convention in describing uncertain quantities is to give the ‘2-sigma’, 95% confidence interval, which in this case is roughly 1-6 C, and basically boils down to “we don’t know”.

    Because that doesn’t sell the message so well, they changed that to the ‘1-sigma’ 66% confidence interval, which is 2-4.5 C.

    You can quote the ‘half-sigma’ 38% confidence interval of around 2.5-3.7 C if you like, but the odds are 3 to 2 that you are wrong. The ‘0.1-sigma’ 8% confidence interval is about 2.9-3.1 C, and so on. The closer you move the boundaries to 3 C, the less likely it is.

    What it comes down to is the meaning of the word “about” in “about 3C”. If it means “give or take 3 C” then there’s no problem. If it means “give or take 0.1 C” then it’s very unlikely to be true. They way you object so strongly to Tom’s 2-2.5 C, which is well within the range, suggests you’re interpreting it as more the latter than the former. Being “most likely” does not imply that it’s “likely”.

  • BBD

    This is getting silly nullius.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Actually, NiV, I think that is about the most concise explanation of the situation I have seen. Congratulations.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #481,

    Thanks! It’s just a matter of lots of practice. That’s what BBD is for, after all.

  • BBD

    nullius

    Here’s the scientific consensus on the most likely value for ECS to 2 x CO2:

    Since the TAR, the levels of scientific understanding and confidence in quantitative estimates of equilibrium climate sensitivity have increased substantially. Basing our assessment on a combination of several independent lines of evidence, as summarised in Box 10.2 Figures 1 and 2, including observed climate change and the strength of known feedbacks simulated in GCMs, we conclude that the global mean equilibrium warming for doubling CO2, or “˜equilibrium climate sensitivity’, is likely to lie in the range 2°C to 4.5°C, with a most likely value of about 3°C. Equilibrium climate sensitivity is very likely larger than 1.5°C.

    Note ‘about’, which also means roughly, approximately, close to, etc.

    Here’s the quote which willard kindly provided from Annan & Hargreaves (2006):

    Recently, there has been an increasing focus on the potential of observationally-derived constraints to generate a more objective estimate of climate sensitivity. Many different approaches have been tried, but for the most part, even though most agree that the maximum likelihood estimate is close to 3C, they have also concluded that the upper limit of climate sensitivity is difficult to constrain, with most estimates unable to rule out a climate sensitivity as high as 6C at the 95% confidence level, and many reaching even higher levels [Andronova and Schlesinger , 2001; Knutti et al., 2002; Gregory et al., 2002; Forest et al.,2002; Frame et al., 2005].

    A&H then proceed to dock the fat tail and add support to the scientific consensus that the most likely value is about 3C. Roughly, approximately, close to.

    Here’s what I said at # 473:

    Here in the real world (not the one governed by libertarian physics), the vast majority of relevant experts have reached consensus that ECS is about 3C. If you want to deny this and substitute a much lower value, you are going to have to back it up with a published and widely accepted body of work. Otherwise it’s just BS.

    Only libertarian physics comes up with a very low most likely value. And it doesn’t seem to have written up its conclusions and published them. I’m interested in a published and widely accepted body of work supporting the lukewarm position. Where is it?

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Collide-a-Scape

Collide-a-Scape is a wide-ranging blog forum that explores issues at the nexus of science, culture and society.

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.

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