Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Credulous Bunny Takes a Look


One thing that Eli, credulous bunny, should have learned, is that when you read something by PRJr, well you count your fingers afterwards.  So Roger wrote

and Eli commented.  In the midst of this Kevin quoted from the Stern Review Executive Summary
The increased costs of damage from extreme weather (storms, hurricanes, typhoons, floods, droughts, and heat waves) counteract some early benefits of climate change and will increase rapidly at higher temperatures. Based on simple extrapolations, costs of extreme weather alone could reach 0.5 - 1% of world GDP per annum by the middle of the century, and will keep rising if the world continues to warm. 
but of course  there is more, for example in the text from Page 10 Chapter 5
The costs of extreme weather events, such as storms, floods, droughts, and heatwaves, will increase rapidly at higher temperatures, potentially countering some of the early benefits of climate change. Costs of extreme weather alone could reach 0.5 - 1% of world GDP by the middle of the century, and will keep rising as the world continues to warm.
The consequences of climate change in the developed world are likely to be felt earliest and most strongly through changes in extreme events - storms, floods, droughts, and heatwaves. This could lead to significant infrastructure damage and faster capital depreciation, as capital-intensive infrastructure has to be replaced, or strengthened, before the end of its expected life. Increases in extreme events will be particularly costly for developed economies, which invest a considerable amount in fixed capital each year (20% of GDP or $5.5 trillion invested in gross fixed capital today). Just over one-quarter of this investment typically goes into construction ($1.5 trillion - mostly for infrastructure and buildings; more detail in Chapter 19). The long-run production losses from extreme weather could significantly amplify the immediate damage costs, particularly when there are constraints to financing reconstruction.  
The costs of extreme weather events are already high and rising, with annual losses of around $60 billion since the 1990s (0.2% of World GDP), and record costs of $200 billion in 2005 (more than 0.5% of World GDP). New analysis based on insurance industry data has shown that weather-related catastrophe losses have increased by 2% each year since the 1970s over and above changes in wealth, inflation and population growth/movement. If this trend continued or intensified with rising global temperatures, losses from extreme weather could reach 0.5 - 1% of world GDP by the middle of the century.27 If temperatures continued to rise over the second half of the century, costs could reach several percent of GDP each year, particularly because the damages increase disproportionately at higher temperatures (convexity in damage function; Chapter 3).
The auditors are interested

94 comments:

Kevin O'Neill said...

I would like to suggest that 'Losses' is rather inappropriate without putting in a VERY BIG caveat: property losses. Otherwise one might be lead to believe that disaster-related fatalities aren't losses.

2010 - Heat wave in Russia, Czech Republic, 55,000 lives lost
2008 - Tropical cyclone Nargis, 138,000 lives lost
2003 - Heat wave and drought in Europe, 35,000 lives lost


For comparison:
2005 - Hurricane Katrina, 1,836 lives lost

If we use the EPA's $7 million for a human life, then the Russian/Czech heatwave had loss of life cost of $355 billion and Nargis an astronomical $1 trillion just in lives lost. Each of which would dwarf 2005's Katrina with $108 billion in property losses and sadly another $12 billion in lives.

Perhaps an interested auditor will compile a graph that includes both property losses and fatalities.


andthentheresphysics said...

It does appear as though a common theme within the climate debate is to regard "by the middle of the next century" or "by (some date in the future)" as now. Odd that.

HG said...

Medium to long-term prophecies are easy to make and defend. Whether predictions of death and destruction from climate change have any scientific merit is actually irrelevant and that's what makes them such a handy tool for policy activists. Most of those debating the issue today will never know how right or wrong they are.

andthentheresphysics said...

HG,
Except what you appear to be doing is essentially the same as what you're criticising. You're suggesting that we can't trust long-term projections, therefore shouldn't base policy on them, which is essentially, itself, a policy position. Others argue that such projections give an indication of possible changes that we might want to either mitigate against, or adapt to.

HG said...

Roger's sin, as far as I can see, is that he's repeatedly shown that there is no evidence to support repeated claims in the media and in scientific journals that we are suffering more frequent and damaging extreme weather events *today* because of climate change that is happening *now*.

A warning about possible changes is one thing, a concerted campaign warning of impending catastrophic consequences in order to change public behaviour at every level of society is another.

andthentheresphysics said...

Can you find an example of this?
claims in the media and in scientific journals that we are suffering more frequent and damaging extreme weather events *today* because of climate change that is happening *now*.

HG said...

andthentheresphysics said...
Can you find an example of this?

You don't have to believe me. Heatwaves, droughts, hurricanes and flooding rains are intensifying now. The definitive authority is none other than John Cook PhD, founder of Skeptical Science. He could provide you with a few more examples if you ask him nicely.

https://www.beforetheflood.com/explore/the-deniers/fact-climate-climate-is-very-very-dangerous/

andthentheresphysics said...

HG,
Okay, so what - specifically - is wrong with what John Cook says that would justify Pielke showing that there is no evidence to support such suggestions? There is evidence to support an increase in heatwaves, droughts, extreme precipitation events and hurricanes? If he is claiming that there is no evidence to support this then he would be wrong, which might explain why what he wrote was criticised by others.

Tom said...

Weather Gone Wild
Rains that are almost biblical, heat waves that don’t end, tornadoes that strike in savage swarms—there’s been a change in the weather lately. What’s going on?

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/09/extreme-weather/miller-text

More violent and frequent storms, once merely a prediction of climate models, are now a matter of observation.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/extreme-weather-caused-by-climate-change/

Climate change is no longer a distant threat. We are living with the reality of it, right here and right now. The impacts of climate disruption in the United States and around the world are clear, costly and widespread.

http://climatenexus.org/learn/extreme-weather

8c7793aa-15b2-11e5-898a-67ca934bd1df said...

Anyone who claims there is 'no evidence' for anything, can be safely placed into the crank and crackpot catagory, where they can easily escape merely by updating their perspective on how science works.

Tom said...

When modern weather beats this, let us know and we can actually start buying sandbags:

https://thelukewarmersway.wordpress.com/2016/02/16/climate-change-1861-style/

8c7793aa-15b2-11e5-898a-67ca934bd1df said...

Because Tom and HG are innumerate and suffering from a Dunning Kruger affliction, they have fundamental problems with grasping magnitudes. The primary magnitude they have problems with here is a continuous top of the atmosphere energy imbalance affecting the surface, of an order of now 0.7 Watts per square meter integrated over the entire surface of the Earth. I'm fairly sure they also are having problems with the ecologically quantified numbers of biodiversity loss and the ongoing dramatically decreasing wildlife numbers. Ocean acidification is another problem, where they seem to have severe analytical, numerical and operational deficiencies with respect to how science really works.

Tom said...

ATTP, you're drinking the koolaide early again. Move away from the punch bowl...slowly...

Global drought incidence and intensity has decreased over the past century.

"“The annual time series of globally averaged % drought indicates a mean value of 66%, a range of about 4%, and no long-term trend (−0.2% per 100 years, non-statistically significant)”

This rather unambiguous statement comes from a recently published paper “Variability and Trends in Global Drought,” published in the journal Earth and Space Science."

andthentheresphysics said...

I might not express things quite as bluntly as long strong of characters, bu that is essentially the point. If you think some are making claims that are too strong, claiming that there is no evidence to support those claims is unlikely to be an appropriate rebuttal. Claiming that there is no evidence to support something is likely as poor as claiming that something is definitely happening.

Tom,
The suggestion is not really that AGW will cause things to happen that have never happened before. Therefore, pointing out that an intense event has happened in the past doesn't suddenly indicate that there isn't an increase in the frequency of such events. I suspect this has been pointed out to you before.

andthentheresphysics said...

Tom,
I didn't say global, intentionally. Good to see you haven't changed, though.

Tom said...

Considering what I'm doing right now, I can only smile at being accused of innumeracy. Still, given that I'm corresponding with illiterates and idiots, I suppose I can handle that.

As has been pointed out numerous times in numerous venues, biodiversity is impacted by habitat loss, invasive species, over hunting/fishing and pollution. At the bottom of that list, counting for less than 1% of impacts on biodiversity, there is indeed climate change.

andthentheresphysics said...

Groundskeeper Willie rips his short off, again.

andthentheresphysics said...

"shirt" off! :-)

Tom said...

You shouldn't try to steal weewilliewillard's schtick. You are not good at it.

neverendingaudit said...

> [AT], you're drinking the koolaide early again.

Just when I thought that Groundskeeper came here to make friends.

Groundskeeper turns a potential ally into an enemy. Again.

And then he doubles down. Again.

Just like teh Donald.

Something about idiots.

Etc.

The audit never ends.

Tom said...

I have enough friends, thank you for your concern. I would not seek to supplement them at this venue.

In what universe do you think the audit should ever end?

Nathan said...

Tom this paper shows rainfall intensity has increased.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/236163896_Updated_analyses_of_temperature_and_precipitation_extreme_indices_since_the_beginning_of_the_twentieth_century_The_HadEX2_dataset

Tom said...

Exactly as predicted--no surprise there at all. Why can't you fools stop there?

Nathan said...

Tom, do you think the trend will end?

Tom said...

For increased precipitation? Hell no. Scientists predicted a 5% increase for 2C about thirty years ago and I certainly accept that.

But idiots try and blame global warming for the effects of habitat destruction, over-hunting/fishing, invasion of alien species and pollution. And they're idiots.

Idiots try to say droughts are increasing. But droughts are decreasing.

And when Xtreme Weather finally shows up, idiots will have bored the world to tears with their attribution of every snowflake and movement of the weather vane to global warming and we will be caught unprepared.

Albatross said...

Oh boy, just when I thought all the comments shown at the bottom of Eli's post meant that there was an intellectual discussion going on while I was at work. Instead,the thread is being hijacked by a troll.

Could we please try and keep our eye on the ball? In this instance, another (willful?) misrepresentation of the facts by PR Jr.

Albatross said...

Kevin,

You make a very good point about including the costs of the deaths, that is of course a huge socio-economic impact related to disasters and extreme events.

Doing so is tricky though. Was that EPA number just for the USA, or a global value? Also, how does one change it with time?

Including those very relevant mortality costs would not favour the musings of Breakthru boyz like PR Jr. ;)

Nathan said...

Tom

"Idiots try to say droughts are increasing. But droughts are decreasing."

Not sure this means what you think it does. For example large parts of Australia have had large increases in Rainfall... But no one lives there.
Other parts, where people live, have seen very bad droughts and an overall decline in rainfall.

barry said...

Tom says:

Idiots try to say droughts are increasing. But droughts are decreasing.

Just as Pielke with time, Tom with space.

PielkeJ pretends a forecast for 40 years hence is meant to be happening now.
Tom pretends regional forecasts mean global.

His source? National Geographic. Is he complaining about newsy media articles on climate change? Get in line, Tom!

BBD said...

Tom

As usual, you are misrepresenting your source, which emphatically does not support your implication that teh modulz are wrong and scientists are all idiots / alarmists bent on exterminating the poors.

From McCabe & Wolock (2015)* my emphasis:

Two questions that remain unanswered are (1) do the long-term positive trends in annual global P and PET indicate an enhanced hydrologic cycle? and (2) will continued warming and increased PET eventually exceed increases in P and thus result in increased %drought?

Note that the question of future drought trend under increasing PET and P trends remains unanswered by the methods employed in this study.

Note also that the C20th is not a guide to the C21st and beyond as conditions are changing as anthro forcing continues to increase. So pointing to the C20th and making any strong claim about the C21st is, well, idiotic.

* Why do deniers so rarely link to or even properly accredit their sources? Whatever can be the reason?

Albatross said...

Like Eli says, when PR Jr claims something, always check the source and numbers. So I encourage bunnies who might have some time to try and replicate Jr's graphic.

He advertises the numbers as coming from Munich Re, but IIRC, they do not publish annual losses normalized by GDP. Also, check if he is using "total loss" or "insured loss". Finally, for an event to be classified as a "disaster" it has to meet certain criteria, no problem there, except one then excludes a bunch of significant and costly events.

What I'm saying is that we should be looking at the total losses associated with all extreme weather events.

Another hint that something is perhaps amiss with dodger's graph-- one graphic from a global re-insurer that I did find that normalized the disaster losses by GDP did not show such a marked downward trend line as PR Jr's does...in fact, their line was virtually flat.

neverendingaudit said...

> [D]roughts are decreasing.

Citation needed. Clarification too. Trenberth & al 2014 starts thus:

How is drought changing as the climate changes? Several recent
papers in the scientific literature have focused on this question
but the answer remains unclear.


http://sci-hub.cc/10.1038/nclimate2067

***

> [W]e will be caught unprepared.

We should listen to Matt King Coal and his lukewarm fellowship and insist that the world is greening instead, or better yet that climate Xtreme is not unprecedented, like Grounskeeper just did.

It's not science, but it's important.

Aunt Sally said...

Not sure where Tom gets 1% for climate change impacts on biodiversity (as others have noted, he's somewhat short on documentation as a rule.) Anywho, this recent Nature article places the number at 19%, calls the assessment "robust,", and makes that point that it is likely to increase as we... er... "progress"...

http://www.nature.com/news/biodiversity-the-ravages-of-guns-nets-and-bulldozers-1.20381

BBD said...

> [D]roughts are decreasing.

Citation needed.


It's certainly not the reference that Tom provided - even the quote he selected does not support his claim:

Idiots try to say droughts are increasing. But droughts are decreasing.

Tom's own reference states:

The annual time series of globally averaged % drought indicates a mean value of 66%, a range of about 4%, and no long-term trend (−0.2% per 100 years, non-statistically significant)

Another Tom whoopsie.

Nigel Franks said...

I don't care if globally drought is not changing. I want to know if some areas are experiencing drought whereas before they didn't and other areas are experiencing more rainfall and less drought. This global averaging is just like the deniers claiming that Arctic sea loss is not a problem as Antarctic sea ice is growing.

I also don't care if people claim that hurricanes or tropical storms don't show any change if elsewhere people are suffering more and/or stronger storms that are causing damage than before but which don't fall into a touted category.

HG said...

Hi Nigel,

I understand the problem, I'd like to know too, but it's increasingly difficult these days to find anyone willing to risk their job to give you an honest answer.

Just saying.

8c7793aa-15b2-11e5-898a-67ca934bd1df said...

HG - you're a crank. Just saying, without fear of losing my job.

andthentheresphysics said...

HG,
Are you sure you don't mean it's increasingly difficult these days to find anyone willing to risk their job to give the answer I want to hear?.

Nigel Franks said...

HG: perhaps my point wasn't clear. Using a global average is a tactic used by the "sceptics" to pretend that's all's well. But when you see one side of a country experiencing unusual drought while the other side is suffering more floods, the "on average nothing happening" meme becomes transparently obvious as misleading.

HG said...

andthentheresphysics - No Ken, I don't, but thanks for asking.

Nigel - If you read what PRjr and his father PRsr have been saying for years, you'd be surprised how much they (and most but not all sceptics) agree with you. Which is sort of ironic when you think about it. As far as I can see, the global average temperature tactic (e.g. we must keep the global average rise to under 2C to avoid ... whatever) is used by both sides for different purposes. No-one is entitled to play the innocent here.

andthentheresphysics said...

HG,
There is a difference between people who tell you that they agree with you, and those who say things that actually in agreement with what you would normally say. For example, anyone explicitly says something like "I agree with the IPCC" normally doesn't.

neverendingaudit said...

If you really read what Junior and Senior have been saying for years, dear HG, you may find a bit more than what you minimize with the "Roger's sin" victim card.

It's easy to read what Senior has been saying for years, for he self-cites the same crap over and over again. Reading all of Junior is a bit harder, for he always handwaves to stuff he wrote elsewhere.

That Senior and Junior share most of the established viewpoints is more a lukewarm feature than a contrarian bug. Their head fakes may matter more than all the legal disclaimers. How they push the limits of justified disingenuousness will remain their most important legacy.

I acknowledge your "no-one is entitled to play the innocent" tu quoque.

Howard said...

Kevin O'Neill in his post on mass-casualty porn accidentally makes the economic case for simple adaptations like air conditioning (which requires cheap fossil fuel energy), storm cellars and fully penetrating sheet piles (in the case of Katrina - see Shearers lecture on boring logs).

One nit. The USEPA estimate of $7M/death is for US citizens. The other places not so much.

Kevin O'Neill said...

Howard, because Russian mothers and fathers value their children less than ours?

And of course not all Americans can have the same value either, what's the price of a black or native American life versus that of a white anglo-saxon Protestant?

Yeah, you went there, Howard. Own it.

BBD said...

Howard

One nit. The USEPA estimate of $7M/death is for US citizens. The other places not so much.

I know I said this last time we spoke, but you really are quite unpleasant.

EliRabett said...

Howard,

You should speak to Richard Tol about that. It is the place he got into deep spaghetti in 1995.

Mal Adapted said...

Howard:

"Kevin O'Neill in his post on mass-casualty porn accidentally makes the economic case for simple adaptations like air conditioning (which requires cheap fossil fuel energy)"

Hmm, I suspect that's a feedback that isn't accounted for in published ECS estimates.

Howard said...

Other countries value their citizens less and rich countries place a much higher value on rich country people. This is the world we were born into. USEPA sets value of US citizen at $7M. I am damn sure Russia and China and India value their citizens anywhere near that, otherwise they would have the same level of public safety, worker safety and environmental protection.

The anti-frackers with their fake gasland scare tactics value people from brown and black countries less because they don't want to risk wealthier, whiter US lives to produce oil and gas. The result is we buy it from the Middle East, Venezuela, Mexico, Nigeria, Malaysia, etc. where environmental standards are primitive to non-existent.

Interestingly enough, inner city poor and rural poor communities are valued less by the majority in the US, so they get exposed to more pollution and crime than in wealthy white communities.

Environmentally sensitive land is determined by what rich white people value, therefore, the poor and minorities are disproportionally exposed because industry has to be somewhere. Rich white people, including environmentalists who put Bill Clinton in power, have encouraged the offshoring of industry overseas via trade agreements. In this way, they practice effective environmental racism while at the same time can claim clean hands.

It's not me who thinks a dollar figure on Human beings is a useful metric, it's you Kevin. I'm just describing how other people are assigned a lower value by the actions of people in power. I think that the biggest practitioner of environmental racism are those of you who obscess over global warming calling carbon dioxide a pollutant. This ignores all of the other sources of environmental pollution (PM2.5, toxins, carcinogens, nutrients, etc.) in air and water that kill millions every year.

But go on with your fake concern and clean hands innocence while using mass death by benign neglect in the face of recurring natural disasters so that you may advance your political agenda.

Russell Seitz said...

OpenID andthentheresphysics said...
HG,
There is a difference between people who tell you that they agree with you, and those who say things that actually in agreement with what you would normally say. For example, anyone explicitly says something like "I agree with the IPCC" normally doesn't.

The IPCC deserves to be cut some slack- itdeals in projections , not predictions and has hedged its bets mightily , and rightly , with parameter spreads reflecting that operational philosophy-

If you can point towards a Bayesian fuzzball that spans the horizon from pole to pole, everybody's policy future must be somewhere inside the cloud.

8c7793aa-15b2-11e5-898a-67ca934bd1df said...

I'm not exactly grokking your logic there, Russell and HG, can you render your idea or concept in some simple equations for me? Thanks. Remember though, dollars are not SI units, they're variables.

Albatross said...

Hah! The latest issue of Nature Climate Change has just published a commentary piece that speaks to the issue of mortality and AGW.

http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v6/n11/full/nclimate3140.html

neverendingaudit said...

> If you can point towards a Bayesian fuzzball [...]

Or better yet to many little microballs and other Pokemon methods.

BBD said...

Howard

The anti-frackers with their fake gasland scare tactics value people from brown and black countries less because they don't want to risk wealthier, whiter US lives to produce oil and gas. The result is we buy it from the Middle East, Venezuela, Mexico, Nigeria, Malaysia, etc. where environmental standards are primitive to non-existent.

First, the anti-frackers generally do not want *any* new sources of FFs to be exploited anywhere. It is typically easier to get something stopped in your own county than in eg. Nigeria. So what you say is self-serving rubbish.

I think that the biggest practitioner of environmental racism are those of you who obscess [sic] over global warming calling carbon dioxide a pollutant.

Since the equatorial poor are likely to be hit first and hardest by climate impacts, this is also self-serving rubbish.

Points we probably do agree on to some extent:

- assigning monetary value to human life is indefensible

- globalisation is not done for the benefit of developing economies

Kevin O'Neill said...

BBD - "- assigning monetary value to human life is indefensible

I don't believe this is true. One *has* to assign a cost or one cannot take any action at all. I.e., if the cost is infinite, then any action that results in even a small chance of a loss of life is not productive.

Crossing the street becomes impossible (irrational).

Placing an actual monetary value on life is *uncomfortable* - and should be. The best we can do is treat this is an ethical manner. Discounting the lives of future generations is not ethical. Treating the lives of 'them' as less than the lives of 'us' is unethical.

Howard - like many of his ilk - apparently does not understand this. When he wrote "Others not so much. Why didn't he write, Others not so little. The US does not have the highest value of life (surprise - not). More important, though, than how individual countries, insurance companies, economists, etc treat the value of life is how each of us treats it. I cannot control how the US EPA, or AETNA, or Richard Tol treats the value of life. But you'll note that I used the same value of life for all - not valuing a US life more than a Somali or less than a Japanese.

Howard, for all his shirt-ripping and chest-beating has simply stepped in dog doo-doo and tries to cover it up by claiming, Think of the poors! Yawn.

Howard said...

Whereas, the half-life of CO2 versus real pollution, Whereas, real pollution is also contributing to global warming, Whereas, CO2 warming is already baked in for the next 200-years, Therefore reducing real pollution will have the fastest effects on reducing AGW with the positive externality of reducing carcinogenic and toxic exposures to the billions of souls in Asia.

The AGW cure of solar and wind is homeopathic gibberish and selling that solution to the developing world is environmental racism.

Environmental triage dictates getting the most bang for the finite bucks, eg: reducing short-term AGW forcings, building adaptations for the most vulnerable, exploitation of fracked natural gas to eliminate/reduce coal, and funding R&D on the next-gen nuclear power.

Ramanathan's No Regrets

BBD said...

The AGW cure of solar and wind is homeopathic gibberish and selling that solution to the developing world is environmental racism.

Environmental triage dictates getting the most bang for the finite bucks, eg: [...] funding R&D on the next-gen nuclear power.


No doubt that it is presently speculative that W&S can drive decarbonisation fast enough to avoid severe climate impacts but 'homeopathic gibberish' is unsupported trollish nonsense.

And nobody serious thinks decarbonisation is possible using nuclear alone. Nuclear is part of the decarbonisation toolkit, not the thing itself.

So much Lomborgian false choice rhetoric in this mess.

BBD said...

Kevin O'Neill

I don't believe this is true. One *has* to assign a cost or one cannot take any action at all.

[...]

Placing an actual monetary value on life is *uncomfortable* - and should be. The best we can do is treat this is an ethical manner. Discounting the lives of future generations is not ethical. Treating the lives of 'them' as less than the lives of 'us' is unethical.


Okay, fair enough. Amend to this.

8c7793aa-15b2-11e5-898a-67ca934bd1df said...

Howard, a general rule of thumb that I find useful and that you too may find useful, or not, is that when you are digging yourself into a deep scientific or technical hole with everyone standing around watching you, the first thing you do is quit digging. What you do after that is your business. I generally let the spectators assist me out of the hole I have dug for myself, and then thank them. You may be new to this phenomenon, as I am advising you as an experienced hole digger.

neverendingaudit said...

> Discounting the lives of future generations is not ethical.

I'm not sure why. I'm quite sure discounting prices is.

The problem lies in between:

We do not need to choose between the dictates of philosopher kings and the ‘revealed ethics’ of the market place. There are a range of intermediate approaches including the use of stated preference surveys, behavioural experiments, and methods to reveal the social preferences inherent in our social institutions.

http://qed.econ.queensu.ca/pub/faculty/garvie/econ443/debate/beckerman%20and%20hepburn.pdf

Howard said...

8C and the rest: Call me back when you get some real experience in digging holes and environmental justice. I guess Ramanathan is a denier as well? You people can't move beyond left wing politics and Hollywood environmentalism where the biggest concern is the sea level in Malibu. You keep going with your moralizing just like John Podesta tells you via his propaganda arm thunk regress.

Yeah, I voted for Bernie and I'm still pissed.

Kevin O'Neill said...

neverendingaudit writes, "I'm not sure why."

From Stern (page 31):
Thus, while we do allow, for example, for the possibility that, say, a meteorite might obliterate the world, and for the possibility that future generations might be richer (or poorer), we treat the welfare of future generations on a par with our own. It is, of course, possible that people actually do place less value on the welfare of future generations, simply on the grounds that they are more distant in time. But it is hard to see any ethical justification for this. It raises logical difficulties, too. The discussion of the issue of pure time preference has a long and distinguished history in economics, particularly among those economists with a strong interest and involvement in philosophy. It has produced some powerful assertions. Ramsey (1928, p.543) described pure time discounting as ‘ethically indefensible and [arising] merely from the weakness of the imagination’. Pigou (1932, pp 24-25) referred to it as implying that ‘our telescopic faculty is defective’. Harrod (1948, pp 37-40) described it as a ‘human infirmity’ and ‘a polite expression for rapacity and the conquest of reason by passion’. Solow (1974, p.9) said ‘we ought to act as if the social rate of time preference were zero (though we would simultaneously discount future consumption if we expected the future to be richer than the present)’. Anand and Sen (2000) take a similar view, as does Cline (1992) in his analysis of the economics of global warming. The appendix to this chapter explores these issues in more technical detail, and includes references to one or two dissenting views."

The consensus is that there is no ethical reason to discount the welfare of future generations. Of course Stern *still* doesn't use zero has his pure rate of time preference - using the chance of cataclysmic extinction as 'justification' for using a PRTP of 0.1% -- despite the fact he notes this rate is unrealistic and would have the human species extinct many times over already. Sigh.

As for Ethics of the Discount Rate in the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, I do not find the agent-relative ethics argument compelling. It explicitly places a higher value on 'us' over 'them'. You may be willing to consider that ethical in considering and shaping a policy for global change, I am not.

Missing from either Stern or virtually every other economic treatise is the possibility that the rate should be *negative* - that we might actually place a *higher* value on the lives of our children and grandchildren than our own. More sighs.

BBD said...

Howard

You are ignoring everything everybody is saying to you and just ranting on. Worse, you are misrepresenting your own sources. Ramanathan DOES NOT argue that nothing should be done about CO2. He argues the opposite. Only YOU present a false choice because only you are engaged in political rhetoric.

From your own link:

Can any strategy produce such fast results? To answer this we need to review the underlying climate science, to understand that there are two main levers we can pull to slow climate warming. The first lever is the one that reduces the carbon dioxide emitted when we burn from fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas. To insure long-term climate stability we need to pull this lever, now, as hard as possible, promoting energy efficiency, low carbon fuels, and clean energy sources. But we also need to understand that pulling back the carbon dioxide lever will produce climate cooling very slowly: by mid-century an aggressive effort to reduce carbon dioxide can avoid 0.1° Celsius of warming, out of an expected 2° Celsius or more of warming by 2050 under business as usual.

We also need to pull back the lever to reduce the short-lived climate pollutants. These pollutants include black carbon (soot) air pollution, tropospheric ozone (the principal component of smog), methane, and several HFCs, which are factory-made gases used in air conditioning and refrigeration. Pulling this lever to cut the short-lived climate pollutants can avoid 0.6 ° Celsius of warming by mid-century, six times more than the carbon dioxide lever can produce. At the end of the century, the avoided warming from cutting the short-lived climate pollutants is 1.5° Celsius compared to 1.1° Celsius for carbon dioxide. Both strategies are essential at this point.


Enough of your nonsense now.

Howard said...

Lets stipulate that Kevins death porn is due to AGW. How long before solar and wind decarbonization eliminates these risks for the survivors? 50-years, 100-years, 250-years?

You can't have it both ways claiming extreme weather on AGW and admitting that CO2 AGW will persist for centuries no matter what.

Given all that and stipulating that soon to be 9-billion people will all be worth 10-million each in 2050, it is quite obvious that the short-term focus should be on protecting the most number of people from catastrophic weather.

This seems the most compassionate action as opposed to sleeping comfortable in your battle-hardened rich western bunker knowing that the symbolic gestures of wind and solar have absolved you from any responsibility.

Howard said...

BBD we can't afford to pull hard on all levers at the same time... because triage.

BBD said...

BBD we can't afford to pull hard on all levers at the same time...

That is a false dilemma straight out of the Lomborg playbook.

It's also not true.

Kevin O'Neill said...

Howard - you continue just digging the hole deeper.

"Eliminates the risk"??? Who said *anything* will eliminate the risk? We can send a billion ACs to Russia tomorrow and it won't eliminate the risk of people dying from heat waves in Russia next summer. Similarly, reducing our carbon emissions isn't going to eliminate the risks. Try *reduces* the risk. Each CO2 molecule *not* added to the atmosphere reduces the risk.

And, if the problem will exist for centuries, then any small reduction in risk now gets magnified many times over.

Knee-jerk reactions often lead to exceedingly stupid comments. Try engaging brain before writing next time.

BBD said...

BBD we can't afford to pull hard on all levers at the same time...

And just look at you - waving Ramanathan around one minute and flatly disowning what he wrote the very next... when what he *actually* said is drawn to your attention.

A case study in callous disregard for the truth. You embarrass yourself.

neverendingaudit said...

Kevin,

Nothing in your quote provides any kind of ethical justification. Sometimes, quoting the conclusions of Ramsey, Pigou, Solow, Anand & Sen, and Cline is not enough. Showing that mathematically-minded authorities reveal deontological prejudices is not that strong an ethical argument.

One good reason to find minimal conditions to justify temporal discounting is that people discount time all the time:

http://journal.sjdm.org/12/12309/jdm12309.pdf

If nobody acts according to your favorite ethical modulz, I suggest you revise the modulz. It's cheaper and more fruitful.

***

Furthermore, that there is *no ethical* reason to discount the *welfare* of future generations doesn't imply it's *unethical* to discount the *life* of future beings. Ask your life insurance company, or consider the following. If you can't discount life in all the possible (future or past) worlds, then the value of life becomes a constant, which implies it's not an actual monetary value but the gold standard by which everything should be valued. This has tangible monetarist implications, which don't really hold right now.

Perhaps it may be simpler to observe that even if you accept that every single virtual life as the same value as another, the principle is moot if the token by which you value this life changes over time in an unpredictable way.

From an evolutionist point of view, it might make sense to overvalue a bit the lives of those who have yet to perpetuate our species.

As you said to Howard, you went there.

Kevin O'Neill said...

nea -

but people do it all the time seems to run afoul of Is - Ought
nobody? but that's NOT what I said. 'virtually' is not the same as 'literally' see Dani Rodrik, for instance. Or Frances Woolley.
in what sense is human life not a part of human welfare? Some might consider it to be, like, the largest part
"Ask your life insurance company" About ethics and morality? Comedian.
"the principle is moot if the token by which you value this life changes over time in an unpredictable way" ???

I think you missed my reply to BBD's "assigning monetary value to human life is indefensible" Kant notwithstanding.

Frances Woolley at Worthwile Canadian Intiative:
The most fundamental public policy choices we face involve trade-offs between current and future consumption: the desirability of tax cuts and deficit finance; the value of reducing greenhouse gas emissions; the advisability of investing in infrastructure. If you want to know an economist’s views on things that matter, forget about minimum wages or free trade. The most important question of all is “what is the social discount rate”? The moral argument for discounting the well-being of future generations has always been dubious. The opportunity cost argument might have seemed convincing during the heady days of the tech boom. But now that negative interest rates are a serious possibility, even the opportunity cost of capital argument for discounting seems questionable.

Obfuscating the argument does not really interest me. When considering losses from climate change (or automobile safety regulations) one needs to account for both property losses and the losses of human life. Otherwise one ends up with the paradoxical conclusion bad policies are better than good policies. Do you really need this explained to you?


neverendingaudit said...

> Obfuscating the argument does not really interest me.

In contrast, how you obfuscate it by name-dropping interests me.

Here again, you quote another authority's conclusion, i.e. Wooley, and yet the quote only contains the dismissive the moral argument for discounting the well-being of future generations has always been dubious. There's no real argument there. Only obfuscation.

Perhaps you should consider, dear Kevin, that the real possibility of a negative interests rate undermines the "discounting rates == bad" ringtone. Whatever Frances' implicit argument can be, it fails a basic symmetry test. Negative interests rate leads us to negative discount rates territory, after all, and should be morally dubious for the same reasons.

Morality should be about setting some kind of *indifference point* which varies according to our values, not about an absolutely intemporal choice function.

***

> When considering losses from climate change (or automobile safety regulations) one needs to account for both property losses and the losses of human life. Otherwise one ends up with the paradoxical conclusion bad policies are better than good policies.

I agree with the first claim, but not because of the second one, which I don't really understand.

I consider that first claim more or less independent from the claim that discounting the value of future (or more generally of non actually existing, which was my sense of "virtual" or "possible" in my previous comment) human lives is unethical. If you want to connect the two, then you have to accept that the loss of a human life has a worth that varies in time and space. If you can't make human live the value of a variable (and not a constant), then so much the worse for the idea that we can or should *account* for it.


Howard said...

You got me Kevin and Willard. I pointed out a reality of the world that people are not valued equally. Getting Russians air conditioners will not save everyone because they will sell them to buy vodka, nor will building storm cellars in the tropics because of the shallow water tables. Conducting diplomacy to nudge countries to evolve into a liberal democracies and educate their women is what is required to help eliminate their premature deaths, which are caused 100% by politics and not AGW. Attribution is important if you really want to fix problems. Wind farms and solar panels replacement of ff's won't improve mass causalities and premature mortalities until 2150, if ever. I guess false hope is better than no hope at all.

That said, I am sensitive to the social politics of AGW which requires limiting topics, controlling the narrative and maintaining your safe spaces of eco-magic nirvana. The real problem will be how to make progress with President Trump. I am sure you people will stay in attack-mode rather than swallowing pride and making an imperfect deal.


BBD you are too hung up on having every paper and post has to be internally and externally consistent. VR provides a useful starting point and I agree with the premises, but prioritization of actions is needed. This is where spit-balling comes in. There is short term, long term and the bridge between. According to VR, the most immediate reduction of AGW is real pollution. There are off the shelf technologies available today to address real pollution and improving poor peoples health now, not in a 100-years, so that seems like a no-brainer to jump on first. Make your arguments against that, not my shit-storm of an assholistic personality.

The long-term problem is the persistence of CO2 in the biosphere. This means that at some point, we will have to go carbon negative, which will requires carbon-free power in excess of what is needed for socio-economic functions. The closest technology we have that could possibly reach that goal in the next 25-years is nuke. So, it seems a no-brainer to start a manhattan-type project to build a nuke system that is stable, that consumes the radioactively dangerous waste as fuel, and is non-proliferating. That is not to say that solar, wind and batteries are not important, but they should not be the #1 priority at this time. In addition, there needs to be great wealth and resources to do these things, so we must focus on making use of FFs in the least polluting manner as a bridge to the future.

As far as adaptation in the most vulnerable parts of the globe, political and diplomatic solutions are the only sustainable methods to lift people out of political, social and economic poverty.

Is it wrong to prioritize actions? Only if all you ever want to do is talk about it.

Kevin O'Neill said...

nea -- "I agree with the first claim, but not because of the second one, which I don't really understand.

If you agree with the first claim, then what is the point of all this?

If you don't understand the 2nd, then it's because you're not *trying*

Policy A costs 1$billion and prevents $10billion in property damages
Policy B costs $1billion + $1 and saves $10 billion in property damages

If losses of life are not accounted for then policy A is the correct choice - even if it leads to 1 million additional lives lost while policy B does not. Unless, of course, one prices those lives at $0.0000001; then they're equal. Flip a coin.

Now, perhaps in your world of deontology this is all well and fine. Not in mine.

So, as I said in the initial comment, one needs to include the cost of lives, not just property. And as I said in response to BBD, it is uncomfortable to place a cost on a life, but it is necessary.

If you want to present an argument why the life of a Somali child is worth less than that of a Canadian - fine, make it. If you want to present an argument why a child born tomorrow is worth less than a child born today, fine make it. Otherwise I see most - if not all -- of what you've written so far to be simply obfuscating the two points I have made.

neverendingaudit said...

> If you agree with the first claim, then what is the point of all this?

The point, Kevin, is that I that I don't know of any real ethical argument for non-discounting. All I know is that rejection of discounting is taken for granted, based on a series of counter-arguments against arguments *for* discounting. That's not constructive enough to me.

I understand that the intuition is based on tenets of consequentialism, but I'm not sure how far I need to buy consequentialism to reject discounting. My own intuitions are that (a) economists are stretching the philosophical arguments; (b) there is plenty of empirical evidence showing many existing forms of discounting; (c) uncertainty regarding the welfare function argues against Ramseyan versions of pure discounting; (d) unless the ethical arguments leads to mathematically sound theories, we won't be able to beat contrarians.

I'm planning a blog on the Social Cost of Carbon, so I'm here for the argument.
Scratching my own itch, it seems that my own argument has been anticipated by Daguspa & Heal 1979:

Dasgupta and Heal argued that positive discounting is justified by the existence of a positive non-zero probability of extinction of mankind. In other words, positive discounting is a way to account for the fact that each generation is slightly less likely to exist than the previous one.

http://www2.ulg.ac.be/crepp/papers/crepp-wp200302.pdf

***

> If you don't understand the 2nd, then it's because you're not *trying*

I see. Perhaps I misread the claim too strongly - that a policy P *could* fail to optimize welfare because it does not comprise a specific value to human life in its evaluation function does not imply that it *always does.* Most welfare policies don't value human life directly, including health care policies I believe. And when they will, they'll need to face an infinity of trolley problems.

Kevin O'Neill said...

nea -- "Scratching my own itch, it seems that my own argument has been anticipated by Dasgupta & Heal 1979: ... positive discounting is justified by the existence of a positive non-zero probability of extinction of mankind."
I've covered this already above through Stern - it's how he derivves the 0.1% PRTP.

"unless the ethical arguments leads to mathematically sound theories..."
There is nothing mathematically unsound with any choice of social discount rate or PRTP. That some models don't perform well with low discount rates is a problem with the model - not the choice of rates. The choice of rates is a moral question - not one of mathematical convenience.

"there is plenty of empirical evidence showing many existing forms of discounting"
Yes, and? Is-Ought? I thought I covered this above - but I'm not going to bother to even look. I will add, though, that empirical evidence of negative discounting seems always to be ignored.

" economists are stretching the philosophical arguments"
Which economists? Since economists have approached it from every angle and arrived at every possible position, your statement is meaningless. E.g., Should we discount future generations’ welfare? A survey on the “pure” discount rate debate.

Thomas Paine -- The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.

Jesus Christ - Whatsoever you do unto the least of my brethren, that you do unto me.

Wire -- An unseen ruler defines with geometry an unrulable expanse of geography

neverendingaudit said...

> I've covered this already above through Stern [...]

"This" is an argument that provides an ethical reason to discount the welfare of future generations. The bit you quoted from Stern doesn't refute it. In fact, if you look at Anand & Sen 2000:

http://www2.econ.iastate.edu/classes/tsc220/hallam/Readings/AnandSenHumanDevelopmentEconomicSustainability.pdf

you'll see that intergenerational equity does not alone suffice to garantee sustainability. What's needed is that the return protecting our assets (i.e. our environments, everyone's capabilities, etc.) is bigger than the rate of pure time discount. This is in line with Dasgupta and Heal's results. This also agrees with what Howard said so far.

***

The main reason Anand & Sen invoke for their universalism is the kind of impartiality Sidgwick argued for centuries ago (n. 11). That's not a very strong argument, compared to Rawls' own take on this, in the appendix of Anand & Sen:

[T]he question of justice between generations...subjects any ethical theory to severe if not impossible tests...I believe that it is not possible, at present anyway, to define precise limits on what the rate of savings should be. How the burden of capital accumulation and of raising the standard of civilization is to be shared between generations seems to admit of no definite answer. It does not follow, however, that certain bounds which impose significant ethical constraints cannot be formulated...Thus it seems evident, for example, that the classical principle of utility leads in the wrong direction for questions of justice between generations...Thus the utilitarian doctrine may direct us to demand heavy sacrifices of the poorer generations for the sake of greater advantages for later ones that are far better off. But this calculus of advantages which balances the losses of some against benefits to others appears even less justified in the case of generations than among contemporaries...It is a natural fact that generations are spread out in time and actual exchanges can take place between them in only one direction. We can do something for posterity but it can do nothing for us. This situation is unalterable, and so the question of justice does not arise...It is now clear why the (max±min criterion) does not apply to the savings problem. There is no way for the later generation to improve the situation of the least fortunate first generation. The principle is inapplicable and it would seem to imply, if anything, that there be no saving at all. Thus, the problem of saving must be treated in another fashion.

This was the quote I had in mind when I said to Richie at AT's that when he was talking of Rawls he might mean Nozick.

BBD said...

Howard

BBD you are too hung up on having every paper and post has to be internally and externally consistent.

It's called telling the truth.

Thank you for admitting that it's of little importance to you.

There is short term, long term and the bridge between.

Long term is what happens if we do not act to reduce emissions now, in the short term. You can't just leave it. I'm beginning to suspect that you don't really understand the physics because if you did, you would see that what you argue is nonsensical. Why act in the short term if all gains are lost to severe climate impacts from unmitigated emissions in the long term? Please reconsider your reasoning.

Kevin O'Neill said...

nea -- from my comment somewhere up above, "Of course Stern *still* doesn't use zero has his pure rate of time preference - using the chance of cataclysmic extinction as 'justification' for using a PRTP of 0.1% -- despite the fact he notes this rate is unrealistic and would have the human species extinct many times over already. Sigh."
So, if anywhere, that's where your 'mathematically sound' problem lies - not with the PRTP at 0.1% being too low, but being too high.

nea:"you'll see that intergenerational equity does not alone suffice to garantee sustainability. What's needed is that the return protecting our assets (i.e. our environments, everyone's capabilities, etc.) is bigger than the rate of pure time discount. "
??? Not sure how this is relevant to anything previously discussed. A PRTP of zero is less than 0.1%. If the return that's needed is not larger than zero - how can it be larger than any positive rate? You're heading in a direction that underscores the inherent limitation of growth models - not the morality of any particular choice of PRTP. I believe the pertinent section of Anand and Sen is this:

Now if the social rate of return to investing in environmental capital (protection) is not large, and in particular it is smaller than the rate of pure time discount, it is not worthwhile for the present generation to reduce its consumption and increase investment: the gain in well-being to the future generation will not compensate for the sacrifice in well-being of the present generation. This can lead to a decline in well-being over time. Moreover, a similar result obtains with a positive rate of pure time preference even in an economy with exhaustible resources (see Solow, 1974b; Dasgupta & Heal, 1979). On the other hand, universalism in the space of generational welfares in the special form of no pure time discount will typically lead to rising welfare over time in such models.
...
Hence a justification for sustainability will have to be sought outside the framework of maximizing aggregate intergenerational well-being."


You read Rawls, but I think misread him. Rawls:"It is now clear why the (max±min criterion) does not apply to the savings problem.The principle is inapplicable and it would seem to imply, if anything, that there be no saving at all. Thus, the problem of saving must be treated in another fashion. He is explicitly *rejecting* using a high discount rate ("no savings at all"). He lays out a rationale and rejects it. You seem to think he accepted the rationale.

Kevin O'Neill said...

nea - here is one take on Rawls 'A Theory of Justice':

"He [Rawls] first considers, and rejects as incompatible with the contract view, Sidwick’s utilitarian argument about how impartial rationality requires that we do not prefer the present over the future (259). Rather, the matter is settled by looking at the OP: since parties do not have any knowledge of which stage of society they belong to, and instead take matters up from the standpoint of each period, they arrive at the same conclusion: there is no reason to prefer the present. To do otherwise would be to authorize persons different situated temporally to assess one another’s claims by different weights based solely upon this contingency”. This, however, is not incompatible with “taking uncertainties and changing circumstances into account” (260).

This implies, however, that the “living may ... wrong their predecessors and descendants” if they favor themselves and their own interests in certain ways. This sets constraints on what the government may justly do. In the remainder of the section, Rawls responds to the claim that these constraints are undemocratic (260-2) and contrasts the approach with a utilitarian hybrid view which discounts the well-being of future people. The later, Rawls thinks, introduces an ad-hoc time-bias device to “mitigate the consequences of mistaken principles” (262)"


Not sure who the author of the blog is - perhaps some random bartender in Dubuque - but their reading is very similar to my own.

neverendingaudit said...

> So, if anywhere, that's where your 'mathematically sound' problem lies - not with the PRTP at 0.1% being too low, but being too high.

The Rawls quote starts thus: [T]he question of justice between generations...subjects any ethical theory to severe if not impossible tests. His argument is that the very concept of intergenerational justice is problematic. There's no symmetry between you and your ancestors or you and your siblings.

This scepticism applies to every rate of savings. It does not imply, however, that we can't set up ethical conditions that a PRTP should meet. As far as I can see, any PRTP has yet to be justified in any constructive manner, including a PRTP of 0%.

That is my problem. That should be yours too. At least if you wish to go further than hammer the table while namedropping.


***

> You read Rawls, but I think misread him. [...] He is explicitly *rejecting* using a high discount rate ("no savings at all"). He lays out a rationale and rejects it. You seem to think he accepted the rationale.

"You seem to think" is just not good enough, Kevin. In any case, it's wrong - Rawls simply points out that the max±min criterion, which is a part of his theory of justice, isn't the proper tool to establish a savings rate. By "tool" I am referring to an ethical framework.

Of course Rawls is looking for some kind of distributional equity. Just like you, me, BBD, and even (gasp!) Howard. These intuitions don't replace sound ethical positions in ethics, in economics, or in both. They won't erase the inconsistencies Howard underlined earlier.

Since you misread me after having misread Howard (haven't you noticed that he's a Bernie bro?), it's safe to conclude that you're not playing home right now, Kevin. I'm not either, but I know enough of the lichurchur to know my limits and to recognize appeals to incredulity.

***

> If the return that's needed is not larger than zero - how can it be larger than any positive rate?

We could value future generations more than we value ours. We may even presume that parents usually think along those lines. Excluding baby boomers, it goes without saying.

Don't forget that we're speaking of generations as a whole, which means we try to optimize utility for sums of individuals. This doesn't translate into interindividual justice, if only because we, as Ramsey did, abstract away the size of each generation. In an utilitarian setting, the value of each life varies along its proportion within a population.

If that conclusion doesn't appeal to your intuition, then we may need an ethical argument like the one I'm looking for.

Kevin O'Neill said...

nea - *you* wrote "What's needed is that the return protecting our assets (i.e. our environments, everyone's capabilities, etc.) is bigger than the rate of pure time discount. This is in line with Dasgupta and Heal's results. This also agrees with what Howard said so far."

The return needed must be bigger than the PRTP.
Stern used 0.1% for PRTP. (note- you completely dodge that Stern's calculation of this is mathematically unsound - though earlier you had demanded mathematical soundness)
Any PRTP value lower than 0.1% (zero or negative) will not impact the return needed - except to make acceptable values *lower*. The return needed has less constraint with a lower PRTP per what your own words.



I.e., if the PRTP is -0.1%, then (per what you wrote) a 0% return would be sufficient.

I'm not appealing to intuition - I'm asking you to tell me, in the context of your own quote, what the hell the problem is? How then is lowering the PRTP a problem if it loosens constraints on the return needed? Frankly, I think the words I quoted from you are gobbledly-gook, but you seem to want to hold onto them.


As for, "That is my problem. That should be yours too."
I've already said that *I* accept that a Somali child has no less value than a Canadian child. I've already said that *I* accept that a child born tomorrow is worth no less than a child born today. I've said if you want to make the argument otherwise - go ahead.



neverendingaudit said...

> what the hell the problem is?

The same problem we started with, an argument showing why discounting the lives of future generations is not ethical.

This requires an ethical stance.

Presuming that a positive discount is necessary for any ethical stance E that meets some criteria set C begs the question - what E and C?

Saying "but X says so" is not an ethical stance.

Saying "but everyone says so" is not an ethical stance.

Saying "but every argument for discounting are bogus" is not an ethical stance.

Even Stern does some discount. Not much, but he does.

So far, all I've seen is people talking about ethics without doing ethics.

That's a problem.

***

> I've said if you want to make the argument otherwise [a child born tomorrow is worth no less than a child born today] - go ahead.

It's easy to prove that it's possible for a child born tomorrow to be worth less than a child born today: take Stern framework, and assume more people on Earth.

It's also easy to prove the possibility for a child born tomorrow to be worth more than a child born today: take Stern framework, and assume less people on Earth.

The worth of every agent in Stern framework is the worth of its generation divided by the number of agents in that generation.

In other words, Stern framework is not relative to agents, but to generations.

Howard's Russian example should remind us of the fact that the same utilitarian calculus is comprised in most industrialized countries' actuarial considerations. Since most countries have different wealths and populations, the value of their citizens vary too.

An agentless framework can only pay lip service to any ethical stance I can recognize.

Kevin O'Neill said...

nea - your "response* was no response. I'll repeat:

*************************
*you* wrote "What's needed is that the return protecting our assets (i.e. our environments, everyone's capabilities, etc.) is bigger than the rate of pure time discount. This is in line with Dasgupta and Heal's results. This also agrees with what Howard said so far."

The return needed must be bigger than the PRTP.
Stern used 0.1% for PRTP. (note- you completely dodge that Stern's calculation of this is mathematically unsound - though earlier you had demanded mathematical soundness)
Any PRTP value lower than 0.1% (zero or negative) will not impact the return needed - except to make acceptable values *lower*. The return needed has less constraint with a lower PRTP per what your own words.

I.e., if the PRTP is -0.1%, then (per what you wrote) a 0% return would be sufficient.

I'm not appealing to intuition - I'm asking you to tell me, in the context of your own quote, what the hell the problem is? How then is lowering the PRTP a problem if it loosens constraints on the return needed? Frankly, I think the words I quoted from you are gobbledly-gook, but you seem to want to hold onto them.

***************************

Note that "what the hell is the problem" refers to *your* mathematical proposition that the needed returns must be greater than the PRTP.

BTW, for growth, population matters, but not for the PRTP. Population is not a factor in determining the PRTP (except for its actual existence). Its value is simply a moral choice. You're confusing the SDR with the PRTP. Population growth affects growth, which in turn affects the SDR. Population growth does not affect the PRTP. So your child examples are not proofs of anything relevant to our discussion of the PRTP. And irrelevant is not quite the same as "easy to prove."

One might find it ironic that you insist on mathematical soundness, yet your math leaves more to be desired than mine -- and mine is nothing to write home about.

Go back and read Stern. He has a detailed section in the Appendix on the discount rate that is quite good.

Kevin O'Neill said...

nea - "The worth of every agent in Stern framework is the worth of its generation divided by the number of agents in that generation."

"worth"??? That's generally considered per capita GDP? Whether we value each life the same or not does not affect GDP per capita. PRTP is nowhere in that calculation.

Do not confuse the how to weigh intergenerational welfare or preferences with "worth", i.e., GDP per capita. I guess that advice is a bit late seeing how you already have.

Kevin O'Neill said...

GDP per capita, United Nations, 2014 US$

Monaco $187,650
Canada $50,169
Somalia $131

A child of Monaco is worth 1432 Somali children.
A Canadian child is only worth 382 Somali children.

And the arbitrary lines on maps that separate countries? Your worth is determined by which side you were born on.

And so it goes. And so it goes. I love the sound of breaking glass.

Albatross said...

Well, FWIW, I'm firmly with Kevin O'Neill on this one.

Any bunnies succeeded in reproducing PR Jr's crooked graphic?

neverendingaudit said...

> Note that "what the hell is the problem" refers to *your* mathematical proposition that the needed returns must be greater than the PRTP.

*My* mathematical proposition comes straight from Anand & Sen.

A pure PRTP presumes constant population and certainty.

Both assumptions are problematic - Stern's fat tail kicks in past 2800.

***

> Any PRTP value lower than 0.1% (zero or negative) will not impact the return needed

It's the other way around.

You estimate the return needed, then discount it.

I'm starting to think you are not an investor, Kevin.

***

> you completely dodge that Stern's calculation of this is mathematically unsound - though earlier you had demanded mathematical soundness

Mathematical soundness of *ethical arguments*.

Stern has no ethical argument.

You don't either.

You just keep hammering the table.

Tom said...

Only idiots argue over the worth of a child. Which explains entirely the bulk of this thread.

Argue instead about who you can most effectively help.

If eliminating human-caused climate change removes all the threats a future child will face (or even a good portion), then that is a moral reason to advocate it.

If the money allocated to it could improve the lives of the children of today, it is a moral argument in the other direction.

If the UN is correct and the children of the future will be brought up in richer families, safer environments and with less geo-political risk, we can be forgiven for assuming that children washing up dead on European shores might have a more justified claim on our resources.

If you idiots are correct and the effects of climate change are set to become an extinction level event, the arguments go in another direction.

And hey--even idiots are occasionally correct. Highly doubtful that you are right where the IPCC is wrong, but... even idiots are occasionally correct.

Kevin O'Neill said...

nea - "Mathematical soundness of *ethical arguments*.

Have you forgotten that the value placed on PRTP is an ethical one?

Apparently I need a bigger hammer - or one that improves your memory :)

Of course Stern presents ethical arguments - you just happen not to agree with them. Or his citations aren't part of your lichurchur. Or you're disagreeing with them just for fun. But denying they are there is pointless.


BBD said...

Tom

Argue instead about who you can most effectively help.

Everybody.

If the money allocated to it could improve the lives of the children of today, it is a moral argument in the other direction.

Lomborgian false choice. You really don't have anything else, do you? Except lukewarm bilge, of course.

Tom said...

Idiot BBD, fFor some reason you think 'Lomborgian' is pejorative. It isn't.

Given the projected cost of quick and effective action to mitigate climate change, helping 'everybody' is not an option.

Refusing to make a choice is a choice.

neverendingaudit said...

> Have you forgotten that the value placed on PRTP is an ethical one?

Of course not, hence my request for the ethical argument that leads to PRTP = 0 as the only valid option.

Zuckerberg & Chang don't seem to mind discounting 99% of their fortune. That's a big PRTP. Does it mean it's immoral?

***

> Of course Stern presents ethical arguments [...]

A quote might be nice.


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> Refusing to make a choice is a choice.

The amount money we could allocate to improve the lives of the children of today is insignificant compared to the money we need to allocate to the welfare of all the children of all the tomorrows, and yet our institutions still refuse to make that choice, including those who pay Groundskeeper for his energic patchwriting.

BBD said...

Polymathic Tom

Idiot BBD, fFor some reason you think 'Lomborgian' is pejorative. It isn't.

Given the projected cost of quick and effective action to mitigate climate change, helping 'everybody' is not an option.

Not trying is also not an option.

Refusing to make a choice is a choice.

Refusing to be persuaded by false choice rhetoric is a choice :-)

Tom said...

Ah, weewilliewillard, yes I'm living in lavish splendor on the fact checks organizations far and wide are sending me on a daily basis. What, did you run out of European 19th Century philosophers to misunderstand and misquote? Gotta be allabout da money! (By the way, it's 'energetic' not energic.

But then, when idiots are exposed they naturally reach for the first rock they find on the ground.

neverendingaudit said...

> Gotta be allabout da money!

When the question is how to spend money, you bet it is.

On the one hand, the Lomborg Collective argues we should spend pennies helping the poor instead of spending thousands of dollars tackle AGW, and helping the poor even more.

Auditing false choices is easy when they are allabout da money.

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> (By the way, it's 'energetic' not energic.

To complete that parenthesis, I chose "energic" to distinguish "related to energy" from the more usual "having lots of energy." It may be suboptimal to say that Groundskeeper's lukewarm patchwriting is energetic in the last sense.