The Invisible Hand of Eco-nomics

by on May 30, 2014 at 9:35 am in Current Affairs, Economics, Political Science, Science | Permalink

Cap and trade is going nowhere at the federal level but the California program is large and expanding and the CA program allows for properly monitored and regulated offsets to be purchased from anywhere in the United States. As a result, a price on carbon is being established nationally.  As the NYTimes indicates in a very good article, once a market and a price have been established, contentious politics turns into mutually beneficial economics.

Experts who support cap and trade contend that a market mechanism can reach more deeply into the economy than any other approach, changing the behavior even of people and companies that might not necessarily care about global warming.

The Wisconsin dairymen perhaps serve as an example of that.

Even as the methane-powered generator roared on his property, John T. Pagel said he was not convinced that the climatic changes happening in the United States were a result of human emissions. He suspects they might be part of a natural cycle. But with Californians dangling cash in exchange for his willingness to cut emissions, he jumped at the chance to build his digester.

“We are doing exactly what they asked us to do to get paid to reduce carbon,” Mr. Pagel said. “If somebody else believes in it enough to put up the money, that’s all I need to know.”

Just Another MR Blogger May 30, 2014 at 9:44 am

When Cap and Trade was a free market solution proposed by the Republicans, it was a great idea. Now that it’s proposed by the Democrats, it’s evil communism.

The Anti-Gnostic May 30, 2014 at 9:54 am

Nah. It’s just rent-seeking regardless of who proposes it.

Jon Rodney May 30, 2014 at 11:21 am

Why is using a market solution to correct for pollutant externalities a type of rent seeking?

The Other Jim May 30, 2014 at 11:23 am

Lots of times, but most often when the pollutant is imaginary.

Zephyrus May 30, 2014 at 11:40 am

Sure. But what about in the case of a well-documented pollutant like carbon dioxide, whose negative externalities like global warming and ocean acidification are well-attested to by 97% of climatologists?

The Anti-Gnostic May 30, 2014 at 11:49 am

CO2 is not a pollutant. Life on earth would actually not be possible without CO2.

Zephyrus May 30, 2014 at 12:03 pm

You’re brainlessly spouting talking points, TAG.

The dose makes the poison. Life on earth would actually not be possible without chlorine, but you don’t want to live in an atmosphere with significant chlorine gas concentrations. Life on earth would actually not be possible without CO2, but emission of it destroys other people’s homes and workplaces and commits mass violence and infringement of property rights.

Jon Rodney May 30, 2014 at 12:03 pm

There are a boatload of different gases and metals that are necessary for life on earth. That doesn’t mean that emitting them into the atmosphere in limitless quantities has no negative effects.

fwiw May 30, 2014 at 12:04 pm

Jon, Zephyrus,

Please don’t feed the troll. You only encourage him to come back.

The Anti-Gnostic May 30, 2014 at 12:18 pm

H2O should therefore be classified as a pollutant given its dosage-related fatality.

The fact that CO2 is called a “pollutant” tells me the terms of the debate are not at all not precise, and it’s going to be downhill from there.

emission of it destroys other people’s homes and workplaces and commits mass violence and infringement of property rights

You and I are emitting CO2 right now, as evolution designed. Again, imprecise, manic terminology.

Zephyrus May 30, 2014 at 12:30 pm

fwiw, the Marginal Revolution comments section is among the worst on the Internet in terms of being an echo chamber and a cesspool of ignorance and pseudo-logic, when it comes to global warming. I figure at least this way people will have to be reminded that they’re in an anti-scientific, cultish tribe that’s cut off from reality and scientific debate.

TAG, it’s excess CO2 that’s the issue. The CO2 we breathe out exists in equilibrium with atmospheric CO2 and biomass CO2. Fossil fuel CO2, however, is a forcing term that increases the actual concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.

I don’t know what semiotic game you’re playing by acting like pollution is some kind of inherently broken concept. The simple facts: humans have substantially increased CO2 concentrations by burning fossil fuels. Increased atmospheric CO2 increases temperatures, and increased oceanic CO2 acidifies the water it’s dissolved in. These have substantial economic consequences. By internalizing those costs into the action which directly increases CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, we can allow the market to find the optimal distribution of capital to maximize global economic outcomes.

Careless May 30, 2014 at 12:31 pm

More on point, Zephyrus has already pointed out that water is a pollutant for the same reason CO2 is

But so what?

Zephyrus May 30, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Careless, when did I say anything like “water is a pollutant”? When you’re having to put words into other people’s mouths to make your argument, it’s a sign that your argument is pretty weak.

Few things humans do increase equilibrium water vapor concentrations in the atmosphere; in fact, the only thing I know of is carbon dioxide emissions. By taxing or capping-and-trading carbon pollution, we account for the negative externalities of both.

The Anti-Gnostic May 30, 2014 at 12:48 pm

Fossil fuel CO2, however, is a forcing term that increases the actual concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Then we need to restrict fossil fuel consumption. We could probably just ban those ridiculous SUV’s and get a huge cut in emissions.

Again, powerful, moneyed interests are pushing a solution, not solving a problem.

Chip May 30, 2014 at 1:05 pm

The 97% canard is a signal that you are deliberately deceptive or utterly ignorant of its origin and climate science in general.

It was an old online survey with 70 respondents for gods sakes.

Pathetic.

Careless May 30, 2014 at 1:05 pm

Who’s making an argument? Not me. You’re the one arguing that water vapor is causing major warming. So does that make it a pollutant, or not? It’s possible I read you wrong, and you don’t think that makes CO2 a pollutant.

Jon Rodney May 30, 2014 at 1:39 pm

@Chip: Actually the 97% number comes from a study that performed a survey of peer-reviewed climate research over the period 1991 – 2011:

http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/2/024024/article

Zephyrus May 30, 2014 at 1:45 pm

Chip, you’re pretty much entirely off-base–I see WSJ has started a big campaign against the 97% figure three days ago, so you popping up is to be expected, I guess.

The 97% figure comes from a study of all peer-reviewed literature in a decade. It was not an online survey, and it certainly involved many more than 70 respondents. I’d encourage you to get your denialist factoids from a slightly less-easily refuted source.

I get it: scientists are not people you meet in your day to day life, and you can’t imagine they would be so consistently against your opinion which you’ve carefully picked up from internet newsletters, Rush Limbaugh, and Fox News. But I have friends and a roommate who are scientists who study climate, and they have *never met* another climatologist who denies anthropogenic global warming.

Don’t take my word for it. Here are some statements from scientific organizations to give you an idea of the consensus:

American Geophysical Union (this is easily the most important organization in the field, so their opinion matters most): “Human‐induced climate change requires urgent action. Humanity is the major influence on the global climate change observed over the past 50 years. Rapid societal responses can significantly lessen negative outcomes.” (Adopted 2003, revised and reaffirmed 2007, 2012, 2013)

American Meteorological Society: “It is clear from extensive scientific evidence that the dominant cause of the rapid change in climate of the past half century is human-induced increases in the amount of atmospheric greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), chlorofluorocarbons, methane, and nitrous oxide.” (2012)

American Physical Society: “The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.” (2007)

National Academy of Sciences: “The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify taking steps to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.” (2005)

I can do this all day; pretty much every scientific organization agrees with the consensus.

Zephyrus May 30, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Careless, I never said that “water vapor is causing major warming”; I apologize if that was genuinely unclear.

Water vapor is a feedback, not a forcing, in climate model terms. Carbon dioxide is (mostly) a forcing; it’s something we do control. Even if we injected trillions of tons of water into the atmosphere, it’d quickly precipitate out, and the Earth would return to equilibrium water vapor concentrations. The same is not true of carbon dioxide: trillions of tons would reside in the atmosphere for centuries.

JWatts May 30, 2014 at 3:54 pm

From Rodney’s link:

“We find that 66.4% of abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6% endorsed AGW, 0.7% rejected AGW and 0.3% were uncertain about the cause of global warming. Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming. ”

The 97% figure is certainly a little misleading.

Zephyrus May 30, 2014 at 4:01 pm

@JWatts: That’s a more cogent critique; the 97% figure does commit the sin of extrapolating from the group of people who express an opinion to the group which doesn’t. I’ll even grant that it’s that the group that doesn’t expressly say an opinion in the abstract is likely less certain of global warming than the group that does.

It’s very unlikely, however, that that’s enough even close to change the fact that there’s a consensus. I’d hazard a guess at 85%-95% would still agree with the statement that AGW is real and something society should address. And yes, it’s a guess, but it’s hard to reconcile a smaller proportion of scientists believing that with the overwhelming acceptance by scientific organizations of AGW.

C May 30, 2014 at 9:44 pm

Zephyrus, you’ve got the patience of a saint. Great work.

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 12:09 am

The 97% meme is bad science promoting bad science.

The first question asked respondents to compare current temperatures to the depths of the Little Ice Age (“pre-1800s”), and asked whether it’s warmer now. Well, of course it is! What’s remarkable is that they didn’t get 100% agreement. 3 of 79 apparently didn’t agree even with that. The second question asks whether any human activities significantly affect global temperatures. That encompasses both GHG-driven warming and particulate/aerosol-driven cooling. It could also be understood to include Urban Heat Island (UHI) effects. Since just about everyone acknowledges at least one of those effects, I would have expected nearly everyone to answer “yes” to this question. Yet 2 of 77 apparently did not.

Good science doesn’t need opinion surveys to support its conclusions. Good science has evidence. Good science tests theories by their predictions.

The evidence suggests 1) the climate cannot be predicted by today’s models 2) that any putative warming from CO2 is net beneficial and will continue to be for at least the next 50 years.

Oh, and btw we’re at the extreme end of an interglacial, on the edge of an Ice Age. Worry about existential threats before picayune fantasies, even if the latter are easier to tax and feature people who we all know are evil, like energy producers.

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 2:53 am

I can do this all day; pretty much every scientific organization agrees with the consensus.

You mean, they have a policy position, that is a political position, on a political issue. Which quite a few members have quit over. They all agreed global cooling was a serious issue in the 1970s, too — NASA, NCAR, CRU all went on the record. See Tetlock 2005 on the value of expert predictions.

Meanwhile, reality has failed to obey their commands, which is why the IPCC has to keep moving the confidence brackets lower, to the point even their models can no longer assure us of even a single degree of warming over the next century.

http://www.c3headlines.com/predictionsforecasts/

fwiw, the Marginal Revolution comments section is among the worst on the Internet in terms of being an echo chamber and a cesspool of ignorance and pseudo-logic, when it comes to global warming.

Oh, the irony.

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 3:03 am

a study that performed a survey of peer-reviewed climate research over the period 1991 – 2011

Except he mischaracterized them, according to the authors of the papers.

To get to the truth, I emailed a sample of scientists whose papers were used in the study and asked them if the categorization by Cook et al. (2013) is an accurate representation of their paper. Their responses are eye opening and evidence that the Cook et al. (2013) team falsely classified scientists’ papers as “endorsing AGW”, apparently believing to know more about the papers than their authors

http://www.populartechnology.net/2013/05/97-study-falsely-classifies-scientists.html

He also missed a lot of them. There are at least 1400 studies that cast serious doubt on CAGW, nearly all of which he somehow missed.

http://www.populartechnology.net/2009/10/peer-reviewed-papers-supporting.html

There’s no consensus among scientists who study climate.

Even back in 2007, when Harris polled 500 leading American Meteorological and Geophysical scientists (a broader category; details here), there was no consensus — and that was before the Climategate revelations! Harris found that: “97% agree that ‘global average temperatures have increased’ during the past century. But not everyone attributes that rise to human activity. A slight majority (52%) believe this warming was human-induced, 30% see it as the result of natural temperature fluctuations and the rest are unsure.”

Opinion polls aside, climate prediction is a very well-funded but very poorly performing science.

http://www.drroyspencer.com/2013/06/still-epic-fail-73-climate-models-vs-measurements-running-5-year-means/

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 5:24 am

“You mean, they have a policy position, that is a political position, on a political issue. Which quite a few members have quit over. They all agreed global cooling was a serious issue in the 1970s, too — NASA, NCAR, CRU all went on the record”

This is low, even for you: you are a willful liar.

NASA, NCAR, CRU did no such thing; you have no cite for this, and the one you provide below falls apart with even a cursory glance. It’s obvious enough that you consciously looked and decided “hell, I’ll lie and hope no one calls me on it.”

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 5:37 am

“He also missed a lot of them. There are at least 1400 studies that cast serious doubt on CAGW, nearly all of which he somehow missed…There’s no consensus among scientists who study climate. ”

I love how editorials in “Trends in Parasitology” entitled “Hot topic or hot air?” prove that “There’s no consensus among scientists who study climate.”

Pray tell, how exactly does Simon Hay, the author of the article, study climate? His research aims are here: http://www.zoo.ox.ac.uk/people/view/hay_si.htm. Note that climate is oddly absent.

Let’s look a bit more deeply into this proof of the secret majority of climatologists who reject climate change:

Increasing atmospheric CO2: effects on crop yield, water use and climate (Agricultural Water Management, Volume 7, Issues 1-3, pp. 55-72, September 1983)

Carbon Dioxide and Agricultural Yield: An Assemblage and Analysis of 430 Prior Observations (Agronomy Journal, Volume 75, Number 5, pp. 779-788, September-October 1983)

Rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations may increase streamflow (Nature, Volume 312, Number 5989, pp. 51-53, November 1984)

Ouch. This is not looking good for you, TallDave.

I advise you to get better sources; it makes your hackery too readily apparent to rely on people who are clearly out to willfully mislead.

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 5:41 am

Also: the 97% result is well-attested to across multiple studies. Cf. Naomi Oreskes found no rejections of the consensus in a survey of 928 abstracts performed in 2004. Doran & Zimmerman (2009) found a 97% consensus among scientists actively publishing climate research. Anderegg et al. (2010) reviewed publicly signed declarations supporting or rejecting human-caused global warming, and again found over 97% consensus among climate experts. Cook et al. (2013) found the same 97% result through a survey of over 12,000 climate abstracts from peer-reviewed journals, as well as from over 2,000 scientist author self-ratings, among abstracts and papers taking a position on the causes of global warming.

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 5:43 am

The main point is this: the vast majority of climatologists accepts climate change. The science behind global warming is as solid as that behind the Big Bang theory or evolution. Models are continuously being improved, but they have a solid record of getting the broad trends right. And most studies have suggested that the cost of carbon is strongly negative, at the very least around $20/ton in 2015.

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 6:11 am

There’s also a certain richness to citing Roy Spencer, a meteorologist who has said “I finally became convinced that the theory of creation actually had a much better scientific basis than the theory of evolution, for the creation model was actually better able to explain the physical and biological complexity in the world.”

If your answer to climate change is “God wouldn’t let it be so!” you’re not much of a scientist.

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 11:39 am

NASA, NCAR, CRU did no such thing; you have no cite for this, and the one you provide below falls apart with even a cursory glance. It’s obvious enough that you consciously looked and decided “hell, I’ll lie and hope no one calls me on it.”

Yeah, except I already gave the cite below.

http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/1970s-ice-age-scare/

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 11:47 am

Cf. Naomi Oreskes found no rejections of the consensus in a survey of 928 abstracts performed in 2004. Doran & Zimmerman (2009) found a 97% consensus among scientists actively publishing climate research. Anderegg et al. (2010) reviewed publicly signed declarations supporting or rejecting human-caused global warming, and again found over 97% consensus among climate experts. Cook et al. (2013) found the same 97% result through a survey of over 12,000 climate abstracts from peer-reviewed journals, as well as from over 2,000 scientist author self-ratings, among abstracts and papers taking a position on the causes of global warming.

All debunked at the link above. Cook lied, according to the scientists who actually wrote the papers.

The main point is this: the vast majority of climatologists accepts climate change.

The vast majority of skeptics accept that the climate is changing, too — and they aren’t even paid to say it. But they don’t see much evidence CO2 is driving climate.

There’s also a certain richness to citing Roy Spencer

This is the part of the scientific method where we burn the heretics.

Ouch. This is not looking good for you, TallDave.

No, just bad reading comprehension on your part. Those are next to the text that says “casts serious doubt on CAGW.” All of them suggest, in one way or another, that AGW will not be the serious problem activists are making it out to be.

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 12:19 pm

Zephyrus, you’ve got the patience of a saint.

Unfortunately, he also has the scientific acumen of a priest. He’s even citing that Cook study.

http://richardtol.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/open-letter-to-vice-chancellor-of.html

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 2:50 pm

The 97% result is well-attested to across multiple studies. Cf. Naomi Oreskes found no rejections of the consensus in a survey of 928 abstracts performed in 2004. Doran & Zimmerman (2009) found a 97% consensus among scientists actively publishing climate research. Anderegg et al. (2010) reviewed publicly signed declarations supporting or rejecting human-caused global warming, and again found over 97% consensus among climate experts. Cook et al. (2013) found the same 97% result through a survey of over 12,000 climate abstracts from peer-reviewed journals, as well as from over 2,000 scientist author self-ratings, among abstracts and papers taking a position on the causes of global warming.

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 2:53 pm

I’ve pointed out the issues with the Goddard link multiple times, enough so that it’s pretty clear that your “classical values” (nice blog, btw–you really think eating tofu makes you gay?) involves willful, knowing deception.

Your “NCAR endorsement” is a graph that appeared in Newsweek. It makes no claims about global cooling.

Your “NAS endorsement” is a hand-drawn graph that appeared in a popular science magazine. It makes no claims about global cooling.

Your “CRU endorsement” is… nonexistent. It does mention Hubert Long, who did predict global cooling. He does so on the scale of tens of thousands of years, however, not decades.

This is a pretty shameful heap of bullshit, even for you. Trainwreck. And there’s no possible claim of ignorance here: these are explicit lies, and you are more than happy to parrot them in the hopes that no one will notice.

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 2:57 pm

And I know you’ve conveniently dropped this point you made, but I want you to own up to it:

Do you really think editorials “Trends in Parasitology” entitled “Hot topic or hot air?” prove that “There’s no consensus among scientists who study climate.”?

Do you really think scientific articles from the 1980s, which comprise over half of your 1300 paper “consensus” against climate change, provides real evidence against it?

That’s to say nothing of the rest, which range from obvious misrepresentations to editorials in obscure Russian petrochemical journals to non-peer reviewed pamphlets put out by the fossil fuel industry.

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 4:47 pm

No, all the 97% studies have been debunked as either just saying things the skeptics agree with too, or not accurately characterizing the studies they rated. Read the link more carefully, please.

http://www.burtonsys.com/climate/97pct/

Sorry, real science doesn’t have to try to use opinion polls and appeals to authority to prove itself.

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 4:49 pm

I’ve pointed out the issues with the Goddard link multiple times

You mean, you repeatedly failed to read it. For instance, CRU is cited.

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 5:15 pm

Please, all you need to do is provide a cite that shows that “all the major climate science outfits endorsed urgent action to prevent global cooling.” That’s all you need to do. Links to animated gifs do not count. Links to hand-drawn graphs in Newsweek attributed to CRU do not count.

Either you’re repeating your cite consciously knowing it doesn’t say what you claim it does, in which case you’re a hack. Or you don’t understand this, and you think writing up a rant in crayon makes for science. Either way you’re not credible. Unsurprising, I suppose, considering you think “the theory of creation actually has a much better scientific basis than the theory of evolution, for the creation model is actually better able to explain the physical and biological complexity in the world” is a valid scientific theory.

dan1111 May 30, 2014 at 11:34 am

Cap and trade, by design, introduces distortions into the market that favor certain technologies over others. Those who make such technologies (such as green energy) therefore may support cap and trade for rent-seeking reasons. Also the credits given to polluters are valuable and can become a form of rent.

This in itself doesn’t discredit the idea, though. Any policy that has an effect on the market is going to create winners and losers, including good policies. But these consequences needed to be considered in weighing the policy.

Zephyrus May 30, 2014 at 11:42 am

You get it wrong–the choice not to internalize the externalities of carbon pollution is itself a huge market distortion, that favors some technologies over others. Polluters try to maintain that policy regime in protection of their rents.

Jon Rodney May 30, 2014 at 11:55 am

I agree that poorly-designed cap and trade markets can introduce rent-seeking, but that’s true of any type of market. It doesn’t make much sense to give away free credits to polluters … emissions credits will be priced into the market and passed on to consumers regardless.

But I don’t think it’s correct to say that supporting cap and trade must be rent-seeking. You could argue just as effectively that polluters are rent-seeking by lobbying to keep the price of GHG emissions at zero. Clearly cap and trade would be economically beneficial for producers of solar panels, but I take rent-seeking to imply market distortions and inefficient outcomes. if implemented correctly, cap and trade makes the market more efficient.

dan1111 May 30, 2014 at 1:01 pm

@Zephyrus, I think this ultimately becomes a debate about natural law. What is the “natural” state, and therefore what is a deviation from it? No simple answer to that.

@Jon, I don’t think that “supporting cap and trade must be rent-seeking”, just that any such system gives some people a rent-seeking motive to support it. Yes, this is true of any such system. It is not a decisive argument against it, only an important factor to consider in the decision to implement the system and the design thereof.

Zephyrus May 30, 2014 at 2:00 pm

@dan1111, I don’t think there’s a reason to bring theological concepts like “what is natural” in to resolve the issue, unless you think property rights exist ab aeterno. Property rights are an institution we’ve designed to maximize human flourishing; we’ve chosen, as a society, to follow a certain set of property rights because we think they balance the appeal of monopoly rents on some certain thing with the drive to innovate that’s incentivized by them. If global warming is real (it is) and if it will negatively effect people’s lives (in reality, I’d say that there’d be a minority of winners but an even larger minority of losers), we can adopt a set of property rights that accounts for the winners and losers and makes it so everyone wins out.

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 12:12 am

Cap and trade, by design, introduces distortions into the market that favor certain technologies over others.

Surely Tyler is aware of this. What if it were a tax on iron? We all know that would make everyone a little bit poorer because iron products would be less competitive. No one gets excited about all the research into iron substitutes.

Iron will eventually kill our Sun. Clearly it should be taxed out of existence before that can happen.

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 4:58 am

That’s… utterly incoherent. What does iron have to do with anything?

Carbon dioxide emissions have significant negative externalities. Iron production… not so much.

You’ve gone off the rocker, TallDave.

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 12:02 pm

What is the Earth’s ideal temperature for humans? Hint: the answer not “significantly colder than today.”

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 2:59 pm

This is tiresome; you’re just reciting nonsense under the idea that if you blast enough bullshit, it will make everyone else too tired to think about it.

So: it’s rate of change, not absolute levels, that matter, as has been stated multiple times. It’s getting much, much hotter really fast, as indicated by instrumental records and all the major climate models.

Also: please provide a cite for your lie below that AGU, NASA, CRU all endorsed significant policy action on climate change. You provided two links and claimed two sources, but one is just a redirect to the the other, and it’s been entirely debunked; no, hand-drawn graphs in Newsweek that are simply sourced to CRU do not count as a scientific consensus. If you can’t provide that cite, retract your statement.

While you’re at it, do you really think editorials in the Journal of Parasitology and articles from the 1970s indicate there’s a large, 1300 paper consensus that climate change is fake?

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Also: please provide a cite for your lie below that AGU, NASA, CRU all endorsed significant policy action on climate *cooling*, that is.

mrmandias May 30, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Pseudo-market. A bureaucracy determines how much carbon is emitted, decrees how many offsets you have to buy, and then determines how many offsets folks like this farmer have to sell. The market exists entirely inside a bureaucracy. It’s like one of those Sumerian temple economies.

Jon Rodney May 30, 2014 at 12:29 pm

People frequently underestimate the value of a well-run bureaucracy.

Zephyrus May 30, 2014 at 12:32 pm

All markets exist within bureaucracies. Without that, the title to your land is just a piece of paper.

Careless May 30, 2014 at 12:55 pm

It’s not like we have a lot of experience with them to learn to appreciate them

Li Zhi May 30, 2014 at 1:25 pm

What’s wrong with just taxing carbon emissions? Seems to me a politically ‘cleaner’ alternative which would eliminate some of the rent-seeking behavior that cap&trade establishes. What is the empirical long term record in Europe for them (when adequate study controls are available)? Is it even possible to look to Europe and see any positive effect not more likely due to “Asiafication of manufacturing”? IMHO, the evidence needs to be very, very clear that cap and trade works before we institute it. And if it does work, shouldn’t we also consider it for cigarette consumption, speeding, illegal drugs, and war? :p I don’t like taxes, but is cap&trade less a governmentally intrusive solution (long term)? I have my doubts. I suppose there is the obvious argument that the pigs have already lined up at the trough, so that C&T is the only type of legislation/regulation that is politically feasible…that is a shame, if so.

Jon Rodney May 30, 2014 at 2:34 pm

I don’t think it’s a matter of whether cap & trade is less intrusive than carbon taxation; I think it’s a matter of which method would more efficiently reduce emissions to our target levels. Carbon taxation is a blunt instrument. Say our goal is to reduce emissions to level X. What level of taxation would accomplish that? It’s hard to say, precisely because we have no market to price the marginal cost of reducing CO2 emissions. The optimal level of taxation could also fluctuate quite a lot based on technological improvements, macroeconomic conditions, etc. I support cap and trade because it solves this kind of problem quite neatly.

I share some of your concerns about rent-seeking in poorly-designed emissions markets, but I think those problems are soluble.

Hideous May 30, 2014 at 2:22 pm

As the NYTimes indicates in a very good article, once a market and a price have been established, contentious politics turns into mutually beneficial economics.

Experts who support cap and trade contend that a market mechanism can reach more deeply into the economy than any other approach, changing the behavior even of people and companies that might not necessarily care about global warming

“We are doing exactly what they asked us to do to get paid to reduce carbon,” Mr. Pagel said. “If somebody else believes in it enough to put up the money, that’s all I need to know.”

That’s a two-fer! Other People’s Money: the people “putting up the money” are NOT those who “believe in it [paying remote strangers to burn methane].” Rent-seekers are forcing taxpayers to pay for distant methane digesters. Also Broken Window Fallacy: there is nothing “mutually-beneficial” about Cap-and-Trade, which is NOT a “market mechanism.” It is anti-market, relying on straightforward coercion to move money from hapless citizens’ pockets to rent-seekers’ pockets, reducing total surplus along the way due to transaction costs and deadweight loss (even the rent-seekers gain less than the citizen-victims lose).

Cap-and-Trade is just a peculiarly inefficient tax which diverts revenues from the public treasury into rent-seekers’ wallets. Even if “climate change” were a real problem justifying a coercive “sin tax” to avert it, giving the “sin tax” money to Al Gore instead of using it to reduce other taxes (and thereby ameliorate their deadweight-losses) is the worst kind of tax-farming crony politics.

Zephyrus May 30, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Climate change is a real problem, as attested to by 97% of scientists and all the major scientific organizations. Putting it in scare quotes doesn’t obviate that.

Right now fossil fuels receive a large implicit subsidy from the government. A carbon tax or cap-and-trade policy work to remove that subsidy. Economic efficiency and fairness demands that the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere have the negative externalities associated with it incorporated into the price of carbon.

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 4:08 am

Except those externalities are largely positive, so the fossil fuel companies are paying a large implicit tax.

You know, in addition to the very large explicit taxes they pay, which are around $200B a year.

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 5:28 am

Those externalities are largely negative, even if you copy and paste the same “they’re positive” repeatedly. Given a 3% discount rate, the social cost of carbon is around $39 in 2013, and rising thereafter, amounting to trillions of dollars.

You equate corporate taxes that everyone pays with taxes that internalize the negative externalities of fossil fuel industries. It’s duplicitious.

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 11:48 am

No, there’s been a consensus for hundreds of years that warmer temperatures are better. See the Year 1816, for instance.

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 2:49 pm

It’s rate of change, not absolute levels, that matter: it got cold for a few seasons really fast, and that was costly. And it’s getting much, much hotter really fast, as indicated by instrumental records and all the major climate models.

Also: please provide a cite for your lie below that AGU, NASA, CRU all endorsed significant policy action on climate change. You provided two links and claimed two sources, but one is just a redirect to the the other, and it’s been entirely debunked; no, hand-drawn graphs in Newsweek that are simply sourced to CRU do not count as a scientific consensus. If you can’t provide that cite, retract your statement.

While you’re at it, do you really think editorials in the Journal of Parasitology and articles from the 1970s indicate there’s a large, 1300 paper consensus that climate change is fake?

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 3:27 pm

climate cooling*

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 4:50 pm

Do you think the emergence from the LIA was negative? Just silly.

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 5:19 pm

Rate of change; you seem incapable of grasping that that’s the issue. And even if that weren’t the issue, you have the impression that “warming improved things from the context of the LIA, therefore warming will improve things now!” Which is just… stupid. Up there with “tofu makes you gay.”

You’re avoiding the point: you lied about AGU/CRU/NASA/etc all endorsing massive action to prevent global cooling. You’re dodging and avoiding this, but I will continue to throw it in your face. Provide a cite, or retract your statement.

While you’re at it, do you really think editorials in the Journal of Parasitology and articles from the 1970s indicate there’s a large, 1300 paper consensus that climate change is fake?

Willitts May 30, 2014 at 11:25 am

You think that:

The details of the implementation dont matter?
People dont change their minds as they learn?

The problem isnt the trade. The problem is the cap.

dan1111 May 30, 2014 at 11:28 am

Also, cap and trade as a conservative idea is a bit oversold. The right of the Republican party was never fully on board with it.

F. Lynx Pardinus May 30, 2014 at 11:51 am

To be fair, the right of the Republican party, much like the left of the Democratic party, is never fully on board with anything.

JWatts May 30, 2014 at 3:59 pm

In any case, cap & trade with respect to sulfur dioxide emissions is fundamentally different in how it worked than CO2 emissions cap & trade could work. Sulfur dioxide emissions were highly concentrated among coal burning power plants.

CO2 emissions are far more prevalent, fundamental to the economy and disbursed throughout it.

Joshua May 30, 2014 at 1:58 pm

Implementation Implementation Implementation

Jon Rodney says up above “if implemented correctly”. This is exactly right. The problem with cap & trade is that it is highly subject to corruption and rigging. The humans administering the program will be subject to the same motivations and failings that all humans are. http://www.thegreensupplychain.com/news/10-06-16-1.php?cid=3529

I’m not all that excited about CO2 control at the moment, but if you’re going to do it, taxing it makes WAY more sense than a cap&trade scheme.

Jon Rodney May 30, 2014 at 2:47 pm

Why would the market for emissions be more subject to corruption and rigging than the market for, say, soybeans?

And if you prefer carbon taxation, how would we decide the appropriate level of taxation? How would we be able to adjust the tax appropriately if it became clear we were failing to meet emissions targets?

Willitts June 2, 2014 at 12:14 am

There is no difference between the optimum level of pollution with a tax and with cap and trade; the informational problem is identical.

Harun May 31, 2014 at 5:53 pm

Unless a carbon tax has some sort of rebate for exports and a charge on imports built in, you will simply push production of many products overseas. This seems pretty stupid if the goal is to reduce actual CO2 emissions.

I supposes world leaders could all agree to tax carbon at a similar rate.

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 5:59 pm

The Australian carbon tax did that; the kind of carbon tax I want includes exactly that kind of rebate for exports and charge for imports.

Paul Zrimsek May 30, 2014 at 11:56 am

If partisan obstruction for the sake of obstruction is your diagnosis, there would seem to be plenty of it to go around. Unless you can think of something else that would have kept the Democrats from jumping on board back when cap-and-trade was supposedly a Republican idea.

Steven Kopits May 30, 2014 at 9:49 am

All comes down to how much damage CO2 is doing. Temperatures are flat, so a vast amount of incremental CO2 does not appear to be moving the needle at present. Thus, cap and trade and simply a transfer payment from CA to the rest of the country.

nylund May 30, 2014 at 10:39 am

My understanding is that there’s a time lag between emissions and an observable effect. It’s not like temperatures immediately shoot up the second more C02 is released. It’s like a boiling pot of water. Turning on a flame beneath the pot doesn’t make the water instantly boil. It takes time for that hot flame to overcome the thermal inertia of the water. In the case of the Earth, the oceans act as that pot of water, but rather than it taking a few minutes for the effect to materialize, it takes a few decades since there’s quite a size difference.

Careless May 30, 2014 at 11:17 am

Yes, this seems to be their explanation now after their predictions failed. Doesn’t do much to convince me that they have any real understanding of how things will go in the future.

Willitts May 30, 2014 at 11:27 am

Lagged effects are usually built and tested in models. So are you saying they didnt do it or did it wrong?

Nathan W May 30, 2014 at 11:37 am

Think of it more as though you added a few layers of poly to a greenhouse. A tiny bit less light will get through, but the heat will be so much more trapped in that you will be much warmer. This will take some time.

TMC May 30, 2014 at 12:06 pm

So how long is this lag? Say 20 years? Pick a number and tell me when CO2 was not increasing.

cheesetrader May 30, 2014 at 1:15 pm

Well, how about during the time periods when CO2 went from ~4,000 ppm to the current levels.

Careless May 30, 2014 at 9:04 pm

CO2 was not increasing in the time period where it increased to its current levels? A bold claim, cheese.

Or are you claiming that it dropped? That would make sense, but also be a very bold claim.

Nathan W June 1, 2014 at 5:03 pm

This isn’t a “pick a number” sort of question.

But probably one of those lazy pigs feeding at the trough is working on various fundamentals of climate in order to have a clue what the answer is.

Ray Lopez May 30, 2014 at 11:37 am

The current flat line is temperatures is due to albedo (soot from largely the developing world blotting out the sun) and the sun output being smaller than years ago, as predicted by sun spots. If in fact increased cloud cover is influenced by outer space particles, as some suggest, that’s another factor. But man-made global warming (AGW) is real. Speaking as somebody who on the Usenet global warming site was a climate skeptic, for years, as a Devil’s Advocate.

T. Shaw May 30, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Dairy farmer. That’s a great example. How far has the price of cheese/milk fallen/risen?

If the global warming alarmists win, billions of people will want to “thank” them for unnecessaryhunger and misery.

cheesetrader May 30, 2014 at 1:14 pm

There seems to be good indication that yes, CO2 is a lagging indicator to temps – by about 700 years.

Climate creationists are out in full hand-waving force, I see. Consensus!!1!!1!11

Zephyrus May 30, 2014 at 2:35 pm

American Geophysical Union: “Human‐induced climate change requires urgent action. Humanity is the major influence on the global climate change observed over the past 50 years. Rapid societal responses can significantly lessen negative outcomes.” (Adopted 2003, revised and reaffirmed 2007, 2012, 2013)

cheesetrader May 30, 2014 at 2:43 pm

Good for them. Shearson Lehman also once believed their computer models were infallible.

Tell me – what melted the glaciers which once covered much of the Wisconsin where I’m currently typing? In spots, it is believed to have been over a mile thick. Thankfully this is no longer so.

Zephyrus May 30, 2014 at 2:51 pm

Rising temperatures.

Remember, I don’t care about absolute levels: I completely buy that a world that was five degrees warmer than it actually was for all of human history could be substantially richer than it is now. The core issue is rate of change. Those glaciers melted over thousands of years, not decades or centuries. When it’s slow, we have time to adapt and amortize the costs of climate change over a longer period; when it’s fast, we have to take our lumps in a way that is much costlier than if we reduced emissions.

As far as Lehman brothers… uh, sure. Models can be flawed. However: there are overriding scientific principles that make it quite certain that burning fossil fuels substantially increases global temperatures and ocean acidity, through the mechanism of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere and the albedo effect. How feedbacks interplay with this is a much thornier issue, I grant, and there’s plenty of room for uncertainty. But the uncertainty is in whether the feedbacks double or quadruple the warming due to CO2, not whether they do nothing or have a negative net effect.

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 12:21 am

That’s nice. In the 1970s all the major climate science outfits endorsed urgent action to prevent global cooling: NCAR, CRU, NAS..

http://www.climatedepot.com/2013/05/21/1970s-global-cooling-scare-almost-every-major-climate-organization-endorsed-the-1970s-ice-age-scare-including-ncar-cru-nas-nasa-as-did-the-cia/

Today, the NSF is spending $700K on a play about global warming. Because science.

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 5:14 am

TallDave, you are a conscious liar. Your cite says nothing of the sort; it brings up such prestigious scientific journals and organizations as an editorial in the “Milwaukee Sentinel” and the “Windsor Star” and the “Deseret News.”

Cleverly you post a page where everything is in gif format to make it difficult for readers to validate what you’re saying, but I’ll point it out for everyone: you’re lying.

Your “NCAR endorsement” is a graph that appeared in Newsweek. It makes no claims about global cooling.

Your “NAS endorsement” is a hand-drawn graph that appeared in a popular science magazine. It makes no claims about global cooling.

Your “CRU endorsement” is… nonexistent. It does mention Hubert Long, who did predict global cooling. He does so on the scale of tens of thousands of years, however, not decades.

This is a pretty shameful heap of bullshit, even for you. Trainwreck. And there’s no possible claim of ignorance here: these are explicit lies, and you are more than happy to parrot them in the hopes that no one will notice.

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 11:51 am

Here’s a whole bunch more sources.

http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/1970s-ice-age-scare/

You sure seem awfully ignorant of this history of climate science. Did you know Hansen actually wrote some of those early global cooling models?

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 12:36 pm

Your “CRU endorsement” is… nonexistent.

ROTFLMAO Do you even know what CRU is? Hint: look for the spokesperson from “East Anglia.”

http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/

Seriously — learn the basics. This is like shooting fish in a barrel. I’m bored.

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Your “NCAR endorsement” is a graph that appeared in Newsweek. It makes no claims about global cooling.

Seriously? Did you not understand that the graph going down meant cooling? Did you not read the interviews with scientists (e.g. Mitchell) from NCAR?

I’m starting to think this whole Global Warming panic is really just driven by poor reading comprehension. Oh well, enough time wasted I guess.

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 2:44 pm

I’m sure this is pretty embarassing for you, TallDave: the first source you link to is simply a link the second link you provide. The line between denialists being in an echo chamber and you having your head stuck up your ass is fine, but that puts you well-past it.

You lied. Your link lied, and you consciously repeated it. You are not even engaged in a facsimile of scientific inquiry. No, Newsweek generating a graph that purports to show global cooling and sourcing it to NCAR/CRU/NAS does not mean that “In the 1970s all the major climate science outfits endorsed urgent action to prevent global cooling.” And yes, I know what CRU is, but you’ll notice that your list of gifs has no actual, you know, evidence that they endorse major policy action on global cooling.

Do you even understand what a scientific journal looks like? No, newsletters that claim that 1998 being hot disproves global warming between saying tofu makes you gay (took a look on your blog–you’re pretty off your rocker, I gotta say) and drawing comics of Obama as an African tribesmen does not count. Newsweek and Time do not count.

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 4:55 pm

You’ve called me a liar about twenty times, even though the cites you claim don’t exist are all at the link. Again, do you even know what East Anglia is?

You bring up “scientific journals” as though that’s relevant to interviews given by representatives of CRU, NOAA, NASA, etc.

Then you criticize “my” blog. I haven’t posted on CV in at least a month.

In short, I have been more than patient with you, but I’m not wasting any more time leading rabid horses to water to watch them die of thirst.

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 5:12 pm

TallDave, you are literally inventing things out of thin air. All you have to do to stop this is to provide a quote that indicates what you claimed. But all you do is keep on copying and posting the same link, despite the fact that even a cursory look at them reveals that they’re freaking links to graphs in Newsweek articles.

But you won’t, because you are deliberately lying and any brief investigation of your links GIFs reveals they say nothing at all like what you claim. You have proven unable to substantiate your blatant misrepresentations and lies, and you continue to spout them, confident in your ignorance and the hope that no one will actually, you know, try to validate them.

Just do that: a simple quote indicating “In the 1970s all the major climate science outfits endorsed urgent action to prevent global cooling.” No, not a handdrawn graph in Newsweek that they attribute to CRU. You seem insistent on pretending that my objection to you is that CRU is not East Anglia, but it’s that a hand-drawn graph in Newsweek does not indicate “all the major climate science outfits endorsed urgent action to prevent global cooling.”

It might cut it as science in your Classsical Virtues, tofu-makes-you-gay, creationism-is-just-as-valid-as-evolution circles, but kids grow past that after kindergarten. Basic science, kiddo.

MenloPark May 30, 2014 at 10:41 am

CO2 average global atmospheric concentration is about 0.04%.
Man-made C02 is a fraction of that tiny amount… and U.S. man-made CO2 is a fraction of that fraction. And water vapor is overwhelmingly the largest & dominant “Greenhouse Gas”, even if one accepts Global-Warming mythology. Cap and Trade is further nonsense, but very consistent with Federal progressive superstition quest for economic domination.

The Other Jim May 30, 2014 at 11:25 am

Get your facts out of this thread! We’ve got fear to monger, and taxpayer money to burn.

Nathan W May 30, 2014 at 11:46 am

Your argument doesn’t make you look very smart. Think of baking soda. It only takes a bit, but it does a lot. Most people understand that small amounts of a substance can do big things, because most people studied some science in high school, but probably folks in your circles have either been persuaded by your misinformed reasoning or are too tired of protesting against BS to bother to argue any more.

Fact: C02 is a greenhouse gas.

Fact: an important share of C02 in the atmosphere was released by humans, and this amount is rapidly rising.

Fact: to date, we have no mechanism to control the rapid release of C02 into the atmosphere.

Fact: it is very difficult to accurately predict the precise impacts of climate change.

Fact: adapting to climate change will cost us money.

Fact: the faster we emit C02, the less time we have to figure out how to adapt.

Fact: economics has good tools to answer these problems, and most economists agree that cap and trade is the way to go, IF we have a political agreement that it is desirable to try to reduce C02 emissions, and PROBABLY it is the job of economists to say that the situation is not futile, but the self-centered assholes that we are, this will be tough.

Fact: a 10m or a 200m rise in the level of the ocean is not equivalent to a visitation of the death star.
CO2 is a greenhouse gas, point blank. Fact: burning gigawatt after gigawatt worth of coal, natural gas, etc., releases LARGE AMOUNTS of CO2, not just a little bit.

Would you like to debate any one of the specific facts presented above, or would you rather sling some mud first?

Nathan W May 30, 2014 at 11:49 am

Personally, I support whichever approach (carbon tax or cap and trade) is most likely to achieve political consensus. But cap and trade would lead to more efficient outcomes, and this is very easy to demonstrate by applying a handful of basic math tools acquired by anyone who studied economics beyond 3rd year.

Joshua May 30, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Math tools yes, but public choice theory tools no.

The Anti-Gnostic May 30, 2014 at 11:58 am

Taking all that as true, the solution is to ban or at least heavily restrict fossil fuel combustion, not some extruded, pseudo-market of transfer payments for financiers to skim from. (That means nukes, btw, unless you’re ready for a massive lifestyle adjustment.) And while we’re at it, we can stop importing over a million people a year so they can drive around in cars on our socialized roads.

Instead, we get these rococo schemes like cap and trade, which strikes me as a solution in search of a problem. The people promoting these schemes are interested — self-interested — in the solution and not the problem.

Zephyrus May 30, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Says who? You’re creating a false dichotomy: either ban all carbon pollution, or allow people to emit as much pollution as they like without concern for the damage they’re doing.

What a carbon tax or cap-and-trade policy does is allow the market to find solutions instead of relying on blanket mandates from the government. If it’s economically valuable for society to rely on fossil fuels for a particular activity, it still can–you just have to prove that it’s economically valuable by being able to pay for the right.

The Anti-Gnostic May 30, 2014 at 12:24 pm

It’s just government declaring something bad and setting up an exchange which provides opportunities for arbitrage. It’s a pseudo-market.

Zephyrus May 30, 2014 at 12:42 pm

It isn’t the government declaring something bad; it’s the government recognizing that virtually all scientists agree that fossil fuel CO2 emissions change the climate, and trying to incorporate the damage that’s doing into the price of the emission of CO2.

It’s no more the “government declaring something bad” as it is the government declaring murder is bad or theft is bad. Because that’s what fossil fuels do: steal, destroy, and kill.

T. Shaw May 30, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Lo we go bankrupt. We have saved Gaieaa!!!!!

KUMBAYA’s all around, children.

Zephyrus May 30, 2014 at 2:17 pm

T.Shaw, my interest is in preventing economic and human damage from being done. You’re in a weak position if your only response to criticism is to impugn others with claims that they worship “Gaieaa!!!!”

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 12:34 am

my interest is in preventing economic and human damage from being done

Then your position makes no sense. Nothing is going to stop the BRICs from pumping every last carbon molecule they can oxidize to their benefit into the atmosphere, but you want to impose economically damaging policies on everyone else anyway — even though the effect you believe in is logarithmic at most and poorly evidenced at best.

For a fraction of the damage emissions controls will do to the economy, we could build useful things like space mirror arrays that might also be useful if the temperature takes a sudden plunge.

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 5:21 am

“The effect I believe in is logarithmic at most and poorly evidenced at best”?

Climate change is attested to by the vast majority of climatologists and professional organizations.

American Geophysical Union (this is easily the most important organization in the field, so their opinion matters most): “Human‐induced climate change requires urgent action. Humanity is the major influence on the global climate change observed over the past 50 years. Rapid societal responses can significantly lessen negative outcomes.” (Adopted 2003, revised and reaffirmed 2007, 2012, 2013)

American Meteorological Society: “It is clear from extensive scientific evidence that the dominant cause of the rapid change in climate of the past half century is human-induced increases in the amount of atmospheric greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), chlorofluorocarbons, methane, and nitrous oxide.” (2012)

American Physical Society: “The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.” (2007)

National Academy of Sciences: “The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify taking steps to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.” (2005)

I can do this all day.

As far as your assertion that the BRICs will continue regardless: you’re already wrong. Brazil and China are already in the process of designing and implementing a carbon tax, and they’re looking to the United States for leadership on this topic. Sure, if the United States attempts to sabotage everything, things will go move forward more haltingly. But when the US takes a leadership role, things move forward with much more vigor and fewer steps backward.

For someone who’s usually big on property rights, you’re turgid at the thought of destroying other’s property just for the sake of poking the eyes of environmentalists. Your tribal affiliations notwithstanding, it’s pretty off-putting.

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 11:52 am

LOL China is building a new coal plant every week.

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 3:00 pm

So, you’re backing away from your claim that the BRICs are doing nothing on climate change?

cheesetrader May 30, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Fact – CO2 concentrations are near historical lows by over any sort of decent time scale

Fact – CO2 levels have been well into the 3-6,000 ppm range for millions of years

Fact – Climate has always been changing

Fact – contributing to =/ causing

etc

Why are climate creationists so absolutely certain that there’s some sort of natural steady state of perfection which only requires a whole lot of taxation to reach?

Zephyrus May 30, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Please provide actual numbers. We’re at historical high within the past million years; the scale that human civilizations develop on is significantly less than a million years.

And the last time CO2 fell within your 3k-6k range was before the dinosaurs. Seriously, you’re stretching here.

The overriding factor is this: rate of change. Climate scientists aren’t sounding the alarm because of any absolute level we’re careening towards; if the world’s temperature had been 5 degrees higher for the past five centuries, it wouldn’t be anything we’d place much value on decreasing. But we’ve invested a great deal in our current infrastructure, and the rate of change that anthropogenic CO2 is inducing in temperatures, ocean acidification, sea levels rising is fast enough such that it’s cheaper to reduce that rate substantially than to demolish and rebuild all that infrastructure.

cheesetrader May 30, 2014 at 2:16 pm

One million years is a short time frame over a billion years. 5,000 years is a short time frame over 1 million years.

During the Phanerozoic, CO2 levels are estimated in the mid thousands of ppm.

Etc

Rate of change is an interesting topic – can you find any sort of data set stretching over say 100,000 years with a 5 year sensitivity? The Vostok Ice Core data might work – that’s the one they’ve been using which shows that CO2 levels lag temps by ~800 years or so.

Zephyrus May 30, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Can you specify at which point in the Phanerozoic CO2 levels were in the thousands? How many hundreds of millions of years was that before dinosaurs evolved?

As far as rate of change, you don’t need 5 year sensitivity; something on the scale of decades is entirely sufficient to resolve what we’re talking about, since we’re talking about temperatures rising over the course of a century. So, have at it–name a couple decades in the past ten thousand years where have temperatures risen as quickly as they did in the past couple decades?

cheesetrader May 30, 2014 at 2:36 pm

Why does it matter when dinosaurs were around? Irrelevant.

Sure – during about 100 million to 500 million of years ago. It wasn’t until about 30-40 million years ago that CO2 levels dropped to where we are now.

Actually – yes we do need some sort of time sensitivity – particularly with an obviously somewhat random system.

Oh – and depending on what temp/proxy sets you like/believe in, there’s much speculation that the 20s were as rapid as recent much less the MWP. But I’m reluctant to lean too much on those proxy sets if only b/c I recognize the data is at best quite sparse and very localized.

If you use sea levels, the ROC was pretty high about 10,000 years ago (IIRC)

Dan Weber May 30, 2014 at 2:40 pm

“The Earth was once a molten ball of rock. I don’t get why people are so bent out of shape about it returning to that state!”

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Even the actual temperatures aren’t that reliable. Here’s what NASA’s been doing to them.

https://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2013/12/21/thirteen-years-of-nasa-data-tampering-in-six-seconds/

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 5:20 pm

Is that from the same guy who thinks that a couple hundred articles from the 1980s disprove that there’s a scientific consensus on climate change, TallDave?

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 5:34 pm

Oh, another animated GIF. Why is it that you put so much emphasis on animated GIFs, and not on, you know, actual scientific journals?

All your link is is innuendo that somehow data revisions are inherently evil. If you have an issue with the scientific basis for them, bring it up directly! Though it’s unclear you’d even know where to find them if not in animated GIF form…

And even if there were some malevolent NASA conspiracy to foist Kenyan socialism on us via climate change mitigation, multiple instrumental records all show the same thing. You don’t seem to understand even the basics of how science works.

Nathan W June 1, 2014 at 5:08 pm

Usually we are more interested in recent history.

For example, when studying the modern economy, we don’t ask about the economics of foraging by the brontosaurus, although this could be interesting just for kicks.

Similarly, we are more interested in climate trends last year, 10 years ago, and perhaps various cycles over the last hundreds of thousands or millions of years.

Looking to the historical record of CO2 concentrations might tell us something interesting, but mot likely that will be something that helps us understand fine tuned details of the workings of climate models, and will tell us next to nothing useful about thresholds or absolute levels that are of relevance to us today.

Li Zhi May 30, 2014 at 2:53 pm

I wish you had numbered your “facts”. Lets number them 1 to 8, shall we?
I am a bit of a contrarian here. It is fairly well established “fact 0, the greenhouse effect is real” is important to any argument, you shouldn’t imho, leave it out. Anyway, I take some issues with your facts, maybe just quibbles, but we should be precise, shouldn’t we?
#2. define “important”, define “rapidly rising”? This fact as stated is opinion, not quantitative analytical fact. (ie argumentative)
#3. Is absolutely wrong. I can take CO2 out of the air by cooling the air. I assume you didn’t say what you meant, but that’s your problem. All I can do is take what you did write at face value. #3 also uses that “rapidly rising” thing again…compared to a string of supervolcanoes? compared to a 60 km asteroid strike? what does “rapidly rising” mean, in an absolute sense? My opinion is we don’t know, and so shouldn’t use such language when discussing the science, without norms. (and the norms shouldn’t be choosen arbitrarily because they conveniently help us make our point…Is it ok for a mutual fund to report average return for 2, 4 and 11½ years rather than 3, 5 and 10 if the numbers look better? This implies, imho, the most significant problem with the current ‘hiatus’ of temperature rise…what if we choose the last 10 years as baseline? I suspect that will completely throw off the correlation between [CO2] and Temp.
#4. “accurately predict the precise” is garbage. I haven’t seen the latest ICPP report, last I saw (years ago), their range still had a range from NEGATIVE rise to a couple of degrees positive. First we need to ask what is a precise CLIMATE prediction? Next we need to ask what is an ADEQUATE climate prediction? This is the meat of it: its about adequacy AS a basis for govermental policy, not scientific precision. Conflating the science with the policy is, imho, not sound thinking.
#5. I don’t understand this one, either. Do you mean not adapting is cheaper? Or do you mean there is some other alternative which is cost free? Maintaining our current infrastructure (LOL) costs money, improving it costs money, letting it degrade (indirectly) costs money. There is no useful semantic content to this “fact”.
#6. I have only one problem with this one, it implies that with the fastest possible rise, our “adaptation” will be worse than under the slowest. My observation of human nature is that the normal sequence is: prediction, catastrophy, reaction and NOT prediction, reaction, catastropy averted. (It also implies that extrordinary adaptation will be necessary).
#7. All I can say of this one is that if you put your faith in economists, then you must be unaware of ANY of the truth in jokes about how many economists it takes to reach a conclusion, screw in a light bulb, etc. You know what it WOULD be good for “economists” to do? Establish a global economic model to predict the local impacts of CO2 policy on standard of living, health and “human development”, compared to the “precise, accurate” current trajectory. Once this is done we can use both the climate model and the economic model to optimize our strategy. As if this could ever happen… Oh, btw – I think your claim that they have “good tools” is risible…but then again, my background is physical, not social, science – meaning that in physical science, consensus is ideally based on empirical data, while in the social sciences that can’t be true when 20-40% of all their published research is not replicable. Social Science “consenus” is a fashion statement.
#8 other than the quibble about what a little bit means…(isn’t 4 ppm a little bit?) I basically don’t disagree with this, but so what?
I frame the debate differently:
A. What is the science?
B. What should the policy response be?
more specifically, we need to be clear why “anthropogenic” CO2 is different than “natural” CO2. If the answer is because otherwise the POLICY issues will change (or feasible options will be affected), then such discusions need be placed in category B. (subcategory: politics). To my mind, way, way too much time and effort have been wasted on A. and not enough in exploring B in the manner that is required.
We can argue two ways:
I. Don’t foul your own nest, don’t burden your children. If you break it, you own it.
II. Who is most able to afford the costs of any necessary adaptations? Us, our kids? Their kids?
Looking at II, only if adaptation costs rise faster than global GDP should we act (by increasing current costs to reduce future costs). But all I’ve read indicates the costs are quite high to reduce the effects negligibly. I note that the measured outcome of CO2 rise compared to prediction has consistently been on the low end. (But historical return is no guarantee of future results).

Nathan W June 1, 2014 at 5:09 pm

I got as far as “First, let’s ignore the basis of whether or not the problem is even worth talking about in the first place”.

Now I’m reading the comments below.

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 12:25 am

Fact: the current models have predicted too much warming

Fact: no one really knows to what extent CO2 is actually driving climate

Fact: warmer temperatures are net beneficial in the relevant range

Fact: the next Ice Age is overdue, and when it gets here it will end human civilization.

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 5:48 am

Fact: the current models are broadly accurate, and consistent with empirical data.

Fact: physics alone says that CO2 forcing will account for around 1 degree F of warming in the next century. In addition there are known feedbacks: how they interact has some uncertainties, but it’s certainly possible, and the only question is really whether it will add 2 additional degrees of warming or 4.

Fact: there are maybe two studies among dozens that suggest that warmer temperatures are net beneficial. You’ve cherry picked those, but most imply a current social cost of carbon around $15-$20/ton.

Fact: you’re just throwing words out here with no evidence. Please provide even a tiny shred of evidence that a new Ice Age is a consensus belief.

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 11:53 am

Those aren’t facts, they’re just wrong. You don’t even know what “forcing” means.

Do you really not know we are in currently in an interglacial?

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 3:04 pm

TallDave, you’re so deeply entrenched in the echo chamber that you have no clue about even the terms of the debate. Forcing is a common term in climate change discussions, and you are so unfamiliar with the basics of the science that you apparently have mistaken it for its common usage.

Please, do some research and tell us (after you’ve explained or apologized your lie you got caught in about the AGU/CRU/NASA pushing for major policy action on global cooling), what is a forcing, and what is a feedback, and whether CO2 concentrations are a forcing or feedback term.

Nathan W June 1, 2014 at 5:16 pm

In order:

What is “”too much” when you’re talking about predictions? I thought we’ve been finding that even the more pessimistic predictions for what has already come have proved optimistic (in particular for melting seas and temperature changes in the arctic, where all that ice is).

You are right. That’s why we need to study it more. There are good reasons to think that there good be very costly risks, and smart people like to study things with high potential risk in order to mitigate cowsts.

Please cite your source on whether effects of warming are beneficial. Most crops are already growth in areas where more extreme heat will damage the plants at key stages thereby reducing productivity relative to the current situation. If you would like to reject that claim, please start by learning about the relationship between Rubisco and carbon assimilation by temperature.

The fact of cycles in climate is not a very good reason to pretend that nothing about climate matters. Insisting on forging a future with zero appreciation of the fact that humans are sufficiently numerous and technologically advanced to influence the aggregate environment around is a naive way to allow opaque interests to carry “too much” influence on how we will proceed forward.

Zephyrus May 30, 2014 at 11:57 am

Stupid.

Small amounts of something can substantially influence the evolution of a system. A bullet to your head would only increase your weight by 0.02%, but it’d substantially change how you live your life. What matters is sensitivity of the system to deltas of that substance or property.

Temperatures are highly sensitive to carbon dioxide. Ironically because of water vapor: CO2-induced albedo directly accounts for a minority of the warming, but that heating causes water vapor to be sucked into the atmosphere, which causes substantial warming, and indeed pulls even more water vapor into the atmosphere.

TMC May 30, 2014 at 12:16 pm

Reading comprehension. MenloPark does not claim the low percentage of co2 is an issue, just that the human component of that is small to the total.

Sensitivity seems to be about 1.2 – 1.5 degrees per doubling of co2. The next 3 degrees are more than likely beneficial, after that are the negative consequences. We need to double twice, and then twice again (assuming consequences are on a normal curve) before any negative consequences start. We don’t expect to do this for quite some time – well after the natural progression of energy production weans us off carbon.

Zephyrus May 30, 2014 at 12:38 pm

“MenloPark does not claim the low percentage of co2 is an issue”

“CO2 average global atmospheric concentration is about 0.04%. Man-made C02 is a fraction of that tiny amount”

He very explicitly does claim that. You’re covering for a bad actor.

Sensitivity is around 2-3.5 degrees celsius. And you’re entirely incorrect about the “next 3 degrees are more than likely beneficial”; most estimates have the effect being negative, and even more negative after that.

TMC May 30, 2014 at 1:05 pm

Jesus. Read what you wrote ““MenloPark does not claim the low percentage of co2 is an ISSUE” What he wrote is true. He did not claim that was the issue. He claims the percentage of what humans add is small to the total amount of co2. Also true. You read and write like a 12 year old.

The physics of co2 put sensitivity at 1.2 degrees. Assumed other effects add to this. The other effects have not been yet witnessed and are theoretical. We don’t even know whether they would be positive or negative. Most likely BS to induce panic to generated grant money. The opinion that the next 3 degrees of warming would be beneficial is not at at controversial. You really need to be deep into the alarmist hive not to know this.

Zephyrus May 30, 2014 at 1:34 pm

“Jesus… you read and write like a 12 year old…. deep into the alarmist hive… BS to induce panic to generated grant money…”

Relax, dude. It does no harm to your sense of masculinity to admit you’re wrong. And even if it did, maybe it’d be a useful lesson not to get your science from the email newsletters your angry divorced uncle sends you.

He goes out of his way to mention “0.04%”–why do you think that’s relevant? And at least two other people have identical readings to mine.

But let’s assume that you’ve somehow divined his true intention through casting of chicken bones or whatever “skeptics” do to understand the world. You’re engaging in the exact same fallacy you’re saying he didn’t commit: saying that the human contribution is small, therefore it can’t effect anything. First off, it’s inaccurate–the human contribution to CO2 concentrations is around 40%, and rising. But even ignoring that, it’s clearly a bad point, by your own admission: just because it’s small doesn’t mean it can’t substantially change the dynamics of our global climate system.

As far as the points on sensitivity, it’s perfectly within your rights to come up with new definitions on the fly, but it’s best if you don’t try to attach a new definition to a word that has a clear, established scientific meaning already. And then crying foul when someone assumes you’re using that word in the sense that scientists always use it, in the context of a scientific discussion, is bad form.

TMC May 30, 2014 at 4:19 pm

So your like a double Turing fail. Don’t know what the opponents argument is and don’t even know your own side’s is.

Zephyrus May 30, 2014 at 4:38 pm

Who said anything about sides?

You’re unable to come up with a coherent account of MenloPark’s point, despite twisting yourself into pretzels to parse his words into something vaguely coherent and not-obviously-wrong. Why are you so invested in him being right?

TMC May 30, 2014 at 8:14 pm

I have no investment at all, unlike yourself. You misrepresented a good point he made to further your argument and I called you on it. Pretty simple.

Zephyrus May 30, 2014 at 9:37 pm

Pray tell, what’s this “good point”? He seems to have made two:

1) Only “0.04%” of the atmosphere is carbon dioxide. You seem to agree that this is an irrelevant point for him to have made, right? That makes it a bad point.

2) Only a fraction of that 0.04% carbon dioxide comes from men. This is still making the same “I can make numbers look small, therefore they’re not a problem!” argument as point 1. You’d have to agree that this is a bad point by the same reason as 1, since it’s the same argument and you’re throwing a hissy fit at the thought that someone would accuse MenloPark of making such a bad argument.

So what’s the deal? Or do you see some mysterious third argument in your tarot cards?

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 12:28 am

The next 3 degrees are more than likely beneficial, after that are the negative consequences. We need to double twice, and then twice again (assuming consequences are on a normal curve) before any negative consequences start.

Thank God some people actually understand the science of this. The way people are going on about this, you’d think 1816 was a year of glorious plenty that we’re all pining for.

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 5:51 am

TallDave, the effects of climate change are negative, with consensus estimates clumping around $10-$20/ton in the short term. The idea that rapid warming will have positive economic effects is wishful thinking. (Interestingly, it’s always mentioned by someone who totally rejects the scientific consensus anyways. Very interesting indeed, and if you were more metacognitively capable, you might understand how this is problematic.)

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 11:53 am

Right, because Antarctica isn’t the biggest desert on Earth.

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Non-sequitur of… well, this thread, I guess, considering your chaotic and unguided reasoning elsewhere. But cool story, bro.

Nathan W June 1, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Thresholds matter, but I think the graphic comparison discredits the principle by overstating the analogue.

Dan Weber May 30, 2014 at 12:04 pm

why is being a small component relevant?

You body is about 310 Kelvin. If I raise that 2%, that’s not much, right?

I’m not buying everything the pro-AGW camp is selling, but the opposing arguments need to get better.

cheesetrader May 30, 2014 at 1:28 pm

CO2 levels have been a factor of ten higher throughout much of time.

To reverse your question – If my body is 310 kelvin and I’ve shown I can live at 3,000 kelvin just fine, are you going to be worried if I go to 400?

Zephyrus May 30, 2014 at 1:53 pm

When during human civilization were CO2 levels a factor of ten higher?

Hell, I’ll make it even easier: when during human civilization were CO2 concentrations equal to where they are now?

And that’s not even touching on the more fundamental issue: it’s more about the rate of change than the absolute level.

cheesetrader May 30, 2014 at 2:00 pm

You DO realize that the world’s been around a tad longer than 10,000 years, yes?

The duration of human civilization is but a pimple on the ass of time

Rate of change is irrelevant – we have no records which cover anything with any sort of accuracy outside roughly 150 years. A few iffy proxies aren’t going to work – and those only go back a short while.

Zephyrus May 30, 2014 at 2:09 pm

In other words, you have no evidence that the costs of responding to rapid rates of change in world temperature are negligible. Okay.

cheesetrader May 30, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Costs? You never asked about costs. If you have a question about costs, feel free to ask it. You didn’t – you made statement about rate of change which I correctly challenged.

Zephyrus May 30, 2014 at 2:29 pm

cheesetrader, never in human history have carbon dioxide concentrations and temperatures risen as quickly as they are now. The records exist to show this, and they do show this. If you think they don’t, please provide a cite.

Pointing out that a billion years ago the climate was substantially different doesn’t provide any insight into how we should mitigate the costs of this kind of rapid climate change.

Dan Weber May 30, 2014 at 2:38 pm

Two billion years ago the atmosphere was majority CO2 and it wasn’t as warm as today.

Of course, the sun was 30% dimmer back then. It was that CO2 layer which let things be warm enough that cyanobacteria could evolve and spew out enough oxygen for higher life forms to come out. It only took 900 million years.

cheesetrader May 30, 2014 at 2:56 pm

@Zeph – actually you don’t have that set. You’ve got a few proxies, but you’ve nothing to compare to our current datasets. And the proxies, by nature (yes that was intended), simply aren’t going to be that high quality in terms of coverage or sensitivity.

Do we humans contribute to climate? Yes – of course – we’re part of nature. So do termites, cows, birds, volcanoes, that big yellow thing up in the sky, etc.

Is CO2 our primary contributer? Hmmmmm – not so sure actually – esp given the CO2 time lag, I often wonder if our biggest contributions lie elsewhere – like with deforestation, urbanization, agriculture and water movement/usage (canals, dams, etc)

Are we the primary driver of climate change? Color me highly skeptical. I’m pretty sure we didn’t cause the end of the last ice age.

Were I to speculate much, I’d posit human civilization is caused by global warming far more than human civilization causes global warming.

We won’t change each other’s mind – I recognize this – so I’ll let you have the final word here. I look at long-term trends and find much to be skeptical of. You see things differently. Cool.

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Were I to speculate much, I’d posit human civilization is caused by global warming far more than human civilization causes global warming.

Great comment.

If you really want to worry about something serious (and possibly inevitable), worry about when the current interglacial ends.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ice_Age_Temperature.png

Nathan W June 1, 2014 at 5:19 pm

The world is ancient.

Therefore we should do nothing in the present.

Just go with the flow.

The flow knows what is good for you.

The flow is good for you.

The flow …

Um, let’s take charge and take things somewhere amazing. What’s that mean? I dunno, that’s what democracy is for.

Chris S May 30, 2014 at 11:09 am

Carbon tax.

Zephyrus May 30, 2014 at 11:47 am

“Temperatures are flat” is meaningless without a time span, as you well know.

If you look over a three year time horizon, temperatures are increasing; if you cherry pick from 1998 to now, then yes, the rate of warming is within the margin of error. That’s all meaningless, though. Scientists are model temperatures over the scale of decades, not years. What you’re doing is equivalent to observing temperatures from April 3 to April 6, seeing no statistically significant warming, and then claiming that temperatures stay constant year-round.

You’re either ignorant of the basic science, in which case you shouldn’t be commenting here. Or a hack, in which case you’ll reply to this message and spout off some random factoid you picked up from a skeptic website without caring enough about actual science to both to understand it. Which is it?

TMC May 30, 2014 at 12:20 pm

“Temperatures are flat” is meaningless without a time span, as you well know.
Quite right – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Holocene_Temperature_Variations.png

“You’re either ignorant of the basic science, in which case you shouldn’t be commenting here.”

Don’t let the door hit you..

Zephyrus May 30, 2014 at 12:40 pm

Poor widdle baby is upset when someone calls him out on basic scientific ignorance.

Yes, temperatures have trends over thousands of years. We’re seeing swings on the scale of decades that typically happened over thousands of years. That’s costly. That’s the issue.

TMC May 30, 2014 at 1:11 pm

1. You did not call me out. Your ignorant reply was to someone else. (back to your reading comprehension skills)

2. Changes we have seen in the last decades are not unusual over the past several thousand years. Look at actual data once in a while.

Zephyrus May 30, 2014 at 1:36 pm

1. You suddenly started stalking me and throwing insults like “Jesus… you read and write like a 12 year old…. deep into the alarmist hive… BS to induce panic to generated grant money…”. That’s what I was referring to, and just because you’re upset someone poked a whole in your carefully maintained bubble of ignorance is no excuse for being a prick.

2. Cite a single span of three decades in the past ten thousand years where temperatures rose as fast as they have in the past three decades.

fwiw May 30, 2014 at 2:26 pm

I told you not to feed the trolls.

It’s not like they have any power, anyway. They’re dudes who spend their days commenting on an internet site; ya really think they have any say on public policy?

Li Zhi May 30, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Not to get into this flame war, but Zep, think about taking a breath and then deciding if this is discussion is worth it. Anyway, you mention something quite new to me: the idea that the RATE of [CO2] increase (as a proxy for Temperature as a proxy for climate change) is as or more important to our ECOLOGY than is actual [CO2], Temperature, or Climate.
Do you have any references explaining this? Its an interesting idea, having to do with response and latency I suppose. I do wonder even if you are correct, whether what is going to HAVE to be our response (a marginal change in the rate), will have any meaningful effects on cost. I wonder if any signal from changing a rate from x% a year to 0.98x is not going to be lost in the noise – even over time scales of centuries.
Its pretty clear that CO2 will increase Temperature, what isn’t clear at all is how its effects will impact cloud formation, and how dirty coal burning is currently reducing warming (particulates). The effects of the biosphere on atmospheric composition and particulates, as well as the (inorganic) effects of soil, deep sea, and tundra are poorly constrained in our best models. Hard for me to take them too seriously. (Given the fact that its the biosphere that made our atmosphere what it is, in the first place).

Zephyrus May 30, 2014 at 3:39 pm

Li Zhi: totally worth it. I love playing the contrarian. In practice, too, not just as a stance so I can pretend I’m poking the eye of the Man. And MR is a blog I read a lot, and I relish the chance to open up what was a giant, confused echo chamber.

As far as rate of change versus absolute level: well, I’m less talking about the environment and more talking about how we economically and socially respond to change. The term that drives global temperatures and ocean acidification is simply the absolute level of CO2 in the atmosphere. But the time it takes for us to change our physical and social infrastructure to account for these changes is a lot longer than the time for the global climate system to respond to changes in CO2 concentrations.

An illustrative thought experiment: imagine a mountain with a river flowing down its side with flow rate X. At the base of the mountain along the river there’s a town that derives all its economic value from water flow. Now let’s exogenously stimulate the system, so that water flow rate becomes 2X within a short period of time; however, the river also shifts the angle it flows until it flows down the opposite side of the mountain at the end of the period of stimulation. If the river had always been there and the town had developed alongside it, the town would be twice as rich. But because of the dynamics of the system, the town is now much poorer than it was even when water flow was X.

If that rate of change had been slower–on the time scale that the town reconstructs buildings and its physical and social infrastructure–there’d be no cost at all. The river would shift slowly, and the buildings that were further away would simply not receive upkeep, and those resources would be continually redeployed to build new infrastructure along the river in its constantly new position. By the time it reaches the opposite side of the mountain, the town is already there, and already twice as rich just by doing what it would do naturally.

Hopefully the analogy to climate change is easy to draw out on your own–labor and capital would gradually be redeployed instead of needing to be radically reconfigured. Avoiding those transition costs is hugely valuable.

derek May 30, 2014 at 9:53 pm

Are you sure about that? We can now get very precise temperature readings, and can measure precisely the variability of climate. We don’t know if this is new, because we haven’t been able to measure it before.

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 12:05 pm

1. You did not call me out. Your ignorant reply was to someone else. (back to your reading comprehension skills)

What can you say to someone who thinks the models are performing well? Even the IPCC no longer pretends that’s the case.

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/01/09/the-ipcc-discards-its-models/

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 12:13 pm

2. Cite a single span of three decades in the past ten thousand years where temperatures rose as fast as they have in the past three decades.

That’s just hilarious. I can’t decide which part is funnier, the part where you imply we have directly comparable thermometer records going back 10,000 years, or the part where you think a .1 degree per decade trend is “fast.”

http://www.drroyspencer.com/latest-global-temperatures/

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 3:10 pm

TallDave, I guess that means you have no evidence. Proxy records reproduce the instrumental records of the past couple decades; they show past temperatures as well with a sufficient degree of accuracy to make the comparison I request. And yes, 0.1 degree per decade is still significantly faster than historical records, and the “past several decades” I referred to have a much higher rate of change than that. But even your favored cherry-picked period where you choose the start of El Nino and then choose the low of a La Nina afterwards shows significant warming.

Stop lying.

Also: please provide a cite for your lie below that AGU, NASA, CRU all endorsed significant policy action on climate change. You provided two links and claimed two sources, but one is just a redirect to the the other, and it’s been entirely debunked; no, hand-drawn graphs in Newsweek that are simply sourced to CRU do not count as a scientific consensus. If you can’t provide that cite, retract your statement.

While you’re at it, do you really think editorials in the Journal of Parasitology and articles from the 1970s indicate there’s a large, 1300 paper consensus that climate change is fake?

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 4:16 am

if you cherry pick from 1998 to now

It’s always funny when people think the present is “cherrypicked.” It’s tantamount to saying “Why don’t those nutters choose a future date!” And yes, when you’re looking for the interval of no warming, you would start from the prior peak.

That’s all meaningless, though. Scientists are model temperatures over the scale of decades, not years.

Yes. Yes, they do. Like this scientist in 2008:

“The simulations rule out (at the 95% level) zero trends for intervals of 15 yr or more, ”

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/10/15/noaas-15-year-statement-from-2008-puts-a-kibosh-on-the-current-met-office-insignificance-claims-that-global-warming-flatlined-for-16-years/

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 6:08 am

Not-so-clever slight of hand there, TallDave. That ruling out is for trends of zero to negative temperature change over a span of 15 years. But you’re equating a decreased rate of warming from 1998 to the present with zero warming. That’s statistically very naughty and very deceptive. Even when cherry picking, there’s been a warming trend observed, though less so than the decade before.

And, yes, you are being a hack when you compare the temperature at the height of El Nino with the low of La Nina. Those are cycles that come and go, but in the long term those multi-year oscillations come out in the wash.

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 11:54 am

I don’t think you understand there has been zero warming for 17 years now.

Also, you don’t understand the concept of “longest interval.”

Seriously, start with the basics.

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 12:31 pm

Here, let me help you out a bit. I can see you’re quite upset, but this really isn’t all that complicated,

http://www.drroyspencer.com/latest-global-temperatures/

See that peak in 1998? Now draw a line to the present. Does it go up or down? Simple.

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 3:14 pm

In other words, you cherry picked a period that started at the height of El Nino and ended with the trough of La Nina. And you’re playing statistical games on top of it.

You really need better sources than email newsletters for your “scientific” thinking, TallDave. Have you even taken a real science class at university?

Also: please provide a cite for your lie below that NCAR, AGU, NASA, CRU all endorsed significant policy action on climate change. I know you provided the Steve Goddard link in several guises before, but you’ve put everything in gif format to make it difficult for readers to validate what you’re saying. I’ll point it out for everyone: you’re lying.

Your “NCAR endorsement” is a graph that appeared in Newsweek. It makes no claims about global cooling.

Your “NAS endorsement” is a hand-drawn graph that appeared in a popular science magazine. It makes no claims about global cooling.

Your “CRU endorsement” is… nonexistent. It does mention Hubert Long, who did predict global cooling. He does so on the scale of tens of thousands of years, however, not decades.

And AGU isn’t even mentioned on the page.

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 4:56 pm

Amazing. Again, a basic concept like “longest interval without warming” is just beyond you. Bye!

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 4:58 pm

Your “CRU endorsement” is… nonexistent.

Astounding. You’ve written this three times now. Read the link more carefully. Do you know what East Anglia is?

http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/1970s-ice-age-scare/

What a time-waster.

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 5:24 pm

Please provide a cite for your lie below that NCAR, AGU, NASA, CRU all endorsed significant policy action on climate change. I know you provided the Steve Goddard link in several guises before, but you’ve put everything in gif format to make it difficult for readers to validate what you’re saying. I’ll point it out for everyone: you’re lying.

You’ve been unable to simply point out a place where they endorsed anything. All you’ve done is point to a page which has a list of GIFs to newspaper editorials and a hand-drawn graph in Newsweek attributed to CRU. You insist on arguing that this is sufficient. In science, though, you can’t just bombard everyone with bullshit and expect them to buy it.

Your cultist reverence for what amounts to the cartoon scribblings of a corrupt hack do not make animated GIFs evidence of what you’re claiming. Text. Just provide the text. You run away from this and throw around insults, but for someone who thinks “the theory of creation actually had a much better scientific basis than the theory of evolution, for the creation model was actually better able to explain the physical and biological complexity in the world,” your accusation that actual scientists are anti-science is far too casually made.

The Anti-Gnostic May 30, 2014 at 9:59 am

“We are doing exactly what they asked us to do to get paid to reduce carbon,” Mr. Pagel said. “If somebody else believes in it enough to put up the money, that’s all I need to know.”

Who is “we” and where does their money come from? It’s unclear to me from the article.

AndrewL May 30, 2014 at 10:23 am

“we” I think refers to those people who accept the carbon credits to reduce CO2. The money comes from silicon valley CEO’s who want to fly around on their CO2 dumping private jets and not feel guilty about it.

Willitts May 30, 2014 at 11:29 am

Exactly. We are talking about the right to pollute. The buyers are signalling that they really dont care about the environment.

The Anti-Gnostic May 30, 2014 at 11:41 am

You understood my question, but to clarify, I should have written “they.”

Nathan W May 30, 2014 at 11:56 am

Here’s the idea.

Company 1) Software design. Today you pollute one million units of carbon from your servers, lights, etc. But you’re a software company and your main costs are people, not energy. You have zero choice, there is no way to reduce the energy from the servers given today’s technology. You want to expand, but you are capped at one million units.

Company 2) Millwriting firm. Today you pollute one million units of carbon. A lot of that cost is for heating in the winter. You are thinking of spending $100,000 to upgrade your shop to save on heating costs, because you know it will pay off over 20 years, but you’re just not sure. You are also capped at one million units.

Company 1 can transmit the desire to purchase half a million units of pollution rights at some price. Company 2, sees this offer and accepts it. For the convenience of the example, let us assume that the amount that Company 1 pays Company 2 is precisely the amount he needs to upgrade the shop to save energy on heating costs in the winter.

Or maybe the millwright moves to California because it’s warm there and he doesn’t need to heat the shop. He doesn’t mind using a fan in the summer.

Nathan W May 30, 2014 at 12:00 pm

And that’s why you do cap and trade instead of carbon taxes, because the company which can reduce energy consumption for the lowest price will be the one to sell credits. It’s a brilliant way to promote energy efficiency, never mind the gains for C02, the original reason to think it up.

Carbon taxes are easier to explain, and so are more likely to be politically viable, but after decades of Republicans beating the drum of the evils of taxes (unless used to pay for extremely costly overseas military adventures which are more likely to make the world hate America than get them on side), perhaps cap and trade is actually more politically viable.

TMC May 30, 2014 at 12:32 pm

Tax caps are less efficient. Company 1 wants to grow – 1 million units will cost $xx in taxes. No going through an exchange with finance folks skimming off the top, or politicians with set asides for donor industries.

Jay May 30, 2014 at 1:35 pm

Nice jab at the wars there, so no D’s voted for them lets just bash the R’s to make a point?

Li Zhi May 30, 2014 at 3:30 pm

But what happens when.if we want to remove some of the “credits” from the system? Isn’t any c&t strategy based on the assumption that the number of credits will either remain static (despite growing political pressure to print more “money”) or increase? How can you establish a “natural market” for an unlimited “resource”? So, we have to have government deciding on the limit to these credits. Seems to me the question is what do we want the politics to look like? Shouldn’t we expect much more corruption under C&T than under a simple carbon tax? How will the ‘checks and balances’ work when government policy on it becomes “inside baseball” and virtually opaque to the voter?

Jimbino May 30, 2014 at 11:12 am

Yo AndrewL,

It’s not the ones who fly around in private jets who dump CO2, but the woman who breeds and manages thereby to DOUBLE her carbon footprint. Would you mind exempting those of us from carbon tax who have not polluted the world with CO2-producing, water-wasting, energy-consuming and species-eradicating progeny?

Careless May 30, 2014 at 11:19 am

I do enjoy when people on an economics blog don’t understand how things like economy of scale and compound interest apply to other fields.

Willitts May 30, 2014 at 11:30 am

Another leftist misanthrope.

The Anti-Gnostic May 30, 2014 at 11:48 am

There is something to be said for this. Cities full of concrete and steel and internal combustion engines are hotter than farmland, and farmland is hotter than forest. More people = more cities and farmland. But the guys in the jets make their money from cities and farmland.

PepsiCo actually has a high-protein paste they distribute all around Africa, lest global consumption suffer.

cheesetrader May 30, 2014 at 1:41 pm

There’s always that Soylent product which has been making the rounds lately – sounds pretty nasty to me

Li Zhi May 30, 2014 at 3:32 pm

pink slime – WSJ says because of rising beef prices it has made a comeback!

Nathan W May 30, 2014 at 12:03 pm

True, but in a long run equilbirium, it would be the third child, not the first. But some people don’t have kids, so some people would need to have a third one.

8 May 30, 2014 at 12:59 pm

Native fertility is basically flat in the U.S. So really the increase in carbon from population is due to immigration, doubly so because in addition to increasing the U.S. fertility rate, immigrants are also increasing their carbon footprint when they move to the U.S.

Li Zhi May 30, 2014 at 3:39 pm

Oh, it is so silly to see arguments with a different (one could say aberrant) set of priors. If you have not contributed progeny, why on Earth do you think you have ANY right to include yourself in our species? You are a dead-end. A drone. Expendable. No offense. Lets face it, we have too many people, too many nukes, and too high a (global) birth rate. Now, anybody see any OBVIOUS way to solve all three problems at once? Reminds me of the idea that the Black Death improved technology since with fewer people they had to become more productive. It it time yet for a nuclear winter?

The Other Jim May 30, 2014 at 11:22 am

>“If somebody else believes in it enough to put up the money, that’s all I need to know.”

Yeah, California politicians are so thoroughly convinced that they are willing to put up OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY.

Soon they will be twice as convinced! And that’s all you need to know!

Nathan W May 30, 2014 at 12:04 pm

I could think of worse things to do with other people’s money than promote solutions which contribute to energy efficiency.

By the way, energy efficiency reduces costs. Reducing costs is good for profits. Higher profits means more hiring.

Forget tax cuts. We can efficient ourselves into the future :)

cheesetrader May 30, 2014 at 3:07 pm

This is actually a really good point – and has been a sore spot for me wrt to the Greens. They typically spend far too much time hectoring about environmental responsibility and mother earth and all that and far too little talking about how to save money. Usually when money is mentioned, it’s as an “Oh, btw….”. IMO, it’d be more effective the other way around.

Might I suggest a slogan like “Being Green means more Green in your pocket” or something catchy like that.

The Engineer May 30, 2014 at 11:41 am

How long before “Cap and Trade” goes in the direction of the ethanol mandate?

The ethanol mandate is an excellent example of how good intentions get distorted by rent seeking. What started as an innocent “oxygenated fuel” mandate grew into the monstrosity that we now have, distorting food markets and starving innocent poor women and children in third world countries.

Nathan W May 30, 2014 at 12:07 pm

It was a silly idea from the beginning. Real environmentalists knew it the moment someone pointed out that people alternatively eat that fuel.

Careless May 30, 2014 at 12:13 pm

Why isn’t it starving men, too?

cheesetrader May 30, 2014 at 2:06 pm

B/c patriarchy! obviously

Yancey Ward May 30, 2014 at 11:47 am

If Californians are willing to spend money on stuff that won’t stop or even greatly effect global warming, but can enrich people elsewhere in the country, who am I to say, “Stop!”? I have no doubt people will line up to take their money with all manner of “carbon reducing” ideas.

Nathan W May 30, 2014 at 12:09 pm

All those carbon reducing ideas will surely be the end of us all :) Probably many companies will have to close as a result of the efficiencies. You know, we are always fearful that energy demand will taper off, and we perhaps we will have to close down many plants to accommodate the efficiencies.

derek May 30, 2014 at 1:32 pm

I posit that the gizmo the farmer has installed will never in it’s operational life recover or diminish enough CO2 to offset what it took to manufacture it.

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 11:57 pm

I agree, let a thousand competing governments bloom.

Bill May 30, 2014 at 11:50 am

The hidden cost of anaerobic digester subsidy might be to increase farm size since there are economies of scale for these operations.

I think we need genetically modified cows that poop less.

Yancey Ward May 30, 2014 at 11:54 am

Nah, we need off-sets on cow shit. Maybe people in Texas can eat less chili by being paid by dairy farmers in Wisconsin.

Nathan W May 30, 2014 at 12:11 pm

It’s the bacterial colonies that help them digest the grass, not the pooping per se, that creates all the CH4 (methane).

If you can engineer a bacterial colony which does the same job, then you’re either a b/millionaire or the guy who ended life on earth with some horror movie virus (just kidding, probably they can research those ones easily enough without risk).

Careless May 31, 2014 at 12:48 pm

Several good reasons to redesign cows to be better able to digest corn. Maybe stick a pig-equivalent digestive tract in, when that’s technologically practical

Richard A. May 30, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Unlike the carbon tax, cap and trade is easy to game and easy to corrupt.

Nathan W May 30, 2014 at 12:14 pm

How will you game it? By waiting many years to invest in efficiency because you hope to buy credits later? Because you can get credits for efficiencies you already planed to invest in?

The second case will not be “new efficiencies” in the original setup, but in the long run how do you suppose you can game it? It’s not like we operate in wood stove economy. Companies know when and where they are spending money on energy.

But still, as a mental exercise, of course people should dream up every way they can imagine to game the system, so it can be set up in a way to make sure it doesn’t happen. How would you game the system?

Yancey Ward May 30, 2014 at 12:42 pm

You definitely win the award for most naive commenter here today.

Dan Weber May 30, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Nonsense, I’m sure if we just make the technocrats smart enough, no one can work around it.

A couple of NASA scientists made a video several years ago promoting the carbon tax and showing how offsets were used to abuse the system; in some countries they started producing CFCs precisely because they could get paid to stop.

I can’t find it now, but I’m sure someone else in this trainwreck can.

Richard A. May 30, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Carbon Tax vs. Cap and Trade
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVXSYIzh6Io

Li Zhi May 30, 2014 at 3:52 pm

Looked at video – only claims are made, zero substance, a minute long. Unless you’re looking for someone to confirm your already held belief that carbon tax is better than either C&T or regulation, without a shred of reasoning, don’t waste your time. (I am for carbon tax, btw, I just try to avoid wasting my time on hearing people make claims without adding any information to the debate).

whatsthat May 30, 2014 at 2:58 pm

Both market and price were established for SO2, how is the cap-and-trade on that going along?

Yancey Ward May 30, 2014 at 6:55 pm

Jeez, another moron that thinks SO2 and CO2 are remotely comparable.

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 12:39 am

Maybe they exhale SO2. Don’t be a racist human.

CMOT May 30, 2014 at 2:59 pm

I expect this will be exactly like Cash For Clunkers. While it was underway there were countless media stories that C4C was the smartest idea ever and was working even better than expected. And afterwards those involved with it begged to never be asked to speak of it again.

Come to think of it, that’s how Shovel Ready Projects went, the Reset With Russia, and the Obamacare rollout, …

Rich Berger May 30, 2014 at 3:30 pm

I see that Nathan W is this post’s Nick Bradley. Is there a dispatcher somewhere who hands out the assignments?

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 12:38 am

Carbon taxes still make no policy sense, since emissions controls today will have little effect on temperatures over the next 50 years, even if the IPCC models are totally accurate, which they appear not to be.

A tax on carbon-based energy just makes us all poorer.

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 6:15 am

That’s utterly incoherent: lower carbon emissions slow the increase in temperature, which is well attested to by a large consensus of scientists and scientific professional organizations. That’s something no one who even vaguely understands the policy and scientific dispute.

Notus May 31, 2014 at 7:20 am

Zephyrus – good work on this, although it’s an uphill battle.

As an aside, if you google TallDave, you’ll find he used to run a blog with a guy named Dean Esmay whose main purpose in life is to deny that HIV causes AIDS. That should tell you everything you need to know about TallDave’s connection with reality.

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 11:56 am

This is the part of the scientific method where we burn the heretics.

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 3:20 pm

That’s two times you’ve mentioned that heretic line so far. Amusing. So, mocking your line that “the theory of creation actually had a much better scientific basis than the theory of evolution, for the creation model was actually better able to explain the physical and biological complexity in the world” is burning a heretic; pointing out that claiming that “HIV does not cause AIDS” is insane is burning a heretic. Soon you’ll be claiming that it’s just as valid to claim that water fluoridation is a government conspiracy, or that tofu makes you gay… oops.

But, an aside that I’ve brought up several times and you’ve refused to address: one thing the scientific method does not involve is making explicit lies.

Please provide a cite for your lie that NCAR, AGU, NASA, CRU all endorsed significant policy action on climate change. I know you provided the Steve Goddard link in several guises before, but you’ve put everything in gif format to make it difficult for readers to validate what you’re saying. I’ll point it out for everyone: you’re lying.

Your “NCAR endorsement” is a graph that appeared in Newsweek. It makes no claims about global cooling.

Your “NAS endorsement” is a hand-drawn graph that appeared in a popular science magazine. It makes no claims about global cooling.

Your “CRU endorsement” is… nonexistent. It does mention Hubert Long, who did predict global cooling. He does so on the scale of tens of thousands of years, however, not decades.

And AGU isn’t even mentioned on the page.

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 5:01 pm

Dear God, are you confusing me with Roy Spencer now?

Why am I talking to a lunatic? Sheesh.

Enough internet for today.

Zephyrus May 31, 2014 at 5:25 pm

I’m mocking your line that criticizing the idea that “the theory of creation actually had a much better scientific basis than the theory of evolution, for the creation model was actually better able to explain the physical and biological complexity in the world” is burning a heretic. Do you even listen to yourself?

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 11:38 pm

Obviously I didn’t say anything about creationism or AIDS, and the cite I already gave clearly has representatives of NCAR, NAS, NOAA, NASA, and CRU all saying global cooling is a serious problem, so I’m going to leave further discussions with you to qualified mental health professionals.

Zephyrus June 1, 2014 at 12:36 am

As we’ve established, the cite you provided has nothing of the sort. It has GIFs and graphs in Newsweek articles. Repetition of a big lie doesn’t make it truth, though it does derail discussion.

And you certainly did say something about creationism: you claimed that criticizing it is tantamount to torturing and burning a heretic. Do you listen to yourself?

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 11:59 am

Do you know how much G7 emissions would change temperatures in 2100, even under the most lurid IPCC scenarios? It’s less than a degree.

You may want to Google “logarithmic effect.” I’ll wait…

Mesa May 31, 2014 at 12:53 am

Energy policy is better approached by aggressively investing in new technology rather than trying to decide which arm the country should tie behind its back and arguing ad infinitum about how it should be fastened there.

jdm May 31, 2014 at 7:40 am

Andrew Gelman has an excellent recent post on the “work” of the economist Richard Tol. Tol is the guy who resigned from the IPCC because he said the (tepid) policy summary was too alarmist.

I highly, highly recommend the exchange in the comments section between Gelman and Tol. Regardless of your views on climate change, you will find it interesting. After reading one or two comments by Tol, you realize he does not understand – at all – basic statistics. When you read a few more comments, you realize he does not even understand his own field. Incredible. (Needless to say, this guy is the climate denialist crowd’s favorite economist.)

http://andrewgelman.com/2014/05/27/whole-fleet-gremlins-looking-carefully-richard-tols-twice-corrected-paper-economic-effects-climate-change/

TallDave May 31, 2014 at 12:25 pm

This from the people who still think Marcotte has vindicated Mann.

Zephyrus June 1, 2014 at 11:52 am

TallDave ignores Tol getting destroyed–despite linking to him many times in this post–and tries to change the topic again.

You bailed on the discussion about your lie earlier that AGU/NASA/CRU all endorsed massive action to stop global cooling in the 1970′s; to reiterate for the people not paying attention, you claimed that they had endorsed it, while merely providing links to animated GIFS and a hand-drawn graph in Newsweek attributed to CRU. Can you stop running and evading, and either provide actual substantiation or admit you lied or didn’t understand basic science and reasoning?

Duracomm June 1, 2014 at 2:59 pm

“When they came out here and told us they were willing to send us checks, we were thrilled,” Mr. Pagel said.

That one sentence explains the primary reason boondoggles like the program described in the new york times article exist.

The dairy guy gets his check, terapass gets their checks, and uhaul gets their checks as more businesses move to Texas to escape california’s hostile business operating environment.

Lots of checks flying around but emissions are not reduced on a scale that would make any difference.

In fact the program may actually increase emissions by providing another source of financing for the dairy guy to expand his operation thereby increasing emissions.

Duracomm June 1, 2014 at 3:18 pm

The new york times article is yet another example of the never ending creation of ever more government programs to fix problems that were caused by other government programs.

Dairy production is highly subsidized. Ending the dairy subsidy would reduce excess dairy production and the associated emissions faster, with less cost and far more efficiently than the cap and trade program.

Unfortunately, ending government programs does not provide the opportunity for boodle that creating new ones does.

Which explains why it is not proposed more frequently.

Nathan W June 1, 2014 at 5:24 pm

I would like to explain how discussion of the last three seconds of my life should be used as the sole basis for understanding everything.

No, I should focus on ancient history, to the exclusion of anything that happened recently, in order to refute the relevance of anything that happened recently. (No, you’re wrong about what’s happening now because a billion years ago it was some other way).

Moreover, when discussing complex aspects of everything about my life, I would like to pick out a single variable (temperature) and then use any observation which does not conform to statistical prediction to refute anything anyone says if they disagree with whatever I say about the current state of knowledge on climate systems in general.

This way, the right wing and fans of oil or coal will be able to uphold and promote a high quality of dialogue regarding chemical reaction, generally referred to as burning something, which releases carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere.

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