Friday, February 11, 2005

Hockey stick has become a boomerang

Update: The M&M paper has appeared in Geophysical Research Letters. Newspapers explain that climate science is much like Bre-X, and you don't want to invest in it. See also Wall Street Journal.

First of all, Steve McIntyre - the mineral exploration analyst who has made the audit of the temperature reconstructions together with the economist Ross McKitrick - has a new blog
The tomorrow's (February 11th, 2005) issue of Science has an article by Richard Kerr that discusses two topics related to the "hockey stick graph":
  • The paper by McIntyre and McKitrick, soon to appear in Geophysical Research Letters, that shows that the reconstruction by Mann et al. is based on a flawed approach to statistics, and the results only reflect bristlecone pines
  • Another paper form today (February 10th, 2005) issue of Nature by the Swedish-Russian group led by Anders Moberg.
The paper of Moberg et al. leads to roughly 5 times bigger natural temperature fluctuations than the "consensus of the hockey team" - and roughly 2 times bigger than the biggest previous estimate. The shape does not look as a hockey stick at all. It shows a very warm period around 1100 and a cold period around 1600. Steve McIntyre says, among other things, that while Moberg et al. has been "a kick in the teeth of MBH, they have just made another spaghetti graph". ;-)

At any rate, the "scientific consensus" about the dominant role of "anthropogenic" global warming is definitely gone.

Previous articles about the hockey stick:

I suppose that the hardcore alarmists - those with a very strong stomach - will reply "It does not matter at all that all of our science is rubbish, we can still scare people". I predict that the toughest ones - those who don't feel any moral restrictions - will tell you once again that there will be 50 degrees Celsius heat in your city in the summer.

Well, that's unlikely unless you live somewhere in Sahara. The most likely way this could happen is that the ecoterrorists would do the same things like in Crichton's "State of Fear", and I hope that the U.S. army will be able to deal with them before they realize their plans.

The alarmists will tell you that even though all quantitative predictions, postdictions, and reconstructions have been proved flawed, there is still some effect of CO2 on the climate, and you should be scared. Yes, there is always some effect of any event on all events in its future light cone. But this, non-quantitative and proto-scientific fact cannot lead a rational person to any big conclusions.

A rational, scientifically oriented person or society needs to quantify the effects, determine its likely consequences, and quantitatively - and economically - calculate the best possible response. These "details" have been done incorrectly and must be re-done.

See also a recent article in The Economist:

19 comments:

  1. We shall see who's the hockey stick and who's the puck when the temperature reaches 45 C in Boston and Stockholm next summer.

    ReplyDelete
  2. We shall see who's the hockey stick and who's the puck when the temperature reaches 45 C in Boston and Stockholm next summer.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The main reason for concern about anthropogenic climate change is not that we can already see it (although we can). The main reason is twofold.

    (1) Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are increasing rapidly in the atmosphere due to human activity. This is a measured fact not even disputed by staunch “climate skeptics”.

    (2) Any increase in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will change the radiation balance of the Earth and increase surface temperatures. This is basic and undisputed physics that has been known for over a hundred years.

    But how strong is this warming effect? That is the only fundamental doubt about anthropogenic climate change that can still be legitimately debated. We climatologists describe this in terms of the climate sensitivity, the warming that results in equilibrium from a doubling of CO2. The IPCC gives the uncertainty range as 1.5-4.5 ºC. Only if this is wrong, and the true value is lower, can we escape the fact that unabated emissions of greenhouse gases will lead to the warming projected by the IPCC.

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=114#more-114

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ah yes, Ross McKitrick, the guy whose previous bombshell paper suffered from the slight defect that McKitrick doesn't know the difference between degrees and radians (the link also lists a number of other basic blunders in various papers by McKitrick)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous:
    Both of your two points are wrong. There has been some measured fluctuation of the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. But it is NO way a "rapid increase" at all. The CO2 concentration natually fluctuate between seasons of a year and between different years and there is little evidence that human activity contributed anything significantly to tha fluctuation.

    (2)Various "green house" gases do cause the warming effect. No one dispute that. Also without dispute is the fact that WATER in the atmosphere is BY FAR the most important green house gas, due to its much higher concentration than CO2. CO2 is only a remote second contributing factor.

    The 1.5C to 4.5C figure is completely off the mark by a few orders of magnitude. We know the 20% or so concentration of O2 in today's atmosphere, was initially the equivalent amount of CO2, and virtually no O2, in the atmosphere before life started on earth. It is because of plantation life that the 20% CO2 was turned into a 20% O2, today.

    So think about 20% of CO2, versus today's 400 ppm. That's a 500 times higher concentration!!! If a few percentage change of the 400ppm today would warm up 1C to 4C, how much a run off warming effect would a 500 times higher concentration of CO2 mean? The pre-life earth would have been so hot that life could not have originated.

    We know there's life today. So we know the earth did have a comfortable temperature for life to originate, even at 500 times higher concentration of CO2. So why would a few ppm change today mean anything significant at all?

    Quantoken

    ReplyDelete
  6. Lubos I looked at your old posts, and I think you need some figures corrected. I have trained my sensitivity to order of magnitude estimate. So it just occured to me natually when I see a wrong estimate.

    You said: "There are many other things whose concentration increases drastically as a result of human activity. The Aliens who observe our Solar system in the microwave range of the electromagnetic spectrum see a pretty bright star - the Earth. Humans have obviously increased the concentration of radio waves and microwaves emitted by the Earth by several orders of magnitude."

    Aliens will not be able to see the earth at all, much less seeing the earth in microwave range. All they would ever see is the sun. If you do any guestimate calculation you will find the Sun is the by far much stronger radiation source in all spectrum ranges, in the solar system. As for the human emission of microwave energy, it is not many orders higher than the earth's natural microwave radiation, but instead many orders WEAKER than the earth's natural microwave radiation. We are able to communicate only because we concentrate energy in very narrow frequence bands.

    A slight distance removed from earth, the microwave emission by human would be completely submerged in the CMB background. If you don't believe it, you can try to estimate how many photons are actually emitted by human, try to divide it by the square of a distance a few light years away, and the dilution of photons would be so much that the chance of an alien capturing one single photon from human beings using a 1KM diameter dish would be more remote than winning a lottery.

    Quantoken

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anonymous said:

    "(1. CO2 increases)"

    Yes, CO2 increases. CO2 is a good thing, it is a gas showing animals or technology, and it is food fod plants.

    "(2) Any increase in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will change the radiation balance of the Earth and increase surface temperatures."

    As formulated, the statement (2) is a pseudoscientific stupidity whose information value is zero. Anything that anyone (or anything) does with anything else will affect every in its future light cone. ;-) This is certainly not enough to worry about everything, and only very stupid people can use these vague statements to reach big conclusions.

    The question is "how much", "which way", and "whether it leads to some bad consequences", and the answers seem to be "not much", "warming", "no bad overall consequences".

    ReplyDelete
  8. Lubos,

    I guess an idiot savant is a person who is a genius at some thing, but dumb at everything else. Do you suppose there is a sort of converse, brilliant about most things, but dumb in one or a few? About your ideas on global warming ...

    ReplyDelete
  9. I have a scientific background (a chemistry degree) and have worked for the electrical power industry (as they satisfied the US Clean Air Act).

    I think I've seen both sides and kept an open mind. I was a skeptic about global warming, and rolled through a lot of the usual positions ... that it might not be real, if it was real it might not be major, and so on.

    I changed my mind at some point in the late 90's, and now think it is "something real enough that we should take the basic steps to deal with it."

    I guess that puts me outside the mainline political camps, because if you believe their hype it is all or nothing.

    I think I've cut my energy use (and co2 emissions by about 30%) and it was easy - trivial. All I did was buy a better refrigerator and a different car ... done!

    Why do we have to believe this is hard?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Readers, please look at the presentation graphs on the IPCC's website. [http://www.ipcc.ch/present/graphics.htm] The IPCC predicts a cost of $400 to $1800 TRILLION to keep CO2 levels from exceeding 450ppm over the next century [about $10 trillion / yr in 1990 dollars]. [see "What will it cost to stabilize - fig 7-3"] This is an incredible amount of resources to waste on prevention if the Earth's temperature is increasing due to natural causes. That money could be much better spent on mitigation or 3rd world development. The IPCC describes the scientific understanding of the sun's contribution to global warming as "very low", but claims that the sun has almost no effect on global warming, it's almost entirely due to man-made greenhouse gases [no mention of water !]. [look for "anthropogenic factors forcing climate change, figure 2-2"] It has been widely reported that the sun has had increasing, then decreasing, then increasing activity throughout the 20th cent - matching the limited graphs of surface temperature for the same period of time. CO2 levels, on the other hand, didn't significantly increase until after most of the 20th cent measured warming occured. Historic observations of solar activity have found correlations to weather and the price of wheat - centuries before our current politicized debate. The last few years have been the most active solar years observed. National Geographic actually had an issue devoted to the 20th century's extraordinarily active sun last summer; the next month's issue was devoted entirely to anthropogenic Global Warming, with no mention of increasing solar activity. Why can't journalists put 2 and 2 together ?

    ReplyDelete
  11. To the "anonymous" above this (I am the "anonymous" above you):

    I think if we cut to the chase, we are in agreement. You quote:

    "The IPCC predicts a cost of $400 to $1800 TRILLION to keep CO2 levels from exceeding 450ppm over the next century"

    and then later say:

    "That money could be much better spent on mitigation"

    OK fine. Do you think that "mitigation" would include ANY attempt at better CO2 efficiency (more bang for our buck in CO2 production) ... or are you going to pretend that "mitigation" means we all keep driving our SUVs while someone else does somethigg vague to "mitigate" for us?

    Geez, fossil fuel efficiency (and therefore CO2 efficiency) is a basic step, and not even one that costs anything. It saves us money, while (pardon me) boneheads out there argue that it will cost their standard "trillions."

    ReplyDelete
  12. Response from anonymous to anonymous [My name is James Edwards and I live in Calif.] I've been following this debate for a long time [since I was a liberal Democrat]. This whole debate was initially politicized during the Reagan years. The Reagan admin said essentially: there's no increase in CO2, if there is it's not caused by humans, the earth isn't getting warmer, if it is it's a natural process, CO2 doesn't have any global warming effect - and the government isn't going to spend a nickel on research to determine if any of our politically-based interpretations of science are wrong. The response was so incomprehensible that liberals have pretty much taken it as a matter of faith that anthropogenic global warming was real, even before there was any reliable 'global' data that warming was actually occuring and without any substantive proof of causation. After all, the greenhouse gas model has the right set of 'bad guys' - Oil companies, big business, imperialism in the middle east, Dick Cheney.

    Your question about mitigation is a good example of how discussion about global warming has drifted out of the scientific realm and into the political realm.

    Your characterization of mitigation mixes up two important problems: Does CO2 cause global warming, and,
    even if CO2 has essentialy zero effect on global climate, should we use energy more efficiently.

    If 99% of climate change is due to man-made greenhouse gases, and there will be significant changes, then we have to spend whatever it takes to 'mitigate' by reducing CO2 emissions.

    But there has been no proof of causation, and all 'models' of future substantial changes are just guesses.

    Let's assume for a moment that 99.99% of all global warming is caused by the sun. I would advocate not spending a nickel toward CO2 reduction - for the purpose of stopping global warming. If it's all due to the sun, then weather changes, sea level changes, etc. are going to happen no matter what we do. Proper 'mitigation' would entail building reservoirs in California to capture water that will no longer be held in the snowpack, building seawalls and dikes in low lying areas, changing home building standards in certain areas, building food-growing hydroponic factories in some countries, building desalinization plants in others, etc.

    In addition, assuming that 99.99% of all warming is caused by the sun, we would have zero confidence that the sun would continue to warm. It could just as easily start getting cooler. Maybe we're going to have to start using a lot more energy in our homes to keep ourselves warm.

    Imagine if we spent $200 TRILLION on CO2 reduction efforts before we figured out that it was money completely wasted, and that we had left poor people worldwide unprotected from the impacts of climate change. [It's always the poor who suffer first and most significantly.] Where would we get another $200 TRILLION to 'mitigate' against negative effects like drought ? Money is a standin for resources; most resources don't grow on trees.


    The second question you mix in is about energy efficiency. I completely agree that we use energy very inefficiently. One thing Al Gore said that actually made sense was his claim that 'green technologies' could be a great growth industry.

    The liberal model for how to achieve this is well demonstrated by much of the Kyoto protocol. Societal changes are promoted through government mandate, hopefully at the Federal and UN levels. Government provides subsidies and penalizes behavior it doesn't like.

    The only part of Kyoto that makes sense is a LIBERTARIAN idea - letting the market determine who can use carbon credits.

    A libertarian solution to energy inefficiency is 'true-cost pricing'. Our whole middle east policy is centered around oil. It doesn't make sense that solar energy companies pay taxes to subsidize cheap oil. If the cost of aid to Israel and Egypt, as well as all mideast military adventures were added to the price of gas and other petrochemicals, alternative energy technologies would be more price-competitive. More companies would spend $ to reduce energy consumption. People would tend to buy cars with better mileage.

    Having said that, in no way is the fact that we could and should reduce our use of petroleum as an energy source an argument in favor of anthropogenic global warming.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Response from anonymous to anonymous [My name is James Edwards and I live in Calif.] I've been following this debate for a long time [since I was a liberal Democrat]. This whole debate was initially politicized during the Reagan years. The Reagan admin said essentially: there's no increase in CO2, if there is it's not caused by humans, the earth isn't getting warmer, if it is it's a natural process, CO2 doesn't have any global warming effect - and the government isn't going to spend a nickel on research to determine if any of our politically-based interpretations of science are wrong. The response was so incomprehensible that liberals have pretty much taken it as a matter of faith that anthropogenic global warming was real, even before there was any reliable 'global' data that warming was actually occuring and without any substantive proof of causation. After all, the greenhouse gas model has the right set of 'bad guys' - Oil companies, big business, imperialism in the middle east, Dick Cheney.

    Your question about mitigation is a good example of how discussion about global warming has drifted out of the scientific realm and into the political realm.

    Your characterization of mitigation mixes up two important problems: Does CO2 cause global warming, and,
    even if CO2 has essentialy zero effect on global climate, should we use energy more efficiently.

    If 99% of climate change is due to man-made greenhouse gases, and there will be significant changes, then we have to spend whatever it takes to 'mitigate' by reducing CO2 emissions.

    But there has been no proof of causation, and all 'models' of future substantial changes are just guesses.

    Let's assume for a moment that 99.99% of all global warming is caused by the sun. I would advocate not spending a nickel toward CO2 reduction - for the purpose of stopping global warming. If it's all due to the sun, then weather changes, sea level changes, etc. are going to happen no matter what we do. Proper 'mitigation' would entail building reservoirs in California to capture water that will no longer be held in the snowpack, building seawalls and dikes in low lying areas, changing home building standards in certain areas, building food-growing hydroponic factories in some countries, building desalinization plants in others, etc.

    In addition, assuming that 99.99% of all warming is caused by the sun, we would have zero confidence that the sun would continue to warm. It could just as easily start getting cooler. Maybe we're going to have to start using a lot more energy in our homes to keep ourselves warm.

    Imagine if we spent $200 TRILLION on CO2 reduction efforts before we figured out that it was money completely wasted, and that we had left poor people worldwide unprotected from the impacts of climate change. [It's always the poor who suffer first and most significantly.] Where would we get another $200 TRILLION to 'mitigate' against negative effects like drought ? Money is a standin for resources; most resources don't grow on trees.


    The second question you mix in is about energy efficiency. I completely agree that we use energy very inefficiently. One thing Al Gore said that actually made sense was his claim that 'green technologies' could be a great growth industry.

    The liberal model for how to achieve this is well demonstrated by much of the Kyoto protocol. Societal changes are promoted through government mandate, hopefully at the Federal and UN levels. Government provides subsidies and penalizes behavior it doesn't like.

    The only part of Kyoto that makes sense is a LIBERTARIAN idea - letting the market determine who can use carbon credits.

    A libertarian solution to energy inefficiency is 'true-cost pricing'. Our whole middle east policy is centered around oil. It doesn't make sense that solar energy companies pay taxes to subsidize cheap oil. If the cost of aid to Israel and Egypt, as well as all mideast military adventures were added to the price of gas and other petrochemicals, alternative energy technologies would be more price-competitive. More companies would spend $ to reduce energy consumption. People would tend to buy cars with better mileage.

    Having said that, in no way is the fact that we could and should reduce our use of petroleum as an energy source an argument in favor of anthropogenic global warming.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Response from anonymous to anonymous [My name is James Edwards and I live in Calif.] I've been following this debate for a long time [since I was a liberal Democrat]. This whole debate was initially politicized during the Reagan years. The Reagan admin said essentially: there's no increase in CO2, if there is it's not caused by humans, the earth isn't getting warmer, if it is it's a natural process, CO2 doesn't have any global warming effect - and the government isn't going to spend a nickel on research to determine if any of our politically-based interpretations of science are wrong. The response was so incomprehensible that liberals have pretty much taken it as a matter of faith that anthropogenic global warming was real, even before there was any reliable 'global' data that warming was actually occuring and without any substantive proof of causation. After all, the greenhouse gas model has the right set of 'bad guys' - Oil companies, big business, imperialism in the middle east, Dick Cheney.

    Your question about mitigation is a good example of how discussion about global warming has drifted out of the scientific realm and into the political realm.

    Your characterization of mitigation mixes up two important problems: Does CO2 cause global warming, and,
    even if CO2 has essentialy zero effect on global climate, should we use energy more efficiently.

    If 99% of climate change is due to man-made greenhouse gases, and there will be significant changes, then we have to spend whatever it takes to 'mitigate' by reducing CO2 emissions.

    But there has been no proof of causation, and all 'models' of future substantial changes are just guesses.

    Let's assume for a moment that 99.99% of all global warming is caused by the sun. I would advocate not spending a nickel toward CO2 reduction - for the purpose of stopping global warming. If it's all due to the sun, then weather changes, sea level changes, etc. are going to happen no matter what we do. Proper 'mitigation' would entail building reservoirs in California to capture water that will no longer be held in the snowpack, building seawalls and dikes in low lying areas, changing home building standards in certain areas, building food-growing hydroponic factories in some countries, building desalinization plants in others, etc.

    In addition, assuming that 99.99% of all warming is caused by the sun, we would have zero confidence that the sun would continue to warm. It could just as easily start getting cooler. Maybe we're going to have to start using a lot more energy in our homes to keep ourselves warm.

    Imagine if we spent $200 TRILLION on CO2 reduction efforts before we figured out that it was money completely wasted, and that we had left poor people worldwide unprotected from the impacts of climate change. [It's always the poor who suffer first and most significantly.] Where would we get another $200 TRILLION to 'mitigate' against negative effects like drought ? Money is a standin for resources; most resources don't grow on trees.


    The second question you mix in is about energy efficiency. I completely agree that we use energy very inefficiently. One thing Al Gore said that actually made sense was his claim that 'green technologies' could be a great growth industry.

    The liberal model for how to achieve this is well demonstrated by much of the Kyoto protocol. Societal changes are promoted through government mandate, hopefully at the Federal and UN levels. Government provides subsidies and penalizes behavior it doesn't like.

    The only part of Kyoto that makes sense is a LIBERTARIAN idea - letting the market determine who can use carbon credits.

    A libertarian solution to energy inefficiency is 'true-cost pricing'. Our whole middle east policy is centered around oil. It doesn't make sense that solar energy companies pay taxes to subsidize cheap oil. If the cost of aid to Israel and Egypt, as well as all mideast military adventures were added to the price of gas and other petrochemicals, alternative energy technologies would be more price-competitive. More companies would spend $ to reduce energy consumption. People would tend to buy cars with better mileage.

    Having said that, in no way is the fact that we could and should reduce our use of petroleum as an energy source an argument in favor of anthropogenic global warming.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Response from anonymous to anonymous [My name is James Edwards and I live in Calif.] I've been following this debate for a long time [since I was a liberal Democrat]. This whole debate was initially politicized during the Reagan years. The Reagan admin said essentially: there's no increase in CO2, if there is it's not caused by humans, the earth isn't getting warmer, if it is it's a natural process, CO2 doesn't have any global warming effect - and the government isn't going to spend a nickel on research to determine if any of our politically-based interpretations of science are wrong. The response was so incomprehensible that liberals have pretty much taken it as a matter of faith that anthropogenic global warming was real, even before there was any reliable 'global' data that warming was actually occuring and without any substantive proof of causation. After all, the greenhouse gas model has the right set of 'bad guys' - Oil companies, big business, imperialism in the middle east, Dick Cheney.

    Your question about mitigation is a good example of how discussion about global warming has drifted out of the scientific realm and into the political realm.

    Your characterization of mitigation mixes up two important problems: Does CO2 cause global warming, and,
    even if CO2 has essentialy zero effect on global climate, should we use energy more efficiently.

    If 99% of climate change is due to man-made greenhouse gases, and there will be significant changes, then we have to spend whatever it takes to 'mitigate' by reducing CO2 emissions.

    But there has been no proof of causation, and all 'models' of future substantial changes are just guesses.

    Let's assume for a moment that 99.99% of all global warming is caused by the sun. I would advocate not spending a nickel toward CO2 reduction - for the purpose of stopping global warming. If it's all due to the sun, then weather changes, sea level changes, etc. are going to happen no matter what we do. Proper 'mitigation' would entail building reservoirs in California to capture water that will no longer be held in the snowpack, building seawalls and dikes in low lying areas, changing home building standards in certain areas, building food-growing hydroponic factories in some countries, building desalinization plants in others, etc.

    In addition, assuming that 99.99% of all warming is caused by the sun, we would have zero confidence that the sun would continue to warm. It could just as easily start getting cooler. Maybe we're going to have to start using a lot more energy in our homes to keep ourselves warm.

    Imagine if we spent $200 TRILLION on CO2 reduction efforts before we figured out that it was money completely wasted, and that we had left poor people worldwide unprotected from the impacts of climate change. [It's always the poor who suffer first and most significantly.] Where would we get another $200 TRILLION to 'mitigate' against negative effects like drought ? Money is a standin for resources; most resources don't grow on trees.


    The second question you mix in is about energy efficiency. I completely agree that we use energy very inefficiently. One thing Al Gore said that actually made sense was his claim that 'green technologies' could be a great growth industry.

    The liberal model for how to achieve this is well demonstrated by much of the Kyoto protocol. Societal changes are promoted through government mandate, hopefully at the Federal and UN levels. Government provides subsidies and penalizes behavior it doesn't like.

    The only part of Kyoto that makes sense is a LIBERTARIAN idea - letting the market determine who can use carbon credits.

    A libertarian solution to energy inefficiency is 'true-cost pricing'. Our whole middle east policy is centered around oil. It doesn't make sense that solar energy companies pay taxes to subsidize cheap oil. If the cost of aid to Israel and Egypt, as well as all mideast military adventures were added to the price of gas and other petrochemicals, alternative energy technologies would be more price-competitive. More companies would spend $ to reduce energy consumption. People would tend to buy cars with better mileage.

    Having said that, in no way is the fact that we could and should reduce our use of petroleum as an energy source an argument in favor of anthropogenic global warming.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I'm John, also from California, and I am the "anonymous" who spoke for ... I guess "moderate action."

    Of course you are right that "in no way is the fact that we could and should reduce our use of petroleum as an energy source an argument in favor of anthropogenic global warming."

    Also, the fact that reduced gasoline consumption improves our national security, is not an argument in favor of anthropogenic global warming.

    The thing is though, I'm hearing a hard and fast position from the group (maybe not you) who say "there is no global warming, and we should do nothing."

    The thing that kills me is that there are other reasons to do something, and many of those "somethings" have other benefits. In other words, a "win-win."

    For a lot of those actions, the global warming angle provide just an added benefit, after some other "win."

    To me, it proves the lunacy of the "do nothing" position.

    I mean, they have to ignore not just efficiency and national security, but traditional polutants as well. An SUV not only puts out more CO2, but more pounds of SOx and NOx as well.

    Now, finally, I have reversed my earlier "cautous-neutral" position, and think global warming is more worrying than I once did. I think people should take it more seriously than they do ... but I find it really shocking that I can't find some middle ground, based on the other issues we should agree upon.

    People just want to "do nothing" - or let someone else ("the government"?) worry about it.

    ReplyDelete
  17. James Edwards says:
    I apologize to Prof. Motl for posting 4x. Please believe that this was due to a technical problem, not an arrogant belief that my ideas are so great that everybody should read them 4x.

    To John Anonymous in Calif:
    I think the correct benefit one gets from energy efficiency vis-a-vis climate is a chance that negative impacts will be reduced, rather than an actual reduction of human-caused global climate change. [Personally, I believe that chance to be exceedingly slim.]

    It's quite clear that if we didn't have a national policy of avoiding true-cost pricing for petroleum, we probably wouldn't be in Afghanistan and Iraq today. Saddam might have been ousted 15-20 years ago if we hadn't intervened on Iraq's behalf in the war with Iran. Arab oil states might not have been able to bribe their populace to accept corrupt regimes.

    Research into alternative energy sources like fusion power would probably have been a higher priority, and petrochemicals would most likely be used more efficiently for the manufacture of polymers - rather than dirty burning.

    What this demonstrates to me is the danger of government involvement in private economic decisions. When the government provides a direct or indirect subsidy, negative impacts may develop which are not easily perceived because they involve positive outcomes that never occur.

    Those who promote Kyoto are proposing a huge government involvement in private economic decision-making. What will the negative impacts be ? We can rest assured that the first people to lose the benefits of economic growth will be the poorest people on Earth. Companies move jobs to the 3rd world only when the economy is too hot in their own countries.

    Please reference "The Skeptical Environmentalist" and other works for a demonstration that the surest way to preserve the environment is economic development. An unemployed man in sub-saharan Africa is going to choose his starving kids over a gorilla or some trees everytime.

    People who say, then, "I'm an environmentalist so I support the Kyoto protocol, even though there isn't evidence that it will help but it couldn't be bad," could be making a huge mistake. I think you can almost guarantee that, in the short term, Kyoto will lead to negative economic effects in the 3rd world. These negative effects are almost certain to lead to significant ecological degradation in the 3rd world.

    Your particular choice to conserve energy is, of course, admirable. When you make a personal choice, you reflect the Libertarian ethos I spoke of. True-cost pricing would allow more people to make economically rational decisions that are good for the environment. I don't believe there is a need to involve government action on 'greenhouse gasses' unless and until CO2 causation of significant climate change is demonstrated.

    Incidentally, Honda and Toyota actually make widely available gas-powered zero NOx emission models. They have less smog impact than hybrid or electric vehicles. I see no reason similar technology can't be applied to larger vehicles.

    ReplyDelete
  18. You make some excellent points, but on:

    I think the correct benefit one gets from energy efficiency vis-a-vis climate is a chance that negative impacts will be reduced, rather than an actual reduction of human-caused global climate change.I think the best way to put it is that we are looking at CO2 release over time. Any reduction in CO2 release buys us more time.

    So it makes sense to me to promote reductions that have other benefits, and to do so immediately. For those, it is not even cost-benefit analysis, it is win-win. It buys us time.

    And, if GW proves to be a problem (I'm giving the cautious some time here), then those reductions will put us ahead of the game.

    In the "worst case", if GW is not a problem, then we won't have lost anything ... we will have gained.

    As far as government funding on this, being a bit of a libertarian myself, I think we made some wrong turns. I think govenrment should have been steadfast in funding research, but they should have stayed away from any subsidies for production and deployment. Those mess up the market so well that we can't even tell what is working.

    And sure, anyone driving those low NOx Hondas and Toyotas is a hero in my book.

    FWIW though, there will be a limit to how close the really big and heavy cars can come. Remember that SOx/NOx limits are set in gm/ml, where ml is a volume of emssion. Heavy cars will continue to burn more gas and put out more "ml", and so their "gm" will be higher as well. More on this at:

    http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_vehicles/cars_and_suvs/page.cfm?pageID=247

    ReplyDelete
  19. I think that link got trucnated, here it is, embedded

    ReplyDelete