01 Dec 2018

Murphy Twin Spin

Climate Change 18 Comments

At IER. I let loose on these, don’t miss them.

==> The climate interventionists won’t stop with a carbon tax. How do I know? Because I read what they write and believe them when they say they won’t stop with a carbon tax.

==> The National Climate Assessment allows the media to mislead Americans on cost/benefits of climate change policy.

18 Responses to “Murphy Twin Spin”

  1. Bitter Clinger says:

    While this is slightly “off topic” I would like to discuss it now because I have been obsessing about it ever since Dr. Murphy posted on his hope to walk on the moon. Let me try to explain. Dr. Jared Diamond wrote Guns, Germs, and Steel in 1997. He had a chapter about the Aborigines in Australia and the fact that they lived 40,000 years, 2000 generations, of an essentially Stone Age existence because they had no domestic plants or animals. They were never able to develop sufficient excess productivity over subsistence levels to build boats to explore other areas and acquire domestic animals or plants. They never traveled where they could not walk.

    South Americans had the “Three Sisters” which allowed them to have sufficient productivity over subsistence to mount ocean-going expeditions but not maintain any important presence in the world. China had sufficient domestic crops and animals that they were able to have colonies in Africa but insufficient to maintain them. Only Europe had an excess of domestic crops and animals sufficient to conquer and subjugate the entire world. Since the Industrial Revolution our standard of living is not about domestic crops and animals, it is about energy.

    We are all familiar with Fermi’s Paradox. We understand there must be a problem with being able to achieve interplanetary travel let alone inter–stellar travel, just as the Aborigines had trouble developing inter-continental travel. What if the energy required (over subsistence level) to develop interplanetary flight is so high that only planets that are able to exploit, in addition to carbon based forms and the energy from nuclear, matter-antimatter reactions and Galt’s Engine. What has me worried is as Guest pointed out. The Global Warming Alarmists, the Communists, Democratic Socialists, Harold, and the public in general are all cowards, irresponsible, and lazy and would rather we live in poverty, misery, and filth (like the Aborigines) than take a chance we could live in space. http://4clingers2.blogspot.com/2009/03/blog-post.html. Every proposal to combat climate change is the adding of constraints that will prevent us from obtaining sustainable space travel. Not one proposal that I have seen will improve our chances to achieve sustainable inter-planetary colonies. I would be interested in Tel’s thoughts because I assume he has seen the Aborigines up close, maybe my analysis is wrong.

    • Tel says:

      There has been massive disruption in Australia as various colonists (not all of them white by any means!) integrated for better or worse with the original Aboriginal culture (which as you say was a very low-tech culture).

      I’ve spent most of my life as a city boy, so the Aboriginals you meet typically are not full blood, and for the most part went through the same standardized schools, speak English (at least to Australian standards), wear Western style modern clothing, and work regular jobs. I know that Americans imagine black fellers wearing skins running through the streets throwing spears at kangaroos, but most Australians don’t live like that. There are still some genuine tribal lands … far from the cities … and a small number of people living the very ancient lifestyle, but don’t ask me for details because I have not been there. It’s kind of anthropologist stuff.

      There’s also places like Tennant Creek which has been in the news a bit lately, and not for any good things. That’s kind of the friction point between Aboriginals who don’t entirely want to modernize, but they do find themselves attracted to some modern conveniences, like beer for example. There’s a lot of parallels with the Native Americans and difficulty with alcohol and being neither one culture nor the other.

      I also probably consume more alcohol than I should do, but I have thousands of years of hardened Eastern European drinkers standing behind me … and Celtic drinkers too! Don’t worry, Darwin has done his work on my family.

      https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/624/cpsprodpb/15EBA/production/_90668798_fullsizerender.jpg

      That’s a cartoon by Bill Leak who was drawing attention to family breakdown (needless to say Leak came from a somewhat conservative point of view). Of course the Australian government went after Leak, screaming “racism! racism!” because you are supposed to sit around pretending there are no problems, and woe betide anyone who points this stuff out. Well the government kept hounding Leak, who refused to apologize but they achieved a kind of Pyrrhic victory by hounding the cartoonist to death. They could have considered something positive like looking at ways to address the problem, but killing the messenger just seemed a whole lot easier.

      This has been made worse because there have been plenty of Australian government programs (both state and federal), at great taxpayer expense, which have not achieved much, and quite likely make things worse. Admitting failure is very difficult for the bureaucrat types. Especially admitting expensive failure. If you search names like “Warren Mundine”, “Bob Katter”, “Mal Brough” and “Noel Pearson” you can find a bunch of opinions on what’s gone wrong and what to do about it. Regular Australians shut up about this topic because they don’t want to end up like Bill Leak.

      And yes I get it that the cartoon is exaggerated (like duh! it’s a cartoon) therefore not nuanced. When the lefties do it, that’s OK because “awareness raising” or “starting the conversation” or something like that. Only a problem when the message is something they don’t want to deal with.

      I don’t think I’ve answered any of your questions though.

    • Harold says:

      “The Global Warming Alarmists, the Communists, Democratic Socialists, Harold, and the public in general are all cowards, irresponsible, and lazy and would rather we live in poverty, misery, and filth ”

      Oh dear, so many fallacies in one short sentence!

      You know John Galt was fiction, right? If his engine is what is needed to overcome Fermi’s paradox then it does explain why we have not met the aliens yet.

      Had you been following, you would know I advocate nuclear power as a viable low carbon energy source. There is much denialism from the anti-nuclear and anti GM brigade as well as the global warming deniers and anti-vaxers.

      “Not one proposal that I have seen will improve our chances to achieve sustainable inter-planetary colonies.” How about having a larger GDP in the future?

      I have seen it argued that it is foolish to pay now in order to benefit our much richer descendants. I have never seen it argued that our much richer descendants will be less able to do stuff if they are a bit richer still.

      • Matt M says:

        “Not one proposal that I have seen will improve our chances to achieve sustainable inter-planetary colonies.” How about having a larger GDP in the future?”

        Hasn’t Bob documented in great detail how most of the mainstream recommendations regarding climate change reduce GDP more than doing nothing would?

        If someone in the media or in politics came out with “I recommend instituting the policies necessary to maximize GDP in accordance with Nordahus’ model but no more” I might listen to and take them seriously – but as far as I can tell, nobody is doing that.

        • Harold says:

          Matt, no we are looking beyond 2100. All the models show increasing damage. If interstellar travel is to be our primary goal cutting back now will help in the future. See my comment below on discount rates.

          I don’t think interstellar travel should be the primary goal, but that was the proposition.

    • Bitter Clinger says:

      Thank you Tel for your intelligent and articulate reply. Years ago I read The Mutant Message Down Under by Marlo Morgan and remember being horrified by the idea of living the same life (no matter how spiritual) as my father, grandfather, great grandfather going back 2000 generations. The Aborigines had no art, architecture, engineering, mathematics, music, or philosophy. They certainly had no economics. The sad part is that they were intelligent and observant but resisted changing to adapt. As I remember from Morgan they saw changing as undesirable. The same goes for the indigenous peoples of North America who yearn for the simple life of their ancestors, camping down on Hiawatha Ave in tents, shivering, and taking drugs. I wish I had some answer, I don’t, but I don’t believe either group were on the cusp of developing space flight when they were discovered by the evil Europeans.

      Harold, my accusation against the liberals is a priori, it is based upon the meaning of the words they used to describe their goals. (Safer, easier, more egalitarian) Are you saying that the real reason for advocating the policies they advocate is far more nefarious? I used Galt’s Engine as an example because I was trying to imagine what Aborigines would say as they huddled together under the stars thinking about how a cow or a chicken might look. Aborigine Harold would say, “Cows are fiction. They don’t exist” As to growing the inflation adjusted per capita GDP; that is exactly what I am trying to promote. How do you suggest we do that? President Obama put ten trillion dollars on the “credit card” in eight years giving it to his cronies and constituents. The Republicans screamed about the deficit because they did not want to offend the cronies and constituents even though they were never going to get their votes. For his efforts President Obama got 2% growth. The Republicans; I believe, took a terrible risk and willingly put two trillion on the deficit for tax cuts in the hopes of growing the economy by 4%. We will see how that works out. How are you proposing to do it? I don’t know what you are saying in your last paragraph, we are at or near peak oil, we are not building nuclear reactors, wind and solar are dead ends, there are eight billion people in the world who all want their share. Where are you going to get per capita GDP growth?

      I first read Atlas Shrugged in the early 60’s in college. If you distill Rand’s philosophy to five words they would be:”There is no free lunch.” This is also the basis for all engineering and science. Galt’s Engine appears to violate not only the Second law of thermodynamics it also violates the First. It appears to be a free lunch. But later when I reread the book I realized I was mistaken. Galt’s Engine actually gets its power from the differential entroponic energy flows in the trans-temporal flux of the creation-destruction cycle of the universe. It does not violate the first and second laws.

      • Harold says:

        Bitter,
        On Galt’s engine, I don’t think it matters whether the device violates thermodynamic laws – this is a fiction book and the engine is symbolic. It is sufficient that Galt, a genius, invented something that would be very useful, then abandoned it. The exact form it takes is surely not too important. However, it does seem to violate the laws of thermodynamics as they are usually understood.

        One problem with your analysis of liberals as cowards, irresponsible and lazy is that they share some values with the above, but are not defined by them.

        Completing the syllogism starting with a quote from your article
        “safety is important to the cowards.”
        Safety is important to liberals
        Therefore liberals are cowards.

        The logic does not work that way, as illustrated in this example:

        The Spanish like oranges, Fred likes oranges, therefore Fred is Spanish.

        “As to growing the inflation adjusted per capita GDP; that is exactly what I am trying to promote. How do you suggest we do that?”

        It seems that the absolute future GDP should be what counts. I think all the integrated assessment models (FUND, DICE and PAGE) all say that GDP will be greater in the future if we cut back on carbon now.

        The usual question is, should we do this? The answer depends strongly on discount rates – how much do we care about the future and how much richer will people be in the future?

        However, if we are intending to maximise opportunities for future interstellar travel, how much we care is irrelevant, or rather it is already restrained by that desire. All that matters is how many resources they have at the time such a thing may be possible. I think the IAMs are clear that cutting carbon now will lead to larger GDP post 2100. Richard Toll, who certainly thinks the dangers of climate change are often exaggerated, believes there will be damage from global warming and cutting carbon emissions will lead to higher GDP.

        The key thing is that increasing carbon based fuel price will inhibit growth, but too much warming will inhibit growth more.

  2. Transformer says:

    In have a question on the National Climate Assessment post:

    If analysis shows that between now and 2100 policy aimed at avoidance of climate change damage will reduce GDP by more than the climate change damage that is being avoided , then why (even ignoring environmental factors) is that alone considered by the “do-nothing” advocates to be a winning argument ? What about the years after 2100 ?

    Won’t both the post-2100 damage estimates and the mitigation costs be much higher in 2100 if nothing is done between now and then compared to if mitigation takes place sooner? And if so, how is that reflected in the models?

    • Capt. J Parker says:

      Transformer,
      Here is my somewhat tangential answer. It begins with a quote from Dr, Murphy’s paper: ” To be sure, advocates of extreme intervention can point to unlikely but catastrophic scenarios, and/or they can say the models leave out important things, but it would be more difficult to then claim the mantle of “scientific consensus” when they are ignoring the Obama Administration’s own “social cost of carbon” estimates.”

      So, the alarmist’s own rules are:
      1) Hey, lets look at the possible damage from AGW in 2100.
      2) Wow, 10% of GDP that’s really bad. We must act now.
      3) Anyone in disagreement with this train of logic is anti-science.

      Acting now causes more damage than not acting. That is the scientific conclusion. Yeah, sure, you can move the goal post and say “Well, gee, beyond 2100 there’ll be even more damage!” But, that argument isn’t a scientific one. It is just question begging.

      • Transformer says:

        Bob also says: ‘To be sure, advocates of extreme intervention can point to unlikely but catastrophic scenarios,’. I assume that “do nothing” between now and 2010 will increase the risk of such catastrophes beyond that date and if global temperatures continue to rise indefinitely render them almost certain at some point in the future ?

        • Capt. J Parker says:

          That’s just it Transformer. You assume that “do nothing” will lead, at some point in the future to a certain catastrophe. You are welcome to assume that but, it is not a scientific argument. It is just an assumption. If we are not constrained to make scientific arguments then I am just as welcome to assume that under a “do nothing” climate policy, carbon fossil fuels will eventually become scarcer and more expensive than renewables and energy decarbonization from purely market forces will occur long before catastrophe strikes.

        • Capt. J Parker says:

          That’s just it Transformer. You assume that “do nothing” will lead, at some point in the future to a certain catastrophe. You are welcome to assume that but, it is not a scientific argument. It is just an assumption. If we are not constrained to make scientific arguments then I am just as welcome to assume that under a “do nothing” climate policy, carbon fossil fuels will eventually become scarcer and more expensive than renewables and energy decarbonization from purely market forces will occur long before catastrophe strikes.

          • Transformer says:

            What I really meant as “I assume that the projections based on the science would lead to the conclusions that if global temperatures continue to rise indefinitely then some sort of catastrophe is almost certain at some point in the future”

            I am concerned about climate change and its consequences but also am tying to understand objectively both the science and the economics concerning it.

            • Capt. J Parker says:

              OK, so you ASSUME that IF global temperatures rise indefinitely some sort of catastrophe is almost certain at SOME POINT in the future. Why would that be a winning argument against the idea that the best policy response TODAY is to let the economy grow, let global wealth increase, let technological advancement continue as rapidly as it can and let’s deal with AGW in the future when we are better equipped to do so?

              • Transformer says:

                It would not necessarily be a winning argument – just something to be borne in mind when working out the appropriate response.

                The argument you put forward while undoubtedly attractive might also be seen as dangerously complacent. If I applied similar logic to my tendency to overeat I would very likely end up with serious health issues in the future.

    • Harold says:

      This is why the discount rate is so important. The big question is how much should we care about post 2100 damage estimates. I don’t think there are many (if any?) policies that look this far ahead. Using market based discount rates we should care hardly at all about damage this far ahead. This is why discount rates for inter-generational matters are usually thought to be lower than the market based discount rates and why the clamour for including 7% discount rates in social cost of carbon is really just a distraction.

      What is certain is that damage will continue beyond 2100. That is the scientific question and the answer is clear. All estimates show increasing damage beyond 2100 at current emission levels, and that is without any of the unlikely catastrophe scenarios. How much we should care about it is not a scientific question.

      • Matt M says:

        But at anything other than absurdly low discount rates, the present value of things happening 100+ years from now is absurdly small.

        I can pull up a basic annuity calculator and give you an example. At a 5% discount rate, an annuity that returns $5,000 a month for 35 years costs $935k. Extending the life of that annuity to 100 years increases the costs to $1.196M. Meaning, years 35-100 only comprise about 20% of the total value of the annuity.

        Now, I know what you’re thinking – “but the damages of climate change are totally different from the financial calculus of an annuity!” Indeed, but I would argue in a way that should cause the discount rate to rise, not fall. Technological progress makes it somewhat likely that the potential harms of climate change will be totally irrelevant by year 2100+. That by then we’ll have perfected adaptation technology, or perhaps we’ll have mastered interplanetary travel and terraforming. Or maybe it’ll be a moot point because we’ll have annihilated ourselves in nuclear war.

        In any case, the math alone suggests the “value” of harms in 2100+ are very very low, and incorporating a few basic logical assumptions causes that value to decrease even further…

        • Harold says:

          “In any case, the math alone suggests the “value” of harms in 2100+ are very very low”

          I think you are giving math too much credit. Value is subjective.

          Stern believed an appropriate discount rate was 1.4% Many disagree, but few think it is absurd. There are very good justifications based on the value we put on future generations. Stern (and many others) believe we should not value them lower than the current generation, as would be implied by a higher discount rate.

          So I don’t think the math alone can tell us much – we have to attach our value to it.

          Another example, discount rate of 5% suggests we would rather have a few quid now and guarantee the extinction of humanity in 300 years. I doubt many would actually take that option.

          “and incorporating a few basic logical assumptions causes that value to decrease even further…”

          Unfortunately there are also assumptions that make it higher. An unlikely event caused by warming is much more likely to be bad than good – as illustrated by Richard Toll in this interesting interview.

          https://www.carbonbrief.org/in-conversation-roger-harrabin-and-richard-tol

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