Climate change may be more expensive than we think

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is the closing bit:

I am struck by the costs of climate change suggested in the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, hardly a source of denialism. Its cost estimate — “1 to 5% of GDP for 4°C of warming” — is relatively reassuring. After all, global GDP is right now growing at more than 4 percent a year. If climate change cost “only” 4 percent of GDP on a one-time basis, then the world economy could make up those costs with less than a year’s worth of economic growth. In essence, the world economy would arrive at a given level of wealth about a year later than otherwise would have been the case. That sounds expensive but not tragic.

Unfortunately, that is not the right way to conceptualize the problem. Think of the 4 percent hit to GDP, if indeed that is the right number, as a highly unevenly distributed opening shot. That’s round one, and from that point on we are going to react with our human foibles and emotions, and with our

highly imperfect and sometimes corrupt political institutions. (Libertarians, who are typically most skeptical of political solutions, should be the most worried.)

Considering how the Syrian crisis has fragmented the EU as well as internal German politics, is it so crazy to think that climate change might erode international cooperation all the more? The true potential costs of climate change are just beginning to come into view.


This is why we must make a big shift to renewables now like our leaders insist, amirite?

I am pretty sure that you did exactly what Tyler warned about, rather than rational proposals you echo and incite further polarization.

No. Here's what Tyler wrote:

"It’s not just the potential disruptions to weather systems, agriculture and coastal cities; it’s that we may respond to those problems in stupid and destructive ways."

I have highlighted a stupid and destructive response, exactly what Tyler warns us about. The fact that you think pointing out a stupid and destructive response amounts to polarization tells me all I need to know about you.

I can quote too:

"These overreactions do not seem to be mere accidents, but arise from some pretty fundamental features of polarized politics — namely, that discourse has become less rational and technocratic."

Linking to some right wing fantasy complaining about some (claimed) left wing fantasy to "burn wood instead" was not "rational and technocratic."

It was trolling.

Like there was any serious proposal anywhere that we should all just burn wood anyway.

Either PRI is in the trolling Fake News business or they fell for this wheeze too:

It reads like they think it's a good idea though.

It's about a single power station that is switching from coal to, not wood but wood pellets. The wood pellets are made from compressed sawdust, which implies at least a good portion of their fuel is a byproduct of wood being used for other purposes (mainly lumber). Even so the article provides ample space for critics who dispute the carbon neutral claims of the plant.

Last I checked this was wrong. Pellets were being made from whole timber in export facilities in the US. Worse, when they did a more thorough analysis, it was 25 years before net carbon neutrality would be achieved.

If we were serious about global warming, we would be building nuclear power plants. The people pushing for policy changes would be cutting deals on things conservatives actually care about: abortion, affirmative action, religious freedom, or basically anything.

Nobody actually cares enough to sacrifice things of great value to themselves so we should continue to expect PR moves like this where we burn lots of money to little effect, but at least it sounds green.

Google is your friend.

"Wood pellets are the most common type of pellet fuel and are generally made from compacted sawdust and related industrial wastes from the milling of lumber, manufacture of wood products and furniture, and construction."

To satisfy European Union (EU) demand, forests in the United States are turned into wood pellets and shipped overseas, to the tune of 7 million metric tons annually.

The industry is seeking government recognition specifically to "revive the American forest product industry". The industry is explicitly lobbying that they will produce jobs and demand for forest products, not capture waste streams.

Furthermore it is not like sawdust was otherwise being unused. We been using it for all manner of applications historically. There simply are not 14 million metric tons a year of waiting sawdust for the industry.

This was a minor green scandal just a few years ago:

Frankly, I just don't see the benefit of pellet plants. We take a feedstock that was being used for particle board, burn it instead, and then use other carbon intensive inputs in the building trades. Along the way we transport millions of metric tons of stuff across the oceans that somehow is going to pay back the immediate release of carbon from burning it better than storing it in particle board.

It is a story of economic efficiency, within the current tax and treaty framework. Certainly if you were going to do a carbon tax you should do it on all burned fuels and let their carbon intensity sort them out.

But I don't see pellets being the most economically efficient use of good heart wood under our current regime either.

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Attention: The Right is perfectly ready to have a rational discussion about this. Just first make sure nothing stupid gets said on Twitter or Facebook.

Political groups aren’t monolithic blocks of people.

I can recognize that the Sierra Club and NRDC are “champions of climate change activism” and yet are vehemently opposed to nuclear power and revenue neutral carbon taxes.

Part of the problem is there’s no vested group for actual solutions. It’s signaling all the way down.

That's all well and good, but is that really the problem? Does the Sierra Club support coal plants? If their opposition to nuclear was so important, what, did they forget to oppose coal plants? Was it the Sierra Club that made it clear nearly a decade ago that even the most market friendly cap-n-trade policy imaginable would be off the table?

I don’t know why you think these are hypotheticals.

There are plenty of states where Dems have both legislative houses and the governorship.

This already happened in Washington state.

No to nuclear power, and no to revenue neutral carbon taxes.

If there’s no constituency even among Dems for solutions, then even state level initiatives go nowhere.

Also see: Vermont, single payer.

That "Sierra Club" to "Dem" swap was certainly apparent to me.

Speaking of the Sierra Club though, here is an oldie but goodie, a piece co-authored with Cato on energy:

"We would hope it’s not too late for something better. Devotees of Adam Smith and Rachel Carson should join together to propose an alternative bill, one that would simply strip away all energy subsidies and preferences from the budget and the federal tax code."

I'd be cool with a bipartisan bill to strip away energy subsidies and even regulation and replace with standard carbon/pollution tax.

It would be rational and technocratic!

This is a perfect example, a Wa-Po op-ed with no details.

No mention of what subsidies they refer to.

My point is that there is no constituency that has any interest in actual solutions.

The part of the dem party (Sierra Club, NRDC) that cares about climate change is vociferously anti nuclear power and anti revenue neutral carbon taxes.

There’s no deal to be made, to the point where even deep blue states cannot pass anything realistic.

And really, show me the Dems running on carbon taxes and expansion of nuclear energy. I’d say they’re eating dinner with the Republicans that want to pass entitlement reform. They don’t exist.

Hilarious, you are offered the ultimate free market prize, an end to all energy subsidies, and you rejected it because Democrats.

Oh yeah and does a "pro tip," demanding nuclear is what we used to call "picking winners" and is not a free market solution.

The free market solution, economically informed, is to price externalities barely and then let the market decide exactly which energy sources should be used.

Arr, s/does/as/ s/barely/fairly/

In fairness to Washington, we're home to both the nation's largest nuclear cleanup (Hanford), and what was for many years the nation's largest municipal bond default (WPPSS - forever remembered as "whoops"). We have better reasons than anyone this side of Chernobyl to be skeptical of nuclear.

Kiss the fucking ring, you twats!

Wait, sorry to be technocratic, and I do not know who is trolling whom, but it is right that burning wood is carbon-neutral, isn't it, as long as you let the forest you have destroyed to take your wood grow again ?

From a carbon point of view, in our developed countries,
it is better to use wood for one's heating and cooking than to use coal or gas or fuel or electricity produced in part by these, because the space we create by cutting trees for our use is left to forest to regrow. The problem is when you destroy forest to use the surface for other aims, like agriculture or urbanization...

In other words, as long that the total surface of forests do not diminish,

On a long enough timescale, if you fully regrow, and it seems like it should be neutral.

But the history of man is to cut too much and plant too few trees, resulting in widespread deforestation.

One thing we should agree on is the environmentalist are generally more about the tree planting than the tree burning.

And I believe biofuels emphasize annuals

I'm pretty sure Western Europe and the Eastern United States have substantially increased forest area over the last 100 years

On the one hand, it is true that as we shifted to fossil fuels we did reduce wood burning for fuel, but we kept cutting for lumber especially high-value species and old growth forest.

And now big box hardware stores are reduced to selling "white wood" - farmed fast growing species that sometimes seems closer to balsa.

So, it's complicated.

Not to mention our western problem:

Wrong comparison. 100 years ago was near the nadir of forests in the USA.

How does that make it the wrong comparison?

I believe developed nations like the US are actually re-forestating as many areas are seeing forests return both from planting and just because we've left areas alone that were once cut down.

However I think the question is can burning wood scale? The link above was about a single coal plant in the UK switching over to wood pellets, the pellets were coming from compressed sawdust so the plant is probably hitch hiking off of wood that would have been used anyway for other purposes. Great but that's one plant, there's only so much sawdust left over at all of our lumbar yards and wood shops.

Easy answer: No.

There's not enough acreage to generate the biomass to support a significant share of planetary electricity generation. Even if you start to cut down a lot of the northern hemisphere Taiga.

Plants are a crappy mediator of solar energy per hectare. We can't run the future on biomass.

How is it that burning wood allows us to plant more trees but burning coal doesn't? Some weird fallacy there.

At bottom, the problem is with the word "renewable".

The logic goes: "Trees are renewable, so we should use them." Never mind that we will NEVER run out of coal before we figure out a better alternative. It's not really scarce, especially compared to oil and gas. And all of these fuels are way more efficient than wood.

Well a single tree produces lots of acorns so in theory you could plant two trees for every one your burn, as paradoxical as that sounds.

I think the problem is less about it being carbon neutral and more that it just doesn't scale unless some type of massive efficiency breakthrough dramatically reduces our need for power.

But Boonton, again the limiting factor to plant more trees is space for them to grow, not acorns to start the process. As long as we leave the same space to forest, we can do whatever we want with the wood.

And of course it is not scalable, no one is suggesting we abandon all our energy production forms to go back to wood (wood has many problems in addition of carbon, and of course there is not enough wood
on all earth to satisfy our energy needs). I am just saying that burning wood, as we do it in our countries (for a fire in the fireplace or in the stove in winter and to cook pizzas and marshmallows), is not something we should fight against in the name of reducing carbon-emission, because it actually is carbon-neutral in our context.

I am not sure why we are following this, literally into the trees..

If you go to any biofuels website I can't believe that any of them would focus on slow-growing species, it would all be annuals and perennials, for bio-oils or the Holy Grail, cellulosic alcohol.

Okay, I looked it up. I admit this is significant:

"Total U.S. wood energy consumption in 2009
was 1995 PJ (1891 trillion Btu) or about 24% of the renewable energy
used in the U.S."

As you say most of that is wood in fireplaces for warmth.

But Boonton, again the limiting factor to plant more trees is space for them to grow, not acorns to start the process. As long as we leave the same space to forest, we can do whatever we want with the wood.

No one said you had to keep them all coming from one plot of land. You could have 20 forests, harvest 1/20th of forest 1 in year 1, in year 2 you harvest 1/20th of forest 2 and so on. Perfectly fine as a renewable resource that could be used for either power or goods.

The limiting statistic is dry yield per hectare per year, or better, BTu per Hectare per year. It's not terribly impressive compared to wind / solar. Wood is great for recreational stoves and stuff, but there's a reason why coal defeated it as a fuel source, historically.

Note it is NOT entirely carbon neutral; the CO2 is in the air for X years before being recycled into new trees; so a biomass route does raise background CO2, slightly.

Brian, are you joking? There is no fallacy: you can plant trees, you can't plant coal (or, that's fundamental, not on the same timescale : it takes most trees a few decades to grow, but it takes hundred of millions of year to produce coal.)

The limiting factor worldwide for the number of trees is the surface we are ready to reserve for forest. In developed countries, as Boontoon said, we are actually re-foresting, and we have been doing so for decades.
That is, we are taking surfaces used for other means (agriculture for instance) and giving it back to forest. This process reduces the carbon in the atmosphere.

Perhaps the missing idea is to realize that a grown-up forest is not absorbing any carbon from the atmosphere. Plants and tree do indeed use carbon for photosynthesis, but they also lose their leaves and after some times they die and decompose and release carbon in the atmosphere -- the exact same quantity they absorb, unless the forest is growing.

Destroying a forest to burn the wood is putting some carbon in the atmosphere, but unless you use the deforested zone for other means, the
emitted carbon will quickly be re-absorbed in the growing forest. While when you burn coal you don't at the same time offer any new way to the earth to re-absorb the carbon you put into the atmosphere.

Maybe fallacy is the wrong word, but the whole line of reasoning seems to boil down to "We have to burn trees to make room to grow new trees. If we burn carbon, we can't plant new trees because there is no room" or somesuch nonsense.

But by all means, feel free to follow the "Burning wood is carbon neutral. Trees are renewable. What could go wrong?" deep thinkers.

This is a good summary. Or better : "if we have to burn trees or coal to heat ourselves, let us burn trees because that makes room to grow new trees. If we burn carbon, we can't plant new trees because there is no room". It is not non-sense nor wrong nor a fallacy, but the correct argument if we think we need to avoid putting more carbon into the atmosphere (on which I am more skeptical, but that's another question). .

The reality is this though: Burn one tree, replace with one IOU for tree in the future. Net effect tomorrow is -1 tree, and more C02. Or, burn some coal, and don't touch the tree. Net effect tomorrow is one tree, and more C02. So what's the value of that IOU? I'd wager it is less than one tree.

It's been changing for billions of years.

Let's not fret about the next hundred, especially when there is literally nothing we can do to make it stop changing.

There are tons of things we can do - seeding the ocean with iron being just one of those many things.

Look at programmatic advertising. We've been advertising door-to-door for millenia, but for the first time, there is a way to create markets that have attribution. Look at Facebook ,the fist social marketplace that creates a consciousness in the world. We need to shed ourselves of the defensive innovation complex. Global warming is AIDs, and they same way we demoralized those people, we do a disservice to the Koch Brothers for being good at business. We can live with AIDs. We can live without brand safety. Love is in the air!

If only it was a fist social marketplace, people would be a bit more careful with what they post!

The NYT claims "But slowly losing independence was difficult to accept." This is similar in language to when they said Jackie Jr.'s son was killed, instead of he was in accident and died. Instagram's founders actually agreed to be bought (2012), so the headline is not logical. This has nothing to do with geopolitics.

The experiment with seeding the ocean with iron that I'm aware of failed to produce the predicted results.

It was a small costly experiment to be sure, employing low wage student researchers, as I recall, who were motivated to find positive results to get published.

"There's only a limited amount of total nutrients in the oceans. So if there's greater use in one area, it seems you'd have lesser concentrations in other areas," said lead author Kassandra Costa, a doctoral student at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory who led the analysis. "The basic message is, if you add to one place, you may subtract from another."

Read more at:

Trained as a scientist, I think in terms of zero sum, unlike economists these days who believe in magic, voodoo, benefits with zero costs. Life is zero sum - it requires all the inputs life requires, not just one magic bullet ingredient.

Not sure how Life could be zero sum given evolution. Of course it requires what it requires, whatever that means. You might be conflating conservation of energy, in which case you're right - the entire universe is zero-sum, but Life has a rather remarkable track record growing with external inputs and there's really no end in sight.

I'm disappointed you use the offensive terms 'denier' or 'denialism'. Although I'm convinced by the GW evidence, I think it's appalling and un-scientific to call opponents 'deniers'.

But otherwise, spot on. It's not the economic cost, it's the political and geopolitical turmoil unleashed, and pressure on international cooperation which is already at a recent low.

If you can't refer to people who disagree with your political preferences Nazis, what's the point of even getting involved in politics?

Rational-legal systems are so yesterday. Today, it's all about the feels. Calling people Nazis feels good, so let's just keep doing it.

Denial has an authentic and documented history.

Exactly Bro. Chevron did something bad once, that proves everyone who disagrees with me is a Nazi.

This is why right-wingers are dumb. They just don't get it.

I'm glad we are on the same team.

Don't you think you would have a stronger position if you said "exactly bro, Chevron did something bad and we should learn from it?"

Because obviously denial that denial ever happened is not in service of Truth or more constructive answers in the future.

Small Penis Small Penis Small Penis Small Penis Small Penis Small Penis Small Penis Small Penis Small Penis

Don't you think UCS should show their calculations before labelling scientific arguments they disagree with "disinformation?" Oh, but wait, they don't actually have any calculations to show this, we're all just supposed to take it on faith that the climate modellers are right, for the first time in their long history.

Conflating an opposing argument with totalitarian propaganda is hardly useful.

So after Chevron has publicly acknowledged their misinformation campaign, do you still don't believe it?

Sorry, wrong link, and I guess it's only public now because it was leaked:

It's appropriate they use "disinformation," the Soviets had show trials too.

Chevron did nothing wrong and neither did Exxon. The fact they've been publicly blackmailed speaks for itself.

Also, the "Exxon knew" claims are themselves misinformation, and pretty ridiculous at that -- even as late as 1995 the IPCC itself was still considering whether the AGW signal was even detectable. No one, least of all Exxon (who quite openly published their findings), could have "known" 37 years ago what is still the subject of considerable debate today.

Here's what leading scientists were actually saying around that time:

hundreds of articles quoting scientists on the danger of global cooling

Hubert Lamb, Director of CRU, Sep 8 1972: "We are past the best of the inter-glacial period which happened between 7,000 and 3,000 years ago... we are on a definite downhill course for the next 200 years....The last 20 years of this century will be progressively colder.”,2536610

John Firor, Excecutive Director of NCAR, 1973: "Temperatures have been high and steady, and steady has been more than high. Now it appears we're going into a period where temperature will be low and variable, and variable will be more important than low."

ex.:The 46 scientists who gathered at Brown Univeristy, Providence R.I., for a symposium on "The End of the Present Interglacial" agreed that there is evidence of an ominous world-wide cooling of temperatures in the past two decades.

ex:CIA -- "Leaders in climatology and economics are in agreement that a climatic change is taking place and that it has already caused economic problems throughout the world."

"Nature's reaction could be something drastic... another Ice Age is possible" William Cobb, NOAA scientist, 1973,2814827

But again, let's see the UCS "scientists" back up their claims. You know, with science. Provable, empirical science.

The funding angle is the silliest of all. GWPF and Heartland's total outlay could probably fit easily in what Sierra or Greenpeace budget for just for travel expenses -- funding flows to AGW proponents at something like 100x the rate it goes to skeptics -- even from fossil fuel companies.

I'm disappointed you use the offensive terms 'denier' or 'denialism'. Although I'm convinced by the GW evidence, I think it's appalling and un-scientific to call opponents 'deniers'.

This is a perfectly reasonable request. However to be honored those offended should:

1. Present us with their preferred term that should be used to discuss them as a group.
2. Answer the question if they agree there's a non-trivial portion of 'deniers' who are arguing from bad faith.
3. Assuming the answer to #2 is yes, then what term would be acceptable to use for them and what test would they have to differentiate the 'deniers' from 'bad faith deniers'.

You don't get to take from the conversation unless you also contribute.

I would go with "Proponents" and "Skeptics"

And for those on either side who's view is formed by ideology rather than analysis we can add the prefix "ideological", if for some reason this issue alone requires that distinction.

Skeptic is the term ive heard from those who prefer light to heat.

What do skeptics call those who argue in bad faith against global warming? Assuming they acknowledge there is at least a little bad faith on the GW skeptic side.

They call the people arguing in bad faith.

Climate change, or either side of the issue, is not a unique home for "Bad faith".

This is an issue like any other. People can have whatever opinion they want and it can be supported by facts or not.

It does not seem at all clear to be that the "faith" through which this issue is approached is significantly different between the two sides.

And I do think 90% of the world reached their position through faith

The AGW proponents have misappropriated the term "climate change". The AGW proponents rely in theory and models that have failed to match actual climate conditions. The AGW proponents have ignored the oscillations, cycles, orbits, and other factors that have contributed historically to climate change. I read an article that the last hurricane contributed greenhouse gases (water vapor) greator than all of humankind's yearly carbon output. Climate change proponents acknowledge past climate changes and the factors that contributed to those changes. CO2 were higher throughout most of Earth's history and temperature changes always preceded changes in CO2 levels.
AGW proponents declare the science is settled. Only an orthodoxy with arguments full of holes would make that assertion.
There is climate change, but the AGW proponents don't know much about history (or they lie) and allowing politically motivated bureaucrats to impose economic penalties based on airhead bubble science is like calling Marxism a science.

I believe that the science indicates we are producing enough CO2 to warm the atmosphere. There's a lot of very solid evidence for this.

What is highly speculative is the effects of the warming. And AGW advocates tend to be hyperbolic about the effects. Just look at the post Tyler wrote. The evidence indicates that AGW will cause a drop in GDP of about 1-5% over an 80 year period at the very high end (+4 Deg C) However, instead of directly addressing that figure he instead uses a lot of emotive language to play up the fears. Which to be granted is very usual for Tyler Cowen.

"Think of the 4 percent hit to GDP, if indeed that is the right number, as a highly unevenly distributed opening shot. That’s round one, and from that point on we are going to react with our human foibles and emotions, and with our highly imperfect and sometimes corrupt political institutions"

So what? Yes, we probably won't handle it well. But neither are we likely to handle attempts to avoid it either. Both the Left and Right play politics with the issue to the detriment of any cheap solutions. That's human nature. So, it's not a strong argument for or against a specific approach.

Is that 4% before or after the substitution/reallocation of resources/factors of production in response to the new conditions?

" it so crazy to think that climate change might erode international cooperation all the more?"

More? How can something that is practically non-existent on this issue erode?

In short, the world increasingly appears to be reaching for extreme and imprudent remedies to admittedly complex problems. These overreactions do not seem to be mere accidents, but arise from some pretty fundamental features of polarized politics — namely, that discourse has become less rational and technocratic.

Isn't this same phenomenon going to affect collective action aimed at fighting climate change? It's not like the populism that has you wringing your hands here is a one way street; Bernie f'ing Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn don't exactly represent rational, technocratic responses to any problems, real or imagined. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.


Tyler has a good point that one should not count costs assuming perfectly-rational policies are adopted, but should instead account for irrationality.

But in deciding on climate-change policy, the relevant number is not the cost of climate change, but rather the ratio of this cost to the cost of mitigation.

Since the irrationality factor is likely to be similar for the two costs, nothing really changes from considering the irrationality.

And in case you're wondering, Exhibit 1 for the extra cost of irrationality in climate change mitigation policy is bio-fuel subsidies, ethanol in particular. I think by now pretty much every environment group has acknowledge that bio-fuels are a totally bad idea, that are a net harm to the environment, but government support for them continues, sustained by corruption and a public that hasn't caught on. Environmental groups could probably put a stop to it with a determined campaign of full-page newspaper ads loudly proclaiming that bio-fuels are NOT good for the environment. But they won't do that because it would lead to the public realizing that they should not think that every program that sounds like it's good for the environment really is good for the environment, which would make life so much more difficult for activists...

Yep. Policy responses to extremely poor climate models are exactly the kind of simplistic over-reach he’s complaining about. You could skip from government to government around the world and tally up hundreds of billions spent on climate change, but you wont find any that couple or even bothered to to calculate the net effect of their policies on temperature. It’s a form of madness.

Meanwhile, here’s a study just released by MIT. Worried about runaway warming becuse the media and certain economists tell you to? First the Earth needs to increase its average temperature to 150 F.

Must be more of those “denialists” we keep hearing about.

Worse that that, It's not even clear what the optimum temperature should be, even assuming the existence of policies that might keep us closer to it -- they not only don't know the effect of policy, they don't even know the optimal policy result they're aiming for!

Historically, improved crop yields and generally increased available biomass meant warming was a significant net boon. It's not at all clear that the negative consequences of future warming will outweigh the positives.

I fully agree with Tyler's essay, and the meta that we should actually step back and look at what sort of dysfunctions we suffer.

How can you agree with something predicated on a rate of warming - 4 deg - that the IPCC itself is not predicting?

It’s like saying if the average person reaches a height of 18 feet we will have a housing crisis because ceilings are too low. So if people reacted rationally to complex problems we should start raising ceilings to 20 feet now.

It’s ony rational if people will be 18 feet tall.

"Using a simple, publically-available, climate model emulator called MAGICC that was in part developed through support of the EPA, we ran the numbers as to how much future temperature rise would be averted by a complete adoption and adherence to the EPA’s new carbon dioxide restrictions.

The answer? Less than two one-hundredths of a degree Celsius by the year 2100.

0.018°C to be exact."

"The EPA’s regulations seek to limit carbon dioxide emissions from electricity production in the year 2030 to a level 30 percent below what they were in 2005. It is worth noting that power plant CO2 emissions already dropped by about 15% from 2005 to 2012, largely, because of market forces which favor less-CO2-emitting natural gas over coal as the fuel of choice for producing electricity. Apparently the President wants to lock in those gains and manipulate the market to see that the same decline takes place in twice the time. Nothing like government intervention to facilitate market inefficiency. But we digress."

The serious answer is that first, that Obama rule was not really that aggressive, and second, that Obama rule was not global in scope.

So if we want more than a fraction of a degree we need something more aggressive and something global.

The proper aggressive and global action is simple enough; designate opposition to nuclear power as a crime against humanity.

The logic is simple enough. Since nuclear power has the lowest deaths-caused rate per terawatt-hour of any power source (less than half those of the next-safest, rooftop solar), anybody who opposes nuclear power is trying to kill people.

And all that's before we consider any effects of emissions on global warming. We eliminate carbon dioxide emissions for free when we simply replace current power sources with the one that has the fewest fatalities per terawatt-hour, which all decent people should consider a worthy goal in itself.

The others, the ones who think we should kill people for power, belong in prisons where they can't hurt decent people.

Then support a carbon tax or cap-n-trade, both of which would give nuclear huge economic advantages.

Such a silly idea, as though 'opposition' kills nuclear power? When you see a coal plant do you think the community said "yay a coal plant right next to us" when it was first built?

Why does the solution always have to be to instate more taxes? Why not just cut taxes for the nuclear energy industry and have tradable allowance programs for carbon emissions?

Personally I think a market centered solution is better. Not too long ago I remember reading about a simple business. Consultant comes into a huge warehouse, offers to lower their electric bill if he can take a % of the savings. Replaces all the lights with cfcs and cuts the electric bill by a lot.

Why should there be tax cuts for a huge nuclear plant but not a simple business like that, which if scaled could reduce CO2 by just as much as a new nuclear plant?

Instead of choosing the solution let prices do the work. If you tax carbon people will respond by either using less carbon or finding alternatives to carbon. That may mean a nuclear plant gets built to replace a coal plant but it could also mean the coal plant is retrofitted to use less coal or someone writes an app that remembers to turn down the power use at your home when no one is around.

The limiting factor for more nuclear plants is not economic, it is the political will. Until we are living in a libertarian paradise (or hell), you need plenty of political authorizations to build a nuclear plant somewhere. Due in part to hostility from the population, transmitted through the government by normal democratic process, these authorizations have become harder and harder to find.

Only France, because it is more technocratic and less democratic than many other western countries, has managed to have enough nuclear plants to produce most of its electricity this way -- and that's not nearly enough if you wan't to fight seriously carbon-emissions : you would need to produce at least two times more nuclear energy in France (and 5 times more in the US, and infinity times more in Germany) if you want to have a significant part of your total energy (not merely electricity) produced in this safe and non-carbon-emitting way.

So a carbon-tax would help for this and other things, but would not be enough. A change in mentality is necessary. This is where I disagree with Tyler. Only political chaos, as caused by Trump, can get us out of the sleepiness in which things like the Paris Agreement has drowned us.

Yea people say this but it isn't like building a new coal plant will be welcomed by any neighborhood I'm familiar with. There's going to be political opposition to just about any energy generation, even wind and solar farms.

And nuclear plants are not pure libertarian business plays. While they get political opposition they also get a lot of political subsidies and support.

"nuclear plants are not pure libertarian business plays. While they get political opposition they also get a lot of political subsidies and support"

Have there recently been new nuclear plants built?

none, so what?

I'm sorry, how exactly are carbon taxes supposed to get people to phase out wind turbines, rooftop solar, and hydroelectric dams in favor of nuclear power?

Again, the argument for nuclear power being made here is not global warming. The argument for nuclear power is that all other power sources kill more people per unit of power generated, and thus should be replaced with nuclear wherever possible on humanitarian grounds.

Lunatic, you defend a correct position with very bad arguments. Not sure if you're not playing a game.

Assuming you're serious, my answer is that our collective aim is certainly not to reduce at a maximum the number of deaths due to un-natural causes. We're all going to die anyway, and perhaps it is better do die crushed by a falling wind turbine than from a long cancer. We want to live a happy life, not too short for sure but not necessary the longest possible, in a planet we enjoy to watch and to wander in, with a minimum of comfort which need a minimum of energy. This is enough to refute your argument in favor of nuclear plants (and I am for many more nuclear plants!).

It's only sufficient to refute my argument if you can actually point to what of these other benefits you're buying with the excess blood spilled by other power sources, and why they're worth that amount of excess blood.

How about this instead, we agree that everyone who says "I believe in global warming, but only if we use my preferred solution" is not "rational and technocratic."

They are just using global warming to ride their hobby horse.

I don't think this is generally true. There are some people who are absolutely adamant that they want to see a bunch of nuclear plants built because they have a bromance with nuclear. Beyond that I think many/most people are agreeable to simple caps, carbon tax, or cap-n-trade and are pretty much willing to go alone with whatever flavor can make it through the political process.

Anti-warming types seem to have a blanket opposition to any and all options (except nuclear).

Screw global warming and the entire debate over it. It's completely irrelevant.

If it's real, it would be entirely solved as a side effect of simply choosing a policy of switching to the power source that minimizes the number of premature human deaths.

If it's bullshit, that bullshit still doesn't affect the argument for using the power source that minimizes the number of premature human deaths.

Just choose energy policy to save human lives, and nobody has to care about global warming at all.

The solution isn't something "more aggressive". Too much of the climate debate has been focused on "we need to do something" rather than what specifically we ought to do. When discussing climate change, we need to look at the data and the exact degree to which pollution by humans have influenced it. Climate change "deniers" are right when they say that "climate change is natural", and climate change activists are right when they say that pollution the last two century, and especially the latest, has influenced this tendency. The question is to which degree the other plays into the other. When we know the ratio of human influence on climate change to natural causes, we can figure out the degree to which we potentially can control it if we reduce pollution (I'm sure there are already studies on this presenting estimates).

About the part which we can control, it's not as if we can all just cut all pollution at once. Cutting pollution completely would require extraordinary habit changes in individuals and countries. Motorized transport, consumption, manufacturing, etc. The economy would be in havoc, 3. world countries would have no possibility to improve themselves and 1. world countries would over time also become 3. world. The most aggressive solution, thusly, is in my eyes not feasible in the least. A gradual change appears more or less needed, but again, we should be careful with what solutions we put forth, and set high standards for the research, lest they have unintended consequences.
I agree with a solution such as tradable allowances, which Alex Tabarrok explains here ( as it reduces pollution in an efficient way which doesn't distort the markets. As of what the "more aggressive and something global" you advocate refer to, you must surely be aware of the Paris Climate Accord. Ought this to be more aggressive than it already is? In that case, how should it change to more adequately address the problem, and why should these changes be put in place? What if some nations refuse to adhere to its demand, e.g. if India perceives it to be a barrier to its economic growth? Trump withdrew the U.S. from the climate accord because he considered it unfair. What aggressive measure should be taken globally? Overriding national sovereignty? Such centralization of power is bound to be extremely risky and would be fundamentally undemocratic. One may consider a climate denier for "ignorant", but considering entire nation states too irresponsible to make important decisions on their own, and suggesting that a supranational body must make the "right" choices with the solutions they agree with, appears rather demagogic.

Keep in mind I don't write this to put words in your mouth, but I'm rather trying to think out how these ideas could end up in practice. Real problems require real and thoughtful solutions. Instating policy on principles without considering the consequences have throughout history ended up with disasters. The responses to this problem could turn either way.

He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Countries that instate functioning and effective legislation on the issue do have the opportunity to set themselves as prime examples of other countries to follow. Lead, and they shall follow. When people see that a new idea works, they're more eager to adopt it.

I think I see the territory much as you do there Stefan.

This is hard because there is a climate trajectory, there are adjustments we might make, but they effect not just lifestyle but the entire modes of living around the world.

Entire modes of living around the world? Well this is as vague as it is sweeping.

It probably covers everything from the GHG impact of cattle to the Dodge Charger in your neighbor's driveway.

What a selfless man you are. Not all heroes wear capes.

Yep. And I also prove that one doesn't need to have a big penis to be a hero either.

I was leaving it open for other people to agree, but I suppose blanking the page would set up a perverse incentive.

So someone is going to have to get in here and weed things out, based on email address. Or IP.

You ever see that Ben Garrison cartoon with people getting flattened by the left boot (Dems) and the right boot (GOP) of the same body, and at the head is a pyramid labeled "globalist bankers"?

I haven't figured out where Tyler fits yet, but he's definitely on board the trampling machine. And I don't even particularly dislike the guy.

Tyler's role is more like the guy who works hard holding up a curtain to obscure the top of the pyramid so that you only see the boots. Being the "Pay no attention to the men behind the curtain" guy is basically Tyler's role.

I think this is not far off. In fact there is just such an element in the form of a cloud layer.

""globalist bankers"?"

Do globalist banks offer free checking accounts like my credit union?


UN economists when asked about their "perfect institutions" assumption when figuring the costs of global warming.

Cuts both ways. I can fully accept an attempt to lower CO2 could end up being more costly because crappy institutions will both what should in theory be low friction policies. On the other hand those same institutions can just as easily make the costs of global warming worse. For example, how much should a hurricane cost us? How much will future hurricanes cost us if they are meet with Trump level of proficiency in disaster relief?

It's too bad there isn't an edit function in here.

Based on measured data ( NASA GISS), the American Meteorological society shows the trend to be since 1975 as 1.8C per century. The UAH data set ( satellite data) has a lower value.

We're not close to the 4 C. There may be deniers on one side, but there are alarmists on the other side.

Since lets say children may grow at about 4% / yr at current expenses, if you stop funding them for a few years to pay for more important things---eg tax cuts for the rich, that should not be a problem. You can make it up in later years. Some people into economics and math use concepts like hysterisis and path-dependence to make arguments for the counterclaim---that it does matter, but that may be just hysteria or histrionics. A stunted baby can easily turn into a gigantic monster in a short period.

one of the things that will be very expensive and very wasteful is trying to defeat rising sea levels. sea walls and similar infrastructure are discussed right now in places where nuisance flooding occurs frequently. a rational approach would be to move to higher ground, far from the sea. anyway billions will be invested in building "defenses". La ligne Maginot, the China wall...... all over again.

Here's exhibit A, bad institutions cut both ways. Normally flood zones should not be that expensive. Anyone who wants to build in one either has to risk losing their structure to flood, pay to build a flood proof building, or pay through the nose for market based flood insurance. Normally then more flood prone areas due to climate change should be meet with market decisions to leave such areas or pay to deal with them. In reality we have a system that guarantees flood insurance so people are incentivized not to avoid flood prone areas or leave areas that become so.

Sea defences are fine where the real estate is sufficiently valuable.

Holland works fine.

Considering how the Syrian crisis has fragmented the EU as well as internal German politics, is it so crazy to think that climate change might erode international cooperation all the more?

Isn't it equally probable that international disagreements over whether or how to address climate change might erode international cooperation long, long before we experience anything like 4°C of warming? Have fights over climate change actions brought the US & EU or the 'red' and 'blue' tribes within the US closer together? Or caused further polarization? It seems obvious that it's the latter rather than the former.

Sorry, Tyler, this is a very poor effort replete with false statements (pound is up since Brexit), misrepresentations and wild speculation. But let's focus on climate, where for some reason you cited the IPCC report from 2007. The IPCC has been steadily lowering its temperature estimates in line with independent studies showing less temperature sensitivity to CO2, and its last report in 2013 this was lowered again to 0.3 to 0.7 degree over 30 years. That works out to as little as 1.3 degrees warmer by 2100.

You hung this story on a forecast that does not exist among reasonable people. The entire story is wildly unrepresentative of reality that I had to check you were indeed the author.

'pound is up since Brexit'

'Results from across the country suggesting the Brexit camp was on the brink of declaring a referendum victory led to sterling reversing initial gains to leave the pound down more than 10% at $1.33, compared with $1.50 just after polling stations closed. That was the lowest since 1985. The pound was down more than 7% against the euro.'

Pound/dollar exchange rate yesterday - 1.3173

The climate change remediation enthusiasts assume that, except for human activity, conditions much like the present will exist for the foreseeable future. This is very unlikely. Over the long haul there will be earthquakes of varying intensity, visible volcanic eruptions and undersea ones, probable asteroid or large meteorite strikes, variable sun spot activity and other events that can have an effect on world climate. It won't be possible for the puny human race to regulate the conditions on one particular planet even if they think that they can.

Two different concepts here. We could avoid doing self-inflicted damage to our climate today. That doesn't mean we can 'manage' the climate in fine detail or address huge dramatic geological events like huge volcanic eruptions or massive asteroid strikes or the sun suddenly misbehaving very badly.

This seems like a false choice to me. I can't manage my health so I won't grow old, get chronic illnesses like cancer or heart disease in the long run. That inability, though, doesn't mean I should avoid making foolish decisions to harm my health in the short term.

A paltry 8000 years ago a large portion of what's now the north central US was covered by over a mile of ice. Humans lived within proximity to this continental glaciation. The current crop of pansies inhabiting this area might lay down and die over a couple of degrees Centigrade rise in average annual temperature but there could well be a few tough enough to handle the situation. Mankind is unlikely to become extinct.

Avoiding making mankind extinct is setting the bar pretty low. Aside from full scale nuclear war or spending billions to genetically engineer a zombie virus, I'm not sure anything would qualify as a bad decision on your part.

The key word in the controversy is "change". If the for all practical purposes immeasurable world average temperature moves one way or the other, no one can predict exactly what the effect might be in any particular location. Sure, a significant rise in sea level would inundate coral atolls, making life inconvenient for a small number of islanders, and push people back from beach front areas that are already prone to storm damage. That's a fly speck on the big picture.

I find the tail-risk argument proponents unconvincing.

If they were really concerned about extinction-level risks, to the extent for calling for multi-trillion precautionary expenditures on AGW, then you would expect at least equal expenditure calls for AI, comet impacts, some areas of genetic and nanological engineering, etc...

But you don't.

World GDP is maybe $107T. Let's say 3.5% growth over the next 100 years cumulative GDP is maybe $95,630T. Let's say global warming will cost us 5% of GDP. That's a whopping $4,781T.

However that wouldn't be even noticeable to us assuming we all live another 100 years. It would be nothing like an extinction event for humanity. Yet if spending a few trillion might prevent 10%, 20%, 40% of that cost it would be well worth it.

Comet impacts here are an interesting hypothetical. If we get hit by a comet, it's more or less the end of our stay here on earth. But there's not much of a spectrum there. We are either hit or we aren't. (Asteroids are more of a spectrum, an asteroid impact could wipe out a huge amount of life on earth, or it could be more localized and 'only' destroy a city sized area).

Because this AGW is a spectrum, we can tailor our response as we go. A plan that would cost 10% of GDP to implement could be slashed to just 1% if 10 years in data indicates AGW is less of a problem than we thought.

But Boonton, you are spending CURRRENT dollars to save FUTURE dollars! You have to discount those $4718T future of the endemic problems with the AGW "business case" is that the return on investment really, honestly, doesn't appear to stack up under any discount rate beyond ~0.1%. Regardless of final "non-extinction" damage at 10% or whatever.

That's why the argument against tail risk is better; large current expenditure might be justifiable against a very small chance of an AGW extinction event in the next 200 years.

However, there are many possible extinction events, mostly with poor risk estimates (ironically, comets are about the only one for which we have any evidence base). All of them can claim on our resources. Why privilege AGW for the trillions of current dollars it demands? Personally, I'd worry more about AI, but reasonable opinions can vary.

My point was the huge mismatch of proposed spending insuring against "AGW extinction" vs other plausible modes of extinction suggests that such advocates have inconsistent preferences (or, more bluntly, aren't really concerned about extinction risk, they're just hot on AGW).

For what it's worth, (and given that we expect a "warning" period of decades prior to an AGW extinction event) I'd suggest a current investments against it should be no more that better modelling plus trials of carbon capture / geo-engineering solutions. AGW is perhaps uniquely favourable to us here; we expect a "long" warning period of catastrophe allowing us a late, not early, ramp-up. Other extinction events are not so kind; novel pathogens might give you weeks, comets might give you a few months, and certain nanological and AI effects years. These seem to me much better cases for heavy "up-front" investment before the threat actualises!

I agree. Throw another log on the fire because the next Little Ice Age is coming if the past is prologue. Projections assert obvious signs should be evident in the latter half of 2019. Add a major volcanic eruption or two and the long term weather and climate forecast will get much worse.
We are just beginning to understand the Sun and the dangers posed by Carrington events or worse. Coronal holes and their effect on climate are poorly understood. The Sunspot cycles have been correlated with climate change history, but the AGW proponents deliberately ignore those facts.
The AGW modelers have been about as accurate as a bone throwing shaman.

In the long run, yes, they're vastly understated because a return to the conditions at the Little Ice Age (to say nothing of the Last Glacial Maximum) would be the worst calamity of the modern age, and we're past the favorable portion of the obliquity cycle so a return to LIA conditions is likely overdue even with humanity's valiant attempts to raise the temperature of the planet to something less on the edge of mass extinction.

Fortunately, the world seems moderately likely to warm in the next 100 years., which has always been beneficial. Sea level rise has not accelerated, and note that Holland is not exactly Syria.

See, for instance:

"In other words, 78 [70 + 8] percent of observed planetary greening is caused by carbon dioxide and its effect upon climate."

And then there's crop yield trends since the end of the LIA...

The negative new bias natural to humans really overstates the impacts. "Warming might be bad for polar bears!" is sort of true as far as it goes, but it ignores the fact that 99.99999% of Earth's biomass isn't adapted to grow below the freezing point of water.

Why do economists object to higher costs?

Any business selling any product costs it's customers exactly it's revenues.

If costs are cut, businesses lose revenue. The sum of all businesses revenue is GDP, so cutting consumer costs must cut GDP.

GDP does not place a value on costs.

The costs of constantly rebuilding after floods, fires, wind, etc add to GDP. Growing GDP might best be done by more climate change causing much more capital destruction forcing more labor costs rebuilding capital.

Only people who want to preserve the capital they currently own would want no climate change. Rational action by such people would be paying to prevent climate change, especially if they make money preventing climate change. Preventing climate change requires building capital assets instead of burning capital assets. Ie, buying (rights to mine) land to burn the fossil fuels destroys the capital value by burning the land - that is capital destruction. It promotes global warming that adds heat to the environment fueling all sorts of storms that destroy capital assets by flooding, wind, fire. Recovering from these capital losses incurs costs that add to GDP. OR one can build wind, solar, storage assets, or more productive electricity capital, also at great costs, and thus add systematically to the total capital assets, also increasing GDP from building new capital assets now to reduce capital losses in the future.

Increase GDP now vs increase GDP in the future by increasing costs.

But it's impossible to cut costs to grow GDP.

Broken Window Fallacy. All the way through.

Yes, climate change costs may on net outweigh benefits. Or maybe not. As Tyler correctly observes there is uncertainty in the IPCC estimates. And the IPCC does not have a crystal ball that can predict all possible futures.

It is not really certain that we can know much about the data that we do have. For example, as reported earlier this year by BP, "CO2 emissions from energy use fell by 0.5%, compared with the 10-year average decline of 1.2%. Emissions reached their lowest levels since 1992 and were 13.5% below the peak seen in 2007." Was this the result of good or bad decision-making? Solar and wind subsidies or from fracking? Or maybe both. Or maybe neither and it is simply the offshoring of energy intensive industrial activies to less regulated countries. And how do we know which of these contributory factors is good and which is bad?

Before setting the stage for the IPCC to meddle in the US mid-term elections with their upcoming October surprise report, we might want to back up and ask ourselves how certain we are about the answers to some questions like, what is the optimal averal global temperature? What would be the costs and benefits of maintaining that temperature?
Will control of human activity be sufficient to maintain that optimal temperature? What is the optimal level of CO2 in the atmosphere? How much CO2 is emitted by natural sources such as volcanos and are these emissions constant or do they rise and fall over time? Is there actually a linear relationship between atmospheric CO2 and average global temperature? How much of the global greening trend is attributable to higher CO2 levels and how do we put a price tag on that? Have we determined yet how to falsify climate model projections? Is the IPCC the appropriate body to both summarize the science and propose policy?

In short,we don't have solid understandings of much of anything. Tyler is correct. We can worry all we want to but all we are likely to get out of it are more ethanol promoters and Solyndra campaign finance scams

" Is there actually a linear relationship between atmospheric CO2 and average global temperature?"

No, there's not a linear relationship.

No, the relationship is logarithmic . . . at least as far as the physics of carbon dioxide is concerned. The feedback effects from that warming then are all sorts of debated.

>the relationship is logarithmic

That's true. Each quantity of CO2 you put into the atmosphere traps logarithmically LESS heat.

File under "Things Tyler Did Not Know."

"Each quantity of CO2 you put into the atmosphere traps logarithmically LESS heat."

Yes, this is correct.

Which is interesting because emissions are very likely to peak in the near future, and no one really knows how CO2 sinks will respond, or for that matter what the long-term direction of climate will be after that point. So we may reach equilibrium temperature relatively soon.

But we do know the "long interglacial" model that is widely assumed today would be something unprecedented in the recent geologic record -- no prior interglacial ever survived multiple obliquity cycles.

Good grief, are people still debating the merits of this post? I’ll make my point simpler.

Tyler is pinning his story on a figure of 4 degrees and citing the IPCC report from 2007. Since then temperature estimates have been steadily falling with the latest IPCC report in 2013 forecasting 30-year warming up to 0.7 degree, which means warming could be as little as 1.3 degrees by 2100. And this is from an IPCC that consistently overstates forecasts.

So, he 1) cherry picked an old report and 2) used a forecast that no one credibly uses.

And the irony is that this same story chastized people for simplistic over-reactions to complex problems.


Alas, intelligence doesn't free you from being enslaved by motivated reasoning; you need a whole different skill/character set for that. I'm increasingly relying on such "honest" people rather than the "smartest" people.

Really wish Tyler had written this as a longer essay, where he had the space to explore these ideas in full. This oped is really thought provoking. But I want parts 2, 3, and more.

If climate change increases average sea levels by, say, one meter, through the end of the century that means tens of millions of people are displaced.

Those millions of people are not going to sit around, waiting to drown. They're going to pack up and move.

That's going to destabilize neighboring countries.

"If climate change increases average sea levels by, say, one meter, through the end of the century that means tens of millions of people are displaced."

The average coast line rises about 10 feet per mile inland. So, that would be roughly a third of a mile to cover an additional 3 feet. That's how much populations would have to shift.

"They're going to pack up and move."

Yes, they are going to pack up and move. Around 1,800 feet.


Less, for the average person, as highly populated areas will be protected, and the less populated abandoned.

How is this one meter rise by 2100 going to happen ? The current rate is ~ 32 cm per century and has been fairly stable. It is of note that the sea level was already increasing before significant CO2 increase in the atmosphere.

The climate will be much warmer by the late 21st century than it is now. That means more thermal expansion of the oceans and more melting. The rate of sea level rise is accelerating.

"Their paper, just out in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, isn’t the first to find that the rate of rising seas is itself increasing — but it finds a bigger rate of increase than in past studies. The new paper concludes that before 1990, oceans were rising at about 1.1 millimeters per year, or just 0.43 inches per decade. From 1993 through 2012, though, it finds that they rose at 3.1 millimeters per year, or 1.22 inches per decade."

"Another study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published in 2017, found that, due to sea level rise, flood heights that used to occur every 500 years in New York City now occur every 25 years and are projected to occur every 5 years over the next three decades."

This trend will continue. Stop reading propaganda from the oil industry. Climate change is real and a serious threat.

You say: "From 1993 through 2012, though, it finds that they rose at 3.1 millimeters per year, or 1.22 inches per decade."

That's 31 cm per century which is just what i said ( ~32 cm). We're very far from your " meter" claim

Tyler is correct, a 4c change causing the loss of one year's growth in GDP is not worth worrying about., especially long term. He suggests government will make it worse - how much worse? Twice? Three times? Still not a big deal.

Furthermore, Tyler neglects to consider that government (and politics) will make any attempt to lessen it worse also. Furthermore, the recent evidence tends to indicate a 4C change is at the high end of the likely range at this point.

Exactly! Tyler sets up a false dichotomy that fixing AGW would done "efficiently".

Tyler - do you really believe what you wrote here;

"Brexit is careening toward disaster, with no good plan on tap, the
two major parties in splinters, the British pound declining, the Irish “Good Friday” agreement at risk, and the U.K. seriously talking about food stockpiles and other emergency measures."

I mean talk about alarmist! This kind of over-emotional response is typical of politicians, who need to persuade, but I thought you were more reflective than this.

Tyler is notoriously triggered by Brexit. He has a weird attachment to internationalist, remote, bureaucratic and protectionist structures designed by French people, for some reason.

Wow - who knew that linking to an official UK government web site called 'How to prepare if the UK leaves the EU with no deal

Guidance on how to prepare for Brexit if there's no deal' was beyond the pale here.

There's already a wall between India & Bangladesh:–India_border

I think there is a broader point here that this conversation has so far missed.

Climate change due to human activity may or may not be a civilization breaker. There are certainly arguments to be made on both sides.

But climate change is just one area where human activity significantly changes the world.

Coral reefs are dying
Fisheries are being fished out
Insects are disappearing
Many plant and animal species are becoming extinct

The bottom line is that humans, as puny as climate deniers like to think we are, are having vast effects on other life on this world, the only world we know.

What we have to wake up to is that we are the guardians of this world and the life that is us and supports us.

I doubt we will wake up to that fact.


At the absolute minimum we have to cut back emissions so the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is no longer rising. To delay so the harm caused will be greater makes no sense. The last purchase I made was a plastic jug of Pepsi Max. This is 2 liters of artificially sweetened water that has no nutritional value. Its nutritional value may even be negative. So it's not as if people in developed nations have anything better to do their money. The cost of cutting emissions is low and -- looking at benefits such as improved health from reduced air pollution -- may pay for themselves, so I see no economic argument for delay.

"The cost of cutting emissions is low "

...and the benefits of cutting them, event smaller!

You are a disgrace to an economics blog. Go back to 101 and read the chapters on Return on Investment. And stop conflating particulate air pollution with AGW emissions whilst you are at it.

I am an economist and I have developed a healthy disrespect for large financial models borne out of experience building and using them. When I see other economists cite ludicrous models that can't predict simple things as if they were the Ten Commandments, I don't blame the model builders. I blame the 'economists'. You would think you guys would have more skepticism but....oh that's right, your'e academics living in a pretend world with lots of people with wild and vigorous imaginations and only a tenuous link with reality. Just to keep those harridans and howlers off your back must be an immense burden. More posts about your known reality: restaurants, please and less speculation about scientists speculation based upon grad student's speculation on how to build speculative models.

Way the hell to much speculative BS flying.

I mean it makes you sound clever unless the reader knows what the hell they're talking about. It's a limited upside market. Focus on markets that don't have so many knowledgeable players and available information. Inefficient markets. Like Less Developed World cuisine.

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