Monday, January 04, 2016

Missing the Lede

Skeptical Science reports on a new survey of 365 economists.  Interestingly, the name of the report from the NYU Institute of Policy Integrety is Expert Consensus on the Economics of Climate Change.  The Skeptics (tm jcook) reproduce a key figure from the report

but interestingly while tearing it apart miss the lede.  Let Eli give a hand.  In answering the question about Whether the US Government should commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions only 1% answered Under No Circumstances.

That means of 365 economists who know about the issue of global warming and climate change less than 4 (maybe 6 with rounding) were firmly against further governmental limitations of greenhouse gas emissions either by taxes or regulation.

Oh yes, Eli would not be Eli if he did not show the Nick Stern memorial figure showing that the ecotools who attacked the Stern Report for choosing a low discount rate were the 1%.


Fernando Leanme said...

These surveys are flawed because they don't do nuances (I assume these economists do nuances). I favor a low discount rate, as long as there's adequate accounting of option costs.

I know you guys aren't into complex economic analysis, but I want to add s little bit:

These economics require optimization runs to understand TO WHAT DEGREE should emissions be cut. This requires runs with scenarios which range from emissions for a case such as RCP6 (8.5 can't be achieved, it's bogus) to say RCP2.6. Total decarbonization isn't viable, it yields a negative outcome.

These runs also must be run with variable timings as well as variable TCR &TCS.

The problem in the end becomes the dynamics modeling of human responses to incoming information. My experience shows the response can be irrational.

William Connolley said...

You're behind the times, Wabbit, and so are SS: And you can't spell integrity :-)

magmacc said...

That means of 365 economists who know about the issue of global warming and climate change less than 4 (maybe 6 with rounding) were firmly against further governmental limitations of greenhouse gas emissions either by taxes or regulation.

Richard Tol (dancing a happy jig): I have a brother!!!

EliRabett said...

Spellig is so third grade

Dan Pangburn said...

A peer reviewed paper at Energy & Environment, vol. 26, no. 5; 841-845 provides compelling evidence CO2 has no effect on climate.

PG said...

And that 1% are probably all WSJ op ed contributors.

PG said...

David Panburn the day that somebody bumps the magic energy conservation switch causing CO2 to cease having an affect on climate will be the day that the planet's greatest extinction event starts.

Greg said...

Just for kicks I read Panburn's paper.

So, E&E is just a vanity press? Seems the only explanation.

Kevin O'Neill said...

"So, E&E is just a vanity press? Seems the only explanation."

Say what? They wouldn't print it if it wasn't true. I just voted to give him the next Nobel Prize .....

Category: Literary fiction :)

Shelama said...

Dan Pangburn, this sounds rather like you're shopping for some actual, real, credible peer-review.

Sounds fair enough.

EliRabett said...

Dan Pangborn appears to have missed a great deal of the literature on the response to net global emissions. Eli, always willing to be a helping bunny, might help

The Origin and Limits of the Near Proportionality between Climate Warming and Cumulative CO2 Emissions

Quantifying the Limits of a Linear Temperature Response to Cumulative CO2 Emissions

and that

The proportionality of global warming to cumulative carbon emissions

ATTP has written about this last month

Since CO2 accumulates on the scale of human lifetimes, the CO2 level integrates human CO2 emissions over time with natural sinks and sources being in balance as observed. A naive argument based on rates driven Milankovitch or volcanic forcing over tens of thousands and millions of years does not do very well to capture the human driven CO2 forcing we are causing.

Dan would do well to read and understand (Eli is ever the optimist) Ray Pierrehumbert;s letter to Steve Levitt (BTW Ray has moved so you can''t visit him at UC. Levitt blew his chance)

Jeffrey Davis said...

What are the costs of mass migrations and, basically, endless war? What discount rate is acceptable then?

It looks like the hardest hit places will be Africa (as usual), South America, and central Asia. What are the costs associated with hemming them in and letting them starve? Is there are good discount rate for that?

PG said...

You'd never have guessed that in this age of pus filled supply sided zombie fiscal policies and GOP presidential candidates who want to reimpose the disastrous Bush tax cuts - except bigger this time - that there is a vast majority of economists who are more Jeffrey Sachs than Stephen Moore. There may be hope for us yet.

Ed Darrell said...

Not sure it's much relevant here, but maybe it should be.

General rule of pollution control economics is, anything proposed will clean only 90% of the pollution. And then, the next 90% of the remainder, will cost as much as the previous 90%. And so on.

So if it costs $1 million to install scrubbers and whatnot to control 90% of the SO2 emissions from a coal-fired power plant, to achieve 99% control of the original amount will cost $2 million. To get 99.9% control of the original amount will cost $3 million total.

In other words, unless a pollution problem has been acted on, there's a lot of low-hanging fruit that will be relatively cheap to control.

Costs of pollution control escalate as control standards are raised; but that means that a lot of good can be done for a lot less than the full price of total control.

I never have understood discount rates. But I understand that it's a reasonable expenditure to stop putting stuff into the air that poisons us. And the cost for getting started is never as high as corporate economists claim it will be, which they usually qualify by saying "If we were to control 100% of [pollutant X], we'd have to shut down the plant, and company, and world economy."

Short of that, we can get significant pollution control, and every dime invested in that control goes back into the economy, generally employing engineers and steelworkers and construction guys, along with a few dozen electricians and plumbers.

It's not much of a gamble. And we get cleaner air.

Chris Shortall said...

Dan Pangburn? This Dan Pangburn?

Chris Shortall said...

"Just for kicks I read Panburn's paper."

From the abstract:

"This finding also stongly suggests that..."

Very professional.

Aaron said...

Warming has been detectable for 50 years or so, and warming affects the weather.

If we are going to discount future costs of global warming, then we should also account for past costs with interest.

Remember the great hurricanes and typhoons of the last 50 years? Some of the energy that caused damage was the result of AGW, and that damage and interest on that damage should be accounted to the cost of AGW. Remember the heat waves that killed people - some of that cost and the interest on that cost should be accounted to AGW. Change in weather patterns has cause damage to roads and highways, and such damage needs to be recognized in any kind of a proper economic analysis of AGW.

If an economist wants to discount future costs of global warming, fine; but then they should also account for past costs and interest on those costs from all past AGW caused weather damage.

Brian said...

Another way to view the pie chart starts by throwing out the 1% no response and 3% no opinion, because they're not playing the game.

The 2% saying take action only if every country commits - not sure what's going on in those heads, but here's my guess: they felt that entering into an agreement with "some" countries could mean the US plus Denmark and a few Pacific Island nations. Rather than interpreting "some countries" as "most major emitters" they chose the failsafe route. A revised question might get them into what is now the "some countries" category.

As for the 10% wanting an agreement with some countries, that's what we've got right now - COP 21 has almost every country committing something. If they meant "binding" agreement, that's another thing I suppose, but COP 21 could be a step in that direction (probably is IMHO).

For the 6% wanting other major emitters to enact policies, they're already doing that, some of them in advance of the US.

So I count 83/96 of economists firmly favoring action now - that's 86%. Some 93/96 firmly favor or are in a gray area that could be supportive of immediate action - 97%, the magic figure!

Another 2% might fall in that category if the question were rephrased, leaving just 1% that Eli identified as rejectionist.

Mal Adapted said...

Ah, Dan Pangburn has fallen for the "Energy and Environment" bait. He apparently has overlooked this assessment of the journal by Paul D. Thacker in Environmental Science and Technology, a journal of the American Chemical Society:

"If the manuscripts of climate-change skeptics are rejected by peer-reviewed science journals, they can always send their studies to Energy & Environment. 'It’s only we climate skeptics who have to look for little journals and little publishers like mine to even get published,' explains Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen, the journal’s editor...'I’m definitely a political scientist'

"She says that the more mainstream climatologists agree, the more suspicious she becomes about claims that human activity is causing global warming."

So, Dan, do you understand why you should be wary of anything you read in Energy and Environment?