*False Alarm*, the new book by Bjorn Lomborg

The subtitle is How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet.

I agree with the author’s claim that climate change is not an existential risk for humanity.  Still, both the title and subtitle bother me.  The alarm does not seem to be a false one, even if many of the worriers make grossly overstated claims about the end of the earth.  And right now “climate change panic” is not costing us “trillions,” rather virtually all countries are failing to reduce their carbon emissions and most are not even trying very hard.

There should be more of a focus on the insurance value of avoiding the worst plausible scenarios, which are still quite bad.  There is no argument in this book which overturns the Weitzman-like calculations that preventive measures are desirable.

I can report that the author endorses a carbon tax, more investment in innovation, and greater adaptation, with geoengineering as a back-up plan, more or less the correct stance in my view.

There is much in this book of value, and the criticisms of the exaggerated worriers are mostly correct.  Still, the oppositional framing of the material doesn’t seem appropriate these days, and Lomborg will have to choose whether he wishes to be “leader of the opposition,” or “provider of the best possible message.”  Or has he already chosen?

Comments

He has clearly already chosen. This path will certainly sell more books, but the long-term damage is unavoidable - even if you grant that the book is excellently researched and well-sourced, the title is phrased such that only those firmly in the opposition can seriously cite it.

how much damage really ?
The linear warming trend since January, 1979 is +0.14 C/decade (+0.12 C/decade over the global-averaged oceans, and +0.18 C/decade over global-averaged land).
How many trillion dollars to reverse this, instead of just adapt to the modest warming.
After all we easily adapt to a 12 C difference day to night but we're supposed to believe a 1.4 C increase over a century , we can't deal with?

The premise of your comment is not clear. The point of the Paris Agreement was to target a permanent warming of no more than 1.5 degree above pre-industrial levels. So in elite policy circles, there is already an acceptance that we will have to adapt to a certain moderate increase in global temperatures even if the world cuts emissions according to the terms of the agreement.

However, a linear trend that extrapolates indefinitely into the future does not accomplish the Paris Agreement objective of limiting warming -- it rather just pushes even more warming further into the future and hopes that humanity has figured out how to adapt. Further, it hopes that there are no positive feedback loops.

The point is that this warming is nothing much to worry about. We can adapt, We have adapted so far.
There is no reason to spend trillions of dollars to try to reverse it. Increased CO2 has in addition a beneficial effect. Increased crop yield and greening of the planet.
The warming is not accelerating, the ocean rise is modest : 31 cm per century and was already rising before CO2 was.

It isn't can, it is must - We must adapt. It isn't as if there is a choice involved at this point.

That’s just your point of view, that we are in a crisis that requires immediate attention. I don’t share that alarmist viewpoint.

No, that is not my point of view at all. Humanity has always been forced to adapt to a changing climate, which is not an alarmist viewpoint but the simple historical reality. We have never had the luxury of not being forced to adapt. You could ask the Vikings in Grœnland about how that works, if it weren't for the fact that climate change led to them dying out.

The historical records indicate that for the most part the Norse in Greenland and Newfoundland did not “die out” but abandoned their settlements and returned to Iceland.

Good for them, always heartening to hear about survivors among those forced to flee their homes due to climate change. The reason for their leaving remains unchanged.

The reason for their leaving remains unchanged.

Yes, a *cooling* climate. Thank goodness we're talking about a global rise in temperature of about 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels, rather than a 2 degree fall (or even a 1 degree fall) in global temperature from pre-industrial levels.

Cat, please read Wrong's comment again with your reading comprehension hat on, because it is also my point of view. We must adapt because we cannot turn the thermostat down. Climate is extremely complex and cutting carbon emissions, even to net zero, would not necessarily slow the warming, which has been going on since the 1880s. And climate change in earlier eras was entirely outside Man's control. So we will only be able to make a marginal difference in what happens so we must (and can) adapt.

I know what the warming is. I just don’t think it's anything to worry about. I don't think 1.6 C per century is a big problem.
If you think it's a big problem, then tell us why.
Spending trillions to fight it and reducing GDP I know is a big problem.
So far in California I see all the efforts have hurt the poor
• Increasing taxes on gasoline -> hurt the poor
• Subsidizing electric cars -> good for the rich, the poor cannot afford them. Electric cars don’t pay gas tax but use roads.
• Forcing electric companies to buy back solar rooftop electricity excess at retail rates -> hurt the poor by making electricity rates more expensive for those who can’t afford solar.
• Pushing solar and wind resulting in highest retail electricity costs in the nation

If you want to help the poor in California, advocate for affordable housing. The things you cite are not nearly as materially significant as housing costs and can easily be mitigated through an offsetting increase in the standard deduction or earned income tax credit at the federal or state levels.

"So we will only be able to make a marginal difference in what happens so we must (and can) adapt."

Since the late 80s, I have not been able to figure out why so many assume almost no technological fix, if necessary, is likely. The assumption is always that 2060 technology will be mostly like 1997 technology.

Actually I think there will be technological fixes (see chapter 25 of my book, sorry for the ongoing commercial, https://www.amazon.com/Fewer-Richer-Greener-Prospects-Abundance/dp/1119526892/; there is also on chapter on Lomborg personally). But if it's cheaper to adapt, we should do that rather than spending trillions on CO2-eating artificial trees and stuff like that.

As in I won't think 1.6 C per century is a big problem.

The current warming rate is accelerating - "Though warming has not been uniform across the planet, the upward trend in the globally averaged temperature shows that more areas are warming than cooling. According to the NOAA 2019 Global Climate Summary, the combined land and ocean temperature has increased at an average rate of 0.07°C (0.13°F) per decade since 1880; however, the average rate of increase since 1981 (0.18°C / 0.32°F) is more than twice as great.

The 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1998, and 9 of the 10 have occurred since 2005. The year 1998 is the only year from the twentieth century still among the ten warmest years on record. Looking back to 1988, a pattern emerges: except for 2011, as each new year is added to the historical record, it becomes one of the top 10 warmest on record at that time, but it is ultimately replaced as the “top ten” window shifts forward in time." From January 16, 2020 at climate gov

Whatever the cause, such a continuing warming trend will force us to adapt to it.

@Modal. If the temperature is increasing and indeed I believe it is ( albeit modestly), then the warmest years on record are more likely to be found among the latest years.
That's just normal ! If that didn't happen it would indeed be surprising.

You only cite only sub-optimal ways of reducing CO2 accumulation. There is no contradiction in opposing those while supporting a tax on net emissions of CO2.

The goal of the climate change hoax is not to reduce carbon emissions or save the planet it is to extort vast sums of money and power to a select few people.

It certainly worked out that way during the Mini Ice Age hoax, didn't it? - to extort vast sums of money and power to a select few people.

The cost of CO2 accumulation that matters is that cost, net of the costs of adaption compared to the deadweight loss of a carbon tax. I'm not aware of any fundamental disagreement over whether to mitigate the costs of CO2 accumulation or not.

But what are the costs of CO2 accumulation ? Since the middle of the 19th century the CO2 concentration has increased from 260 ppm to ~ 410 ppm today. the net increase in temperature since then is 1.6 F (0.89 C)
That's a temperature sensitivity ( rise of temperature per CO2 doubling) of 1.2C .
What has this 1.6 F done to you and this world to date ? Have you had any trouble adapting to this ?

“ Increased CO2 has in addition a beneficial effect. Increased crop yield and greening of the planet.”

This claim is pretty off base and reeks of the propaganda oil and gas companies put out in the 90s about emissions just being plant fertilizer which will negate any warming. Plants quickly bump into other limiting growth factors that minimize the beneficial effect. They also face additional stressors that reduce growth. There are regional pockets that will benefit in higher yields (for specific crops) but the net effect is negative yield growth and a massive need for capital reallocation/destruction to do the “adapting” you’re so fond of. This fact of net negative impact on yields was fairly well established ~10 years ago when I used to teach a course on food geographies. It is even more established now, e.g. a quick search for warming and crop yields articles yielded “the central trend in crop yields under climate change in China: a systemic review” From 2020

Here is a international study on the NASA website . It found increased greening of the earth due to CO2
" Results showed that carbon dioxide fertilization explains 70 percent of the greening effect, said co-author Ranga Myneni, a professor in the Department of Earth and Environment at Boston University. “The second most important driver is nitrogen, at 9 percent. So we see what an outsized role CO2 plays in this process.”

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2016/carbon-dioxide-fertilization-greening-earth
As far as your paper on China. It still found that: "The yields of crop samples that included CO2 effects were 9.23% higher than the yields of those without CO2 effects."
Obviously CO2 is pumped into greenhouses for a reason. There is a pathological reluctance among climate alarmists to admit any beneficial effect from CO2 !
Not only does it boost crop yields by increasing the rate of photosynthesis, it reduces the amount of water crops lose through transpiration, because their stomata don’t open as wide, resulting in increased water-use efficiency.

The difference between scotch on the rocks and scotch and water is about 0.1 C.

The reason the mean air temp is only up by a few tenths is the latent heat in melting ice equal to 20C rise in liquid water, but the even greater latent heat in vaporizing water equal to a 125C temperature rise.

To a large degree, heavy rain in monsoon, hurricanes, and high rates of snow and rain offset the greenhouse effect by moving heat into the high altitudes where it can radiate into space beyond the CO2 otherwise trapping it.

Flooding, rising seas are not existential threats to humankind, but humans suffer often great lose of "wealth" if not life.

Of course, destruction of property makes the rest of property scarcer, inflating its price, making the lucky wealthier, at least for a time.

Its unclear how much global ice has been effectively melted in just two centuries given how much the oceans have been warmed and they will melt lots of ice they contact rapidly in the arctic, at the face of the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctic thus promoting faster glacier movement.

The permafrost temperature increase is another case of melting ice which makes the Trump et al opening of ANWR to drilling fully. Nothing like tens of millions in drilling rigs sinking into newly created lakes from the drilling activity tipping balance from ice to water. Maybe they do all the drilling in winter instead of summer, and spend fuel freezing the ground under the well platforms and pipelines to last the summer melt.

But life did survive the tundra flooded with lava, so life will survive tundra returning to water.

The difference between ice annd water is less than 0.1C

Actually, the latent heat of melting is 80 calories per gram, and of vaporization is 540 calories per gram.

Hahaha. Catinthehat has no conception of exponential accumulation.

Haha. So many vague scary things to be vaguely scared about. Or maybe we can just.. adapt as the cat says.

It isn't can, and there is no maybe about it - We must adapt.

"Hahaha. Catinthehat has no conception of exponential accumulation."

CO2 sensitivity is a log function. IE you have to keep doubling CO2 to have the same temperature rise (2-3C). So, it's NOT an exponential accumulating function.

Isn't the relationship between CO2 accumulation and the greenhouse effect logarithmic, such that it requires a redoubling to achieve the impact of the last doubling?

Yep, and the effect of the doubling is around 1.6*C where the models use 4.5*C. That's one reason they are always so off.

The best estimates are between 1.5 to 4.5C, but yes, it's not a linear probability model and it's more likely to be at the lower range than at the higher range.

From my comment below's link to Judith Curry :"refined efforts to determine values of the equilibrium climate sensitivity from the historical data record obtain values of ECS about 1.6oC, with a range from 1.05 to 2.7oC."

She's about as much a straight shooter as you'll get on this topic.

+1 . His reciprocal alarmism is bad for all of us.

I don't think authors choose their own titles.

Book authors tend to have a lot more say about a title than someone writing for a newspaper, who basically have no control over the headline above their article/column..

I've talked to a couple of authors who didn't really like the title chosen for them but the process was a compromise. You sometimes hear authors say the same thing when discussing their book on a podcast: "It wasn't a title I would have chosen but agreed with it."

"Virtually all countries are failing to reduce their carbon emissions." Huh? The US and EU CO2 emissions are both decreasing almost 1% per year on average over the last five years. I mean, I guess that's a small percentage of countries overall, but that's not how people usually use "virtually all countries."

The narrative demands that progress occur more quickly ... or else. 12 years, or we’re dead.

How much of that "almost 1% pa decline" has been achieved by transfering CO2 producing industries off shore?

Right, the CO2 accounting by country is somewhat arbitrary. If a company in Saudi Arabia sells oil to a company in China that burns it to produce a product that is used by a consumer in the US, I’d argue that the resulting carbon emissions are attributable to all three countries, and it is arbitrary to pick one.

Of course in a carbon tax or cap and trade system, you’d have to pick who is responsible (I’d actually pick the person who mines the fossil fuel out of the ground, because that would be the easiest to administer). Prices would then adjust so that other parties share the cost.

>I’d actually pick the person who mines the fossil fuel out of the ground, because that would be the easiest to administer)

OTOH, it might be unfair to those who use petrochemicals as a feedstock vs. burning them i.e., at least some of the carbon ends up in the finished product and not the air.

Those numbers are being reduced from a very high base though; the US still leads the world in per capita emissions.

"the US still leads the world in per capita emissions."

Actually the US is 4th.

US methane emissions are highly uncertain. In the natural gas price reduction, likely far more is being leaked right now as no one is incentivized to care.

Methane stays in the atmosphere around 9 years compared to 300-1000 for CO2. So, methane, despite being 28x worse than CO2 as a green house gas, isn't considered a long term problem.

The reduction would have been higher without the effects of immigration into societies with high per capita emissions and whose population would have fallen more quickly without it.

Yeah, and that's half the world economy. Just a drop in the bucket.

It seems with the fall in solar energy costs continuing and offshore wind becoming increasingly competitive , the problem, at least in the electricity supply industry is resolving itself. Meanwhile electric cars are getting better in range and cost so the transportation sector is also decarbonising. All this progress was achieved with subsidies, but they are increasingly unnecessary. Perhaps they were never needed as this technology would have emerged anyway. But that is irrelevant now as it is sunk cost. I don’t think anyone should be sad to see the back of coal even if they are a global warming skeptic and so even if that were the only payoff from all the subsidies it would be worthwhile. I think though this won’t be enough for the real radicals behind the AGW who actually wanted a deindustrialised world, not a low carbon version of the one we already had.

Solar/wind will not be enough without nuclear for base load.

The intentions of the "real radicals," annoying as they may be, are irrelevant to the calculation of the cost-benefit of the lowest cost way of reducing and eventually reversing the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Baseload generation isn't required. My state, South Australia, has no power plants that operate in a baseload manner. It also doesn’t constantly import electricity. (The state is a net exporter of electricity.) So imports don’t act as a baseload power station either.

Just to be clear, technically baseload power is the minimum amount of grid power supplied in the past 24 hours. South Australia still has that. But it has no power stations that operate in a baseload mode — that is continuously except for repairs and maintenance.

No. Weather dependent energy lick wind and solar is far costlier than gas and coal: https://edmhdotme.wordpress.com/the-excess-costs-of-weather-dependent-renewable-power-generation-in-the-eu28w/

An LED bulb that costs a couple of bucks, lasts years, and uses a tenth of the electricity is the sort of thing that will make anyone's blood boil. It is un-American.

And without the climate change panic there surely would never have been LED bulbs??

Who knows? But considering how effectively they conserve power while reducing waste heat, one wonders why we detoured into using an obsolete technology for CFLs. Unless one is cynical, and believes that CFLs were just an existing part of what companies like Osram, Philips and GE were involved in manufacturing already.

This article may also be a bit interesting,concerning bulb life and price fixing - The cartel’s grip on the lightbulb market lasted only into the 1930s. Its far more enduring legacy was to engineer a shorter life span for the incandescent lightbulb. By early 1925, this became codified at 1,000 hours for a pear-shaped household bulb, a marked reduction from the 1,500 to 2,000 hours that had previously been common. Cartel members rationalized this approach as a trade-off: Their lightbulbs were of a higher quality, more efficient, and brighter burning than other bulbs. They also cost a lot more. Indeed, all evidence points to the cartel’s being motivated by profits and increased sales, not by what was best for the consumer. In carefully crafting a lightbulb with a relatively short life span, the cartel thus hatched the industrial strategy now known as planned obsolescence. From ieee, The great lightbulb conspiracy

But don't worry, the manufacturers of LED light fixtures have taken a page from history and the consumer CFL market, and made the LEDs non-replaceable, while not putting any major effort into long lived electronic components that keep the light shining. Planned obsolescence remains one of those ideas too alluring to simply give up because a new technology comes along.

Re: one wonders why we detoured into using an obsolete technology for CFLs.

Huh? There was a big push before CFL bulbs back in 00s. But these days LED bulbs abound and and generally first choice at least for lights that spend a lot of time turned on. (I even have some old incandescents still in lamps I seldom use) . I think you need to get out more. Maybe visit a Home Depot or, gasp, a Walmart?

+1, environmentalists and Congress were pushing CFL's. They flourished because of the high taxes that were placed upon normal incandescent bulbs. The idea that it was a corporate conspiracy is just typical internet lunacy.

>lasts years

YMMV.

Of course. I have had one LED bulb die in the last half dozen years. I hate paying less when it means being cheap electronics.

And to be honest - the last LEDs I have bought were just the chips (so to speak) which run off of 12V DC just as well as 120/240V AC. Should be interesting to see how long they last. The first one is only 4 years old at this point, and gets used 3-5 hours a day.

I've been actively using LEDs for the last 10 years and I write the month/day when I put them into service. The downward facing spotlights tend to fail quickly, I think I have 2 of the original 8 I installed 10 years ago still working, and some have been replaced multiple times. I'd hazard a guess and say the MTBF on those is 3-4 years. This is probably a heat related issue. These types come with a built in radiator but the configuration still tends to cause heat build up around the electronics.

My gut call is that the normal A19 bulb types probably last a little longer 5-6 years. They are cheaper and don't have radiators but they have good air flow and the electronics are below the bulb.

However, interestingly, they often seem to fail from power cycling more than they fail from run time. I have two outside that are supposed to be on sensors. But the sensors only last a couple of years. I've got one running for roughly 3 years now, nearly 24/7.

Go nuclear, young man, go nuclear.

Go nuclear, young man, go nuclear.

Try telling that to the ratepayers in South Carolina and Georgia, stuck with the debacles that are the Summer and Vogtle nuclear plant additions (for Summer in SC, it's reactor additions of exactly zero reactors, at a cost of billions of dollars).

"it's reactor additions of exactly zero reactors, at a cost of billions of dollars"

That's almost certainly a factor of regulations versus the technology. That being said, if we are going to have putative regulations against nuclear power then it won't be cost effective.

I don't think new nuclear power is cost effective in the US. We've decided we'd rather have less nuclear power even if is causes more global warming.

Except that the EU just decided to spend another €40B on non-fossil energy - and also decided that uranium is fossil, while natural gas is not. You can't make this sh*t up.

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-climate-change-eu-transitionfund-idUKKBN2472HB?fbclid=IwAR112lZNMnTMKWzquRgDLPXSTeI3DlctueZU0l2jywPqHbaAnz_r5jzCu-g

You lose most people when you claim that Homo sapiens will become extinct. That’s just silly. If anything, the biggest problems from climate change will be migrating billions of Africans coming into regions that due to climate change will progressively beome less and less able to support the level of civilization and lifestyle that we now enjoy.

No, that rhetoric is effective. You scare more than you lose, at that point.

Those Africans are migrating because of poverty, not climate change. The solution is to industrialize Africa so that it isn’t as poor. Even if Africa developed to level of India or Bangladesh (which are also hit extremely hard by climate change), there would be few migrants. Putting brakes on global development due to climate worries would paradoxically make migration worse. The only people who would really have to migrate because of climate change are those living on small islands that could go underwater, and the number of people we are talking about there is very small.

The solution is to industrialize Africa so that it isn’t as poor

Yeah....I can recall reading dozens of papers on this topic, many from the 1960s focusing on lack of capital as the bottleneck to development. Resources were poured in to address this.

The papers from the 90s then switched to human capital from lack of education as the bottleneck. Resources poured in to address this.

At some point it switched to institutional capital. I wonder what they’ll say in 2040.

Kenya and Ghana have grown consistently since 2000 and have broken into the lower-middle income category of countries as classified by the World Bank. Ethiopia and Rwanda are poorer but posted some of the highest growth rates in the world in 2019. Some of these countries have started to do things right, even if there is still a long way to go.

In 1970 Africa accounted for approximately 3% of manufacturing output.

As of 2020 it’s about 2%.

Ouch! Do have a citation for that?

This is from 2013, I doubt it’s improved:

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/01/made-in-africa-the-future-of-production-on-the-continent/

Not that surprising actually. It probably has more to do with much of the rest of the world growing very rapidly (China and the rest of East Asia especially) in that time period. I think that since 2000 Africa looks better.

2% of a radically larger number. Also, Africa is now producing enough food for itself and then a lot for export. Food matters.

"And right now “climate change panic” is not costing us “trillions,” rather virtually all countries are failing to reduce their carbon emissions and most are not even trying very hard."

Well, I have not read the book but I think your comment is wrong. If people had framed this issue appropriately, we would be doing more and would potentially be saving money that might be potentially lost by global warming. This is basic psychology. Once you make an issue a "existential threat" people will challenge you more and if not answered appropriately do less.

Lomborg has already lost credibility with environmentalists because he has challenged extreme predictions and exaggerations. His previous statements against climate alarmism have convinced some folks that he is a "denier." A similar process happened with Roger Pielke Jr. It's quite possible that the book title will have little effect on environmentalists (who already have written him off) and will increase his visibility among conservatives (who desperately need a more intelligent vocabulary around climate and other environmental issues). The book could have a net positive impact.

"conservatives (who desperately need a more intelligent vocabulary around climate and other environmental issues)"

Yes, absolutely, the lack of sophistication on the part of conservatives is a serious problem for opponents of quack environmentalism.

A lot of the debate is about the quacks on both sides.

100% agree, Marc. The cost-benefit argument against massive environmental interventions is rarely articulated and virtually unknown among the public. If rank-and-file conservatives are going to reflexively rally around some growth-oriented line of thought, better one that actually has some merit and depth than the untenable climate-denialist one that they've been clinging to.

Absolutely! I have often been mystified by the lack of cost-benefit analysis in the popular climate debate, even though that is a decisive question in the economics of climate change. The activists' premise appears to be: if anthropogenic climate change is real, we must do everything possible to stop it. Conservatives, inexplicably, seem to tacitly accept that premise, because they reflexively argue that the science is wrong. It would be a far better position to argue that even if the predictions are true, we still should figure out the optimal policy path using cost-benefit analysis.

Cost-benefit analysis is step 2 of solving the climate issue (or any problem). Step 1 is acknowledging and admitting that the problem is real. We haven't gotten past step 1 yet.

"And right now 'climate change panic' is not costing us 'trillions,' rather virtually all countries are failing to reduce their carbon emissions and most are not even trying very hard."

Bad timing on this comment, given the Atlantic Coast Pipeline cancellation today. Fracking has been the technology of the decade, fundamentally altering the economics of energy (independent US firms now swing producers rather than cartel) as well as geopolitics (less influence of Russia and Saudi Arabia). And, of course, the transition to natural gas has allowed the US to cut carbon emissions. However, climate change panic threatens to reverse or at least stall all of this progress. I don't know if it adds up to "trillions", but blocking pipeline construction has been quite costly.

More generally, climate change panic is one leg of the Woke Fundamentalist Theocracy trifecta. (The other two legs are income inequality and social justice/PC.) Theocracy can cause "trillions" in damages to an otherwise liberal society, and Woke Fundamentalism has already infiltrated many of our previously secular institutions in academia, corporate PR and HR, government, and media. Our society needs credible secular institutions to function.

Independent US firms are now the swing producer rather than cartel is not true at 40 dollars a barrel.

"EIA estimates U.S. crude oil production fell from a record 12.9 million b/d in November 2019 to 11.4 million b/d in May 2020 as Baker Hughes reported the fewest active drilling wells in the United States in their records which go back to 1987. EIA expects U.S. crude oil production will continue to decline, to 10.6 million b/d in March 2021, then increase slightly through the end of 2021. EIA forecasts that U.S. crude oil production will average 11.6 million b/d in 2020, down 0.7 million b/d from 2019. In 2021, EIA expects U.S. crude oil production will average 10.8 million b/d. This 2020 production decline would mark the first annual decline since 2016. " Release Date: June 9, 2020 https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/steo/report/us_oil.php Ironically, the next report will be released today.

The costs of sub-optimal ways of reducing CO2 accumulation are not arguments against the optimal way. The costs of these sub-optimal measures may already be a significant fraction of if not greater than the deadweight loss of a tax on net CO2 emissions.

Tag team timing for the skeptics:

https://quillette.com/2020/06/30/on-behalf-of-environmentalists-i-apologize-for-the-climate-scare/

Both the title and subtitle of Shellenberger's book "Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All" are probably more palatable to Tyler.

Climate change is not an existential threat to Tyler, or necessarily to humanity writ large in the next several hundred years, but cities he claims to love (Singapore, Mumbai, several others) will be either geographically or realistically/socially incapable of "adaptation." Climate change will destroy cities and that means it will destroy nations. The big question is when will Tyler realize that and start using his force to help blunt the impacts of climate change.

TC: "There is no argument in this book which overturns the Weitzman-like calculations that preventive measures are desirable."

Weitzman's calculation was based on an error the IPCC made about risks and then corrected. Weitzman didn't update that correction.

Most of the largest cities in the world were either uninhabited or small towns a few hundred years ago. We shouldn't necessarily expect cities to be immortal, and it isn't a trivial assumption that it's worth the many trillions of dollars it might take to prevent some coastal cities from eventually becoming uninhabitable. Appeal to sentimentalism is often effective, but not rational.

Your framing of of this issue "sentimentalism" is absurd. A few hundred years ago, we didn't have the electric grid. So if the electric grid disappeared, we would be fine. We could just replace it.

Are you insane? Do you have any sense of the massive investment that humanity has placed in coastal cities? Do you understand the cost to infrastructure of abandoning them? Have you considered the consequences that a mass diaspora will have to human capital? Or am I just being sentimental?

Yes, I'm aware of the cost of relocating large populations. I live in a country that was populated by a different race three centuries ago and that exists in its current form because tens of millions of Europeans came over in leaky boats and settled/conquered it. (I live in the United States, in case I didn't make it obvious.) It is in fact possible to move house, especially when the Russians or Germans are after you, or when there is nothing to eat in Ireland. I am not trivializing the human and financial cost, but it is not the end of the world, and we now have weather satellites and airplanes and such, which make relocating cheaper and much less dangerous.

"And right now “climate change panic” is not costing us “trillions,” rather virtually all countries are failing to reduce their carbon emissions and most are not even trying very hard."

Are you saying that if countries were using trillions, then obviously it would work? And as for the claim, I suggest you look up "Energiewende", or anything to do with offshore wind power. Remember to also calculate the value of the extra energy produced - right now, we have negative electricity prices here. So, billion-dollar investments producing negative value, mostly out of taxpayer pockets.

...and if you want to talk insurance, you need to explain why all the money uselessy wasted actually helps to "insure" anything.

The average electricity price is negative? Well, you're going to have a boom in aluminium production.

"The average electricity price is negative? "

He didn't say that. The electricity price is going negative for certain periods. Unless the power can be economically stored or somehow offset, it's just going to be wasted.

Found the engineer

He wrote: "Remember to also calculate the value of the extra energy produced - right now, we have negative electricity prices here. So, billion-dollar investments producing negative value, mostly out of taxpayer pockets."

Which sounds like he is pretty confused as negative prices are also a feature of wholesale electricity markets that were entirely fossil fuel supplied.

Negative electricity prices are a method of preventing energy from being wasted. When prices go negative consumers increase consumption. We are going to shift from ancient 30 minute pricing to 20th century 5 minute pricing in about a year and it will allow consumers to take much greater benefit of brief periods of low, zero, and negative electricity prices by increasing consumption. This will reduce volatility in the wholesale electricity market. Of course energy storage -- here mostly pumped hydro and batteries -- will also benefit.

The average electricity price isn't negative, but supply and demand will force the price to be low when the wind blows and the sun shines - all the way down to negative prices. So the economic surplus produced by wind and solar is going to be much less than the average production times the average price - and, when you subtrract the costs of production, not unlikely to be negative overall.

And sure, this is good for aluminium and other power-hungry industries, but if prices fluctuate with available power, you have the choice between running your factory at significantly higher costs or closing it down when the wind doesn't blow. Capital investment is still a factor, and industry that only runs half of the time gives lower returns.

"And sure, this is good for aluminium and other power-hungry industries,"

No it's not. Aluminum and other such industries are heavily capital intensive. They have to run as much as sales and time will permit to cover the capital costs. No heavy industry can run off the surplus from a few hours of minimal energy costs per day. Not when German electricity costs are on average extremely high.

"and industry that only runs half of the time gives lower returns."

It would almost certainly have negative returns. And even if you took the cheapest 12 hours out of every 24 hours, the average costs in Germany would be too high. (unless the German's give large electricity subsidies to industry, which they might?)

Pipe dream

Carbon taxes do not work when inflation adjustments already embedded and government programs. Green infrastructure means the selected group get a pass on carbon taxes. There is one thing that works, and no one wants is because it leaves no exceptions for their pals.

Tort works. Prove that your lifestyle would cause an expectation of pre-industrial climes and you get to collect penalties from the defendant, oil. Your damage award mitigated by uncertainty.

This works, it will not happen. 100% of the traditional solutions all say the same thing, my pals get a free pass, without exception. If anyone really cared they would create the tort court, and we get it exactly on the nose, weighted by uncertainty, the problem solves and no one gets a free pass.

Never happen, so forget about government doing anything. No one if voting for climate rules where the politicians pals get a free pass.

I've never heard of this idea before, but it makes sense. Too bad there'll never be the political will for it. You're right that all of the other solutions just create a loss that is passed onto some unfavored group.

"Tort works."

Command and control doesn't work. State: No altering Lake Ontario shoreline. Rich guy bulldozes land and puts up new mansion and says go ahead and fine me, I'll pay the fine.

" Prove that your lifestyle would cause an expectation of pre-industrial climes and you get to collect penalties from the defendant"

The trial lawyers dream. Find clients, push them to sue.

Tyler, I'm glad about the timing of Lomborg's and Shellengerger's books. They are published just when we are adjusting and adapting to a new virus, one that was sold as if it was going to mean the end of the world. Two false alarms? Maybe, but as of today, we can argue either way.

It's time for good analysts to compare the two alarms. How are you going to compare them?

"I agree with the author’s claim that climate change is not an existential risk for humanity." - I have two problems with this. 1.) Climate change is PROBABLY not an existential risk. The pathways which could lead to our extinction are unlikely, but not the null set. A better question/answer would be:Could GCC be a major factor in our extinction? Maybe, but not likely. 2.) If we agree that if humanity were reduced to families of nomadic hunter-gatherers then "humanity" would still exist, then ok. But if we argue that our humanity is more than just biology, then it seems to me it is a lot less certain that it isn't at risk. OTOH, in 100 years a lot will have changed, and that would have been true with or without GCC. Antibacterial resistance, water, and population are all threats. As are nuclear weapons, a.i., and DNA-RNA-gene-tech. As has been the case for the last 50-75 yrs, the biggest threat to humanity is itself.

The phrase "existential threat" has been thrown around so much in the past few years, including by Tyler, that it seems as if people have forgotten what existential means.

A nuclear war would be quite bad for law and order for a while and at the very worst could kill over a billion people. Quite bad, but there would still be 7 billion humans left if the war happened in 2025.

Re: A nuclear war would be quite bad for law and order for a while and at the very worst could kill over a billion people.

Hmm. A single death is a tragedy. A billion is a statistic?

It would of course depend very much on what is meant by "nuclear war". India and Pakistan fling a few nukes at each other? Horrific locally, but a death toll maybe even under 100 million depending on the details of those blasts (airbursts during the monsoon season = little fallout and few firestorms with climatic consequences).
But a major exchange between the US and either China or Russia? You're looking at the death of a major fraction of the human race by the time all the smoke clears.

Well, yeah, 1/7 is a major fraction of humanity. Look at how many Russian and American nukes can hit cities larger than 100,000, of which there are a lot in both countries. Fallout would kill a tiny percent so 1 billion may overstate lives lost in an all out nuclear war. The public watches movies so has assumed for decades that 500 people survive.

You're leaving out the somewhat longer term deaths from the climatic consequences of a major nuclear exchange, and those resulting from the collapse of the world economy, power grid failure, massive epidemics, and general anarchic conditions. Fallout deaths depend very crucially on where the nuke detonate. Airbursts = little fallout, Ground bursts create heavy fallout. The former are likely to be used against distributed at-ground target (e.g., cities), the latter against military targets (missile bases, underground command centers)

"Climate change is PROBABLY not an existential risk. The pathways which could lead to our extinction are unlikely, but not the null set."

Would you care to list trends that could "possibly" be an existential risk to humanity? Off the top of my head:

1) Nuclear weapons
2) Biological weapons
3) Artificial intelligence
4) Large asteroid/comet collision
5) Significant change in the solar output
6) Solar system passing through a dense nebula
7) Negative birthrate across species for extended period
8) Natural plague
9) Alien contact
10) Super Volcano
11) Black hole passing through Sol System
etc

The point being that many things have a non-Zero risk of destroying the human race. Climate change is one of the item on the list of things that have a less than 0.1% chance of destroying the human race.

The only ones possible are #3 A.I., #5 solar output and #10 a super volcano but the last two depend on what scientists think about those possibilities as with the killer asteroid which couldn't hit until the distant future. Realistically, A.I. is the only potential threat so far.

All of them are "possible" to some very small level of probability. But yes, the chances are vanishingly small, which was of course, my point.

Also, I wouldn't rule out #7. Sophisticated robotic dolls & virtual reality might be much better than actual old fashioned sex.

We will have asteroid protection up in 15 years and it is impossible to be hit by a large enough one within 100,000 years so in that case the probability goes to 0.

7.Not numerically possible. Maybe you mean a negative population growth rate. We already have that in many countries.

Whether the median estimate of the costs of the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere are greater than the true mean (even leaving aside the tail risk), the policy issue is, is the NPV of the deadweight loss of a carbon tax less than the loss the mean?

There is probably a worthwhile book addressed to those who are estimating costs to be more circumspect with their messaging, demonstrating how exaggerated estimates reduce the credibility of their message and paradoxically lead others to adjust their priors of the cost downward, but does not appear to be that book.

Nevertheless, I think he major obstacle to a carbon tax is not an underestimate of the costs of CO2 accumulation (brought about by mistakenly high public estimates of that cost or whatever), but by overestimates of the deadweight loss of a carbon tax.

I would say the environment serves humans, and humans should protect the environment to ensure that it continues to serve them. Global warming is real but not yet existential. By contrast, poverty remains the reality for billions of people.

I would argue that people who are already comfortable such as myself should voluntarily reduce consumption in order to reduce emissions, but poor people should prioritize economic growth and should not be forced by rich world governments to cut their emissions (which are a tiny fraction of the rich world’s emissions per capita anyway). Meanwhile we look for a technological solution and perhaps some kind of carbon tax (or I would prefer an international cap-and-trade system where every individual gets the same carbon allotment and rich-world companies can buy the excess carbon allotments from poor people who don’t emit much, so that payments for carbon emissions go to the world’s poor who are most vulnerable to both the economic and environmental consequences of warming rather than to rich-world governments).

From Douglas Hofstadter’s "Metamagical Themas"

“Raymond Smullyan, in his book This Book Needs No Title, provides a perfect example of the kind of thing I am talking about. It is a story about two boys fighting over a piece of cake. Billy says he wants it all, Sammy says they should divide it equally. An adult comes along and asks what's wrong. The boys explain, and the adult says, "You should compromise-Billy gets three quarters, Sammy one quarter." This kind of story
sounds ridiculous, yet it is repeated over and over in the world, with loudmouths and bullies pushing around meeker and fairer and kinder people. The "middle position" is calculated by averaging all claims together, outrageous ones as well as sensible ones, and the louder any claim, the more it will count. Politically savvy people learn this early and make it their credo; idealists learn it late and refuse to accept it. The idealists are like Sammy, and they always get the short end of the stick. “

We have some sheltered idealists here who think we live in a fair world where truth is the only thing that matters.

When one side is making outrageous and exaggerated claims that are amplified by the news media and Hollywood, the way to counter their damage is not to dispassionately state the facts and nothing but the facts, especially when even those facts are dismissed as denialism in the news and censored on social media.

Armin, in the example you provide -- who made the cake?

No idea. The analogy isn't perfect. It's just a demonstration of the folly of fighting fair when the other side isn't

Good post from Judith Curry - one of the rational warmists out there :
https://judithcurry.com/2019/12/14/the-toxic-rhetoric-of-climate-change/#more-25488

In the years since the 5th Assessment Report, the uncertainty has grown. The latest climate model results – prepared for the forthcoming IPCC 6th Assessment Report – shows that a majority of the climate models are producing values of ECS exceeding 5oC. The addition of poorly understood additional processes into the models has increased confusion and uncertainty. At the same time, refined efforts to determine values of the equilibrium climate sensitivity from the historical data record obtain values of ECS about 1.6oC, with a range from 1.05 to 2.7oC.

Curry's post ends with this: "JC message to Extinction Rebellion and other doomsters: Not only do you know nothing about climate change, you also appear to know nothing of history. You are your own worst enemy — you are triggering a global backlash against doing anything sensible about protecting our environment or reducing our vulnerability to extreme weather. You are making young people miserable, who haven’t yet experienced enough of life to place this nonsense in context." This is coming from someone who believes in GW, and is every bit an expert as any of the doomsdayers.

"doesn’t seem appropriate": well that will never do. Showing intellectual courage: how dare he?

So... the framing is wrong, the central premises about are "false claims" and "trilions" are wrong, and the title is wrong.

Other than that, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln?

False alarm in the sense of the volume of the alarm is certainly true. Trillions might be an exaggeration.

A leader of the opposition with "more or less the correct stance" could be a good thing.

I wonder if there's any similarities to draw from here?

Scientists, in an unprecedented situation they view as a major threat to public health, must develop global-scale models from scratch. These scientists earnestly believe that significant preemptive action is required to alter what they view as a likely trajectory of adverse outcomes.

Facing well-financed opposition driven by partisan politics and vested financial interests, the scientists find themselves attacked, undermined, and interfered with, Their findings are not only challenged, they are politicized, misrepresented, and altered by political appointees. A small number of opposition scientists, who get their funding from the vested interests, attack their peers as fools and corrupt. Propaganda and misinformation cloud the story and confuse the public.

A portion of the public that is loyal to one partisan faction seizes on the fog of misinformation and insists that the concern is overblown, and that the scientists are corrupt and part of global authoritarian or anti-capitalist conspiracies. They refuse to acknowledge any validity whatsoever, and cling to a variety of quackery and denialism to continue their lives un-altered. Refusing to change their behavior even slightly, and couching this refusal as a matter of principle and resistance - and sanctifying their current particular mode of daily life as God-granted and fixed.

As evidence accumulates that the scientists were correct in the general direction, if not exact magnitude, of the issue, the denialists continue to insist that this direction will in fact have overall salutatory effects for the pollution, albeit at some significant localized human cost for an unspecified portion of the population.

Denialists insist that bad news is in fact good news, that exceptions disprove the rule, and that revisions of the models prove the malfeasance and incompetence of the experts.

Denialists reject what they call the over-hyped rhetoric of the experts as hysteria, yet then frame this call to action as an over-hyped existential threat to their way of life.

The denialists insist that the economic cost of dealing with this issue is too high, and that the system cannot possible adapt. (While ignoring the economic cost of inaction). At the same time, they insist that humans will magically "adapt" to the situation. But they do not say how. It is not explained how an economy would supposedly be destroyed by one set of deliberate methodical adaptations, but magically adapt without leadership or planning to another set of externally-driven circumstances .

It is not explained how humans will "adapt," in an environment where the problem is denied, where the messengers are de-legitimized, where the entire issue is framed as a partisan political battle, where even basic steps to address the issue are derided and rejected, and where the nation's leadership not only refuses to acknowledge the problem, but actively rejects it, and steadfastly refuses to deploy its resources and enact effective mechanisms to address it.

I think you're missing the part where the scientists dramatically exaggerate their claims in order to promote their preferred policy responses.

Indeed. I skipped the part where the world's experts conspire to deliberately and knowingly exaggerate their claims because they are part of the Agenda 21 global socialist agenda.

Not just once (climate change) but twice (covid).

Don't be ridiculous, it's not a conspiracy. It's just the way they think.

Take the coronavirus example. Most scientists preferred solution was lockdowns. To achieve that they produced models that dramatically overstated how many cases and deaths there would be. But this was not a conspiracy, they were "erring on the side of caution". They said "look at this apocalyptic scenario, it could be this bad! You need to do what we're advising!".

Yet that threat never materialised. We now see that most excess deaths from coronavirus can be accounted for by two years of weak flu seasons. Lockdown proponents say "it's because you did what we said", but in fact countries with wide disparities in response have very similar outcomes.

The same thing with Climate Change: It's a crisis and you have to do what we say or the consequences will be apocalyptic. The whole thing is overwrought. Moderate voices are shut down because they're considered "dangerous". How many times have we heard that scientists should only say things that are "helpful", where that clearly means supportive of the panic. I suppose they would say they're only trying to prevent giving people a "false sense of security".

Scientific institutions are losing their credibility because they lack candor.

You do realize that the right has in fact routinely referred to both as conspiracies?

The lack of candor comes from the politicians and their contributors, However it has indeed infected credibility, and effectiveness, across the board.

I'm not making claims about the Right, and indeed they do believe in a lot of silly conspiracies (as does the Left, really), nor am I talking about politicians.

Scientists themselves are doing these things.

I'm not against the "elites" or "anti-science". I happen to be a scientist. But I've been seeing first-hand the effect of these kinds of orthodoxies in science. So many people are doing science now in order to "change the world" rather than to discover the truth.

I sympathize with it in some ways. Scientists are entitled to their opinions too and naturally a scientists opinion on these matters is more informed than that of others. But it's clear that they deliberately skew the information they present in order to elicit their preferred responses. It's a widespread but decentralized form of deception that's difficult to counter and I think that in the long term it is bad for the scientific community.

it's clear that they deliberately skew the information they present in order to elicit their preferred responses.

>> Naturally, some scientific evidence would be nice here.

It's a widespread but decentralized form of deception that's difficult to counter and I think that in the long term it is bad for the scientific community.

>> If true, I agree with you. Personally, there is already a very real widespread pressure that is difficult to counter from corporate "science," from hostile politicians, irresponsible and ignorant media, university fundraising goals, and meddling political appointees that are pushing scientists to shade the results AWAY from their supposed idealism you describe.

Very well said.

To be clear, very well said Steven.

That’s certainly a dramatic Manichaean view of the world. I’m sure it describes your feelings well.

Has any state passed a carbon tax yet? Has the House passed a carbon tax?

That is certainly a classic troll sophist response.

And, as it turns out, Bingo!

So we’re in agreement then, the number of Democrat controlled states with a carbon tax is zero.

The Democrat controlled House has also not passed a carbon tax.

I’ll throw it right here: falsifiable hypothesis -

1) by 2024 no Democrat controlled state will pass a carbon tax

2) By 2024 no Democrat controlled state will enact a pro-nuclear power policy

Which means the partisan makeup of the state is entirely irrelevant as to the presence or lack of effective anti-global warming policy

And the lack of carbon tax at the state level proves what exactly?

And how does that generalize into representing the entirety of climate policy?

"And the lack of carbon tax at the state level proves what exactly?"

It proves that despite the rhetoric, the Democratic leadership realizes that Global Warming is not an existential threat. That AOC for example is completely wrong.

By your standard, we MUST assume that the GOP is not serious about outlawing abortion.

"we MUST assume that the GOP is not serious about outlawing abortion."

"Early Abortion Bans: Which States Have Passed Them?

Alabama – No abortion after 0 weeks. Allows exceptions if the woman's life is threatened. No exceptions for rape or incest."

lol. Alabama. That's one.

ok. I concede. They are serious about it in Alabama.

It means your entire Manichean worldview is wrong, but even worse than that it's entirely irrelevant.

To use your own framing:

On a more micro level it means that as soon as a price is attached to the virtue signaling the "Good and Noble Tribe's" demand for signaling drops to zero. The "Evil and Stupid Tribe" isn't even relevant to the discussion.

Wow, a failure by unidentified state governments (presumably during unspecified periods of legislative monopoly) to enact a state-level tax on a borderless global problem, that would surely be challenged and likely struck down by the Repulican federal government and Republican Supreme Court, DISPROVES MY ENTIRE WORLDVIEW (or at least your strawman version thereof).

ouch. I need some ice cream.

That's an incredibly bizarre response.

I don't see why this is so hard to grasp: as soon as there is an actual cost associated with anti global warming policies the support drops to almost nothing among Democrat voters and policymakers. Your political outgroup isn't even relevant to the discussion, it's vetoed internally by your ingroup every single time.

There are plenty of states with Democrat control including legislative monopolies. There are even states like Washington with referenda in which carbon tax policies have continually failed at the ballot box.

Again, it's vetoed internally by your own ingroup. Blaming the outgroup doesn't even make sense.

Well, you have proven that much of the elected Dem leadership is not wiling to enact climate policy that is opposed by the oil lobby. I completely agree with you on that.

Of course, that also disproves the right wing canard that the same Dem leadership is composed of socialist anti-fracking zealots. However, that contradiction won't stop a dedicated troll from making these contradictory claims.

The idea that at a failed ballot measure = a veto is wishful nonsense. The idea that the absence of climate policy progress somehow proves that the GOP is invisible on this issue, or that my worldview is negated by it, that is a delusional underpants gnome too far, even for you.

I'm not right wing, so I really couldn't care less about disproving or proving 'right wing canards'. It's not germane to the discussion.

Well, you have proven that much of the elected Dem leadership is not wiling to enact climate policy that is opposed by the oil lobby. I completely agree with you on that.

You don't need a conspiracy where the oil lobby somehow controls a majority of Democrat voters and policymakers. It's much simpler than that.

The elasticity of demand for oil (and most carbon products) is low in the short and medium terms. It's inelastic. That means any actual effective carbon policy and all of the related costs are going to be passed onto the consumers. That means higher prices. That means pissed off voters regardless of the letter on their voter registration form. Politicians want to get reelected.

Of course, that also disproves the right wing canard that the same Dem leadership is composed of socialist anti-fracking zealots. However, that contradiction won't stop a dedicated troll from making these contradictory claims.

Again I'm not right wing and don't care about canards. I also don't suffer from the outgroup homogeneity bias fallacy. Dem leadership is composed of a myriad of individuals with different interests and constituencies, treating them as a monolith would be the worst of all things: irrational and inaccurate.

The idea that at a failed ballot measure = a veto is wishful nonsense. The idea that the absence of climate policy progress somehow proves that the GOP is invisible on this issue, or that my worldview is negated by it, that is a delusional underpants gnome too far, even for you.

I'll ignore the ad hominem. To use Washington specifically, the referenda failed multiple times in a state which Obama won 57 to 40. These measures failed 59 to 40. A large % of Dems are repeatedly voting no on these measures, and it has nothing to do with the oil lobby.

The Manichean worldview is clearly wrong, since it's not even your dreaded outgroup stopping the progress. Democrats don't need anyone in your outgroup at all to agree with them, these measures could pass right now in a plethora of states with literally 100% outgroup opposition.

If that isn't clear:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manichaeism

Basing your argument on state referendum is idiotic and you know it.

I will give you points for creativity though; trying to twist your defense of the right into an imputed proof of negative space on the left through the absence of legislative progress, is, well, unique.

Alas, the only logical consistency is your apparent obsession with contradicting me at every chance.

I don't need state referenda. It's the entire absence of any actual carbon tax legislation in any Democrat controlled state, at any level of governance. The referenda is only the further proof it's not "evil elites" betraying the populace that proves the point. It's the will of the voters.

I don't need to "defend the right" as it doesn't pertain to me at all, you partisan nutjob.

I only contradict you when you contradict reason and logic. I have no interest in your culture war bullshit writ large whatsoever.

I do, however, have an interest in logical discourse. Mainchaean insanity is the opposite of logical discourse

I Ignore any person views on climate science -on either side - unless they can explain the formation of rainbows.

It's fairies riding on unicorns who paint them. Or maybe unicorn-sceptics and fairy-deniers claim it's to do with refraction. But they are paid by Big Oil so we can ignore them.

...and why the secondary rainbow has the colors in the inverse order of the primary rainbow.

"I can report that the author endorses a carbon tax, more investment in innovation, and greater adaptation, with geoengineering as a back-up plan, more or less the correct stance in my view."

I agree, but it runs up against basic problem that as a species we are smart, but not that smart.

Young men will prefer fast cars to environmental action for reasons related to basic biology more than higher cognition.

Tesla will accommodate both!

This was unexpected Good Fortune.

So words do matter. "Cost us Trillions" is not "Will Cost us Trillions". How, exactly, have we already spent trillions on climate change? Cap-n-trade was not passed. The climate accord was voluntary to begin with and for the most part countries simply used their trend productivity to take credit for achieving their goal.

I guess you could say fuel economy standards on cars have cost us something to accomplish, but they were a thing before climate change was big because of pollution and concerns about being dependent on foreign oil.

Shorter Tyler: this book pretty much nails it, but I will stand apart and hold my nose for reasons.

Come on Brian, can't you see how Lomborg is constantly used in a bait and switch?

"Lomborg says we shouldn't worry so much, so let's not do anything."

as opposed to

"Lomborg has concrete recommendations, let's actually do those."

+1 this will happen.

There is no constituency for "let's not do anything". 100% made of straw.

In April, 2019 one of our young genius leaders told us:

"Climate change is here + we’ve got a deadline: 12 years left to cut emissions in half."

This is alarming. Also false.

Wow, is that a 1000% fail. Invoking Greta as "my" leader, and then not endorsing Lomborg's action plan at all.

Hint: The action plan that Tyler draws from Lomborg, and which I endorse, did not come from Greta.

But rank tribalism noted.

AOC, Congresswoman

Holey smokes.

I endorse Tyler, endorsing Lomborg, and you keep naming cultural enemies.

If this doesn't nail the dysfunction what does?

Note that if you really want to prove that "do nothing" is a straw man, just point me to the GOP climate action plan.

The stronger that plan is, the stronger your argument becomes.

Jeez, man, I was just pointing out that Greta did not figure in my narrative, correcting your misimpression. Get a grip.

Does it really matter which young liberal female you were calling out, rather than advancing a conservative plan?

(IIRC the UN published something about 12 years, and then "the girls" picked up, because of course they would.)

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/08/global-warming-must-not-exceed-15c-warns-landmark-un-report

If there’s a conservative plan, I’d say it can be summarized as:

1) don’t ban fracking
2) let natural gas replace coal via the market
3) the US just by following 1 and 2 will decline in emissions year over year continuously until coal is phased out completely
4) this is all irrelevant since China and India are going to keep rising in emissions anyways, so it’s mostly theater
5) economic growth is the key factor since it’s much easier to adapt if our society is twice as rich

I wouldn’t endorse it, although I believe 4 and 5 are at least mostly true

The declining cost of solar / wind /batteries make 4 irrelevant in the the long run. The costs are all ready below the cost of building a new coal facility in the West, they are even below the operational costs of some existing facilities. Eventually, they'll be below the costs for China and India also.

Caveat: There's an implicit assumption that the cost of mining coal and transporting it doesn't become dramatically cheaper.

To be clear, there are rational discussions to be had on how to allocate between these (below), but how many on this page are even trying?

"I can report that the author endorses a carbon tax, more investment in innovation, and greater adaptation, with geoengineering as a back-up plan, more or less the correct stance in my view."

In terms of the harshness of Tyler's closing, we might wonder about someone who puts False Alarm at the title, and an action plan buried deeper.

If he understands that his market is the "do nothings," it might be a bit complicit.

"Shorter Tyler: this book pretty much nails it, but I will stand apart and hold my nose for reasons."

+1, Tyler might be correct about the cost of Trillions, but he could have just noted that the likely wasted costs are more likely in the billions.

False, false, false.

We are in fact spending trillions.

The alarmist Climate Policy Institute reports:

"Annual tracked climate finance in 2017 and 2018 crossed the USD half-trillion mark for the first time. Annual flows rose to USD 579 billion, on average, over the two-year period of 2017/2018, representing a USD 116 billion (25%) increase from 2015/2016. The rise reflects steady increases in financing across nearly all types of investors."

And that does not include the increases in electricity rates imposed upon consumers to finance cronyist wind and solar schemes, nor the economic damage caused by these very real carbon taxes.

Nor does this include the opportunity cost imposed upon developing countries and the hundreds of millions of people forced to forego electricity because the Obama Administration blocked affordable energy development projects in Africa and elsewhere.

Yes, there are two sides to climate change: the people suffering from the depredations of the cronyist alternative energy cabals; and, the cronyist industries milking fear, ignorance, and hysteria for all the rents they can. Tyler has chosen his side.

Half a trillion is not trillions. And it assumes 100% of wind/solar financing is just pure spending added to your electric bill. Newsflash, your electric bill is nothing but financing all electric generation.

Anyway I spent $20K for my solar panels, got a $7K one time tax credit and haven't had an electric bill since. What is my impact on the poor? The $7K? The $20K? Does it matter that when it is hot and electric demand is high, my house is not part of that demand?

" Annual flows rose to USD 579 billion, on average, over the two-year period of 2017/2018, representing a USD 116 billion (25%) increase from 2015/2016. " Equals 1.04 T For just 4 years.

Imagine I said "Trump's policy of supporting coal and oil is costing trillions" and as evidence I cited the costs of running coal mines and oil wells...cost of payroll, parts, repairs, etc. without bothering to even note that coal mines and oil wells sell their output for money.

You're being stupid here. When I spend $20K on the panels that was counted as part of the 'flow' but you're counting that as if it was all climate change. You have to subtract the value of the electricity generated by those panels, which is used by the grid whether or not anyone cares about climate change.

First, Lomborg didn’t claim “trillions per year” only trillions.

Second, you are probably being subsidized with preferential feed-in tariffs, net metering, or the like, that transfer costs to other consumers, raising their rates by forcing them to pay twice for the feed in from your solar panels at exorbitant rates, first by the grid operator who is required to pay for your surplus even if not needed, and secondly when the grid operator has to pay another grid operator to offload the surplus power generated on sunny days.

Many people don’t understand these cronyist schemes. Renewable energy focus .com explains:

“Feed-in tariffs, net metering and so-called preferential tariffs are all price-based support instruments. In order to qualify for being labelled a feed-in tariff, the support instrument in place should consist of at least the following design options: a purchase obligation, and a stable tariff payment which is guaranteed over a long period of time. First, the purchase obligation obliges the nearest grid operator to buy all renewable electricity – independent of electricity demand. Second, the renewable power producer is guaranteed a certain amount of money per unit of electricity that is produced. Third, this payment is guaranteed over a long period of time (usually 15 to 20 years), which increases investment security and allows for cost amortisation.
Feed-in tariffs should not be confused with net-metering mechanisms, another price-based support instrument. Net metering is a concept mostly applied for the promotion of decentralised solar electricity in many regions of the USA and other parts of the world. Under this support scheme, independent power producers have the right to get connected to the grid and the local utility is obliged to purchase all excess electricity – that means all electricity that is not needed for local consumption.”

This deal you are probably getting is also part of another consumer welfare destroying scheme called a “renewable portfolio standard” which is the most popular cronyist scheme to transfer wealth from consumers to cronyist rent-seekers:

“Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) are the largest and perhaps most popular climate policy in
the US, having been enacted by 29 states and the District of Columbia. Using the most compre-
hensive panel data set ever compiled on program characteristics and key outcomes, we compare
states that did and did not adopt RPS policies, exploiting the substantial differences in timing
of adoption. The estimates indicate that 7 years after passage of an RPS program, the required
renewable share of generation is 1.8 percentage points higher and average retail electricity prices
are 1.3 cents per kWh, or 11% higher; the comparable figures for 12 years after adoption are a 4.2
percentage point increase in renewables’ share and a price increase of 2.0 cents per kWh or 17%.
These cost estimates significantly exceed the marginal operational costs of renewables and likely
reflect costs that renewables impose on the generation system, including those associated with their
intermittency, higher transmission costs, and any stranded asset costs assigned to ratepayers. The
estimated reduction in carbon emissions is imprecise, but, together with the price results, indicates
that the cost per metric ton of CO2 abated exceeds $115 in all specifications and ranges up to
$530, making it least several times larger than conventional estimates of the social cost of carbon.”
See:

https://epic.uchicago.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Do-Renewable-Portfolio-Standards-Deliver.pdf

You might think that the subsidies that you benefit from are not hurting other ratepayers, but they are, especially the poor.

My electric rates are the same. You are only allowed to install panels equal to about 99% of your average use over a year so surpluses are short term events unless I dramatically change my electric use in the house downwards. Surpluses accumulate in a 'bank' with the electric company that are cashed out once a year....except those surpluses are sold back at something like 20% the price I pay for electric. Hence the popularity of things like the Tesla battery which charges up during the day and discharges at dusk since it is better to use whatever you can at home rather than 'sell it back'.

I'm not hurting the poor or the electric company anymore than if I decided to become Amish and not use electricity.

Note also you're assuming 100% of solar wind spend is solely due to climate change and no other reason.....as if tomorrow a UFO arrived with their terraforming engine and assured us climate change need never be an issue because they will give it to us as a gift...we would all just tear out our solar panels and wind farms and beg coal miners to go back to work.

Well, you're right that the shift from denialism to adaptation has been a bigger challenge for conservatives than one would prefer.

Well, it bought time for the oil companies to operate unimpeded for another 20 years, so there's that.

But sure, we can start adapting any time now. First, the right can forget that it has been denigrating renewable energy for the last forty years.

Let the adaptations begin!

(oh wait, were they referring to adaptations in terms of moving away from the coasts and shifting farming northward)?

Thank you for your response, George. I worry that what you describe is exactly what happened. If you haven't already read "Merchants of Doubt" by Oreskes, I recommend it. Take care.

And right now “climate change panic” is not costing us “trillions,” rather virtually all countries are failing to reduce their carbon emissions and most are not even trying very hard.

The claim that "virtually all countries are failing to reduce their carbon emissions" is remarkable, given that virtually all major CO2-emitting countries are likely to have lower emissions in 2020 than in 2019. Of course, the reduction will primarily be due to COVID-19, but there still will be a clear reduction.

https://www.carbonbrief.org/daily-global-co2-emissions-cut-to-2006-levels-during-height-of-coronavirus-crisis

In fact, in the U.S., coal-fired power plant emissions are on track to be down by a mind-boggling 30 percent in 2020. I'd bet if 1000 energy experts had been polled on December 31st 2019 what U.S. coal-fired power plant emissions would be in 2020, maybe one or two would have predicted emissions to be down by 30 percent compared to 2019.

lol. lock the reduction in by law, or promise a pandemic every year, and i'll upvote this comment

lol. lock the reduction in by law, or promise a pandemic every year, and i'll upvote this comment

In fact, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions actually peaked in 2007, according to the U.S. EPA. Not coincidentally, 2007 was the last year before the Great Recession:

https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/styles/large/public/2020-04/us-greenhouse-gas-emissions-economic-1990-2018.png

Also, CO2 emissions from Russia peaked circa 1990. Again, not coincidentally, that was right before the Soviet Union collapsed.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/15/World_fossil_carbon_dioxide_emissions_six_top_countries_and_confederations.png

P.S. Note that the EU-28 CO2 emissions, per that second graph, peaked in **1979**. So once again, the statement that "virtually all countries are failing to reduce their CO2 emissions" is simply not correct.

You said, "And right now “climate change panic” is not costing us “trillions,” rather virtually all countries are failing to reduce their carbon emissions and most are not even trying very hard."

Failing to reduce carbon emissions, not even trying very hard, and costing trillions are not mutually exclusive. It's probably not hard to get to a price tag of two trillion over a long time frame just by looking at the costs of things that global warming alarmists successfully oppose.

The funniest part about USA subsidies to the crony energy cabal is that China is building massive amounts of new coal plants to power all the factories producing solar panels being sold in the USA.

The saddest thing About it is that Black Lives Matters has allied itself with the eco-lunatics supporting the alternative energy rent-seekers. Higher electricity rates take a higher percentage of Black household income. And Blacks are less likely to benefit from the subsidies: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190110141709.htm
Alternative energy cronyism is a major component of systemic racism.

So Tyler, have you altered your beliefs about the economic impact of migrants?

Otherwise I cannot see how you can sustain that climate change responses are not costing the world "trillions".

After all, it was not that long ago that #NoFutureNoKids was the most recent push to reduce procreation in light of global warming. Suppose just 1% of women follow through with such things and have 1 fewer child than they might otherwise. Well there are somewhere around 40 million women of reproductive age so losing 40 million kids means that we should expect in 20 - 40 years to have around around $1 trillion per annum less in just the US.

But does this impact us today? Well markets are likely noticing the ever increasing falls in lifetime fertility. This leads to lower forecasts of future wealth gain so we likely see falling investment returns and like.

Like most policies, global warming's impact is much more a question of things unseen than those seen. We are all but certainly seeing a lot of development and production that is not being taxed, but simply ceases because it will not be profitable if any sort of serious carbon tax comes online or even if typical global warming policy continues.

We are spending trillions if only by increasing risk aversion, decreasing population growth, and creating yet another source of uncertainty.

This may all be worthwhile in the end, but it is not wise to discount these changes just because they do not appear on a budget line.

Dear Tyler,

Thanks for reading my book. I’m glad you broadly agree with the solutions of a carbon tax, more investment in innovation, and greater adaptation, with geoengineering as a back-up plan.

Is there an unsubstantiated alarm in the climate debate? Yes.

In the book, I give lots of concrete examples of the vastly exaggerated alarm that surround climate change.
1) The fact that 48% of people across the world believe climate change will likely lead to humanity’s extinction (https://yougov.co.uk/topics/science/articles-reports/2019/09/15/international-poll-most-expect-feel-impact-climate) is simply off-the-charts over-alarmed.
2) Likewise is the belief that sea level rise will “drown” 187 million people (https://news.bloomberglaw.com/environment-and-energy/miami-other-coastal-cities-may-drown-in-80-years-study-says) neglect that this very study relies on no adaptation — with adaptation, the number of people displaced is 600 times lower.
This exaggerated alarm is certainly false and that’s what I’m combatting with the title. It should not be interpreted that there is nothing to be concerned about — climate change is definitely a problem.

Are we wasting trillions? Yes.

You are absolutely right that most countries are failing to live up to their stated climate goals. But this doesn’t mean we aren’t spending trillions already. The EU is already now spending $192–$408 billion per year in lost GDP (endnote 18, intro), and the International Energy Agency estimates that we each year are spending $141 billion on subsidies to just solar and wind. Just over the next years, both of these costs will add up to trillions of dollars spent.

More generally, my point is that most countries (and Joe Biden, if not the US) have committed to the Paris Agreement which will cost us $1-2 trillion per year and deliver ¢11 of climate benefits (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0040162520304157). That is wasting trillions.

And with net-zero promises proliferating we could go to tens of trillions wasted.

Is there a better title/subtitle for the book? Probably. But I think it is actually very accurate. I don’t want to be “leader of the opposition,” nor “provider of the best possible message.” I just hope I can be one of the many people to help push the best possible solutions for climate and all the world’s other ills.

All the best, bjorn

hmm. "Lost GDP" is "spending". Okay. If you want to go there, we can go there. Buckle your seat belt.

And "subsidies" are spending too. Fair enough, but then that figure you cite should be NET of oil & gas subsidies. Which puts it quite a bit upside-down.

"hmm. "Lost GDP" is "spending".

The title of the book that Tyler objected to is: " How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions"

Lost GDP is obviously a cost.

obviously a cost.

Who writes the check?

George, if I am not mistaken, oil & gas "subsidies" is a misnomer, at least in the US. The detail i have seen on this consists primarily of allowable deductions under the tax code -- depreciation of capital invested in equipment, intangibles, stuff like that. These are deductions that are available to every company in America. They are not subsidies, so much as a realistic definition of income, which is then taxed. Sure, if you arbitrarily disallowed expenses in the tax code (just for oil companies) you would effectively raise their taxes. But that's just taxing them more, not subsidizing. The other subsidy that i have seen cited is more real -- usual home heating oil subsidies in the Northeast. This is a real thing but not a big number ... and its primarily a policy of the Blue state governments that also spend lavishly on renewables. Finally i have seen some people lease arrangements between the federal government and oil producers on federal land as subsidies. My understanding is that these are all negotiated at arms-length and subject to renewal and competition. Could there be some inside deals? Sure. But most oil production happens on private land. And let's root out the corruption (if it exists) rather than declare it a subsidy. So, please correct me where I am wrong. But i have tried to research this point and this my current understanding. Oil & gas subsidies are a bogus talking point...

Agree with JWatts that lost GDP is most certainly a real cost...

Many of the oil and gas subsidies are indeed in the tax code, but are most certainly targeted to O&G, not necessarily available to everyone else, or at least only to a small subset of specialty industries: i.e. depletion, special deductions, MLPs, etc. (think: the carried interest deduction is to private equity, that industry owes its existence to that bit of tax preference).

Of course, there is a credible argument that much of our military and foreign policy budget is in effect an oil subsidy as well. And that's real spending to say the least.

Another abstract subsidy is the regulatory environment that allows massive cost externalization, not least of which is climate change, but more concretely is abandoned wells and infrastructure, and a fair amount of tolerance pollution - to which we can add permanently rendering trillions of gallons of underground water toxic permanently.

So, if we want to be waving subsiidies around, let's be complete about our accounting.

Yes, lost GDP is a form of "cost", as are forgone tax revenues for that matter. But use of the term "spending" ere is deceptive or at least too cute.

My point about arguing over lost GDP is it is a mud fight where everyone can pick up a fistful. And measurements like public health and climate health conveniently lack standing. So, again, his basing his trillions of spending figure on subsidies and lost GDP was disingenuous and partial.

+1, thanks for the thoughtful and detailed response!

Hi Bjorn

You wrote: "The EU is already now spending $192–$408 billion per year in lost GDP"

As there are 450 million people in the EU, if we take the middle of your range and assume $300 billion a year in lost GDP that comes to $667 per person per year. That's 1.8% of GDP which is a huge amount. Too large to be plausible.

You also wrote "these costs will add up to trillions of dollars spent."

I strongly suspect you have confused costs and transfers. A transfer is not a cost. It merely moves money around. If you have 5 apples and I take one and give it to a little match girl, that is a transfer not a cost. You lose one apple but the match girl gains one. If I instead take one apple from you and throw it in a sewer, that is a cost because the apple is lost and no one can eat it. If I take an apple from you and give it to a little match girl, to you it may feel like a cost, but when you are talking about the economy overall it is important to get things right and not mistake transfers for costs.

"And right now “climate change panic” is not costing us “trillions,” rather virtually all countries are failing to reduce their carbon emissions and most are not even trying very hard."

Trillions seems right to me. I live in Alberta, and our climate change policies have devastated our economy. Just our little province has lost over $100 billion in damages to our oil industry. Alberta economists say that the new $50/tonne carbon tax in 2022 will cost between 10,000 and 16,000 jobs and lower GDP by .7%,

Ontario has driven its energy costs through the roof trying to build a 'green' energy system. Germany has spent hundreds of billions, and is slated to spend $54 billion in the next three years on climate change activities, and also now has the highest energy prices in Europe due to their buildout of wind and solar, and subsequent need to buy power from their neighbors and import gas from Russia to make up the shortfall. Shutting down 8 of their nuclear reactors took about $50 billion in infrastructure permanently offline, although that will hurt the climate instead of helping.

How much has California spent on wind and solar? How much has the world spent on electric car subsidies? What is the net amount of carbon tax being pulled from the private evonomy around the world?

"And right now 'climate change panic' is not costing us 'trillions', rather virtually all countries are failing to reduce their carbon emissions and most are not even trying very hard."

But it IS costing trillions, it's just that the measures adopted don't work. Wind and solar power subsidies and mandates have doubled or tripled electricity prices across the developed world. Billions have been wasted on electric cars. Environmental bureaucracies around the world are costing a fortune, and sustainability officers in private firms are wasting more money and sapping productivity, mostly on global warming-related posturing. To say nothing of the productivity being squandered by miseducating the youth of the world about this issue.

These and other developments are wasting trillions; it's just that none of them actually has much effect on total CO2 emissions, once all their knock-on effects are factored in.

He has clearly chosen a long time ago.

What's amazing to me is how it's usually those who once had a bestseller with a specific moniker ("skeptical environmentalist," "rational optimist," "ecomodernist") who then think that they have to try to fit everything into just that frame.

And yes, I believe Bjorn Lomborg, to this date, is still the only such author who has an entire Yale University Press book dedicated to pointing out mistakes in one of his books, which alone should have been a death knell for ever wanting to hear from him again.

Might be relevant: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-020-0833-x

"To determine economically ‘optimal’ climate policy paths, we use the range of expert views on the ethics of intergenerational welfare. When updates from climate science and economics are considered jointly, we find that around three-quarters (or one-third) of expert views on intergenerational welfare translate into economically optimal climate policy paths that are consistent with the 2 °C (or 1.5 °C) target."

My impression is we've nearly always underestimated cost relative to profit on this issue. Take care.

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