Should the Judiciary Be Making US Climate Policy?

In the usual way of such headlines, the answer is No. The link is from twatter, the original in Forbes from Nives Dolsak and Aseem Prakash. What do they have to say? Our key point is that asking the judiciary to mandate climate policies might have the unintended effect of concentrating policymaking power in the judiciary, thereby affecting the long-term health of the US democracy. What a brilliantly insightful suggestion, one I've never heard before. Well done for originality chaps. In more detail:
The US constitution outlines the separation of powers in Articles 1-3. It vests the legislative authority with the Congress. The executive branch is supposed to implement the law, while the judiciary is expected to interpret it. Yet, it seems that with the judicialization of politics, the judiciary is accumulating more policy power than what the constitution intended. In the context of climate policy, we focus on two issues: the inability of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California regulators to agree on automobile tailpipe emission standards and the Juliana case, where citizens are petitioning the judiciary to mandate a climate policy.
This of course has been done to death elsewhere, most obviously in Alsup but elsewhere: people, desperate for progress because they can't get their faves through Congress, try an end-run with the Judiciary. A nice try if you can do it, but of course it leaves you vulnerable to the bad guys doing the same thing.

Our authors, in their discussion of Juliana-like stuff carefully avoid mentioning Alsup, because it answers their question, and where would talking heads be if questions were actually answered? So let's look at the emissions standards. This one is delicious, as such things often are, and this aspect is new to me: California, as we know, has strict emissions standards which often become national defaults due to the size of the Californian market. They have a "waiver" from the EPA from the Clean Air Act allowing them to set stricter-than-national standards, on the grounds of the particular nature of their pollution1. The Trump administration, desperate to pump CO2 into the atmosphere, would like to remove the waiver. But, can they? This is exactly the kind of question that does belong in the supreme court, so I think our authors are on dodgy grounds arguing the courts should keep out. Someone called Jonathon Adler argues that Trump probably can remove the waiver, for GW type stuff, since the "special conditions" argument doesn't apply to GW. I'm somewhat doubtful on more basic grounds, since it isn't clear what powers the Feds have to restrict State law, except as permitted by the constitution, and I'm not sure what they're claiming in this case: the articles I've seen don't mention this. JH points out the irony of... there is something odd about an administration that has proclaimed its support for “cooperative federalism” now bending over backwards to preclude individual states from making their own regulatory decisions.


Happer, Koonin, Lindzen vs Alsup
Mass starvation is humanity’s fate if we keep flogging the land to death?


1. As I hope is clear, this waiver stuff is new to me. Feel free to correct me (with sources) if I've misinterpreted it.


A majority of USAnians think someone else should pay for global warming

MVIMG_20190609_154809 In truely shocking news just in, it turns out that people would like someone other than themselves to clean up their own mess, just like children. Idiot Naomi Oreskes twat1 "A majority of Americans hold fossil fuel companies responsible for damages from global warming", and as far as I can tell she did this with a straight face. The survey is here; the most relevant quote is:
When asked more specifically about whether fossil fuel companies or taxpayers should pay for the costs of the damages caused by global warming, a majority of Americans (53%) think fossil fuel companies rather than taxpayers should pay for most or all of the costs. Only 12% of Americans think taxpayers and fossil fuel companies should pay an equal share, and just 6% think taxpayers should pay for most or all of the costs.
This is all wearily familiar. People won't face up to their own actions and want someone else to blame.

Update: Politics: loan sharks and abortions

Suddenly struck by a thought, I'll put it here. Left-wingers are generally keen on generally-available abortions, and right-wingers unkeen. Left-wingers correctly point out that making abortions illegal or unobtainable will do little to suppress demand, leading to people resorting to unsavoury methods. Now for the "analogy". I signal it so you won't miss it. Left-wingers are generally keen on schemes to cap interest rates on loans to avoid "predatory" lending, and right wingers correctly point out that cutting off a source of credit will not reduce demand, leading to those seeking credit to turn to less savoury sources. So in one case one side can recognise supply and demand and the inevitable logic, but are unable to apply it to cases where the answer doesn't favour their desired solution.


1. Past tense of the verb "to twit". No insult implied, of course.


Yet more bollox from Oreskes


Red team goes down

minty Day one was wet, torrentially so in the morning but merely a bit of rain by The Time. The Red Team went off well, the Yellow team were a shadow of last year's glory, and the Pale Blue team went down to the Minty Blue team who put in an impressively powerful display - a joy to watch. Unbeknownst to me the Purple Team pulled a blinder and got the Yellow team not far from the finish - unprecedented in living memory that far up -, setting up an exciting situation for day two. Which was similarly wet. The Purple team surprised no-one by going all out off the start but the Red team proved strong manly and unflappable, with the Purples fading and caught by another burst of raw power from Minty Blue; the Yellows fell further out of our range of interest. Day three, now sunny, was inevitable, though I won a fiver on it: the Minty Blues took down the Reds with more raw power and quality, and the Purples had nowhere to go. Day four saw the Minties well clear, the Purples as expected closed the Reds off the start whilst I looked elsewhere - at the deeper Blues and the deeper Purples and the still deeper Blues. And yet, there it was, just before the finish: the Reds down to the Purples.

oglaf-dick An allegory for our times, no doubt.

Meanwhile, we return you to our traditional "Red team" cartoon, because this nonsense is coming round again. Really, all I'm going to do is link to Gavin's post We watch long YouTube videos so you don’t have to, in response to some bloke called Steven "Steve" Koonin. But really, the Blue team have already won, which is why no-one dares to set up a Red team, since they're fully aware that it would be an embarrassing failure, as I said in February.


* The full playlist is here, but there's a lot in that, so you may prefer just day one, day two, day three and day four.
Digital legibility and incentives towards moral behaviors - TF
* Poke out one of my eyes by Scott Sumner



Does J R Oppenheimer ask: can science provide better models for democracy?

60789145_1163461953850123_1190781572601610240_n As with all good headlines, the answer is "no". The question "Can Science Provide Better Models for Democracy?" is asked by mt in a guest post at ATTP's. Fathering it on JRO is a little odd, as is doing it in such a way that you can't really tell so are forced to ask. This is perhaps a quibble, but I found it distracting. And indeed although applying-science-to-politics is clearly what mt is interested in, it isn't clear that it's what JRO is interested in; whether there are elements in the way of life of the scientist which need not be restricted to the professional, and which have hope in them for bringing dignity and courage and serenity to other men, can obviously be applied outside politics; even the social problems of the day and try to think what one could mean by approaching them in the scientific spirit… In short, almost all the preconditions of scientific activity are missing… can be.

However, I now drop that quibble and consider mt's question.

As usual with mt's stuff about politics, whilst I find it interesting and stimulating I also find it almost completely wrong. One piece of wrongness, although not the most important, is Ah but come back those twenty years later, and who has made progress? The scientific landscape is utterly altered, while the political landscape is the same mess. It is certainly true that not all political problems have been solved, but then the same is true of science. But politics progresses: the percentage of those living under democracy has increased in the last 20 years, and is part of a long upwards curve. Extreme poverty is decreasing. General acceptance that all people have equal fundamental "rights" spreads. And so on.

But the main wrongness, to me, is the familiar one: the desire to have govt do stuff for you. If you look at science and at politics, and despair for the progress of pols compared to science, then one reaction is to try to import some science-y-ness into pols; but another is to have govt do less. It hasn't done a very good job (the decrease in poverty, for example, is due mostly to trade / globalisation / captialism, not govt) so the best thing is to have less of it. Sadly, one of the failures of politics since the 1980's is to appreciate the likes of Thatcher and Hayek.

Related to that is Our present problems seem rooted in a lack of ecumenism, a stupid failure to see the commonality of our collective fate... It’s one world. It thrives or fails as one. This is also not really true, and the sort of thinking that leads to top-down failed stuff like Kyoto. Trying to co-ordinate a world that thrives or fails as one is too difficult; problems can only be solved by being broken down into smaller pieces. Thinking of the world is great, as an abstract concept, of course.


* Electricity from Large Dams Does NOT Count as Renewable Energy by David Henderson
GOP support for Trump has moved from transactional to fanatical
Governed by Imbeciles
* Beware the Candidate with a Plan by Bruce Yandle
Why don’t people pay attention to the future of their own world?
Not everyone cares about climate change, but reproach won’t change their minds
* The 7 Worst Ideas for Regulation This Century by David R. Henderson


The electricity mix during two weeks without coal in Great Britain

D75sYB-W4AAuIuj.png_largeA nice pic of  the electricity mix during two weeks without coal in Great Britain, from CarbonBrief. Nukes are near-constant, as expected, as is biomass; gas is reactive; solar and wind are variable. I wonder what we ascribe the imports to? French nukes probably.

This shows I think that there is scope for more solar and wind before getting problems with running out of the gas+imports buffer, but that we'll start hitting limits eventually. An alternative view is provided in this twit, showing percent not absolutes, but it is somewhat misleading; notice how nooks look like they're variable, but of course they aren't.

Some people are very anti-gas, including the predictably-wrong David Roberts, but I think that's misguided. I was going to rant about that post but decided I couldn't be bothered. I was also going to rant about A call to climate action by that nice Jonathan Overpeck in that rag Science but realised that was misguided: he has nothing new to say, and I have nothing new to say in response.


* Down with pumped hydro storage, Up with dispatchable hydropower! - Brian
* Speaking of which: Stemming the Plastic Tide: 10 Rivers Contribute Most of the Plastic in the Oceans / The Yangtze alone pours up to an estimated 1.5 million metric tons into the Yellow Sea. None of them are in the West, who could possibly have guessed?
* Why is Immigration a "Contentious Issue in Classical Liberalism"? by Bryan Caplan


Weird shit from Mann

61587538_1166425846887067_41158319410249728_o The Dems are terribly sad about a nasty video about Pelosi1. Meh; this is politics. But in their flailing around trying to express how outraged they are about it, they are doing strange things. Which leads me to Facebook is a big obstacle to averting climate catastrophe, scientists say by unthinkprogress, as endorsed by and indeed quoting da Mann. The irony of complaining about fb on fb is entirely lost on Mann. The blindness of failing to see that Mann and many others used and still uses fb to spread information, ditto.
This is all rather reminiscent of our more parochial Brexit: Boris Johnson ordered to appear in court over £350m claim. To which the answer is Free Speech. And yes that does include the "right to lie", somewhat dependent on context; but in this case the context was political campaigning and so yes you are allowed to lie. Because the alternative is judges policing what pols are allowed to say, which is far worse. And no you do not get to say "but this lie was blatant; whereas the routine lies that my favourite pols trot out were nuanced / white / things I don't notice / things I'm happy for people to lie about"2.

"scientists say" is possibly technically correct, in that unthink have found two people who say it: the aforementioned Mann, and "environmental sociologist Robert Brulle". But two is a very small number.

I find unthink's What was particularly shocking is that in defending this move, Facebook told the Washington Post, “We don’t have a policy that stipulates that the information you post on Facebook must be true.” particularly fuckwitted. There should be no shock at all. Why should fb have to go around policing whether all the info on it is true or not? And do we really expect fb to go around removing all the drivel that AOC says?

Mann appears to have joined the ranks of the "all those who are not 100% for us are against us" idiots.


1. Disclaimer: I haven't bothered watch it. Why would I?

2. To take an example that has just arrived, consider the Graun's US energy department rebrands fossil fuels as 'molecules of freedom. Is this true? No, it isn't: it is only considering natural gas, not all fossil fuels. Moreover, it isn't rebranding: it's just one press release. So since it isn't true it must be false and therefore should be banned?


* Tom Padget by Spiers and Boden
There are two sorts of people in the world...
* Climate Proposals Fail at Exxon, Chevron Shareholder Meetings (note to self: this refs my unpublished "At Exxon, a failure of governance on climate risk?" post
* Where are they now? Skeptics Are Being Recruited for an "Adversarial" Review of Climate Science


Bollocks to Brexit

61245671_2283880105025220_3126558212338221056_o The EU elections provides some test of Brexit. Arguably, they were also about other things, but if they were, I didn't notice those other things and I saw nothing about them in the EU press. VV offers A historical climate election in Germany as an interpretation from Over There if you're interested in the other things.

The graphic here shows one way to think about it, and nicely - sez oi - relegates the two "traditional" "major" parties to has-beens. It also nicely shows that anti-Brexit1 did better than pro-Brexit. If you measure it by vote share. Alas, as is traditional, the good guys split up (mostly into LibDem and Green) and so got fewer seats overall2. Miriam found another analysis that split up the Labour vote as 80% remain, and the Tory as 60% leave (or some such, I forget the details3) and again got Remain ahead in vote share. Another way to measure this is to note that votes for the Brexit Party were 5,244,893; whereas the Petition to revoke Article 50 got 6,085,017 signatures.

But that brings me to my main point, which is that after all the fuss and all the talk and dominating the headlines for months, still only 37% of those eligible bothered to turn out to vote. So the true winner was still the Don't Give A Toss party. And if you believe JA - that Brexit will eventually fall apart under the weight of it's own contradictions - then perhaps they were right.

I voted LibDem, if you care. It was that or Greens. If it had been clear what maximised my chance of a Remain MEP, I'd have done that, but it wasn't clear, so I went for maximising the vote share of a clearly Remain party. So in a way I was in the DGAT party too: I (rationally) didn't bother put a great deal of effort into working out what my "best" vote was.


1. But never call yourself anti-X; because it concedes a part of the argument to X. Arguably, in this case, correctly. I am more strongly anti-Brexit than I am pro-Remain, if that makes any sense. On the grounds that our MPs are too much of a bunch of clueless incompetents to manage Brexit.

2. The Change UK people, who look increasingly like roadkill, got stoated as I think they deserved. Their problem is that the only sensible thing for them to do is to merge into the LibDems, but they can't quite bring themselves to do it.

3. Ashcroft's poll provides enough info to do the split yourself, if you want to: So while Leavers and Remainers have gravitated to parties who are unambiguous about Brexit, those who have stuck with the main parties are also polarised: two thirds (67%) of Tory Euro-voters want to leave the EU, while nearly two thirds (63%) of Labour Euro-voters want to remain.


* Governance is hard
Brexit schmexit [2019/03]
Brexit, again [2018/12]
My Euro-election post-vote poll: most Tory switchers say they will stay with their new party - Lord Ashcroft Polls
Say no to Brexit and Post-referendum thoughts and Brexit means Brexit? [2016]
* Labor Income For Top 0.1% Exceeds Income from Capital by David Henderson
* More double standards - American policy - by Scott Sumne
* Typical - CafeHayek on who will run the world
* War for Poverty by Bryan Caplan
Britain’s constitutional time-bomb - the Economist


Sweden’s Expressen newspaper is now going to publish daily CO2 levels in the atmosphere

little-known Swedish teenager writes Sweden’s Expressen newspaper are now going to publish daily CO2 levels in the atmosphere “due to climate emergency”!! Very hopeful! Who will be the next to follow? An even less well known English greybeard replies That's gonna be pretty dull. They don't change much day-to-day. A more hopeful colonial inquires Can they take it to hundredths of ppm or something or are there detector limits or noise overwhelming signal problems? And this is a reasonable question.

So: "reporting" on day-to-day global CO2 levels is silly, because they don't change much day to day. Indeed, the annual round of There is more CO2 in the atmosphere today than any point since the evolution of humans is dull too. CO2 is increasing, at about 2.5 ppm per year, but there's a seasonal cycle of about 4 ppm, so there's a peak every year, at which point the "news" that there's a new peak is breathlessly released. And if you were to report, daily, the global average, you'd be reporting declining CO2 levels for maybe a third of the year, which is probably not what the "climate emergency" folk want to see. But can you rescue the interest by reporting the measurements to hundredths of ppm? I don't think so.

Those global measurements are of course made up of lots of little individual measurements and the pretty graph shows how those typically vary by latitude. So, it's kinda like global temperature measurements, which are also going up but which also have a seasonal cycle and spatial variation; and the accuracy of the global average is better than the accuracy of the individual measurements.

Finally, you can look at individual measurements like the Keeling ones at Mauna Loa, and you see how they vary during the day. And you notice that the daily average is very much not the average of the hourly average. If that makes you think "aha! Gotcha you lying scientists can't even do averages properly" then you need to read Dumb America; which will lead you to Eli if you want more detail and How we measure background CO2 levels on Mauna Loa for even more excruciating detail.


How confident are you about confidence intervals? - quiz
* Eli being rather less patient with deniers
* Less wrong isn't necessarily right - TF on How the Rural-Urban Divide Became America’s Political Fault Line by Emily Badger
* A call to climate action - Jonathan T. Overpeck, Cecilia Conde - Science  31 May 2019 / Vol. 364, Issue 6443, pp. 807 / DOI: 10.1126/science.aay1525.


Rearranging deckchairs defo the right thing to be doing now

qgOiUoI As I said to that nice Richard Betts. Context: Why the Guardian is changing the language it uses about the environment From now, house style guide recommends terms such as ‘climate crisis’ and ‘global heating’. Or you may prefer RS's take.

Update: ATTP notes something I should have mentioned," suggesting using climate science denier instead of climate sceptic". This is fair enough, for the majority of the denialists who simply are; be cautious about labelling the less committed as such.


* Peter Gabriel - FAMILY SNAPSHOT (Melt)
* The Style Guide at the End of the World - citizen joe smith
* Antitrust’s Sordid History by Donald J. Boudreaux


There are two sorts of people in the world...

D6STVOUWsAEho1z ...those who divide the people of the world up into two sorts, and those who don't. I'm one of the latter :-), Tamino it would appear is one of the former:
When it comes to man-made climate change, there are two kinds of people: those who take it seriously enough, and those who don’t. Joe Biden says he has a climate plan, but everything I hear about it (from both Joe and his opponents) leads me to believe he’s in the second group: he doesn’t take it seriously enough. Not even close. Anyone who claims we can deal with the problem but avoid a “radical transformation of the economy” is a fool...
So that leaves poor old Joe Biden, me, Donald Trump and Antony Watts in the second group, whilst the Pure of Heart stand proud in the first group. This reminds me of something I'm actually able to find, just for once: Oedipus Tex, and other Choral Calamities. And to spell out the obvious: when it comes to man-made climate change, there are many kinds of people. One group of people - distinct from Trump and Watts and Tamino - are those including me who "believe in" GW but think the GND is not just stupid but would in the unlikely event of it being imposed be actively harmful; and at best a pointless distraction.

And, no. I'm not teaching you how to think for yourself, or even offering to.


* The Guardian view on a Green New Deal: we need it now - Editorial
Trump Calls The Majority Who Voted Against Him Enemies And Losers In New Year’s Message?
* Partisanship is no substitute for values - Rich Puchalsky


IMF working paper 2019: Global Fossil Fuel Subsidies Remain Large: An Update Based on Country-Level Estimates

I think this is going to turn into an update to Fossil fuels subsidised by $10m a minute, says IMF? from 2015. The report (WP/19/89) itself is available from here. We read:
This paper updates estimates of fossil fuel subsidies, defined as fuel consumption times the  gap between existing and efficient prices (i.e., prices warranted by supply costs, environmental costs, and revenue considerations), for 191 countries. Globally, subsidies remained large at $4.7 trillion (6.3 percent of global GDP) in 2015 and are projected at $5.2 trillion (6.5 percent of GDP) in 2017. The largest subsidizers in 2015 were China ($1.4 trillion), United States ($649 billion), Russia ($551 billion), European Union ($289 billion), and India ($209 billion). About three quarters of global subsidies are due to domestic factors—energy pricing reform thus remains largely in countries’ own national interest—while coal and petroleum together account for 85 percent of global subsidies. Efficient fossil fuel pricing in 2015 would have lowered global carbon emissions by 28 percent and fossil fuel air pollution deaths by 46 percent, and increased government revenue by 3.8 percent of GDP.
coalSo that's nice - they have told us what they mean by "subsidy". Now I look, the previous report (WP/15/105) has much the same authors but a somewhat different abstract; my quibbles from before about what should "really" count as a subsidy remain. As before the "implicit" subsidies are much larger than the "explicit" ones. Let's look at one of their pictures, to try to make this clearer.

The pic tries to compare existing and efficient prices across the world for coal. One obvious puzzle is that the retail price (yellow circles) is near constant. Coal is globally trafficked, but that degree of constancy seems weird. GW is accounted for (red) at $40 per tonne. And for coal, the rest is local pollution. Some of this makes sense - presumably the Ukrainians burn bad coal badly in densely populated areas; ditto Thailand, China, Russia. The very low values for Mexico, Tanzania and Ethiopia are harder to understand. World-averaged, their calculations are that about 2/3 of coal "subsidies" are local pollution, and 1/3 GW.

gas Maybe looking at petrol will make things clearer. We see now what we already knew, that retail prices vary wildly. But we see something else that we probably didn't realise, that part of the implicit subsidy for petrol is "accidents". Another quite large one is congestion. Leading to the apparently bizarre conclusion that a country could potentially reduce it's fossil fuel subsidies by building more roads. Wait, what?

In a very few (basket) cases retail cost is less than supply cost, and these are the usual suspects: Saudi Arabia, Iran. These are unquestionably subsidies. Glboally, about 2/5 of petrol "subsidy" is local pollution; 2/5 other local factors; and the rest a mix.

So there you have it. This is of course not an IMF official document merely a working paper, but that won't stop people saying The IMF — no enemy of business — estimates that globally fossil fuels, which poison our future, are being subsidized $5.2 TRILLION annually...

Incidentally, I have no objection at all to their defining a quantity that is "the  gap between existing and efficient prices (i.e., prices warranted by supply costs, environmental costs, and revenue considerations)". That seems like a useful quantity; I'm just doubtful that the bare word "subsidy" is a useful shorthand for that quantity.


* Why is carbon pricing in some countries more successful than in others? by Franziska Funke and Linus Mattauch
* The Hidden Subsidy of Fossil Fuels - A new report says that the world subsidized fossil fuels by $5.2 trillion in just one year. But that calculation is less tidy than it seems -  by Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic.
* Walmart Bullied by Government, or Was It? by Pierre Lemieux
What Can A Research-Minded Metal Detectorist Do In Sweden? Aardvarchaeology – by Dr. Martin Rundkvist


UK Parliament declares climate change emergency?

UK Parliament declares climate change emergency, Aunty tells me. The only hint the Beeb gives that they think this is all posturing is subtle: they don't bother tell you what was in the motion, or bother link to it. The Graun, who are perhaps less aware, say The motion called for the declaration of a climate emergency and urgent remedial action such as a green industrial revolution as well as changes to transport, agriculture and other areas; but again, can't be arsed to link to the motion itself. But I care deeply - well, it is unfair to mock it without reading it - and so found:
That this House declares an environment and climate emergency following the finding of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change that to avoid a more than 1.5°C rise in global warming, global emissions would need to fall by around 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching net zero by around 2050; recognises the devastating impact that volatile and extreme weather will have on UK food production, water availability, public health and through flooding and wildfire damage; notes that the UK is currently missing almost all of its biodiversity targets, with an alarming trend in species decline, and that cuts of 50 per cent to the funding of Natural England are counterproductive to tackling those problems; calls on the Government to increase the ambition of the UK’s climate change targets under the Climate Change Act 2008 to achieve net zero emissions before 2050, to increase support for and set ambitious, short-term targets for the roll-out of renewable and low carbon energy and transport, and to move swiftly to capture economic opportunities and green jobs in the low carbon economy while managing risks for workers and communities currently reliant on carbon intensive sectors; and further calls on the Government to lay before the House within the next six months urgent proposals to restore the UK’s natural environment and to deliver a circular, zero waste economy.
Meh. Dull and wrong-headed. No mention of a carbon tax, but this is command-and-control Corbyn, so that's hardly surprising. Note the while managing risks for workers and communities currently reliant on carbon intensive sectors which is the kind of special pleading that should be firmly squashed.

As if to prove that the pols are uselss for anything but squabbling, amendment b adds some irrelevant hobby-horsing about Brexit, and another pile of useless words. Amendment a is just dull.

Still, on the plus side, this satisfies the first demand of the Extinction Rebellion folks, so they can be well satisfied with their excellent progress. Or does "Tell the truth: Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change" mean they want the govt do do something? Maybe they aren't so happy after all. FWIW, I would say that on "tell the truth" they have nothing to complain about: the govt - as pretty well all Western govts - is straight down the IPCC line, perhaps even ahead of it; just read their gumpf.


Idea: To The Reader of these Sonnets by Michael Drayton - TF
* Bowties considered inappropriate? Update! AOC insults Rossiter!
* Would you like to read something more positive? Try We can't save the planet with half measures. We need to go all the way by Varshini "who he?" Prakash in the Graun
Warren Buffett’s Case for Capitalism
* Sorry, Emma Thompson, but you’ll never be perfect enough to save the planet - by Zoe Williams. Grauniad luvvie who cares deeply but wants to continue to fly defends other luvvie ditto.
An Economy Is Neither a Family Nor a Firm; It Is a Catallaxy
Am I a denier, a human extinction denier? - Mike Hulme; or, THE REPORT OF MIKE HULME'S EXTINCTION..... - RS; or, ATTP's take.
The 10 facts that prove we're in a climate emergency - Wired. Spot the stupidity.


Melting permafrost in Arctic will have $70tn climate impact?

DSC_8484 Or so claims the Graun. Being totally shit journos they don't even include a link to the paper that is their source, but the answer is Climate policy implications of nonlinear decline of Arctic land permafrost and other cryosphere elements by Dmitry Yumashev et al., Nature Communications volume 10, Article number: 1900 (2019). They also don't link to the press release, where we discover that Carbon released into the atmosphere by the increasing loss of Arctic permafrost, combined with higher solar absorption by the Earth’s surface due to the melting of sea ice and land snow, will accelerate climate change – and have a multi-trillion dollar impact on the world economy. A new paper in Nature Communications reveals a combination of these factors has the potential to increase the long-term economic impact of climate change by just under $70 trillion, under mitigation levels consistent with current national pledges to cut carbon emissions (5% of the estimated total cost of climate change for this scenario). Nothing here is terribly surprising, except the $70T. In particular, the roundabout +5% makes it a fairly small effect well within the error margins of other parts: CO2 emissions, ECS, discount rate assumed, whatever.

But $70T is a surprisingly large number to me, in view of stuff like 500,000,000,000 is a small number. This turns out to be The NPV of the total economic effect of climate change, denoted as C_NPV, consists of mitigation costs, adaptation costs and climate-related economic impacts aggregated until 2300 and discounted using equity weighting and a pure time preference rate. So, OK, it's total not annual, OK, that probably makes sense. But then it becomes unexciting.


Climate change could kill over 500,000 people per year by 2030?
GDP impartially consider'd
4th National Climate Assessment report: Labour
* You Have No Right to Your Culture by Bryan Caplan
Inequality is decreasing between countries—but climate change is slowing progress - NatGeo
* Dalmia's Almost Great Idea on Sanctuary Cities by David Henderson
* Live and Let Live by Pierre Lemieux (Hayek: The possibility of men living together in peace and to their mutual advantage without having to agree on concrete common aims, and bound only by abstract rules of conduct, was perhaps the greatest discovery mankind ever made; PL: The more politics expands beyond this basic level, the less agreement there can be and the more confrontation there must be. In other words, the more politics there is, the less manageable it become)
* Rejoinder to Moller on Immigration by Bryan Caplan


Carbontaxwatch: Edenhofer, tax, trading, obligations, gilets, FFF

57038408_10157399108227474_4422161309362028544_n Another note in the long Carbon Tax wars. This is Otmar "director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research" Edenhofer in conversation with Sarah Zerback. Since it is in foreign, I have ripped off helpfully included the Google translation below, so I know what I'm responding to.

So it's nice to see "even 20 euros brings something". In true perfect-is-the-enemy-of-the-good style, some people argue for implausibly high levels of carbon price, which is just going to get it thrown out. I think there's a lot to be said for just having an explicit carbon tax, getting people used to it, and worrying about increasing it later1. I don't see him explicitly pointing this out, though. Notice though that the interviewer is pretty keen on getting details of the price and returns to the subject. The other nice part is that he's noticed the Skolstrejk för klimatet2 vs the "Gilets Jaunes" tension and observes - correctly -  that the Sfk stuff is an opportunity: because it is, perhaps, and indication visible to pols that the public is finally willing to make some hard choices.

Less good is his equivocation about carbon tax vs trading systems. He's probably a bit stuck because he isn't allowed to say that the ETS is stupid. But he goes further than that, suggesting the possibility of introduc[ing] a separate emissions trading system for these three sectors, transport, agriculture and heat, to which my response would be FFS not another bloody boondoggle, haven't you learnt anything in all these years? He also wurbles about sector-specific targets at national level, which is also stupid.

Quasi-interesting is the role of "European obligations": We are in a completely different debate. We have European obligations, and all Member States of the European Union have these obligations. Those who fail to comply with these obligations must buy certificates from other countries, and not voluntarily, but this is simply a sanction imposed by the European level on each Member State. He doesn't talk about how binding those obligations might be, if things get tough.


1. Of course those opposed to a carbon tax are fully aware of this cunning plan, and will tell people that it is just the thin end of the wedge, but there's no point in making their job easy.

2. He - or the Googly translate - uses "Fridays for Future" but I'm guessing it is much the same.

The text

New debate on CO2 tax"Even 20 euros bring something"

The climate researcher Otmar Edenhofer supports the initiative of Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze to raise a CO2 price on gasoline, diesel, heating oil or natural gas. Unlike in the 1990s, he believes that a CO2 tax is enforceable this time. One reason for this: European legal obligations.
Otmar Edenhofer in conversation with Sarah Zerback
Sarah Zerback: I now greet Otmar Edenhofer, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, on the telephone. Good day, Mr. Edenhofer!
Otmar Edenhofer: Hello!
Zerback: You've been pleading for a carbon tax for a long time now. Did the "Fridays for Future" demos only have to come, so that new momentum comes into an old idea?
Edenhofer: Yes. This movement was extremely significant, because a few months ago, when you said CO2 price, then one has been countered by the policy, we want to prevent the yellow vests in Germany. Now there is a new movement that says we want carbon pricing. It does not necessarily have to be a tax, it can also raise CO2 prices differently, but that is indeed giving new impetus to the political debate, which is urgently needed.
Zerback: And above all, there is debate about how expensive the whole thing should be now. What's your suggestion, how expensive, if it was a tax, how expensive should that be?
Edenhofer: First of all, you have to see that we have tasks in two areas. One is the electricity sector and the industrial sector, which is under European emissions trading, and there Christoph Schmidt and I have suggested that there is a minimum price, which now starts at 20 and is expected to grow to 35 euros by 2030.
Now there is a second area, and in this second area - which is poorly understood - we have European obligations, and if we fail to meet these European legal obligations in the agricultural, heating and transport sectors we may have to pay high penalties to the other states Afford. Now begins the dispute, how can the government this price signal, which after 2021 will be yes in Europe, how can this be translated now at the national level.
In the climate protection law one says yes, that should then make the individual ministries. That does not seem to me to be such a good idea, because the Transport Minister has many options to avoid. He can make meaningful spending cuts in his budget.
What matters now is that citizens - motorists who invest in new heat pumps, even in the agricultural sector - should have the incentive to save CO2 and other greenhouse gases. There are basically two ways you could do that. So you could charge a carbon price, a carbon tax for these sectors - that would be an option. But the other possibility would be to introduce a separate emissions trading system for these three sectors, transport, agriculture and heat, and then ensure that the quantity targets that we have been imposed by the European level are actually met. That's what the argument is about.

Order of magnitude for CO2 price still has to be calculated

Zerback: Thank you, that you have in the complexity above all else again aufgedröselt. Let's go into the details again. The President of the Bundestag Wolfgang Schäuble, who says that no matter whether tax or certificates are more expensive, this goes in the same direction. Let's talk about the altitude again. So you say 20 euros now. We have just heard it in the report again. There are others who say that we need at least 50 euros, otherwise it will not help at all.
Edenhofer:First of all, if 20 euros does not bring anything, that's not true. Of course, bring 20 euros already something. We see this in the empirical investigations that this also already reduces the emissions. The key question is, will emissions go down as it is compatible with European obligations, and we do not know exactly how high the price has to be, and therefore it would be reasonable to think about an emissions trading scheme, because then there can control the amount. Then you can set a minimum price that is on this scale. You start at 20, grow up to 35, maybe 50 Euro. Where exactly the orders of magnitude are, we are still in the process of calculating that. If the price rises too much,
Essentially, it will be a question of defining such a price corridor, and this price corridor, where it is now, we are in the process of calculating that and giving more precise information. I'm not going to comment on that right now because we're just doing the research.

"We are in a completely different debate"

Zerback: Yes, the question is really whether national measures bring anything. I'm wondering if you might feel personally reminded of the '90s. Since there was ever the push to tax CO2, as a tax on it to introduce. That is because then failed because it needs unanimity in the EU. So you still see this danger?
Edenhofer: No, I do not see that at all. We are in a completely different debate. We have European obligations, and all Member States of the European Union have these obligations. Those who fail to comply with these obligations must buy certificates from other countries, and not voluntarily, but this is simply a sanction imposed by the European level on each Member State.
It's not about the question of whether we want to formulate our own goals now. From my point of view, one can discuss the national sector targets cheaply, one can make it more flexible where I would be, but there is no way around European law obligations. This has nothing to do with whether there are any majority principles in the European Union, whether a tax is enforceable. We have these national commitments, and any proposal that is to be taken seriously must show that we can actually comply with this European law obligation with this proposal.

Sector-specific savings targets conceivable at national level

Zerback: Nevertheless, the CDU was so far always against it. Now there are voices that join the proposal of the Federal Environment Minister yes. Do you share the worries of Svenja Schulze, that perhaps there is a calculus to avoid other savings targets?
Edenhofer: I think that if you want to introduce a CO2 price that is so low that the savings targets can not be achieved at the European level, that is a suggestion that makes no sense. This is an obvious calculation, and this calculation will quickly hit the wall, because these proposals do not continue. It is only the suggestions that ultimately lead us to say that, after 2021, we are actually actually achieving the emission reduction targets in agriculture, the transport sector and the heating market.
The only dispute we can make is whether we need sector-specific targets at national level in addition to these European goals. I think we would be well advised to allow great flexibility at national level here.
Statements by our interlocutors reflect their own views. Deutschlandfunk does not embrace the statements of its interlocutors in interviews and discussions.


ECS is 5 oC?

So, it would appear, CMIP6 first results show1. This appears a touch implausible to me, and is waay out of line with previous results from CMIP5, as the figure shows, and in comparison with for example ATTP's nice Bayesian analysis of no great vintage, or the long-established consensus for 3 oC. Which models are where can be found in the twitter thread of from here, if you're interested. I await with bated breath James's and RealClimate's analysis, so that I know what to think.


Climate sensitivity is 5.3C? - JA from 2016
* If you want some arguments against 5 oC, you could read La Curry; I don't particularly recommend it though, which is why I haven't.
So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable Creature, since it enables one to find or make a Reason for everything one has a mind to do.


1. I don't see a mean or anything, I've just eyeballed it, the mode is clearly the [5, 5.5) bucket but the mean is perhaps around 4.5.

I feel I shouldn't be totally ignoring Anthony Watts joining Heartland, so here's an image (see-also weasels ripped my flesh):


L'affaire Peter Ridd, part 2

22059024423_45af8a32bd_o So the puzzle posed in part 1 is resolved: it turns out that Peter Ridd is a a Good Colonial whose academic freedom has been trampled on2. The Graun has the story. Unsurprisingly the Forces of Darkness are happy1. The Graun doesn't go into the full gory quotes from the man in a wig, contenting themselves with the university has ‘played the man and not the ball’; but there's more, much much more (including the immeadiately following Incredibly, the University has not understood the whole concept of intellectual freedom which for some inexplicable reason the Graun doesn't consider noteworthy). Let's begin with the main message:
The Court rules that the 17 findings made by the University, the two speech directions, the five confidentiality directions, the no satire direction, the censure and the final censure given by the University and the termination of employment of Professor Ridd by the University were all unlawful. 
No bones thrown to the university at all. And there are some good words on intellectual freedom:
the mission of these institutions must undoubtedly be the search for knowledge which leads to a quest for truth. In reality, intellectual freedom is the cornerstone of this core mission of all institutions of higher learning. This is so because it allows ideas to conflict with each other; to battle and test each other. It is within this “battle” that the strengths and weaknesses of ideas are found out. In this process, there comes “learning”. And with learning comes discovery. At its core, intellectual freedom mandates that academics should express their opinions openly and honestly, while inviting scrutiny and debate about those ideas. Unless opinions are expressed in this way, the growth and expression of ideas will be stifled and new realms of thinking will cease to be explored. That will lead to intellectual and social stagnation and a uniformity of thought which is an anathema to the concept of higher learning and social progress.  Intellectual freedom allows academics to challenge the status quo and encourage critical analysis.
Later on we discover that The hypocrisy [of the university] is breathtaking. And During the course of the trial, I repeatedly asked Counsel for the University to tell me what the conflict of interest actually was. Try as he might, Counsel was unable to do so. Yet he would not concede that this finding was not justified. So in some ways this is a great victory over the faceless bureaucrats. Let's hope some of them are sacked for this.


1. And selling it as a huge victory for climate skeptics everywhere, which of course it isn't; indeed it has little to do with climate directly, though it is connected to impacts.

2. I think this is essentially the correct verdict. I still don't quite care for the company he keeps, but that's a different matter.


Paris in October


The Great Miscalculator

There's a niceish article The Great Miscalculator by Arnold Kling, mostly about markets. But I think:
When a firm's costs are dominated by overhead, price discrimination becomes an attractive strategy, even a necessity. The airline will try to attract price-sensitive customers with a low price while charging a higher price to those customers who are more committed to flying at a particular time rather than searching for a bargain... This also complicates the problem of treating ordinary market failures. For example, suppose that the government wishes to use a tax on airline fuel as a tool to get passengers to internalize the pollution cost of flying. If the airline allocates this additional cost to price-insensitive passengers and leaves its discounts for price-sensitive passengers in place, then the total air miles flown may remain approximately unchanged in response to the tax
is wrong. Because he has done the usual confusion of two different things. The thing that doesn't happen - in this particular scenario - is the that total air miles flown [remains] approximately unchanged. And indeed, many or most people would regard that as a failure of the policy. But that wasn't what he started with: that was use a tax on airline fuel as a tool to get passengers to internalize the pollution cost of flying. That has happened. However - because of the somewhat artificial construction of the example - although the price has been internalised the amount of goods consumed doesn't change, because the customers are assumed to be price-insensitive. But that's kinda OK: the point of the tax is to make people pay the full cost of their choices. If, knowing the full cost, they still choose to buy, then they've chosen rationally.

On a completely different note, he tries to point out that chance - contingency - is important. And it probably is. But he over-eggs it:
The evolution of business practices and industry structure can seem inevitable in hindsight. But this is misleading. The personal-computer industry is famous for the role of start-ups, including Apple, Microsoft, and Dell. But with slightly different business decisions, it could instead have been the province of Xerox and IBM.
We don't know if this is true or not. We can certainly see, now, that IBM could have been placed to make decisions that would have squelched Micro$oft. But was it actually placed to make those decisions? Quite probably not, even if you jiggle the starting conditions somewhat. Even with contingency, some structural constraints persist.


Book review: the Raven Tower
* Brexit: Governing Ourselves by Pierre Lemieux


Can Law Save Us From Climate Change?

DSC_0125_crop No. Because it isn't against the law. However calltothebar.org would have it otherwise, writing:
On April 18, 2019, a group of leading lawyers and law professors will convene in person at locations across the United States to discuss the problem of climate change and the role of lawyers in advancing solutions. The locations will all be linked by live video/audio feeds. This is the third year in a row for this national conference on this important subject. This year’s conference will feature leading experts addressing the most important aspects of the climate crisis from a legal perspective. The conference will also address ways in which lawyers can work to make a difference on this subject of grave concern to our well-being and future.
Much of their petition is sane: recognition of GW-as-science1 and calling for carbon pricing. Their arguments for why lawyers-in-particular should be involved are weak, but never mind, they're a bunch of lawyers and can be expected to think that they're important. The bit that I'm less happy with is
Protecting society from harm is the most fundamental purpose of law and government. Faced with clear evidence of impending harm, we as citizens and lawyers have a duty to speak out on the need for effective government action to protect humans now alive and those to be born. We have no right to knowingly continue to inflict severe damage to the planetary ecosystem that sustains all life. To the contrary, we have a duty to protect it.
Why would anyone object to that motherhood-and-apple-pie type stuff? Because as usual, as ever, as always when people talk about this stuff there's the dangerous sliding of words. GW does indeed risk harm to society. But then again, burning fossil fuels provides good to society. That's why people do it, after all. How do you balance the harm and the good? Ah, now we're back to the real problem.

And the problem of balancing harm and good isn't obviously one that is well suited to the all-or-nothing of a courtroom. Lawyers can be rather one-sided. To quote a well-known Alsup:
The benefits of fossil fuels are worldwide. The problem deserves a solution on a more vast scale than can be supplied by a district judge or jury in a public nuisance case. While it remains true that our federal courts have authority to fashion common law remedies for claims based on global warming, courts must also respect and defer to the other co-equal branches of government when the problem at hand clearly deserves a solution best addressed by those branches. The Court will stay its hand in favor of solutions by the legislative and executive branches.


1. And they get credit for using videoconferencing, too.


Economics, Law and Ethics
Skolstrejk för klimatet
* The Climate Wars Can Get Rough At Times
Global warming and common law
* And stuff like The destruction of the Earth is a crime. It should be prosecuted by George Monbiot doesn't work


Top oil firms spending millions lobbying to block climate change policies?

brexit The largest five stock market listed oil and gas companies spend nearly $200m (£153m) a year lobbying to delay, control or block policies to tackle climate change, according to a new report, the Graun breathlessly tells us. Can it be true? Exxon is pegged at $40+M, and yet Exxon total lobbying spend per year is around $11M, according to OpenSecrets. How do we reconcile these numbers?

I think that The five publicly listed oil majors – ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP and Total – now spend about $195m a year on branding campaigns suggesting they support action against climate change doesn't help. That's not the same spending as above. However, any just accounting would have to count it towards the "good" side, since it's essentially a positive message re GW. Naturally, the report doesn't count it as such.

To find out more we're going to have to download the bloody report, which creepily requires you to register, these people are friends of the surveillance state. And then, worse, we're going to have to read it. And you know what? It's some kind of shit-for-brains cut-n-paste protected thing too, the scum. Well, don't expect too many quotes then.

20190413_WBC689 Page 10 tells us Exxon's climate lobbying is ~$41M per year, again making no effort to reconcile that to the total $11M figure. But they may be counting social media and advertising as "lobbying". Lots of the report is the traditional I-don't-like-oil-companies stuff; by which I mean the authors struggle - or rather, don't struggle - to stay on topic, and wander off.

So by the time we get to the end of the conclusions, no details of the composition of the numbers have emerged. We need to go into the depths of the Appendix, it seems. But no, that doesn't help either. The appendix has no real data, just a methodology. So it's impossible to tell quite where they've gone wrong, or what they've made up.

[Late addition: pic from the Economist, Lobbying in Donald Trump’s Washington.]


Banks Funneled $1.9 Trillion Into Fossil Fuels Since Paris Agreement - endorsed by the sainted Greta no less.
* Paasche Says Progress by Bryan Caplan
* There are some more numbers at https://climateinvestigations.org/trade-association-pr-spending/


Skolstrejk för klimatet

DSC_8439[1] Trigger warning: negativity. If you want to think happy thoughts, go elsewhere.

People say things like "Yesterday, I went to witness the local #ClimateStrike. I found the energy and enthusiasm of these young people very encouraging.  It gives me hope for the future". And that's charming. It's always lovely to talk to nice positive people, rather than unlovely old curmudgeons. And yet the absence of any real idea is becoming glaringly obvious.

No plan, let alone a plan B

I should establish that GT has no plan, since this is important to my argument. She says
People keep asking me ”what is the solution to the climate crisis.” And how do we ”fix this problem”. They expect me to know the answer. That is beyond absurd as there are no ”solutions” within our current systems. No one ”knows” exactly what to do. That’s the whole point. We can’t just lower or heighten some taxes or invest in some ”green” funds and go on like before... We are just passing on the words of the science. Our only demand is that you start listening to it. And then start acting. So please stop asking your children for the answers to your own mess.
I think that serves; she advertises it as a reply to those who keep on lying, spreading hate and knowingly leave out facts but perhaps I can forgive her in time.

We are just passing on the words of the science

Another of those things that people say, but which aren't true. People trumpet Greta Thunberg has done her science homework, but this is to miss the point: as the Alsup trial proved, the science isn't in question, to first order1. Almost everyone - even the Evil Bjorn Lomborg - claims to be just following the science. But actually the (physical) science doesn't really tell you what to do. To decide what to do - well, one version of it - you have to make some semi-arbitrary assumptions, like limit warming to 2 oC or 1.5 oC - in order to make the problem space tractable, and then use the science to turn that into concentrations, and then turn that into emissions, but even then you're still left with lots of policy choices over those emissions. You could for example waste everyone's time propounding drivel like the GND. Or you could throw out the stupid limit and impose carbon taxes instead and hope that solar photovoltaic saves us.

No plan, but...

Actually, it isn't quite true that she doesn't have a plan. There are hints of ill-formed and very bad plans struggling to get out: "We need a new economics", "We need a whole new way of thinking. The political system that you have created is all about competition. You cheat when you can because all that matters is to win. To get power. That must come to an end. We must stop competing with each other". Which is std.fairyland: why can't people just get on and be nice to each other?

Panic, Captain Mainwaring

GT would like us to panic. This is a regrettable turn of phrase, and not one that can be shrugged off as an accident, since it was from a speech at Davos. But panic is not a sensible response to anything, just about by definition. Panic is what you want from other people when you know that calm rational analysis will not achieve the result that you have decided you want through calm rational analysis. At least, I trust that GT is not simply spouting all these words in a state of panic.

Denial Is Not a Policy

ClimateLiabilityNews tells me Striking Students Demand Climate Action: ‘Denial Is Not a Policy’. But, they're wrong. Denial actually is a well-formed and actionable policy - just not one that anyone sane would want the world to follow. In this it differs from GT who, as noted above, has no real plan.

Does any of this matter?

Yes, because if all the happy well-intentioned enthusiasm catches on, their are plenty of the old guard waiting in the wings to steer things their way. For example The climate strikers should inspire us all to act at the next UN summit by António Guterres: Without ambitious action, the Paris agreement is meaningless. Oh, FFS. OK, so that particular old guard is largely harmless, if allowed to splurge large quantities of cash and CO2 on summits. But others maybe less so, and it all distracts from trying to forge some agreement with those who don't want an entirely new economics based on kittens.

Update: nothing useful can happen until people are willing to make hard choices, and for that, an aroused public is necessary

This was CIPs comment. I largely agree with it - with the above caveats about enthusiasm and panic. But I don't see evidence of an increasing willingness to make hard choices2. I see a slew of articles piggybacking on GT to call for Ending climate change requires the end of capitalism, but that's just opportunism, not thought, nor choice.

Update: Greta Thunberg's full speech to MPs 2019/04/23

Read the full text of the speech Greta Thunberg gave to MPs at the Houses of Parliament offers the Graun. There are problems with the speech, you won't be surprised to discover:

But we’re only repeating the message of the united climate science - well, no, not really. In terms of the physical climatology, when you talk about that at all, you veer off to the high side. And when you start to talk about what to do, you're off on the politics, not the science.
* The future was sold so that a small number of people could make unimaginable amounts of money. This is bollox. All too common bollox, very seductive bollox, but bollox all the same. It presents us with the alluring idea that all we have to do is to "fix" just a few people or corporations and all will be well; that the rest of us have no guilt. And so, it is wrong.
Around the year 2030, 10 years 252 days and 10 hours away from now, we will be in a position where we set off an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control, that will most likely lead to the end of our civilisation as we know it. This appears to be (a) the we-only-have-12-years fallacy; and (b) that 12 years is a knife-edge tipping point.

And so on. There's still no plan.


1. And very funny it was to see all the high-powered Scientists turn up to prove the science with Powerpoint, only to discover that the Evil Oil Companies had forseen that and neatly parried with "yeah, we accept all that".

2. Do please use the comments to provide examples.


New technologies, not Paris climate agreement, will do the job?
Carbon budgets and carbon taxes
* Guerrilla Education at Princeton: Letter from a Dad by Bryan Caplan
* Increasing The Minimum Wage Increases Crime, Obviously Enough by Tim Worstall
* Later: 3 ways to combat climate change according to young activists. But again, there's nothing resembling a plan. They are 1) learn about climate change; understand govt's role; make pols listen. Which are all splendid, but.