02 Jun 2017


Climate Change, Potpourri, Shameless Self-Promotion 29 Comments

==> Ed Dolan replied to my recent IER post on Hayek. BTW, if you are knowledgeable and want to respond to Dolan, let me know and I can put you in touch with someone who might run it. I personally am moving on.

==> Somebody recently sent me this link, reminding me that some people think libertarians in the Rothbardian tradition appropriated not only “anarchist” but also “libertarian.” Just passing this along so those who consider themselves in this tradition are aware of the argument. (Just search the PDF for “Rothbard.”)

==> Phew! Scientists are testing a “vaccine” against “climate change denial.” And remember, these are the open-minded people.

==> The big news of course is that Trump pulled the plug on the Paris Agreement; Twitter obviously responded that he just doomed Earth itself. In this context, it’s interesting to note that Vox’s resident expert said in late April that not a single country on Earth was seriously taking steps to meet the target of limiting warming to 2C.

==> Also related, the progressives today are walking an interesting line: (A) Trump is dooming planet Earth. But also (B) The Paris agreement didn’t constrain US actions in any way, and so no reason for Trump to pull out.

==> Dean Baker corrects the NYT, and says that you can disagree with the numbers if you want, but that Trump is relying on standard economic modeling when he warns of job losses from limits of greenhouse gas emissions.

==> In “I’m kind of a big deal” news: I am quoted in this NYT obituary, and I just barely make this list of influential libertarians. (It’s fortunate they put married couples in the same slot.)

29 Responses to “Potpourri”

  1. Harold says:

    If one believed that CO2 was going to cause significant harm there is no contradiction in acknowledging that no country is doing enough and that USA pulling out of the Paris Agreement is a bad thing. In fact it strengthens the case. If other countries are not doing enough now then they are less likely to do enough if the biggest emitter does nothing.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Harold wrote: “If other countries are not doing enough now then they are less likely to do enough if the biggest emitter does nothing.”

      Who said anything about China?

      • Harold says:


        • Craw says:

          If the USA stopped all emissions tomorrow by this standard they’d still be the biggest emitter.

          Aside from doubting your figures — China has been populous for a long time, thousands of years — it’s hilarious that you again deploy your habitual prevarication rather than admitting error.

          • Harold says:

            I wondered when I posted the original whether I should qualify the statement, but I thought the point was clear enough and did not need finessing . However, I overestimated the ability of the readership to take the point without needing absolute precision.

            If it makes you feel better then read it as “If other countries are not doing enough now then they are less likely to do enough if the country responsible for more of the CO2 in the atmosphere than any other country, currently the second biggest emitter and with per capita emissions more than twice the largest emitter, does nothing”

            This clarification in no way affects the actual point I was making and is something of a mouthful. But I am sure you feel better now the position has been stated more precisely.

            • Craw says:

              No Harold. The original assertion, about the futility of others acting if the biggest emitter does nothing, is only pertinent if it means currently emitting.
              The accords aren’t about cutting the emissions from 1956.

              • Harold says:

                Craw, it is pertinent if one of the biggest emitters does nothing. How can you be so obtuse?

                I have seen people argue that rich people consume a lot of fuel in private jets and huge houses. They ask Why should I do something if these people do nothing?

                Do you think if you pointed out that these were not the very richest the argument disappears?

              • Craw says:

                Oh, now it’s ONE OF the biggest emitters.

              • Harold says:

                Craw, you ignore the point and double down on irrelevant details.

                We can argue if USA can reasonably be described as the biggest emitter, but that is a distraction and does not affect the main point, so I do not want to go down your rabbit hole.

                I see this a lot here. Ignore the point and try to find some detail to argue about.

                The fact is that the US pulling out makes it less likely that other countries will do their bit.

              • Bob Murphy says:

                Harold wrote:

                “We can argue if USA can reasonably be described as the biggest emitter…”

                Harold, I was mostly trolling you to be a wiseguy. I knew what your real point was.

                However, in the above I think you are defending yourself the wrong way. China overtook the US in emissions according to the “objective” measures, and for sure it is going to emit way more than the US under any reasonable scenario going forward. Look at this for example.

              • Harold says:

                Bob, I get that, but even if China is the biggest emitter, the USA pulling out of the Paris Agreement is going to make it less likely that other countries will stick with the program. I prefaced my comment with “If one believed that CO2 was going to cause significant harm….”

                Whether USA is the biggest or second biggest is beside the point. I did not want to get involved in a discussion of who was the biggest.

                So fine, lets go with second biggest if it makes everyone feel better. The point remains the same.

              • Craw says:

                Yes Harold the point remains the same. So, deliciously, does your unbroken record of prevarication. You, or I guess the point is someone other than you, could simply have said “Oh, right, my error, second biggest emitter, but the point remains”.

              • Harold says:

                If we want to ge into it, there is a case to be made for USA to be biggest emitter. Look at this for example

                I don’t really want to get into a great debate. Sure, by one measure USA is not the biggest today, but then by another it is. There is a reasonable case to be made that the USA is largely responsible for the CO2 rise in the atmosphere to date. It is not unreasonale to say that it is the biggest emtter to date. Given this, it is reasonable for the rest of the world to expect the USA to contribute its share of cutbacks, if there are to be cutbacks.

                If you think CO2 is a problem, then you think there should be cutbacks.

                I am not disputing that China is currently and will continue to emit more carbon than the USA.

              • Bob Murphy says:

                By one measure the Persians have the strongest military.

              • Tel says:

                …the USA pulling out of the Paris Agreement is going to make it less likely that other countries will stick with the program.

                China’s part of the “agreement” was to do whatever they want, and worry about it later.

                China made it very clear that the deal would be off the moment they were asked to cut back on growth in any way whatsoever.

              • Stephen Dedalus says:

                “The accords aren’t about cutting the emissions from 1956.”


              • Harold says:

                Craw, did you miss where I said

                “currently the second biggest emitter”

                in direct response to your first comment?

    • wmmcbride@comcast.net says:

      Harold hates plants and trees. Hate speech should not be tolerated.

      • Harold says:

        I guess this would come under Scott Adams “Psychic Psychiatrist Illusion”, which would mean I know I have won the argument. However, Adam’s criteria are not very good.

        • Mike Mc says:

          Inability to recognize sarcasm?

  2. Capt. J Parker says:

    Congrats on making the top 100 list. You are a big deal. Please keep those Contra Krugman episodes coming.

  3. Tel says:

    (A) Trump is dooming planet Earth. But also (B) The Paris agreement didn’t constrain US actions in any way, and so no reason for Trump to pull out.

    The agreement was largely symbolic so we can presume when they say “doom” this is also intended as some kind of symbolism.

  4. Amber says:

    From the Vox article:

    “People who are more scientifically literate, for instance, are even more divided about the risks of climate change than those who are less scientifically literate.”

    Yesterday I read a completely unrelated article about the dangers of calling breastfeeding “natural” because caring about feeding your baby the “natural” way could be a gateway to other crazy behaviors. From that article:

    “These pockets of antivaccination sentiment tend to overlap with reliance on and interest in complementary and alternative medicine, skepticism of institutional authority, and a strong commitment and interest in health knowledge, autonomy, and healthy living practices.” (http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2016/03/02/peds.2015-4154)

    I’ve known for some time now that the powers that be hate people thinking for themselves, but has their contempt always been this blatant? Are we really supposed to fall for the nonsense that those who are more scientifically literate or who have a high interest in health knowledge are the bad guys spreading fake facts?

    • Bob Roddis says:

      has their contempt always been this blatant?

      I do not believe it always was this blatant. I have always joked that Democrats (underneath it all) hated average people. Now their hate is right out in the open. And they are silent when you point it out to them.

      Maybe before the internet, they were perhaps a bit chagrined and inhibited from expressing their innermost feelings. Now they seem to think there is safety in numbers for their insanity. Even “Lord Keynes” thinks they’ve lost it.

      • Craw says:

        Yes. The basket of deplorables speech — and it was a longish section of speech not just a quick remark — was a turning point in American politics, the moment when the Democrats took ownership of that contempt, made it central to the brand, made it clear that being a Democrat *meant* being contemptuous of working class white Americans.

      • Bob Murphy says:

        Roddis yeah, somebody the other day on Twitter said something like, “Say what you will about how awful Twitter is, but at least we can see the press’ bias out in the open.” And I totally got what he meant; before you just had to guess at what they really thought.

        It’s funny, I think when I was younger I believed that “liberals” were well-meaning but naive. Now I realize no, they are horrible. (In fairness, so are “conservatives,” but nobody ever accused Rush Limbaugh of being well-meaning yet naive.)

        • Bob Roddis says:

          I am going to restate my theory that statists, especially “progressives”, cannot bear to even think about economic calculation because it involves essentially a mandate of allowing the rabble to do their own thing which leaves the “progressives” no busybody role whatsoever for bossing around and tormenting average people.

          They are also not going to want to think about an analysis that claims that all of these terrible social problems are actually caused by them and wouldn’t exist but for their meddling.

  5. Tel says:

    After the work you did on “The Primal Prescription” this one might be interesting (covers similar ground, not so much Austrian Economiics but the author is a historian with some economic background):


    • Harold says:

      “Chapin argues that different models might have emerged that would lead to a more effective health care system.”

      That is something perhaps one everyone can agree with. Whatever you think of the health care system, perfect is probably not one of them.

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