Category Archives: Economics

The Climate Wars

The first shots are being fired in western Europe:

Who pays for environmental virtue?

The gilets jaune revolt begs the issue: who pays to save the planet? The Paris accords absolved the very countries driving emission increases — China and India — from mandating emissions cuts until 2030, leaving the burden largely on the backs of the West’s own middle and working classes.

Yet many of these people need fossil fuels to get to work or operate their businesses. Tourists may gape at the high-speed trains and the Paris Metro, but the vast majority get to work in cars. More than 80 percent of the Paris metropolitan area population lives in the suburbs and exurbs, in an area nearly the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined.

Like the revolutionaries of 1789, people are enraged by the hypocrisy of their betters. In pre-revolutionary times, French aristocrats and top clerics preached Christian charity while indulging in gluttony, sexual adventurism and lavish spending. Today they see the well-off and well-connected buying their modern version of indulgences through carbon credits and other virtue-signaling devices. Meanwhile, as many as 30 percent of Germans and as many as half of Greeks are spending 10 percent or more of their income on energy, the definition of “energy poverty.” This is occurring while these policies prove sadly ineffective in reducing emissions while the much disdained US leads the large countries in cuts.

It’s not about saving the planet; it’s about the “elites” (who are elite in name only, not in talent or competence or intelligence) signaling their virtue to their peers, while defecating on the commoners and telling them it’s cotton candy.

[Update a while later]

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost exactly nine years since I wrote this piece about the Precautionary Principle. And nothing has changed.

Seventy-Seven Years

I just noticed the date; it is one that, in Roosevelt’s words, “will live in infamy.” Seventy-seven years ago we abruptly entered the second world war when the Japanese attacked our fleet at Pearl Harbor. The passing of George H. W. Bush a week ago is a reminder that that event, along with the war itself, is passing from living memory.

Brokaw called them “The Greatest Generation.” I don’t know about that, but mine has not covered itself in glory. However I remain simultaneously hopeful for and fearful of the future. We do, for now, live in the best of times in human history.

But if you’re pessimistic, I guess you can take the Trump approach. After all, as Marx* once said, “What has posterity ever done for me?”

* Not that Marx. This one.

The Fourth National Climate Assessment

Anthony Watts is having fun with it.

I continue to be amazed at people who continue to attempt to compare landing a probe on another planet to predicting something as complex as the climate and the economy eight decades from now.

[Thursday-morning update]

Bjorn Lomborg: What the media got all wrong about the report.

Pretty much everything.

[Update Friday morning]

“The NCA’s projections are simply not borne out by the data.”

Unexpectedly!

[Bumped]

[Late-morning update]

How the Trump administration blew it on the NCA:

The Administration now has a problem since some Democrats say they will use the report to oppose a number of the Trump Administration’s attempts to weaken a number of the Obama climate regulations that they have proposed, including using the report to persuade courts to reinstate the original Obama Administration regulations. All this was quite foreseeable. So why did the Administration publish the report without reviewing it? Was it because it was not paying attention to what the bureaucracy was doing? This is hard to believe, but appears now to be the case. One obvious possibility is that they wanted to avoid the charge that they had “corrupted” the report writing process. But the costs are likely to be high. Another possibility is that Acting Administrator Wheeler did not want to endure questions about possible intervention at his confirmation hearing. But the evidence appears to suggest inattention by the Trump Administration was the major problem.

You don’t say.

Sea-Level Rise

In the context of the report released on Friday, Judith Curry has issued her own final report on it:

Why have I devoted so much time to the sea level rise issue? First, I regard sea level rise to be the most consequential potential impact of predicted global warming. Second, there is a great deal of public confusion about the issue, including decision makers. Third, a number of CFAN’s clients have queried me about a range of specific concerns that they have regarding sea level rise (and I have been doing consulting on this topic).

Why do I think an independent assessment of the sea level rise issue by yours truly is needed, given the plethora of international and national assessment reports? My clients are concerned about the alarmist predictions they have encountered. I have seen various ‘experts’ make public statements projecting 21st century sea level to be as high as 9 m [30 feet]. My clients are looking for someone that they trust to provide an objective assessment that focuses on their issues of concern.

I am not a published expert on sea level rise, although I have published some relevant papers in oceanography and the climate dynamics of the polar regions. What I bring to this assessment is a broader perspective on the issues of climate dynamics, climate modeling and uncertainty than most of the community working on the sea level rise issue. In any event, it is arguably useful for a knowledgeable person outside of the publishing sea level community to provide an independent assessment.

Yes. It will be interesting to see the response from the alarmists, if any.