Various New York Times columns, with reference to Stephens and Douthat

I few of you asked me about the Bret Stephens column.  I would have preferred something more specific and detailed on climate change uncertainty, but my main reaction was encapsulated by Chris Blattman on Twitter:

Bad sign for science if my impulsive thought is “so glad I don’t work in this area”

And yes, I blame both sides for that.

A related question is: how good is the social science in this area?  I would say “not so great.”  Try looking for good public choice treatments of how climate intentions end up translated into climate policy.  That is a remarkably important question, and yet it is understood poorly.

Or “how many of the people who make proclamations in this area have a decent understanding of Chinese energy and climate policy?”, and the answer is hardly any, even though that may be the most important topic in the area.  And I ask that question not only of the casual tweeters but also of the academics who work on climate change.  Follow Christopher Balding if you don’t believe me, and by the way praise to the highly rated but still underrated Matt Kahn.

In other words, yes we should do something but still yap less, study more.

How about Ross Douthat on Marine Le Pen?

The way I see it, the case for Le Pen is simply that it might force the (supposed) outsiders to “own” the euro and European Union, and that might be better for liberalism in the long run than having a France limp along under the probably not so popular Macron.  In my view, Le Pen has neither the means nor the inclination to actually pull France out of the EU or eurozone, and the whole thing has been a campaign stunt.  Of course I find it hard to estimate the probabilities here, and personally I reserve my political “rooting” for my classical liberal mood affiliations and also the Washington Wizards; I won’t support a candidate for reasons of n-dimensional chess, given that I am never the decisive voice.  So I’m not rooting for Le Pen, but if someone holds that “strategic” point of view I do think it is defensible, though I hope they are holding it with plenty of humility on the epistemic side.

I thought Ross’s column had the desired and necessary caveats, and furthermore he did not tell people to vote for her or root for her.  Rather than try to smear his piece with Nazi associations and the like, it is better to focus on why so many political parties in the West are falling apart.  And as for the unsavory associations, keep in mind that oft-praised American presidents have owned slaves, exterminated native Americans, turned back ships of Holocaust victims, and napalmed Vietnam.  That doesn’t provide an excuse for bad current behavior, but it does provide some context for the “how could you possibly…?” tendencies we all have.

I would not myself have written either column, but overall I say kudos to The New York Times.  It’s their readers I worry about.


The main problem with the European Union is that its leaders have turned so anti-European, as we saw with Ms. Merkel in 2015.

Always nice to hear the opinion of a non-European devotee of racial politics talk about Merkel. So here are a few of her (translated) words - '“It makes me a bit sad that precisely those who can consider themselves lucky that they have lived to see the end of the Cold War, now think that one can completely stay out of certain developments of globalization,” Merkel said, referring to the reluctance of some EU countries to accept refugees.

“It just strikes me as somehow very weird. And that’s why we have to keep talking about that, as friends,” Merkel said, speaking German, as she responded to a question from a Czech MEP on the refugee crisis.

“A rejection [of taking refugees in] as a matter of principle, that is — excuse me for being that blunt — that’s a danger for Europe,” Merkel said.


'Merkel lashed out at Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government, also for reasons related to Germany’s and her own history. Closing the borders completely would not work, she said: “The refugees won’t be stopped if we just build fences. That I’m deeply convinced of, and I’ve lived behind a fence for long enough,” she said.

“Maybe you can delay it for a couple of years. But even the GDR wall fell, and it fell 25 years ago, and we were all very happy. It just couldn’t be maintained. And so Europe won’t be able to transform into a fortress. It won’t work.”'

Clearly, an East German who doesn't believe in walls is anti-European - unlike the sort of Americans who seemingly has no problem with the idea of creating a Festung Amerika.

An East German who wants her country to be majority Muslim and Arabic speaking is about as anti-European as you could get.

In a sane world Merkel would be on trial.

'An East German who wants her country to be majority Muslim and Arabic speaking is about as anti-European as you could get.'

Hilarious - but then, I bet you are a believer in Steyn's fantasies too - 'There is Europe and there is "Europe," the fantasy kingdom wished into being by North American ideologues to turn their silly ideas into action movies.


'The champion of this "Eurabia" myth is Canadian Mark Steyn, who was once one of the world's best writers on musical theatre.

Mr. Steyn's argument is, as any serious demographer will tell you, completely false. I've avoided countering it because he has been the subject of a ridiculous hate-speech complaint before a number of Canadian human-rights tribunals. As a result, he deserved all of our support: The right to express hatred of people, ideas, groups or communities is fundamental and important.

Now that this is behind us - I hope - we can turn to the article, titled The Future Belongs to Islam. It is based on three mythic claims about Europe:

1. The Islamic baby boom. The great sine qua non of Mr. Steyn's argument is the idea that Muslims have more children than the rest of us. His article is based on a claim he has made repeatedly, including in a bestselling book, that Europe will have a plurality of Muslims, perhaps 40 per cent of the population, by 2020.'

The Muslims have two years to go from under 7% of Europe's population to 40%. Which could be a bit tough, based on this - 'In recent decades, the Muslim share of the population throughout Europe grew about 1 percentage point a decade, from 4% in 1990 to 6% in 2010. This pattern is expected to continue through 2030, when Muslims are projected to make up 8% of Europe’s population.'

'In a sane world Merkel would be on trial.'

For being excessively Christian, right? She actually seems to take that Christianity stuff seriously, even though any public choice economist of the Virginia School would undoubtedly tell you with confidence that the 'Christian' in CDU is just a ploy to gain more votes.

"She actually seems to take that Christianity stuff seriously, even though any public choice economist of the Virginia School would undoubtedly tell you with confidence that the ‘Christian’ in CDU is just a ploy to gain more votes."

They aren't as gullible as you.

Who said anything about gullible? I'm quite confident that the vast majority of CDU voters, members, and leaders are not Christian in any meaningful sense, except when talking about the special values of the Abendland. You know, when praising themselves for possessing the sort of kindness and charity which barbaric religions do not possess.

That Merkel seems to be genuinely motivated by a desire to act as a good Christian is hard to dismiss as an act at this point, particularly as her actions have cost her politically - that the CDU is a Christian party would require far more gullibility to believe. No one is taken in by that act.

"Clearly, an East German who doesn’t believe in walls is anti-European – unlike the sort of Americans who seemingly has no problem with the idea of creating a Festung Amerika."

Leftists build walls to keep people in, we build walls to keep people out. There's kind of a difference. And will you ever condemn Israel for it's wall?

Strange - here I was thinking that someone who knows what it is like to be protected from the scary menace of those who threaten a state according to ideologues has a better appreciation of how useless walls are, regardless of who designed those walls.

And who cares about Israel walls? They are no more eternal than the one that used to encircle Berlin, and no more of a solution to Israel's problems either.

But as a bonus question - why were the walls in Belfast built, and was that done by those interested in keeping people in or keeping people out?

Of course they called it the "anti-fascist protection wall" but the East German people knew what it really was. Though they did manage to fool some within American academia, my high school history textbook from the time period, which I still own, claimed that East Germany had a higher GDP per capita than Great Britain!

"And who cares about Israel walls? They are no more eternal than the one that used to encircle Berlin, and no more of a solution to Israel’s problems either."

I won't be holding my breath waiting for the Israelis and Palestinians to come together and tear them down.

"But as a bonus question – why were the walls in Belfast built, and was that done by those interested in keeping people in or keeping people out?"

Considering you can just walk through them freely, they can do niether. But hey, walls are Bad, so why don't you tear down your fences?

Strange - trying again - and now again, because it seems likely that the link to knoema is not allowed, for whatever reason

'but the East German people knew what it really was'

Festung DDR.

'claimed that East Germany had a higher GDP per capita than Great Britain'

Oddly enough, depending on just when that textbook was written, that could have been correct - the UK of the 1960/70s/early 80s was a true basket case, while the free energy provided by the USSR went a long way to making the DDR well off compared to the standards of COMECON.

Apparently, the UK per capita amount in 1980 was around 10,000 or 8,800 dollars, depending on dollar measure.

Though statistics for the DDR are not as easy to find, 9.800 dollars is the figure from here -

'I won’t be holding my breath waiting for the Israelis and Palestinians to come together and tear them down. '

Who said anything about them coming together? And for that matter, who said it would be either the Israelis or the Palestinians tearing them down in the future? Walls are essentially temporary, even on the scale of a single lifetime.

'Considering you can just walk through them freely'

In daylight, those peace walls with gates can be walked through at a gate, and nowhere else. Gates that are closed at night.

Still an argument to just use wikipedia for links - one never knows what links are not allowed here.

p_t2: I read six words. You're an idiot.

There were other options, including anti-human ones as well.

But I think it will work out fine, in particular if no one goes out of their way to make problems from it.

Assuming that the war in Syria does not end soon, it will not be long until we start to see relevant numbers on their participation/access in the labour market.

You are not going to like the future.

I would rather that results are better and not worse.

The problem is this: you want it to go bad because you disagree with the decision.

You can look those statistics up. Europe is importing a permanent class of net tax consumers.

Observation: You're at least 10 years early to know what the answer is. I.e., you're full of it. Do you know you don't know?

I am a professional in the social sciences of climate change. I also have a degree in the natural sciences. What Stephens wrote, and what Revkin said in his quote, it true as far as it goes. But, first, the overwhelming majority of policy recommendations that are based upon the best empirical evidence call for greater climate action worldwide and especially in the US. You'd be hard pressed to find an economist, for example, who calls for a price on carbon that is less that 25 USD / ton CO2. Some call for more. But that disagree is moot so long as there is (effectively) no price on carbon in the US.

Furthermore, what Stephens has written and said elsewhere regarding climate change is more than merely skeptical of the certainty, as he writes in this column. In the past, he has denied the human influence on climate. That is troubling.

Oh my God! Someone has questioned Holy Writ! Burn the heretic! Burn him now!

Why are you troubled by the perfectly normal working of science? There is virtually no evidence humans have had, or could ever have, an influence on climate. Even if there was, talking about it is how science works. There used to be a consensus around Newton. Many people were troubled when Einstein questioned it. So much the worse for them.

To clarify: I do not wish to stifle scientific dissent. The relevant difference between Einstein and Stephens's past writing is that the former acknowledge that he was suggesting theory that was contrary to the scientific consensus. I am supportive of someone who says, "I know that most climate scientists believe that humans have contributed significantly to climate change, but here is where I think they went wrong." In contrast, the latter (and you) misrepresented the state of scientific consensus.

A greenhouse gas is a gas that has the property of having a first-order effect of warming the atmosphere, in particular by allowing light energy to pass, but then 'trapping' heat of other wavelengths instead of letting it pass back through to space.

CO2 is a greenhouse gas.

We are putting more CO2 into the atmosphere.

Please present the logic whereby this does not lead to warming.

Empirically does it make a difference? There are jurisdictions where a carbon tax exists. Does it work as a policy?

When the price of something rises, do you expect people to consume more or less of it?

In a tax-neutral situation, this is a disincentize to energy waste and an incentive to energy efficiency.

So, if the tax reduction is on income, you can also ask the questions: from the employer's perspective "when something is a lower price, do firms tend to buy more of it" and also from the worker's perspective of selling labour, "when a higher real price is paid for something, does the supplier want to sell more of it?". For lack of a better guess, maybe you could assume that the employer and employee would on average share the benefit of the income tax reduction 50/50.

So, what do you mean by "worked"? Did it have an effect on reducing the amount of fossil fuels used? First, let us agree that the answer by econ 101 logic is necessarily yes. And then you can look at actual data and try to figure out confounding factors that prevent from having an empirical answer to "how much" which can then better inform cost/benefit considerations of a policy.

If you want to lower carbon emissions you have to limit the burning of fossil fuels, just like we limited the use of asbestos and lead. We didn't charge an asbestos-lead tax which would have been seamlessly passed on to consumers, lining a few pockets along the way.

The similarities I observe between your presentation of carbon emissions and asbestos mainly related to famed tobacco co misdirection and confusion.

So ... theoretically you could set quotas and have auctions, allowing efficiencies to come from the places where it would be cheapest. But, apparently that's too confusing for some people, so if there is to be a price on carbon, it seems it will come through some form of revenue-neutral tax.

You may have issue with what he has written in other places, but this column was entirely reasonable. I noticed the same thing about Andrew Revkin, who outside of the Times did not seem to completely agree with the alarm being sounded.

The trouble I have, and most of my friends with science backgrounds have, is that the science done would never fly in their fields. Climate science is mostly models and stats. Professional modelers and professional statisticians have been chief complainers about climate science because they see the flaws and shortcuts the climate guys are taking.

Most of the believers do not have a clue about the science behind it. I can talk to a sceptic about feedbacks and rates of change, but the believers have no idea about the science of it and go on religious rants. I usually end the conversation supporting a carbon tax because it cuts down on pollution. In their mind this includes CO2.

"But, first, the overwhelming majority of policy recommendations that are based upon the best empirical evidence call for greater climate action worldwide and especially in the US."

Hoe can there be greater climate action based on the empirical evidence when:

1) empirical measurements are significantly lagging modelled predictions

2) the IPCC has reduced its estimate of temperature sensitivity to CO2

3) the trend in studies is a further reduction in temperature sensitivity to CO2

Climate policy should be adjusting to less alarming empirical evidence. But it's not. Because this has become an ideological movement.

1) Are you referring to something more recent than the 1970s and 1980s modelling? Because theoretically speaking, you shouldn't be surprised if things might have improved in the 30-40 years since then. And please, no statistical frauds about high water marks in the temperature record..

2) So there will be more action if they say it's less relevant? If it should be lowered, please do two things, in the name of science: a) specify the current sensitivity it uses, and b) specify superior literature which justifies the use of some other number. Then, line up for your Nobel.

3) I think you're saying that they already revised downward. Which means that they already took corrective action about your complaint in 2), which you now then twist as evidence of further failures in the same direction.

Are you thinking for yourself?

Theory on the modern history of modelling accuracy in climate science

Event 1: Research in 1970s said some things, including some variety of estimates

Event 2: Later research showed that some of the more extreme estimates were extreme, and less likely than the extreme results people had thought it was.

Event 3: Now estimates are generally lower than some of the more extreme estimates in the 1970s.

Event 4: Someone claims that addressing the problem is evidence that nothing was done about the problem, and then calls other people religious nuts - some sheeple buy it.

There can be no doubt that warming is ocuring at a slow pace and that it will continue, as will natural variability of around the same magnitude.

There is zero evidence for warming past this slow pace as of yet, however the current scientific consensus is hyped as claiming that warming is "going hyperbolic" as we have new records every year. Clearly, any upward drifting signal is likely to reach new highs periodically.

Additionally, breathless reporting of any **negative** related weather news is reported as being related to this modest warming. No potential positive effects are considered.

Finally, scientists are not forthcoming about the shortcoings of forward looking climate models, which are manifest.

This leads to a natural skepticism - possibly beyond which is justified.

The sociological questions are twofold: if we are looking at slow warming over long periods of time with modest effects, will most people elect to reduce their current standard of living to change this? If so will the coordinated global action necessary occur?

Most likely the answers to these problems will be technological not political or via economic policy.

It's not science. It's "religion."

Plus, the proposed cures suck.

Higher gas/electric/home heating oil prices and trillions $$$ in green graft are positives for the likes of jet-setting DiCaprio, Algore, Elon Musk; not so much for the dying middle class.

Keep it up. President Trump will carry 48 states in 2020.

"...Trump will carry 48 states..."

Hoooo aahhh!

In the past, he has denied the human influence on climate
I doubt this. Please cite a reference.

'And yes, I blame both sides for that.'

Of course you do.

'but also of the academics who work on climate change'

Why should any of the people working at the National Snow and Ice Data Center care about Chinese policy? I recognize that no member of the GMU econ dept. can ever afford to simply accept empiricism as a guiding principle when looking at a question such as climate change, but the NSIDC works with empirical data to describe a portion of the world we live in - 'The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) supports research into our world’s frozen realms: the snow, ice, glaciers, frozen ground, and climate interactions that make up Earth’s cryosphere. NSIDC manages and distributes scientific data, creates tools for data access, supports data users, performs scientific research, and educates the public about the cryosphere.'

Unlike the sort of academic found at a public policy institute, these academics are simply doing their best to collect and distribute data without any concern about policy connected their actual work, which is available for anyone to inspect.

'yes we should do something but still yap less, study more'

Best satire on the web.

‘And yes, I blame both sides for that.’ - "Of course you do."

A fair criticism. Rather than vaguely mentioning China, why not remind us of what every good MR reader should know?

"The most recent data show reductions in coal use in China for the third year in a row."

Is it because the datum is too progressive?

Since I'm not honestly sure what the China reference is to, that point concerning the reality that empirical data collection and distribution is not about policy, it is about empirical data was intended to say that what China is doing is not important, and should not be important, to those who actually collect and distribute data.

That is one of the real problems of this 'debate' - the idea that empirical reality is somehow a political construct. The Dutch, to give one concrete example, do not care about the why of the long observed rise in sea level, though they are clearly interested in accurate forecasts. What they are concerned about is the ability of their country to handle a higher sea level, at the most pragmatic civil engineering perspective possible.

The climate changes, but simply shutting down those studying it because they are seemingly part of the green menace seems remarkably stupid. We have a wealth of real or near real data, and yet, instead of encouraging its collection and distribution, there seems to be a generation long concerted attack on that very idea within the English speaking world.

One old argument, I made it even, was that it was foolish to do unilateral carbon policy if "China is building X new coal plants per year." Conversely though, when China acts to reduce carbon intensity, that is good news, and an indication that multilateral policy is possible.


Tyler is well read on science and economics. He should have an idea of the science and confidence. He should have an idea of the best economic policy to match that science and confidence.

He should be judging commentators high and low by how far they are from that best-guess policy. By how accepting they can be of that best-guess policy.

I don't think it matters if someone also thinks granola cures cancer, or that free markets produce universal happiness, as long as they can engage with science and policy.

But that's not Tyler's thing. He likes to be off the chessboard, so to speak. He likes to act as if he has no interest himself, and the facial contortions of the players are more interesting than the outcome.

If you think the outcome matters, that's frustrating.

Tyler is well read on science? When did this happen?

Of all the books he has listed under the "Books I'm reading" posts have any been a science book? They seem to be 90% history, politics, literature or travel/food.

'He should have an idea of the best economic policy to match that science and confidence.'

Nobody in Prof. Cowen's specific position at GMU and the Mercatus Center can ever afford to advocate the economic policy that is already approved of by those who know the results they want beforehand. Nobody - at least back in the 1980s and early 1990s, when I worked in the GMU PR dept.

'He should be judging commentators high and low by how far they are from that best-guess policy.'

No, a person in Prof. Cowen's specific position at GMU and the Mercatus Center is judging using a scale concerning policy that is already pre-formed.

'He likes to act as if he has no interest himself'

You haven't been reading very closely - the non-stop plugging of his books is a real tip off this is not true. And Prof. Cowen is the man advocating for the creation of favelas in the U.S. three books ago - really.

'If you think the outcome matters, that’s frustrating.'

Science is not about outcomes in a policy sense, and confusing those two is a real problem. And again, speaking as someone who worked at GMU, people like S. Fred Singer were at the forefront of creating this mess - for very large pay checks.

In an ideal world the science defines, to some level of confidence, the reality. Then the policy is designed for that reality. If scientific understanding changes, iterate.

I agree that many "see the policy coming" and so attempt to ignore (or now block) the science, and that is a problem. They try to get in front of policy by distorting the reality.

I have no idea whether "GMU and the Mercatus Center" have a policy mandate to aid in that deception, but I certainly hope not.

Conversely I'd argue that people wanting a carbon tax or something like it (including myself) stick way too much to rhetoric constrained by the most probable outcome of continued green house gas increase. Goals are set to avoid the most-likely outcome of the most-likely greenhouse gas emissions trajectories... I'm more worried about the long tail since this is a planet-scale experiment that we won't get to run again if we don't like the results.

This can be taken into account through risk aversion and equity weighting, at least in principle. These, along with inter-generational discount rates, are both very important and subjective. Estimates of the optimal carbon price thus vary widely, even when based upon the same climate models.

Subjectivity kills this approach. Can come with with a most-likely scenario that's tens of trillions of dollars in either direction with reasonable-ish inputs on a 50-year timescale... although in estimates that come down opposed to a carbon tax I've never seen anyone put as much emphasis on the projected value of keeping easily accessed fossil fuels in the ground as they do on the value of slowed economic activity due to carbon taxation.

You'd think you could look at business activity (e.g. insurance rates), but the timescale of climate change is too slow to matter on many relevant business timescales... see Buffet's comments that climate change is real but that it doesn't affect Berkshire's insurance holdings.

I don't think anyone's made a long-tail argument against carbon taxation... what's the low probability risk? Possibly you could argue it increases the chances of world war (by pitting petro states and polluters against everyone else), but so does not do anything (conflicts over fossil fuel supplies; climate change inducing instability).

See e.g.

I agree that long tail risks are the most relevant part of the climate change discussion, but people are generally very bad at responding rationally to long-tail risks. This is empirically true in decisions of individual economy, and recent empirical evidence (2009 financial crisis, e.g.) indicates to me that the same holds true on the societal level.

This is why pieces like that NYT editorial completely miss the point and don't add usefully to the discussion. When we focus on the facts that the models are uncertain, that should increase our fear of a long-tail event not decrease our fear because the median outcome might not be so bad.

I really want to see someone borrow the point I make against the CO2 = plant food argument (aka "climate change won't be so bad for everyone what about the positive effects"). We have the technology to blow up the moon. It would have positive effects for some. Why don't we do it?

They won't use it because it's a pretty dumb point. CO2's positives counteract some of the negatives and should be considered in the math.

Much smaller tides is a positive consequence for many. Shorter days and climactic effects from other orbital changes will doubtless benefit some.

I'm fairly confident this is all outweighed by raining death on the earth, amongst other things, but it would be short-sighted not to address both sides of the argument. Until we're 100% confident in a cost-benefit analysis on an infinite timescale showing it's a bad idea, we should proceed with blowing up the moon.

I don't know what you are arguing for, but you have convinced me.

You are a raving lunatic and nothing you say should be considered.

Thanks for making that clear.

If that were the case, then yes. I've read without the moon that human life was not possible though.

@derek -- One argument against greenhouse gas mitigation is that increased greenhouse gas concentrations will in some respects make the earth a better place to live. Blowing up the moon is no less a feat of human engineering than increasing greenhouse gas concentrations... it's only fair to consider both sides of the argument. Ditto for other irreversible-or-prohibitively-expensive-to-reverse geoengineering experiments.

@TMC -- I suspect you're right that the immediate consequences of blowing up the moon would be difficult to survive, but I don't think the science is settled.

If you actually think we have the technology to "blow up the moon" it's hard to take anything else you say seriously. Anyone who thinks that must have intuitions about physical phenomena that are so in conflict with reality that it's hard to imagine having a sensible discussion about climate with them.

Admittedly we'd have to dedicate most of human output to manufacturing nuclear bombs for a very long time. There's a lot of more realistic arguments I could choose but I'm very fond of this Mr. Show sketch -

We could bombard the surface of the moon with nukes, but as far as tides go there would be no measurable change.

This is fun.

No one believes your sensational claims, so you want to be more sensational? I think I was part of the first generation taught this in schools, and we were told the Great Lakes would dry up by the 2020s and all the forests would be dead.

How far back is this anecdote? Hansen's 1988 model turned out to be more or less correct*; models have since become more sophisticated but are fundamentally similar.

There were definitely some extreme claims in that era that probably wouldn't have come to pass even if greenhouse gases had increased more than they did. I'm skeptical that specific predictions about great lakes or himalayan glaciers or whatever turning out to be wrong negatively affects support for greenhouse gas mitigation... I bet the rhetorical power of over-specific predictions outweighs any negative effect when predictions don't pan out 20 years later.

*The model was correct, not the predicted temperatures; all scenarios considered in that paper overestimated CH4, N2O, and CFCs. CFCs are especially important (not as a GHG now, but in the model scenarios that assumed a continued exponential increase rather than the global ban that happened it was VERY important).

What, 20 years ago? Seems about right. Overly-sensational claims fall into "boy who cried wolf" territory.



A gradual warming of a couple degrees can cause some trouble, but it's not a catastrophe. But we're monkeying with a big complicated system we don't understand very well in terms of CO2 levels, temperatures, ocean currents, and ocean acidity, and there's not some guarantee from God that it will all work out for us. I think I'd like to see a substantial amount of research being done on serious geoengineering proposals, just in case things go a lot worse than the middle-of-the-road projections.

Rhetorically, this makes no sense. We have monkeyed around with natural systems since before we understood writing. That's where all domesticated animals and domesticated plants come from, not to mention our endless fields of tilled land, our mines, our....etc.

I mean, I get the point, and I don't entirely disagree, but this should be expressed in terms of likelihood and costs. And these costs should be consistent: if you think we should use a 1% discount rate for climate effects in 2100, you should use the same discount rate with regards to current Medicare spending vs. infrastructure spending. And if you are worried about changing our climate in unforeseen ways, "Chesterton's Fence" should scare the living hell out of you.

Just ban or limit coal-fired plants. Pass a law that says cars can burn gas at this rate and no more. Only so many airplane flights a year. Only so many container ships chugging back and forth. Aren't all the equations worked out to get to an acceptable ppm? Or is this all more about creating non-falsifiable computer models to keep the grant money flowing?

Any 'carbon tax' will just be seamlessly passed on to consumers and eventually lead to regulatory capture.

Pass a carbon tax that mandates it be returned, 100%, as a flat check to all citizens and permanent legal residents. Finance the administration out of unclaimed/returned checks. Little opportunity for regulatory capture. Phase in over a few years in order to get data needed to estimate the right rate and give the losers in this scheme (say, independent truckers) time to adapt. Similar have a carbon important tax on all nations without a similar scheme; make it a few points more than necessary; rebate that revenue, too.

Corporations don't pay taxes; they collect taxes. We banned lead in fuel and paint; we didn't tax it.

Climate change prevention or slowing is a global task and policy should take this into account.

In contrast climate change adaptation is local. Sea level has gone up between 8-10cm since hurricane Andrew. Florida's policys is to provide home insurance insurance by the government if private insurers refuse to. Do actuaries need to understand Chinese policy for this?

Sea levels are rising at 3.4 mm/yr for the past 150 yrs or more. One inch every 25 years. Just do what people did 150 years ago (when they didn't even notice it) and you'll be fine.

'Just do what people did 150 years ago (when they didn’t even notice it) and you’ll be fine.'

You mean dedicate themselves to ensuring that their land would not be threatened? But then, what would the Dutch know about sea level and its importance.

Thanks for making my point. The Dutch were able to accommodate, and most the rest of the world didn't even notice anything.

Accomodate by using large amounts of resources over the longer term, looking several generations into the future, and making plans based on reality, not wishful thinking.

hahahaha, how many millimeters does your inches have?

We are living within a two million year cycle of severe ice ages, of which the Holocene warming in the last 10,000 years has permitted an explosion of human civilization.

A moderately warming planet is beneficial for life. Ice ages are mass death. We are planning to spend trillions to prevent the former and encourage the latter.

moderately.......if only.

Natural systems are non-linear, heterogeneous and dynamic. "Warmer" means more energy in the atmosphere, not an average of 0.05 degrees more on a certain location during the whole year. More energy on the poles seems to be slowing jet-streams making the climate on the lower latitudes (40-50°) more stable: cold, dry or hot periods can extend for weeks instead of days. Closer to the Equator, more energy means more winds.

It's not the end of life on Earth, but things will change. The first one is that land price/value may vary according to future events.

Douthat's column in one line: Yes she's a fascist, but at least she's competent.

Conservatives complain about being stereotyped by liberals, but they really don't help themselves.

I'm curious, does anybody know if the Democratic party was constantly tarred as the party of slavery???

Ms LePen seems to be doing her level best to extirpate the demons of anti-Semitism from her party. she should be given the benefit of the doubt.

Labour seems to have an anti-Semite problem, they aren't being tarred with it.

'if the Democratic party was constantly tarred as the party of slavery'

Of course - from before the Civil War up to the Civil Right Acts of Johnson. This is not a surprise, is it?

>I’m curious, does anybody know if the Democratic party was constantly tarred as the party of slavery???

You mean, just because they owned slaves and started a massive war to legally keep them? I'm not sure. They don't seem to brag about it any more.

Yet, the way she chooses to "extirpate the demons of anti-Semitism" is by making the bizarre claim that the Vichy regime was "not France." This is a cheap way of minimizing the history of anti-Semitism and its role on the political right from the Dreyfus affair up to her own father and party today.

Look if this is your complaint (it's not clearly or you'd understand the context of that claim) then take it up with deGaulle and every French leader until slimy Chirac.

The problem isn't LePen. It is the utter fecklessness of the middle.

The great hope is now a socialist banker. He's cute. I would wager that we will see photos of him with no shirt. All the middle age female journalists and government workers will swoon and vote him in.

And yes that is the best argument these vacuous twits have against nascent fascism.

Also, he married his High School rapist. So he's got that going for him.

Entirely incorrect characterization. Le Pen isn't a raving lunatic and Europe's problems are much worse than America's. That's the one-line summary of his column.

Douthat channeled his inner Varoufakis: Workers united can defeat the German oppressor!!!

"oft-praised American presidents have owned slaves..."

Indeed, Clinton opened her 2016 campaign at a site celebrating a president who interned an ethnic minority in prison camps.

Close - FDR was an American president who deprived American citizens of their liberty and property without due process of law. Shame about the 'ethnic minority' qualification, as a president deciding which aliens can and cannot be imprisoned is fully within the rights that the Trump Administration claims..

American citizens turns to aliens pretty fast there, huh? And no one is imprisoning them, they are being sent back home.

You seemed to have missed the point. FDR's crime were the actions taken against American citizens, not an 'ethnic minority.' As the Trump Administration continues to argue, Roosevelt's actions against non-citizens were completely fine and well within the powers granted the president.

In other words, a good Trump supporter should be encouraged that rounding up the undesirable seems to be beyond partisanship when looking at the actions of a president. As for that part about American citizens? Easily dismissed by calling them an ethnic minority, undoubtedly.

Ok. Thought you were going the other way on that. Fair comment.

p_t, I have no idea what you're trying to argue, but pretending that Japanese-Americans were not an ethnic minority simply makes you sound crazy.

"And as for the unsavory associations, keep in mind that oft-praised American presidents have owned slaves, exterminated native Americans, turned back ships of Holocaust victims, and napalmed Vietnam." Amazingly, not quite all of them were Democrats.

The Southern Strategy was LBJ's. What the Republicans did in response to LBJ wasn't strategy -- it was all they had left to work with.

Had LBJ not tried to be the next FDR with his very own war, the Southern Strategy that the GOP gets credit for never would have worked.

'The Southern Strategy was LBJ's

Nixon would be surprised to hear that. To quote his political strategist Kevin Phillips 'From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don't need any more than that...but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That's where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.'

You might be able to argue that by granting civil rights to African Americans, LBJ enabled the Republican southern strategy, but he certainly did not create it. The idea that the only thing the Republicans had going for them in the south was racism seems to be a strange defense, regardless of how empirically based that might be.

Of course, in Douthat's telling of it, the problem with the French (well, a problem with the French) is their Godlessness. It's no coincidence that Paul's best known and most important Epistle was addressed to the Galatians, who were being misled by the Judaizers in their midst. There's no Grace for Gentiles who observe Jewish law. If as some historians believe the Galatians descended from one or more of the lost tribes of Israel, would it not be natural to observe Jewish law? And is it any wonder then that the French would be confused, their identity split between the God of Vengeance and the God of Grace. But all is not lost, for the French (and the Germans and the Americans) have a contemporary guide to a righteous path, the Epistle of Tony, which, like Paul's Epistle to the Galatians, is written by a pagan who late in life experienced a conversion to the God of Grace. Behold:

I thought his letter to the romans was his most important epistle?

Hoosier - Galatians is, for some (not all) Protestants, the most important. The freedom from Judaizers which Paul talks about in that genial epistle is taken by many Protestants as the best scriptural support for their basic freedom to interpret - on their own and in their own hearts, with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (and with the enduring saving power that Jesus provides to those who believe in Him and proclaim his Name) - the rest of the Bible. I personally think no one epistle is more important than any other, as we are all, one hopes, going to have the Bible memorized anyway within a week of entering Heaven. From that point of view, the important thing to remember is that all Paul's epistles are addressed to individuals or individual churches, and it is not for us to say whose problems and confusions are more important. For all we know, the greatest heroes of the Old Testament were the barely mentioned midwives of Moses or some obscurely mentioned soldier that followed Saul and then followed David. Anyway, while I believe there is no scriptural support for a claim that we are all "equally" loved by God and all "equally" important to God, that is God's prerogative, not ours; similarly, All of scripture is written for our edification. Even the genealogies and the slow historical and temple chronicles. By the way, I agree that Romans is generally considered the epistle of Paul's that has the most to say, and thus is most commented on. As for me I am a big fan of Philippians - you can tell Paul had lived a hard life and the Philippians seem to have caused him less concern than any others of his friends, it is a very comforting work from that point of view. Of course they are all gone now, Paul, the Philippians, and for all practical purposes ancient Phillippi itself, including everyone that anyone who lived there ever knew or card about in this world - but gone to a better place, one hopes.

" It’s their readers I worry about."

True, but not unlike the election of Trump, these columns piss of all the right people. NYT readers hate these columns because they are reasonable. To acknowledge reasonableness in any of their enemies, even just a little, requires jihad.

When Tyler blamed "both sides" he made a version of your error.

You both devalue truth.

Like a true jihadist.

If I say "truth" and you say "jihadist," which are you?

"turned back ships of Holocaust victims"

Why do you have to virtue signal with this fake news? All that happened is a ship full of German Jews in 1939, when there was no "Holocaust" occurring, was denied entry into the United States. They were eventually provided with refuge, in Britain, France, the Netherlands, and Belgium. It is true that following the German invasion of those countries some of the refugees would be killed, but blaming America for that would be like blaming Israel whenever some genocide happens in Africa, because they refuse to admit African "refugees."

'All that happened is a ship full of German Jews in 1939, when there was no “Holocaust” occurring, was denied entry into the United States.'

Almost as if the Nuremberg laws never existed, or that Nazi ideology was somehow unknowable - 'At the annual party rally held in Nuremberg in 1935, the Nazis announced new laws which institutionalized many of the racial theories prevalent in Nazi ideology. The laws excluded German Jews from Reich citizenship and prohibited them from marrying or having sexual relations with persons of "German or related blood." Ancillary ordinances to the laws disenfranchised Jews and deprived them of most political rights.

The Nuremberg Laws, as they became known, did not define a "Jew" as someone with particular religious beliefs. Instead, anyone who had three or four Jewish grandparents was defined as a Jew, regardless of whether that individual identified himself or herself as a Jew or belonged to the Jewish religious community. Many Germans who had not practiced Judaism for years found themselves caught in the grip of Nazi terror. Even people with Jewish grandparents who had converted to Christianity were defined as Jews.

For a brief period after Nuremberg, in the weeks before and during the 1936 Olympic Games held in Berlin, the Nazi regime actually moderated its anti-Jewish attacks and even removed some of the signs saying "Jews Unwelcome" from public places. Hitler did not want international criticism of his government to result in the transfer of the Games to another country. Such a loss would have been a serious blow to German prestige.

After the Olympic Games (in which the Nazis did not allow German Jewish athletes to participate), the Nazis again stepped up the persecution of German Jews. In 1937 and 1938, the government set out to impoverish Jews by requiring them to register their property and then by "Aryanizing" Jewish businesses. This meant that Jewish workers and managers were dismissed, and the ownership of most Jewish businesses was taken over by non-Jewish Germans who bought them at bargain prices fixed by Nazis. Jewish doctors were forbidden to treat non-Jews, and Jewish lawyers were not permitted to practice law.'

None of that constitutes a holocaust. Indeed, some of those laws had American analogues.

Again, pogroms, arbitrary confiscation of Jewish assets, mass deportations, and arbitrary imprisonment in concentration camps were all underway in 1938 and 1939 and have no American analogues. Adolf Eichmann's job during this time was to make life as miserable as possible for the Jews of Vienna and then "help" them leave the country, seizing most of their assets in the process.

'None of that constitutes a holocaust'

Just its unmistakable overture - why do you think those people were fleeing? Europe has a long and ugly history when it comes to massacring Jews, after all. But please spare us from explaining that the 1941 Einsatzgruppen weren't part of the Holocaust either, since they did not use poison gas in concentration camps.

This is a very tendentious summary that omits important context. By 1939, German Jews were being subject to pogroms and extreme intimidation and harassment by the Nazis. Those who lived outside of Germany had been rendered stateless while Jews who were living in Germany as foreign residents were being deported back to their countries of origin. The message was clear that the situation was very dangerous for Jews in Germany or in Nazi-allied countries and the whole point of the episode is that other countries would not get together and share the burden of providing refuge to Jews.

Yeah, because Germany went on to carry out industrial-scale genocide. Had there'd been no Holocaust, you'd never know the story. There was no Holocaust in 1939.

'you’d never know the story'

Just like those unknown Jim Crow laws in the South, right?

'There was no Holocaust in 1939.'

And yet, there had been Kristallnacht in 1938. Which included the rounding up and imprisoning of 30,000 German Jews in concentration camps. And is considered, as a scholarly consensus, to be the clear start of the Holocaust. Just in case the sight of a 1,000 synagogues going up in flames wasn't a clear beacon of what would follow. The Nazis were not exactly subtle when it came to their racial ideology, after all.

Of course, Stephens' top priority is limited government, so he tailors his reasoning with regard to climate change to fit that priority. As Jonathan Chait inconveniently points out, climate scientists can be wrong by underestimating climate change. Chait: "There is, they reckon, about a 10 percent chance of a temperature increase exceeding 6 degrees Celsius, or 11 degrees Fahrenheit. That would be a civilizational catastrophe, orders of magnitude more dangerous than the likely warming scenarios, and potentially on a scale that could threaten human life. . . . Stephens’s column does not engage seriously with either climate science or distributional probability. He uses most of his limited column space to argue anecdotally. That is an approach that makes sense if your highest priority is limited government, and you are attempting to reason backward through the data in a way that makes sense of a policy allowing unlimited dumping of greenhouse-gas emissions into the atmosphere. That is a tic of American conservative-movement thought — the conclusion (small government) is fixed, and the reasoning is tailored to justify the outcome."

"As Jonathan Chait inconveniently points out, climate scientists can be wrong by underestimating climate change."

They could be, but right now their models run 95% too hot, so erring on the side of caution would be to go the other way.

Except for the trend in the Arctic, it appears - maybe you should be reading some actual empirical data? This is a good monthly source -

Would you fly in an aircraft with a 10% probability of it crashing?

I'd surely not ride in an aircraft with a 95% chance of crashing.
"During all periods from 10 years (2006-2015) to 65 (1951-2015) years in length, the observed temperature trend lies in the lower half of the collection of climate model simulations, and for several periods it lies very close (or even below) the 2.5th percentile of all the model runs. Over shorter periods, such as the last two decades, a plethora of mechanisms have been put forth to explain the observed/modeled divergence, but none do so completely and many of the explanations are inconsistent with each other."

And Judith Curry believes in GW.

Lots of effort has been devoted to finding out why the models don't accurately predict the future.

The answers of that research is even more alarming. For example, the addition of CO2 from burning fossil carbon should increase net energy in the atmosphere, but a larger part of that CO2 has gone into the waters where it "turns to acid" which kills corals than predicted in the model used to write computer programs. Further, the models do not include the high levels of global cooling pollution coming from China and India, ie, the SOx emissions that helped cause drought in Africa until the US and Europe drastically cut SOx emissions.

SOx emission occur naturally from some volcanoes which have erupted periodically, and caused global cooling. Eg, the 1883 Krakatoa eruption. It global cooling that followed is well known and accepted as caused by Krakatoa.

"We compare the range generated using EPPA and these formal uncertainty techniques to the emissions scenarios reported in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES). We argue that the uncertainty approach we employ provides a basis for estimating the likelihood of emissions falling outside a given range. Our scenarios when used as input to climate models thus advances the goal of providing probabilistic statements about climate change whereas the SRES scenarios do not provide such a basis." ---

In other words, the paper shows the models used by the IPCC produce predictions that are inaccurate because they fail include the harmful global cooling pollution.

Now, unless you cheer China and India for making their air so harmful and want the US to pollute the air you breathe as much or more than they have, ending the SOx, NOx, et al global cooling pollution in China will spike global mean temperate quickly.

But it will do nothing to bring back the corals which are a critical factor in Ocean food production and oxygen generation.

Is this numerology what Curry's decided to do for the next few years until it's been long enough that she can recycle arguing that there's a pause in global warming from 2015–X now that the 2008–X "pause" has ended?

The first figure in that link is flawed in many ways that have been pointed out elsewhere. As for Curry's newer contributions, this is the only place I've ever seen a time series plotted with "trend length" on the X-axis. It's a laughable ploy to lie with the data by emphasizing recent (pre-2015) trends... which is exposed when you recalculate it using the most recent data: (compare to Fig. 3 in your link). Does this mean the last 10 years show 0.04 C/year warming and we're really in outside of the 95% CI on the high end??? Of course not.

By the way, by mid-December 2015 it was pretty obvious how incorporating that years' data would show how ridiculous this whole approach is... good thing they got out their analysis in time!

"They could be, but right now their models run 95% too hot, so erring on the side of caution would be to go the other way."

Your evidence?

And do not point to opinion that is cherry picking data points or to ad hominen attacks.

And tell, me, if Canada gets warmer, will the sun shine on average more hours per day to match the hours of sun in Florida or Virginia in 1900?

Ie, given the increased mean temperature in Florida today compared to 1900, does the sun rise earlier and set later?

Seems like projection. From the conservative side, liberal "solutions" to global warming are solutions they would endorse whole-heartedly even if there were zero global warming. I'll give credit some of the carbon tax approaches, though.

Most of what Stephens said seem to be, "Well, there are uncertainties and probabilities and statistics involved, so we don't know anything." That doesn't make much sense.

Social objective functions.

Don't get lost in the details of the math. The point is what this reflects about evaluating different types of societal objectives.

E.g.: maximize power of king; maximize average wealth of citizens; maximize the income of the poorest person, etc. It can get much more complicated conceptually than that with some pretty simple mathematical forms.

Absolutely perfect, and (glances at watch) - right on schedule.

The NY Times, famously 100% certain [like - what is it the article says about those who are 100% certain - "a fanatic, a thug, the worst kind of rascal"] about immigration and its 100% positive effects, on the environment, on the culture, on other countries, on the wages of the working class, on the underclass, on the rule of law ... debuts its new thinking on climate change.

Because environmentalism is not sufficiently humanist, it is not progressive, it is about something other than people. And we can't have that, can we, NY Times ... or TC?

The ques is will Stephens continue to pen thought-provoking columns or just cookie cutter conservative columns, or become like David Brooks, an institutionalized 'conservative" comfortable in the NYT stable.

If you are interested in the French presidential election, I have published a post on my blog, in which I explain why Le Pen can't win and why the comparisons people often make with Trump/Brexit are misleading.

I agree with your analysis. The defeat of Le Pen was almost certain after the results of the first round, when she came out against Macron (she would have had a better chance against either Fillon or Mélenchon), and moreover got the second place. Now, barring extraordinary events (like a 9/11 scale terror attack followed by a big blunder of Macron), she can't win. The question is: will she get more than 35% of the votes? more than 40% of the votes? If the answer turns out to be yes to any of these questions, it would be an extraordinary victory for her, twice or more the score of her father in 2002.

I don't think she could have won against Fillon either. I'm not sure against Mélenchon, but I also think it was a very unlikely scenario anyway. For reasons I explain in my post, I think she can get over 40% if she campaigns on the right, because I think it's how she can maximize her score. I think that, had she talked more about immigration and security and less about Europe, she would probably have gotten more votes than Macron in the first round, though she would still have lost in the second.

I think Tyler is over rating Kahn. He's posting are confusing because I find it hard to attribute the words to authors where in think one author is critiquing words of the other.

"3. We live in the age of cell phones and Youtube. More than ever, people have full information about the risks where they currently live and what they would gain from living in other areas where they have never lived before. I think about USC and how much information about what it is like to live on campus vs what I knew back in 1984 and was applying to college."

But in any case, he uses straw men like the above.

Most people living in bad places want desperately to live someplace better. People in Africa want to live in Europe or US even in slums because theyes know they would be much better off. The people living in the pollution shadow of .Houston refineries want to live in the same neigh hoods that the Bush family live in or lived in, in the neighborhood Ted Cruz lives in.

However, the "free market" prohibits them from doing so - they have too little income to live free of most pollution and in school districts where education is the number one norm and everyone expects colleges and universities will be begging them to attend to become wealth alum giving millions to their alma mater. Even if the parents can't quite understand having so much money you are expected to give it to away your to the wealthy elites of academia that blame the poor for failing to live among the wealthy elites paid to "work" to blame the poor for "choosing" to live in poor polluted neighborhoods with bad schools.

As a liberal, I am comfortable with requiring the poor to pay a lot more for necessities like energy, to pay $10 a gallon for gasoline if required, to eliminate the pollution from the refinery they live next to. The high price will be from the higher cost of paying many more workers to build the capital assets that eliminate the pollution, jobs that include more less skilled workers which will play the poor more than the current get in income. I'm comfortable with higher taxes and mandates teachers and others live in the community they serve, in large part because the well educated will have a self interest in a better environment including schools because it will benefit their family.

But I'm the first to point out that those living next to the refinery have no choice but accept they must live in a a bad neighborhood because the elites claiming the free market gives choices and liberty are absolutely desperate to keep them out of the house next door, and the "free market" is their tool to deny any choice to the working poor.

Stephens said: "the modest (0.85 degrees Celsius, or about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit) warming of the earth since 1880 is indisputable, as is the human influence on that warming, much else that passes as accepted fact is really a matter of probabilities. "

I wish more climate skeptics acknowledged this.

We have to get co2 levels back down under 300. The only way I can see to do that is massively fertilize the oceans to stimulate plankton production, sucking up co2 there and indirectly from the atmosphere. The other palliatives, such as spraying stuff into the air to reflect more heat do not fix the underlying problem and would have to be continued and expanded indefinitely.

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