2021-04-27

How to assess the multiple interacting risks of climate change?

IMG_20210425_125453_386 Ponder Dr Nicholas P Simpson and Dr Christopher H Trisos, But not very deeply. They take for granted that A key threat of a warming climate is that it does not pose one single risk, but rather it presents multiple, interacting risks. How convincing is this?

Their first (and, I presume, their best; why would you put anything else first?) example is global warming of 2C is projected to reduce yields of staple crops by 5–20%. Yet greenhouse gas mitigation options can also increase food insecurity if bioenergy crops displace food crops, or can lead to biodiversity loss from land-use change and afforestation. But while GW, all by itself, might reduce yields, nonetheless yields overall are going up. And bioenergy is dumb, and it is unlikely that people will be dumb enough to do it on a large enough scale to affect global food production. So if that's the kind of top-level risk they're worried about, I personally wouldn't bother worry. Unless someone was paying me to, I suppose.

Is there more? Still on food, they suggest Similarly, trade networks link distant food systems together and can, thus, compensate for reduced food security. However, they can also create new risks of global impacts, such as multiple-breadbasket failure, more rapid spread of disease, pests and invasive species, and new threats to local food security from changes in commodity prices caused by policy choices made elsewhere. But this too is unconvincing; the converse - that trade and globalisation smooth out local production problems - is stronger. And, really, it isn't very much to do with GW anyway.

Dull stuff I think. So, I'll stop there :-). FWIW I still think that the most likely real dangerous risk of GW is on the biosphere, but in unpredicatable ways.

Refs

*There is no stark racial difference that jumps out, rather a dreary sameness - TF
* The Chauvin Verdict: A Good Start…Or Not - by Tarnell Brown at EconLog
* What has changed over humanity’s recent history is not biology, psychology, physiology, ecology, or geography. What has changed, instead, is their attitudes...
* Incentives Matter in Banking Too by David Henderson
* THE EXISTENTIAL THREATBURGER : HERE'S THE BEEF!

* No, global warming is not 50% of what CMIP6 models predict - Moyhu on Roy

* Fuckwits at Crooked Timber wanting to destroy big tech. I used to think John Quiggin was sane.

* Frédéric Bastiat’s 1850 Economic Harmonies; Chapter XXII, titled “The Driving Force of Society”.

* Assessing My COVID Expectations by Bryan Caplan

Welcome To The Terrible World Of Prescription-Only Apps - SSC / AST

2021-04-22

Yet moaah climate suing

temptUndeterred by being laughed out of court again, the New York Clown Posse are having another go: New York City sues ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, and the American Petroleum Institute for systemically and intentionally deceiving New Yorkers. From which we may find their inspiringly-named Earth Day Lawsuit. But wait, this isn't just them rehashing the old nonsense, this is new nonsense, or at least a variant.

They're trying for "Engaging in deceptive trade practices in violation of NYC Code § 20-700", in three variants: "misrepresenting the purported environmental benefit of using their fossil fuel products and
failing to disclose the risks of climate change caused by those products"; "deceived NYC consumers by
engaging in false and misleading greenwashing campaigns"; and one for the API. The API one I think is dull; or at least, I don't care. The second count I also find uninteresting and not especially plausible. And for the sake of brevity-of-examples, I'm going to only consider Exxon. They're the Evilest, after all, aren't they?

But perhaps they have a case on their first grounds? This too seems dubious; indeed, surprisingly dubious. By which I mean that although they repeatedly say stuff like (p. 6) misrepresenting the climate impacts of various gasoline products sold at their branded service stations in the City. In a bid to reassure consumers that purchasing these products is good for the planet, ExxonMobil, Shell, and BP advertise them as “cleaner” and “emissions-reducing,” but fail to disclose their harmful effects on the climate, it isn't until p. 24 that we get the first example, ExxonMobil Synergy. And that seems to be about it. And Exxon's marketing sin is According to ExxonMobil, Synergy Supreme+ will enhance vehicle fuel economy in newer engines designed to meet tougher vehicle emissions standards. Or perhaps helps consumers “[r]educe emissions and burn cleaner,” and “was created to let you drive cleaner, smarter and longer”. Or We’re continually innovating to develop products that enable customers to reduce their energy use and CO2 emissions. But sadly for New York, these claims are arguably true. The suit does its rather feeble best to call them true-but-misleading (actually I don't think they can bring themselves to admit they're true, they just say misleading, meh) but that seems unlikely to fly to me.

Also, some idiot has taught them to say "tobacco" as often as they can, under the mistaken impression that this amounts to logical argument. Or am I wrong about that? This is all politically driven; they probably don't even understand the concept of logical argument. If anyone has lied to New York consumers, it's New York pols.

Conveniently, there are reports on this, so let's hear it from ShellA spokeswoman for Shell told Changing America, "We are disappointed to see the City of New York file yet another climate change lawsuit after the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal of what is functionally the same suit mere weeks ago. Tackling climate change is a significant challenge the world faces today; it requires smart policy from government supported by inclusive action from all business sectors, including ours, and from society as a whole. We intend to play a leading, transparent and collaborative role in helping society face this challenge." I think Shell have learnt to talk the talk better than new York has. I'm slightly doubtful that it is "functionally the same" but it's a good line to take, at least in public.

Refs




2021-04-11

Equity Isn’t Just Ethical, It’s Stupid

PXL_20210411_081540077~2Or, The latest Covid insights from former CDC Director Tom Frieden. I may have tweaked his headline just a little; but it is a common error, so don't think I'm attacking him in particular. I suppose I have to give you the correct headline to show you the error: Equity Isn’t Just Ethical, It’s Essential. But perhaps you prefer the body: Vaccine equity is imperative. Now the most important point of this article and the reason I wrote it this week after planning not to write one: equity, equity, equity. First of all, we're not going to get equity, obviously; so it is fortunate that it isn't imperative. The rich world is going to get vaccinated first - those bits of it that aren't too stupid to accept the vaccine, of course; or unfortunate enough to have idiot bureaucrats in charge. And within the rich world, the better off are going to do better; as they always do; it is, after all, part of the definition of "better off".

I should give him a chance to make his point, for the sake of fairness. It is 100 million people in the U.S. have received at least one dose of vaccine. But about 50 million people over age 50 (~37 million age 50–64 and ~13 million age 60+) haven’t been vaccinated at all. Vaccinating these people, who are disproportionately Black and Latinx, will prevent many more deaths than vaccinating young people. And it's kinda fair. But the problem is firstly that he has vastly over-egged it; and secondly that if you spend too much time being equitable, you've got less to spend on general coverage; if we're talking about vaccination; more generally, obsessing over income or wealth inequality makes less sense than worrying about absolute poverty. Thirdly, in relation to his In other words, a single well-targeted vaccination could save 10 times more lives, and prevent 100 times more cases, than vaccinating a low-risk person in a low-risk community, there's the problem of actually executing his strategy, which requires much knowledge and planning resources.

The more general point is one I've made before: per Smith, what is required is tolerable justice.

Pictured: the Claw of the Conciliator.

Refs

* An Ageless Hypothetical by Bryan Caplan

* How people get rich now - Paul Graham

* Prospectus On Próspera - A look at Próspera, the charter city taking shape in Honduras; SSC / ACT

Democrats plan to unveil legislation to expand the US supreme court by four seats - although, since it's doomed, it is just posturing.

* Twit: Bezos trying to quantify how much value Amazon produced for different groups in 2020. Back of napkin math: $301 Billion of value created, of which shareholders see $21B. Amazon newsletter to shareholders.

* How I Became a Libertarian by Meir Kohn

No, Really, Why Are So Many Christians In Colombia Converting To Orthodox Judaism? - SSC / ACT

2021-04-07

More weird shit from Mann

61587538_1166425846887067_41158319410249728_o My earlier post refers. Today's outrage is Tech's 'Inactivism' on Climate Policy is a Big Problem. The arguement - they take a fair while to get to it - is As a counter-balance [to Evil Fossil Fuel Companies], we need influential tech companies that support climate-friendly policies to act like they're really in this fight.

To which I say: fuck off. Instead of arguing for pouring yet more lobbying money down pols - and perhaps some associated persons - throats, how about arguing for a less corrupt politics that doesn't require so much lubrication by dollars? Or - my preferred solution - just less politics, so there's less point lobbying it.

Hallelujah!  Biden plan eliminates billions in fossil fuel subsidies?


Speaking of weird shit... comes this Twit from Naomi Oreskes, pointing to an Arse article Biden plan eliminates billions in fossil fuel subsidies. Now NO is a busy person and probably didn't have time to read past the headline, always a fatal error as any fule kno. Because as the article makes clear, they haven't got even the tiniest clue as to which "subsidies" will be cut: The Biden administration hasn’t specified which tax credits or subsidies it would eliminate, and certain subsidies probably will be subject to horse trading in Congress.

Update: AMO and stadium wave


This is perhaps a good point to note that the recent de-invention of the AMO is... amusing. Curry isn't too amused, perhaps in a rug-pulled-out-from-under-feet sort of way. But what certainly does amuse further is to see her still plugging the long-dead stadium wave.

Refs


* Why are economists losing prestige? by Scott Sumner - makes, somewhat more politely, the point I made on Twatter.

2021-04-02

City of New York v Chevron Corp, again

tempt Big win for common sense: New York City Loses Appeal Seeking to Hold Oil Firms Liable “Global Warming” say the Watties (but don't worry, that's a safe archive.is link) and despite the poisson-d'Avril date, it appears to be true: Reuters have the same, or you can just read the judgement: 
The City of New York has sued five multinational oil companies under New York tort law seeking to recover damages for the harms caused by global warming. The district court (Keenan, J.) dismissed the complaint. We affirm for substantially the same reasons as those articulated in the district court’s opinion. First, global warming is a uniquely international concern that touches upon issues of federalism and foreign policy. As a result, it calls for the application of federal common law, not state law. Second, the Clean Air Act grants the Environmental Protection Agency – not federal courts – the authority to regulate domestic greenhouse gas emissions. Federal common law actions concerning such emissions are therefore displaced. Lastly, while the Clean Air Act has nothing to say about regulating foreign emissions, judicial caution and foreign policy concerns counsel against permitting such claims to proceed under federal common law absent congressional direction. And since no such permission exists, each of the City’s claims is barred and its complaint must be dismissed.
The case was, IMO stupid and rightly dismissed: grandstanding pols wasting taxpayers money in order to burnish their own credentials. That the appeal meets the same fate is hardly a surprise; and hopefully it will be obvious even to them that trying the Supremes is dumb-as-rocks.

The meninwigs note that Even though every single person who uses gas and electricity – whether in travelling by bus, cab, Uber, or jitney, or in receiving home deliveries via FedEx, Amazon, or UPS – contributes to global warming, the City asserts that its taxpayers should not have to shoulder the burden of financing the City’s preparations to mitigate the effects of global warming; and this I think is why NYC's - and similar - cases are morally bankrupt even laying aside the legal aspects. But I've said that many times before. They miss a trick, though: they write As the City sees it, the Producers have known for decades that their fossil fuel products pose a severe risk to the planet’s climate but they fail to point out that the City also knew this just as well, as did any moderately well-informed citizen.

And we have the Alsupian To permit this suit to proceed under state law would further risk upsetting the careful balance that has been struck between the prevention of global warming, a project that necessarily requires national standards and global participation, on the one hand, and energy production, economic growth, foreign policy, and national security, on the other.

The vague attempted novelty of this claim was to attempt to side-step the obvious problems by using the law of nuisance. But this gets short shrift: That Congress chose to preempt the federal common law of nuisance with a well-defined and robust statutory and regulatory scheme of environmental law is by no means surprising. Numerous courts have bemoaned the “often . . . ‘vague’ and ‘indeterminate’” standards attached to nuisance law. And so on.

Refs


Climate change and state evolution - Giacomo Benati and Carmine Guerriero, PNAS