Climate games

I’ve been a bit quiet about climate change issues lately. That’s because I’m now working on other issues and also because there isn’t much new to say.

I thought I would use the recent column by Paul Sheehan as a link into some musings. Sheehan reviews the recently released book, Heaven & Earth, by Ian Plimer. The book takes a long-term view and suggests that there is nothing strange about the current climate and nothing to be worried about.

My views on climate change have changes over the years. I was originally dismissive, then increasingly convinced of the mainstream story, then my skepticism increased again, and now I think the only sensible opinion on the issue of man-made climate change is to not hold a strong opinion. I think those who “know” the IPCC is right or wrong are over-estimating their intelligence. Some of them will be right. And somebody will win the lottery. But I don’t believe current evidence allows anybody to the luxury of certainty.

My policy preference is (and has always been) that the government should do nothing because they are unlikely to make the situation better. But if they must do something, then a revenue-neutral carbon tax is better than a trading system or picking winners.

Towards that end, I wrote a monograph for the CIS outlining why a carbon tax would be better and how it could work. One provocative suggestion was to link it with fuel tax cuts. I also mentioned the McKitrick approach of linking the tax to temperatures. Earlier this year, as the government pushed closer to their trading system, I got a bit more active in saying that a tax would be a better approach and that a trading system needs to be avoided. A few other people (from both left and right) have also complained about the current proposal and hopefully it can be stopped (even Ross Garnaut doesn’t like the current effort).

I have been attacked by various anti-IPCC types because I was willing to engage in the pragmatic “second-best” debate about policy. I still think that it was worthwhile pointing out the differences between the different policy, and I hope that those efforts helped to undermine the push towards a trading system.

It is interesting to note that one of the pin-up boys for the anti-IPCC brigade, Chris Monckton, has recently mentioned a proposal quite similar to what I suggested. In a long open letter to John Key (NZ Prime Minister), Monckton argues that the government should not intervene, but that if they do then the best option would be a carbon tax combined with a fuel tax cut, with a McKitrick tax-temp link. Snap.

Ironically, Monckton approvingly cites Gerry Jackson (who was one of the chief critics of my approach) before going on to exactly echo my proposal.

76 thoughts on “Climate games

  1. The smart option is to note that climate keeps changing all the time, but that nobody can tell if humans have had any input into this. Nor do we really know what is the best policy- perhaps we would all benefit if the world warmed a degree or two!

  2. A link to the Chris Monckton letter would seem relevant.

    (JOHN: I only have it in hard-copy from the latest edition of “The Free Radical”. If you can find it online, feel free to provide a link)

  3. “note that climate keeps changing all the time”

    Yes, but not this fast.

    “nobody can tell if humans have had any input into this.”

    Yes, they can.

    “perhaps we would all benefit if the world warmed a degree or two!”

    Possibly a majority would benefit (it being impossible for “all” to benefit) from a rise of one or two degrees. But what’s being predicted is between one and six degrees.

  4. Possibly a majority would benefit (it being impossible for “all” to benefit) from a rise of one or two degrees. But what’s being predicted is between one and six degrees.

    Yea? You’re still confident after the short term trend has basically stopped dead in its tracks over the past 7 years despite record emission output over this period/

    Perhaps you could explain why the trend has basically stopped in the face of theoretically overwhelming odds.

  5. JC, yes I’m confident. Two reasons – I rely on expert opinion, and the short-term trend is not very meaningful.

    Also, the short-term trend is +0.09C, about half the 30-year trend – hardly “basically stopped”.

  6. Well to perfectly honest the 1 to 6 degree range is a total cop out to the point where it so wide it’s meaningless.

    However current trends indicate that the lower part of the range looks like more of a possibility.

    I agree that in these matters we should rely on the experts. However someone suggesting that the bottom part of the range has more credibility than the top doesn’t cause someone to deviate from standard climate science predictions.

    This then gets us back to the real point. If the bottom part of the range looks likely what exactly is the worry?

    Current AGW mitigation proposals that seem to be directed to the top of the range would cause us to mis-allocate scarce resources… primarily growth potential that would, over 91 years, accumulate into trillion of dollars.

    here:

    current global GDP is $65 trillion. Cost of mitigation would wipe off an expected 1% by 2100.

    So the difference is as follows.

    Unmitigated GDP growing at 3.5% (conservative by the way) would be $1,487 trillion.

    Mitigated GDP growing at 2.5% (lopping off 1%) would be $614
    trillion.

    You think its worthwhile reducing GDP by $872 trillion to mitigate for 1 degree change?

    Perhaps you do, reasonable people wouldn’t. That’s not assuming mitigation efforts that occur through productivity advancement and tech change that would occur naturally and would actually rise living standards.

    You can’t avoid the fact that you’re asking for a large wealth transfer from relatively poor people (us) to some very rich people in 2100. How the hell do you support that?

  7. This is why i keep saying to to you that the science of AGW is the small part of the puzzle. It’s also the reason John H correctly suggests that the governments could actually make things worse as a result of bad policy choices.

  8. Stern’s report basically told us that would would need to “spend” or lower growth trajectory by 1% for the next 50 years.

    He stupidly then didn’t account for the loss of that 1% that has been lost in the potential unmitigated GDP growth rate… lost for ever.

    Reason’s science writer also did a piece explaining this adding that it would cost us 1% in the global growth rate to 2100. Ron Bailey wrote the piece.

    The point I’m making is that it’s perfectly legitimate to to support the theory of AGW and also follow a do nothing policy or follow suggestions like mark Hill has made that would be extremely lost cost such as reforestation, removing subsidies throughout the economy and eliminating senseless nimby driven local planning policies that make things worse and have your cake and eat it too. We could actually mitigate and raise our growth trajectory.

    Example:

    California for the most part, especially along the coastline has almost perfect weather for human habitation not requiring heavy use of AC and heating. Meanwhile regions that require these things are basically very liberal with planning policy. A house in Texas costs around $160,000 while in california (that’s basically overrun by planning Nazis) a comparable home costs around $450,000. The bulk of Cal’s high cost of a home is mostly to do with planning restrictions.

    What would be wrong with creating various versions of very green like cities such as NYC in California with concentrated high rise?

    Read this in the very excellent City Journal:

    http://www.city-journal.org/2009/19_1_green-cities.html

  9. The point is that we could actually mitigate while raising our potential growth rates rather than introduce shambolic policies like the ETS.

  10. “Stern’s report basically told us that would would need to “spend” or lower growth trajectory by 1% for the next 50 years.”

    Spending 1% a year isn’t the same as lowering growth by 1% each year. Also, that spending isn’t without economic return. So your sums are incorrect.

    But your broader point is reasonable, that doing little or nothing is a valid response, given certain assumptions.* I’ve agreed with Mark Hill for years that we can do lots of low-cost and negative-cost mitigation. And I’m opposed to an ETS, preferring a revenue-neutral carbon tax as proposed by John Humphreys.

    I read that Reason article, and I like Bailey’s final line: “is global warming worse than what governments might try to do about it?” We should be cautious, but that cuts both ways – with our economies AND our ecologies.

    * Of course there’s a risk that the assumptions are too rosy, so that risk has to be priced in. That raises the costs of global warming. And different assumptions raise it again.

  11. Okay, let’s be exact in our use of words.

    Forget I even mentioned spending.

    The effect of the heavy handed mitigation efforts suggested and being advised by Stern would have the effect of lowering our growth rate potential by 1%.

    And yes, there is a risk these assumptions are too rosy, but we also have time our our side to accumulate wealth to deal with it.

    We wouldn’t only be accumulating wealth, we would also be accumulating knowledge and its compound effect, as knowledge and wealth incur the benefit of compounding.

    It would mean that having both could make it much easier to deal with in the future.

    However that doesn’t take away the fact that we could do extremely low cost actions that could have the same effect. Making ourselves more efficient through subsidy removal could, as I said, improve our lot.

    Here’s another thing i read recently. Some enormous amount of CO2 is emitted as a result of permanently burning fires in coal fields. The estimate is that 7% of CO2 emissions are caused this way… mainly in places like china. A good number of our open cut coal fields have this problem too.

    Why the fuck aren’t we putting these fires out… even say putting the fires out in places like China for instance?

    AGW isn’t really a huge issue if we followed good public and economic policy is my bet.

  12. “The effect of the heavy handed mitigation efforts suggested and being advised by Stern would have the effect of lowering our growth rate potential by 1%.”

    No, it wouldn’t. Spending 1% is not equivalent to diminishing growth rate by 1%.

  13. Perhaps it’s been confused:

    Stern argued from the point that the effect would be to reduce the potential growth rate by 1%.

    Whether you think spending is or isn’t equal or that i misused the word isn’t the point.

    Reducing the growth rate has the effect I mentioned above.

    In any event Stern used a very low discount rate meaning he valued consumption of future unborn generations equal to ours, which is an absurd assertion.

    Furthermore Stern suggested if things were left unmitigated the effect would be a 20% drop on GDP.

    Even if we experienced a 20% drop in GDP you would still leave things alone.

    using the above

    $ 1,487 trillion * 80% = $1,190 trillion.

    compare to mitigated $614 trillion.

    even by his measures you would still leave things alone.

  14. I think there is some confusion.

    “Stern argued from the point that the effect would be to reduce the potential growth rate by 1%.”

    No, he didn’t. He was talking about spending 1% of GDP. You didn’t misuse the word, you were right to talk about spending. Where you have gone wrong is to say that’s the same as reducing growth by 1%. That’s why your sums about putative relative wealth are wrong, though the central point is certainly valid – humanity is going to be much more capable of dealing with climate change in the future than we are now. I’m not disputing that.

    However, as I’ve said before, the cost of dealing with climate change does not remain constant. Delaying action now will increase the cost of future action, because coping with the long-term effects is more expensive than preventing them (or minimising them) in the first place. Stitch in time, etc.

    You are right about Stern’s discount rate – it’s very controversial, possibly downright wrong (for the record, it’s close to the real interest rate of government bonds). It’s not the greatest cost-benefit analysis. I would very much like to see a better one, even several (given the complexities and variety of assumptions that can be made).

    Regarding previous discussion, I would note that Stern mentioned wasteful government spending in his review:

    At the economy-wide level, climate-change policy may be a lever for
    reforming inefficient energy systems and removing distorting energy subsidies, on
    which governments around the world currently spend around $250bn a year.

  15. The book is by geologist Ian Plimer not Palmer.

    Skepticism is fine but some balance is in order.

    Why not also consider the EPA report released last night which endorses the conventional science?

    http://www.epa.gov/

    There might be a chance Plimer is correct – a 1% probability say – and acting on these views would save the relatively low cost of addressing climate change. But the cost of not-addressing climate change (if with 99% chance it turns out to be a reasonable hypothesis) would be far more costly.

    Moreover this way of presenting the discussion already biases the account. As the Stern and other reports make clear there is a non-negligible chance of catastrophic change. This might suggest a case for taking very decisive action now rather than deciding between the prospect of no change and the moderate types of change forecast (as preferred estimates) by the IPCC.

  16. The idea of “doing something” is always appealing. Not just for climate change, but with all policies. Bank crisis. Terrorists. Smoking. Gambling. Boat people. The list goes on, and the vaste majority of people like the idea of “doing something”.

    My concern is that most of the “something” that is done results in more costs than benefits. This isn’t suprising once we understand that politicians aren’t angels… and yet the political game leads, almost inevitably, to ever more government involvement.

    For each new government proposal it is possible to argue the merits, and often show the net costs. But the desire to be scared of the world, the desire to avoid personal risk & resopnsibility and the populist political system mean that for every dumb idea defeated, there are already two new ideas being pursued.

    We need a culture shift. Instead of looking for reasons to be scared, and looking for excuses for the government to act… we need a much greater skepticism of government and less fear of monsters under our bed.

  17. Jarrah:

    Achieving these deep cuts in emissions will have a cost. The Review estimates
    the annual costs of stabilisation at 500-550ppm CO2e to be around 1% of GDP
    by 2050 – a level that is significant but manageable.

    “Cost of GDP”, means cost.

    I’ll say it again, mitigation will lower GDP potential by at least 1%. Futhermore if stern is saying it would most likely by much greater and stop growth dead.

    Harry,

    So far you want to ban commuter traffic that goes the opposite way you travel to work, ban cigarettes or tax them to death because you don’t like them though you’ve mentioned several times you plonk down a bottle of wine on some nights which would be doing untold damage to your lives. The other day you took a disliking to cars (other than mini cars) wantintg to tax people if they dared drive something bigger than go-cart. If you don’t drive one of those go-carts, harry, you’re a hyopcrite. Additonally hitting communter traffic into the City while not taxing people going the other way, is simply laughable at the transparancy of your personal preferences.

    You also want to impose the most stringent limits on emissions when for the past decade record emissions ought to be sending temps nmuch rather then flatlining. This indicated the lower levels of predictions is far more likely. Some science you’re relying on, harry.

    90% of the crap you argue , harry, is because things don’t play to your personal preferences or you’re jellfishing in front of your leftwing peers. It’s pathetic.

    Man-up Harry.

  18. It doesn’t matter how many times you say it, mitigation costing 1% of GDP does not mean GDP growth drops 1%.

    “flatlining”

    It’s still climbing, JC. In the last 10 years it’s 0.09C – more than half the 30-year trend. And that’s counting from the anomalous 1998. You can’t keep going around the blogosphere trying to claim warming isn’t happening. Periods of less-than-trend growth are entirely normal for a chaotic system like climate. It’s happened before. It would be far more unlikely (in fact, astoundingly unlikely) for growth in temperatures to be steady year-on-year.

    “This indicated the lower levels of predictions is far more likely”

    It doesn’t, because short-term trends don’t mean all that much. The most likely 100-year increase is in the middle of the range.

  19. Seriously, jarrahs are you delusional?

    I got that quote from your link proving you either don’t understand what you read or you’re deluding yourself.

    What does cost of 1 % of GDP mean? It doesn’t fucking mean GDP is redirected or reallocated. It means cost. In this context it means it will cost us 1% of GDP in order to mitigate. It doesn’t matter if it’s from the projected growth rate or not. That’s the cost, which is what we would lose in the trade off.

    Every fucking discussion with you gets into the word definitions because you can never admit you’re wrong.

    I’ll repeat what it mentions… cost of GDP… cost!

    Short term trends of a year or two may not mean much, however 8 years or so is important especially when there are record emissions by spewed out. Furthermore why has the trend stopped?

    I’m claiming that the warming trend seems likely to be establishing itself at the lower end of the predictions and therefore relatively benign. This is hardly a huge cause for concern and it certainly doesn’t require any massive GDP displacement.

    Harry:

    Stop being so freaking dishonest. If the Bush EPA had put out a far less alarmist missive you would have criticized it like you’ve done with the Australian for daring not to act like the Fairfax rags.

    And stop pretending you’re critical of The Age as your opinions don’t differ at all with The Age on this issue.

    Keep your religious convictions between yourself and the lefties you’re brown nosing.

  20. The article by Paul Sheehan is NOT a review of Plimer’s book; it is merely another article by Paul Sheehan putting the ‘iconoclastic’ position of the AGW deniers. A REVIEW would not include such laughably biased (yet stupid) comments as this:

    ‘Ian Plimer is not some isolated gadfly. He is a prize-winning scientist and professor. The back cover of Heaven And Earth carries a glowing endorsement from the President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus’

    A review would be more critical, even if coming to the conclusion that the book was worth reading.
    A review would not simply use the publication of a book to support the writer’s own viewpoint.
    A review would not include the utterly disingenuous statement, ‘Heaven And Earth is an evidence-based attack on conformity and orthodoxy, including my own’, as if Sheehan’s ‘orthodoxy’ has ever been anything but that of Plimer!

  21. Jarrah — I don’t know how you can look at the temperature history and not notice that the last seven years have seen no warming. It’s clear enough.

    Of course, this non-warming could be consistent with a long term warming trend. However, it is worthwhile noting that none of the computer models predict a seven year non-warming period.

    And while seven years isn’t a super-long period of time, the period of warming wasn’t much longer. As you say, the short term trend doesn’t mean much… and that may also be said about the 20-30 years of warming that we saw near the end of the 20th century.

  22. “I don’t know how you can look at the temperature history and not notice that the last seven years have seen no warming. It’s clear enough.”

    The trend is reduced, but warming there has certainly been. And I can’t believe that I still have to tell you guys this – short-term trends are next to useless.

    “However, it is worthwhile noting that none of the computer models predict a seven year non-warming period.”

    It’s really not. The shorter the time period, the greater the error bars of the models.

    “the period of warming wasn’t much longer.”

    100 years isn’t enough?

    “the short term trend doesn’t mean much… and that may also be said about the 20-30 years of warming”

    20-30 years isn’t a short-term trend, so no, that may NOT also be said.

  23. The trend is reduced, but warming there has certainly been.

    When? Over the past 7-8 years? No there hasn’t.

    And I can’t believe that I still have to tell you guys this – short-term trends are next to useless.

    So is 30 years to some degree.

    However I keep telling you the past 7-8 years has seen record levels of emissions and yet the short term trend has flat lined.

    It’s really not. The shorter the time period, the greater the error bars of the models.

    Nonsense, the error bar should be smaller in the short term no bigger.

    20-30 years isn’t a short-term trend, so no, that may NOT also be said.

    Actually it is. 20-30 years isn’t even a blip in earth time.

  24. Jarrah, our point of contention is that if a model can’t accurately predict that short term, why should we believe that it will miraculously get the long term correct? Blind Faith?
    Chaos theory warns us that a small change in initial conditions will cause large changes in output. The weather is so varied that we cannot be recording all the information needed (and how could you prove you were?). Any missing information could be the vital part needed to be greater in predictions- and it’s lack could cause chaotic predictions, which is what we see in the models.
    Climate modellers seem like old-fashioned Astrologers- “When I said Disaster this year, I meant in 100 years time!”

  25. Jarrah, the recent temp records are more complicated than you make out.

    There was moderate warming from 1860 to 1880 (not related to co2), moderate cooling from 1880 to 1910, then a sharp warming period from 1910 to 1940 (not related to co2), then a moderate cooling between 1940 and 1970, and then another sharp warming period between 1970 and 2000… and then nothing.

    It is possible that the recent warming is linked to co2… but you can’t insist that 7 years is “nothing” and then insist that 20-30 years is overwhelming evidence. The climate is full of 20-40 year mini-cycles.

    I’m not saying that warming has stopped. But the temp plateau is interesting and worth keeping an eye on. Certainly, it’s pointless simply pretending it doesn’t exist!

  26. “So is 30 years to some degree.”

    No, that’s the whole point. Climate only becomes distinguishable from weather over 20-30 years. That’s why a 30-year trend (or 100-year trend interrupted by easily explained exogenous factors) is significant, and 7 or 10 years is not. If you take anything from this discussion, make sure it’s that crucial fact.

    “Nonsense, the error bar should be smaller in the short term no bigger.”

    Perhaps I should have said ‘uncertainty’. Let me explain it in terms you are more familiar with. You know with a large degree of certainty that a particular stock price will rise in the long term. You are less certain of the medium term, and can only guess at short term. However, you are pretty sure that the news about the takeover today will affect the stock price in a certain way tomorrow (very short term). That is directly analogous to predictions of the climate in the long, medium and short terms, with the weather forecast for the week being the very short term.

    “20-30 years isn’t even a blip in earth time.”

    LOL

  27. Apparently just one link puts me in the spam filter. Don’t bother fishing them out, I’ll just leave the link out.

    Sigh. Let’s try that again.

    “Chaos theory warns us that a small change in initial conditions will cause large changes in output.”

    Hence the large range of predicted temperature rises. But note that the range does not include negative numbers, and not all numbers have equal probability.

    “Any missing information could be the vital part needed to be greater in predictions”

    There’s a small possibility that scientists have not accounted properly for some crucial part of the process. Clouds and land ice outflow are possible examples. However, do you really think the scientists haven’t thought of this themselves? That you can even make that claim shows you’re not even reading what they are saying. Then again, that’s not a surprise.

  28. “then a sharp warming period from 1910 to 1940 (not related to co2)”

    Incorrect – directly related to CO2.

    “then a moderate cooling between 1940 and 1970”

    Incorrect. The long-term warming trend was slowed (no cooling unless you cherry-pick a starting point in the anomalous years around 1940 – like certain people try to do with 1998) by aerosols exacerbating a natural variation. That’s why they are being considered as a way to geoengineer our way out of global warming!

    “It is possible that the recent warming is linked to co2”

    Stop trying to talk down the certainty level. It’s very highly likely that the warming of the last 100 years is mainly due to CO2. So likely that all but a handful of scientists accept it as fact.

    “but you can’t insist that 7 years is “nothing” and then insist that 20-30 years is overwhelming evidence.”

    Firstly, don’t put words in my mouth. Or on my keyboard. Or something 🙂 I have been careful to say that short-term trends are ‘almost’ meaningless. They are not nothing. But they are not much better. And 20-30 years is universally recognised as the sample necessary to distinguish climate from weather.

    So 7 years is almost nothing, 10 years barely better, 15 years is getting there, 20 years is basically a minimum but there’s still room for doubt, and 30 years is almost unequivocal. Think of the passing of years as something like a geometric progression of certainty that belies the apparent arithmetic relationship of 10, 15, 20, 25, 30.

    “the temp plateau is interesting”

    What plateau? The last 10 years have a +0.09C trend, which is slightly more than half the long-term trend. I don’t have to pretend it doesn’t exist, because the figures don’t lie. It is you and JC who are pretending there’s a ‘flat-lining’, a ‘plateau’. Or perhaps it’s not pretence, but simply the result of trying to eyeball the data instead of crunching the data.

  29. Jarrah, how do you explain away the evidence showing that Ice in East Antarctica was thicker than in the past? It was in all the quality papers on the weekend! The captain of an icebreaker was unimpressed by ‘concensus’ arguments because he has to plow through thicker ice this year than last, to bring supplies to bases on the land. Or are you only going to talk about West Antarctica?
    Oh, that’s right! you only believe in longterm trends. But can you tell us why we should believe that computers models which turn out to be wrong year after year should still be blindly trusted for decades ahead?

  30. Jarrah — your opinion seems to be out of step with mainstream climate science opinion.

    The mainstream position has always been that the 1910-1940 warming was not caused by humans (if for no other reason than we weren’t producing much greenhouse gas), while the 1970-2000 warming is (mostly) caused by humans.

    The mainstream science has long noted the moderate cooling trend between 1940 and 1970. I wasn’t aware that anybody (except you) questioned this. It is clear enough from the data.

    It is not cherry picking to note that the trend from 1910-1940 was different to the trend from 1940-1970.

    I disagree with you about the certainty of the 1970-2000 warming being linked to human action, though I accept that humans probably did have some role and that many people are more certain than me. Given the state of climate science, I think they are wrong to be too certain.

    You deny the temperature plateau, which I find weird. This is the data…

    2002: +0.31
    2003: +0.27
    2004: +0.20
    2005: +0.33
    2006: +0.27
    2007: +0.28
    2008: +0.05
    2009: +0.29

    A trend line through those data points give a negative slope, but I think a more honest reading of the data says that there is no significant movement.

    I have never claimed that the last seven years prove anything. But it is a bit daft to (for example) ignore a trend for 14 years and then on the 15th year declare it important. Every year the plateau continues, it gets more interesting. On balance, it’s probable that temps will tick up again soon… but surely we should all be happy and hopeful that maybe there isn’t a problem.

  31. “how do you explain away the evidence showing that Ice in East Antarctica was thicker than in the past?”

    I presume you are referring to the sea ice? It’s completely in sync with the effect predicted by climate models that warming will be greater in the northern hemisphere, and other climate models estimating the effect of the hole in the ozone layer (increased winds bring warm air from South America over the Antarctic Peninsula, and generate cold-air storms in the Ross Sea).

    “why we should believe that computers models which turn out to be wrong year after year should still be blindly trusted for decades ahead?”

    They haven’t been wrong year after year. They have been very successful in predicting trends. Not perfect, but that doesn’t make them ‘wrong’.

  32. John, if I could give links I would, but you’re incorrect about mainstream science vis a vis early-20th century warming. While natural forcings had a much greater role then, CO2 was definitely a factor. I quote Reid’s 1997 study that concluded:

    solar forcing and anthropogenic greenhouse-gas forcing made roughly equal contributions to the rise in global temperature that took place between 1900 and 1955

    Regarding 1940-1970, that followed a sharp acceleration in the 1930s, so 1940 is a high-water mark to start from. Also, the air temperature only cooled until ~1950 and has been warming ever since. Lastly, ENSO-adjusted graphs give warming since 1945.

    “Given the state of climate science, I think they are wrong to be too certain.”

    OK, fair enough. Though it depends on your definition of “too certain”. I don’t know why you feel that way considering the consensus, but you’re a contrarian since way back 😉

    “You deny the temperature plateau,”

    I gave you the 10-year trend, which is up. GISS and NCDC are steeper than HadCRUT, but even that one, which ignores the Arctic, is still positive.

    “But it is a bit daft to (for example) ignore a trend for 14 years and then on the 15th year declare it important”

    I never said that. I thought I made it clear that the importance increases gradually, that a trend becomes progressively more important. There’s no absolute line – I talked about 20-30 years being conclusive.

  33. If a climate trend of significance must spans 30 years I’d be interested to know which model from 1979 accurately predicted the trend from 1979 to 2009. And on what basis do you call it accurate. I suspect you are actually refering to a more recent model (or revised model) that using old data can fit recent trends. This is not prediction. It is merely a necessary precondition for a good predictive model but not sufficient to confirm it is good at prediction. I simple don’t think we have had enough time elapse (or enough planet earths) to demonstrate that any climate model is particularily accurate. And the last seven years ought to be regarded as a cautionary tale even if not long enough.

    On a side note I did read an article somewhere in the last day or so that looked at the high health externalities associated with burning fossil fuels in the transport and energy sector. I think the case for a low fossil fuel tax on this basis is much more conclusive. A low fossil fuel tax based on health externalities and applicable to the transport and energy sector is not that hard to justify so long as other taxes are cut accordingly (and as long as you accept that taxation is legitamate).

  34. Humphreys it is no lottery. Its a scientific matter. Why not just go with the science Humphreys. Or is that all just a little bit hard for you?

    Anyone who claims that extra-CO2 isn’t beneficial to the environment is a liar. Thats the fact of it. And some people have simply decided that its a good thing to keep lying about it. So there has to be some violence involved here I think. Because there is certainly no time to lose to get this tyranny of compulsive lying to come to an end.

  35. Terje Jarrah is lying and he’s going to keep on lying. NO CO2 based model predicted that climate.

    Just punish him for lying. Try and get him thrown out. You must know by now, unless you are really really slow-witted. That they are not going to stop lying. Hence the only way forward is to take some sort of punitive action against Jarrah.

  36. Jarrah has lied all the way down this page. Another month of these guys lying means another year of people dying in impoverishment.

    Jarrah refuses point blank to show up with evidnce.

    Now we just have to start punishing people for this or it will never come to an end. We are in a new internet era here. If this idiocy, total crap from the start, isn’t going to end even after its started cooling then we are doing something wrong and that wrong thing is we are failing to punish bad behaviour.

  37. Choddy,
    Your take-no-prisoners approach is novel, but this is simply a discussion forum. If some people choose to only present one side of the debate, they loose out. Whilst I disagree with most things that JJ has written, he has a right to be pig-headedly wrong, and if he is lying, he has the right to express himself freely, and we will catch the lies, and know how to judge his future words accordingly.

  38. You can take you politicians hat off for one minute. He’s a twit and he’s dishonest. But it wouldn’t matter how much you liked him. He’s one of those guys that hold matters up by relentless lying and filibuster. And we cannot stop this hatefulness unless we administer any punishments that are to hand. How many times has he held up this forum by just simple repetitive lying. Time is running out for us. We need to get it together for ubiquitous nuclear and synthetic diesel plants all around our Coast. And we cannot even get past one because of this tribal lying on the part of Ken Miles, Jarrah and others.

    Nick your theories about the good guys holding up is clearly wrong. The pack-animal left has found an end-run around that. They just create a wall-of-sound. So many years on, Humphreys hasn’t yet seen or described any evidence for this racket yet he’s taken in. People are affected by this constant lying. People who lack analytical ability.

    So we have to do something about it. Because we are headed for a breakdown. The Twenty-tweens will be a time that Julian Simon forgot thanks to decades of energy-deprivation campaigning. And guys like Jarrah have you neutralised by the simple recourse to lying all the time.

    There should be consequences and repercussions here

  39. I just told you why. You can take you politicians hat off for one minute. He’s a twit and he’s dishonest. But it wouldn’t matter how much you liked him. He’s one of those guys that hold matters up by relentless lying and filibuster. And we cannot stop this hatefulness unless we administer any punishments that are to hand.

    How many times has he held up this forum by just simple repetitive lying. Time is running out for us. We need to get it together for ubiquitous nuclear and synthetic diesel plants all around our Coast. And we cannot even get past base one because of this tribal lying on the part of Ken Miles, Jarrah and others.

    Nick your theories about the good guys holding up and winning is clearly wrong. I guess you are not a believer in empirical evidence. The pack-animal left has found an end-run around any such tendency. They just create a wall-of-sound.

    See how many years on, Humphreys hasn’t yet seen or described any evidence for this racket, yet he’s taken in. He cannot be quits with it. People are affected by this constant lying. People who lack analytical ability.

    So we have to do something about it. Because we are headed for a breakdown. The Twenty-tweens will be a time that Julian Simon forgot thanks to decades of energy-deprivation campaigning. And guys like Jarrah have you neutralised by the simple recourse to lying all the time.

    There should be consequences and repercussions here. There always have been for me and I have never tried to bullshit any of you on matters. You have perverse incentives around here.

  40. The more we learn, the less we know!
    We used to ‘know’ that the Ozone Layer’s Hole was bad, and should be repaired.
    Just today, we learn that we now know that the hole has been responsible for causing more winds over Antarctica, and the winds have cooled the place down, and this is what is causing Ice growth in Antarctica! I wonder if anyone factored the Ozone hole into their climate models. If they didn’t, it would be a gaping hole in their theories!

  41. Of course that’s bird, Terje. Don’t be so distrustful of your first instincts which are usually the better ones.

  42. Well Harry, you’ve told everyone you’re voting for the Green party out of a sense of protest and because you consider those trogs to be consistent (as though that’s even rational).

    Seriously who the hell are you to even judge if Plimer’s book is good or not?

  43. I’m not endorsing or critical of Plimer’s book, as I haven’t read it. However, you’d be the last person I’d rely on to give a decent account of anything to do with this subject, Harry, you intolerant hypocritical oaf.

  44. Harry — I never said (nor implied) that Plimer was the basis for my skepticism. It isn’t. I haven’t read it.

    As I’ve said plenty of times, my position is better represented by Bjorn Lomborg and Pat Michaels — who accept most of the mainstream story but like to point out that the consequences aren’t as scary as the fear-mongers would have you believe.

    I disagree with people who insist that AGW isn’t happening. I don’t know where they get their confidence from.

  45. Harry — I started reading the article you linked to, and then I came to this comment:

    “If the subject were anything less serious than the future habitability of the planet Earth, I wouldn’t go to the trouble of writing this review.”

    Plimer may be wrong, but the author of the above sentence is delusional. He is implying that the future existence of humanity rests on our response to AGW. This is totally out of step with the mainstream science.

  46. As I’ve said plenty of times, my position is better represented by Bjorn Lomborg and Pat Michaels — who accept most of the mainstream story but like to point out that the consequences aren’t as scary as the fear-mongers would have you believe.

    I disagree with people who insist that AGW isn’t happening. I don’t know where they get their confidence from.

    Very similiar to my position except that I think that even if the models are only roughly accurate there is bugger all we can do about it. What govts are now doing is window dressing, nothing in their plans is going to arrest GW. We need something really radical like everyone go nuclear and do it within 10 years.

  47. John, I agree with the nuclear power option (with probably a bit of solar thermal and some wind power). but mainly nuclear. You are an ally of James Loverlock on this!

    The Stern review argues at length that there are reasonably thick tails on the high temperature outcomes for various stochastic simulations they run. Even if the probability is 5-10% of such outcomes these are dramatically severe events and cannot be ignored.

    I read Lomberg’s recent book and think he is mainly on about strategies for addressing AGW. Yes he accepts it is a reality with severe consequences. But he wants adaptation on the grounds that mitigation is relatively expensive. Again I think the Stern analysis suggests this is unrealistic.

  48. Clarke is preaching science now? LOL

    Harry is now linking Lambert for help. Lambert of course is about the most dishonest blogger in the country who could well have a game named after him called “Spot the Lie”.

    An example of Lambert’s dishonesty and dissembling that was caught by another blogger.

    He says:

    Recently, some science bloggers debunked a series of articles in the Australian. Today The Australian defends itself. (hat tip Tim B).
    Meanwhile Tim Lamberts Deltoid blog has been busy finding mistakes in Plimer’s book. He’s up to 59.
    I read the 59 errors, and did quick classification. By my count,

    * 12 are for missing citations or errors in the details of the citation
    * 10 are for citing people or studies that Deltoid doesn’t think should count
    * 6 are for claiming the hockey stick is a fraud, dishonest, infamous, and discredited
    * 3 are for citing people who disagree with Plimer’s interpretation of their findings
    * 17 of Plimer’s claims are “refuted” by linking to old posts on Deltoid. Sorry, but using yourself as the refuting source isn’t exactly convincing.

    http://www.empiricist.com/page/2/

    Clarke links to Lambert. LOl.

    Harry offers his science knowledge at the same blog.

    About 1/3 of Australia’s GGEs come from agriculture – much from sheep and cattle. Mostly not farted but belched – a product of ruminant digestive systems.

    I guess your ignorance of climate change science is consistent with your endorsement of religious fiction.

    You are a troubled little boy CL. Were you ever locked in the shed?
    hc | Homepage | 02.25.09 – 8:01 pm | #

    Not only is traffic going the opposite way to Harry AGW unfriendly, cow farts and cow burping is the pits.

    (Ignore Harry’s, offensive remark art the end of the comment. When the other blogger offers a comment as a reprisal Harry threatens legal action proving again that the sky is purple in a parallel universe he dwells in.)

  49. Again I think the Stern analysis suggests this is unrealistic.

    Why would that be Harry? Forgetting what I’ve said about Stern in the past, Mark Hill has offered a pretty convincing case why Stern’s analysis is innumerate and basically bogus. Not surprised you would of course latch onto to that.

    I’m sure if Mark has a moment he ‘d be more than willing to present that case , but I wouldn’t hold my breath that you would stick around to debate it.

    How about this as a suggestion, Harry. We set up a blog debate about Stern between you and Mark and we see how you go. However I’m not holding my breath you’d participate.

    We do it right here.

    Interested?

  50. JC — please be nice. You can abuse him when/if you meet, but on the ALS blog we want everybody to feel welcome.

    Harry — In my opinion, Stern has the same credibility as Graeme Bird. He was clearly writing a political document, not a piece of robust and credible economic analysis.

    AGW will produce challenges. But they are manageable challenges coming slowly over a century, happening at the same time as continued economic growth and in an environment of ever-improving technology. The AGW pessimism of the fear-mongers is not warranted. Human have adjusted to bigger changes in the past and we’ll adjust to bigger changes in the future.

    Once the threat is seen calmly and with proper perspective, then we can move on to checking whether government policy is actually going to have a net beneficial effect. I find it unlikely. They are unlikely to prevent AGW, but they are certainly misallocating resources and slowing economic growth. The consequences of that will probably be more important for our grandchildren compared with a 2 degree temp increase.

  51. Yeah, like the evidence of the mtDNA constriction that may have occurred via Mt. Toba 75000 years ago and it is estimated that the human population plummeted to extremely low numbers as a result of that. You’re missing the point John, it is not that we are going to be wiped out but that our civilisation will have to undergo massive changes if AGW eventuates. As Jared Diamond pointed out time and again, failure to respond to looming crises is a great way for a civilisation to come to an end. I don’t care about Mark Hill’s analysis, if he can it published then I’ll read it, but if it just something he posts on a blog it aint worth nickels.

  52. Well it doesn’t matter if you don’t think it’s worthwhile, John H. What matters if he is right or wrong.

    Perhaps you could explain in your own words why you think Stern’s analysis is a reasonable economic view and why his economic assumptions are broadly correct.

    Jared Diamond is your voice of authority? How interesting.

  53. I don’t care about the economic analyzes because these are even more problematic than the AGW analyzes. I find it absurd that people think they can make accurate projections 30 years into the future. That goes for climatologists too. As PJ O’Rourke notes: beyond a certain level complexity is fraud. As John Humphrey states, the evidence is very strong for AGW. We may not be able to accurately predict the consequences of AGW but we would be foolish to ignore the potential damage it can create.

    Jared Diamond is not a voice of authority on AGW and I never stated that so don’t play that silly game with me. Diamond does have some very interesting things to say about how cultures come and go.

    I never use blogs to determine what is right and wrong. That’s ridiculous. I don’t even trust some peer reviewed research I read.

  54. We may not be able to accurately predict the consequences of AGW but we would be foolish to ignore the potential damage it can create.

    Potential damage means nothing without some reasonable probability of realisation attached to it. The potential damage of alien invasion is also high but I don’t think we should be investing in an alien defence system just yet.

  55. John H:

    No offense but do you even understand what you’re saying from comment to another?

    On the one hand you demand voice of authority and peer review, yet seem oblivious to the fact that Jared diamond is not a climate scientist.

    You state:

    I find it absurd that people think they can make accurate projections 30 years into the future.

    Yet you defend Stern whose projections are to 2100 and climate models are long term. Please note that climate science is based on climate which is supposed to be 30 year intervals. Now your quoting O’Rourke to basically destroy your own argument. How odd, no?

    As PJ O’Rourke notes: beyond a certain level complexity is fraud.

    Yet I would assume you have no issue accepting climate model projections? Isn’t that right?

    As John Humphrey states, the evidence is very strong for AGW.

    Yea and he also thinks it’s not as earth shattering as the Chicken Little’s and the weirdo’s are trying to have us believe.

    We may not be able to accurately predict the consequences of AGW but we would be foolish to ignore the potential damage it can create.

    Okay and what is your solution then?

    As I asked before please quantify it.

  56. Potential damage means nothing without some reasonable probability of realisation attached to it. The potential damage of alien invasion is also high but I don’t think we should be investing in an alien defence system just yet.

    There is no evidence for an alien invasion. Doh! What do you suggest we do Michael, just ignore the potential risk of AGW? What is your position?

  57. I never use blogs to determine what is right and wrong.

    Which makes it doubluy odd why you’re here even discussing it then, no?

    That’s ridiculous. I don’t even trust some peer reviewed research I read.

    Then why did you say this:
    I don’t care about Mark Hill’s analysis, if he can it published then I’ll read it, but if it just something he posts on a blog it aint worth nickels.

    Frankly you’ve confused the hell out of me. Do you only trust your prejudice then?

  58. Yea and he also thinks it’s not as earth shattering as the Chicken Little’s and the weirdo’s are trying to have us believe.

    Nor did I say that it would be earth shattering. I stated that there is evidence of considerable risk and we would be foolish to ignore that. Remember, Peace in our Time!

    The rest of JC’s comments are complete distortions I what I stated.

  59. Makes it confusing when there is somebody else called “John H”… :\

    JohnH — I agree that we are not going to be wiped out. Yet the fear-mongers keep talking this way. Their alarmism is used to scare people into accepting their preferred policies.

    Of course we will have to adjust to future challenges. AGW is one of those. I think with the benefit of 20-20 hindsight we will realize that AGW wasn’t the “mother of all challenges” that the fear-mongers today suggest. We have lots of time, lots of money and an advancing technology. We can handle slightly higher water levels and a slightly warmer winter. No need to introduce panicked and poorly thought-out policies.

  60. John H says:

    I stated that there is evidence of considerable risk and we would be foolish to ignore that.

    Well that’s not exactly right, JohnH as you said much more than that.

    The rest of JC’s comments are complete distortions I what I stated.

    So I distorted your quotes? Surely you’re not suggesting that, are you?

    As I asked, please quantify your projections as to why we should act despite the fact that it is the long term and you yourself have claimed that making long term projections is basically a fraud (by quoting O’ Rourke).

  61. There is no evidence for an alien invasion. Doh! What do you suggest we do Michael, just ignore the potential risk of AGW? What is your position?

    Don’t act on arbitrary information like we can’t wait for the science because then it will be too late, we must act now or perish. Keep conducting the science until we understand what is going on. If there is a problem then construct a rational course of action. Be exceptionally wary of people who want to develop AGW into a new religion and have people act on faith rather than facts, to push a political agenda that cant stand on it’s own merits.

  62. I am not going to argue the science, besides statistics which I have a good understanding of. However, I am an economist. I have little faith in those who stand by Stern but will rubbish other CBAs or the technique itself.

    Stern’s analysis, for all intents and purposes is completely and utterly whacky. It isn’t wrong, it is so bad it is useless.

    He discounts using a “social discount rate”. He says that is what people are willing to pay – by using stated preference data. He does not use revealed preference data nor is there any correct procedure (choice analysis) to make the stated preference data valid. He uses scaled data and transfers this to dollar costing without any simulation or appropriate statistical technique. The figure Stern arrives at is below 2%.

    Wether this is added to a cost of capital or not, it is vastly different to “usual” cost of capital figures we see. (The internal rate of return for university education and subsequent higher wages forgoing full time income for 3-4 years is 14.5% [17% if we didn’t have to pay HECS-HELP]. The ASX returns roughly 14% on average since Australia had a capital market).

    What Stern is saying is that global warming is so special that people are willing to pay more, so we can treat the social time preference and cost of capital differently. It may not be wrong – it might be Stern’s preference. But it isn’t appropriate to the analysis.

    Given that this doesn’t cover the opportunity cost (remember those?) of the mitigation, from stated, not revealed preference data, this is highly suspect. At worst, you would subtract the social time preference from the cost of capital. But the deficit with either figure Stern uses is larger than this.

    Stern also assumes a very low GDP growth figure, which is out of whack from the literature and known growth projections. Stern doesn’t explain why his theory about lower global growth is better. His assumption also bucks the trend without any explanation.

    When these points as well as the potential for global GDP to rise significantly more with further trade liberalisation, Stern’s analysis is not based on realistic assumptions. It overstates revenues and underestimates costs and doesn’t even consider sensitivity analysis (of trade liberalisation).

    I also have doubts about the seriousness of the work. One person cannot write 200+ pages on a complex topic with any rigour in a few months.

  63. Mark, I’ve discussed the discount rate issue at length on my blog (Google is probably best).

    As regards your comment “I also have doubts about the seriousness of the work. One person cannot write 200+ pages on a complex topic with any rigour in a few months.”

    it’s far more applicable to Plimer whos produced a 500 page book mostly about topics where has no professional expertise, than to Stern who was working in his field of expertise and had a Treasury team and lots of outside modellers to help him.

  64. I haven’t read Plimer. It may not be serious work. By your own definition, you cannot judge it.

    The Stern report should be simply forgeotten. Everyone makes mistakes. It is simply not good work and you are better off doing your own research than defending crap like this. I’ll change my mind when the rest of the economics profession justifies Stern’s methodology (e.g ignoring opportunity costs) and routinely uses it.

    Climate change might get worse. It might have costs. Doing nothing or engaging in growth promoting poloicies is preferable to the level of mitigation Stern infers we need.

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