Saturday, November 26, 2011

Eli Explains It All Again

From a comment at Bart's

Richard Tol wrote: “under the most ethical frameworks” is a crucial qualification. The imperative for action does not follow from the science, but rather from the ethics. And indeed it is difficult to configure the facts and values such that there would be no climate policy.”
This is revealing. First, since science assigns no value to anything, it cannot provide an imperative for action. That leaves economics and ethics. Since the time frame separating action to ameliorate climate change’s bad effects and the effects themselves if no action is taken is so large, economics is basically useless. That leaves ethics.

Which means that Stern was right and Tol was Tol. The Weasel still don't get it and Eli has to spell it out for him:

Carbon taxes are only justified by moral analysis of the problem.

[No, not at all. CT is justified by std economic theory. I strongly dislike trying to solve this on the basis of morality, because I think it is doomed. We don't have a common morality, there is no basis for a framework -W]

Go read Gardiner on the perfect intergenerational problem. WRT climate change earlier generations impose problems on later ones in a way that only benefits the earlier ones.

Where economics plays a part is finding the lowest cost method of sharing the problems equitably. You have conceded the argument without realising it.

[Certainly, if you're doing an economic analysis you're obliged to balance costs and benefits - there is no other way (rather in the way that physics fundamentally depends on maths). But your description is inaccurate: if the economic analysis showed that the costs of the problems was greater than the good of emissions, the std economic analysis would be to not do the emissions. Asserting that economics merely shares out the problems is completely wrong -W]

Eli is curious about the economic theory of Stoat that justifies the Bunny paying squat all for the benefit of Wm.'s grandchildren. Back to basics. What has posterity ever done for us?


rab said...

I think the root of this disagreement is clear. W: "We don't have a common morality". Eli: "[need to find] the lowest cost method of sharing the problems equitably". Eli implicitly assumes two common morals: Need to solve (for our children), and do so equitably (because no one person is inherently more valuable than another). I agree on both of these. But it is precisely where "right" and "left" part ways.

dhogaza said...

"Need to solve (for our children)"

Once upon a time, Mosher explicitly rejected the notion that we owe future generations anything. I think he's more libertarian than traditional conservative ...


What has posterity ever done for us ?

In a word, Modernity, as in Modern Medicine, The Modern Theory Of Solids, and heaven help us, Postmodernism.

When whatever eminent Victorian raised the question - Mr. Dooley famously attributed it to Abraham Lincoln, Anthony Watt's intellectual ancestors where busy debunking the germ theory of disease and preaching the medical benefits of coal tar. But as the population exploded so did the rate of innovation, with disastrous effect on the reputation of steampink public intellectuals. By 1899 poor Malthus street creed was no better than Paul Ehrlich's in 1999, even though most people had never seen a light bulb.

Insofar as so far un-economic alternative energy sources have been developed more by force of zeal than concern for the bottom line, there is reason to hope more serious ones will emerge from mere scarcity, as the naive drive to extend ones life, and thus see more of what posterity gets up to continues.

The proof? The three sigma correlation between energy consumption and average life span in the present nations of the world


Reflecting on Paul's animated performance here last year , let's let that 'steampink' for 'steampunk' typo stand

EliRabett said...

Russell, that is what the past has done for us, Eli's point being that as we have been helped by past generations, morality (ethics if you prefer) puts an obligation on us.

As to agreement on common morals, other that sea slugs and objectivists (but Eli repeats himself) RT has put it well "it is difficult to configure the facts and values such that there would be no climate policy"

EliRabett said...

AFAER Paul Erlich never dropped by??


Sorry Eli- I was referring to the here here, near where Chomsky keeps his power boat.

David B. Benson said...

Posterity is written into the preamble of the US Consitution.

carrot eater said...

Posterity? I thought bunnies were immortal.

DrTskoul said...

Ethics and morality is a gene encoded / conscious expressed / subconscious interpreted maximization of the local common good. It is seen in many higher primates and it is hypothesized for other mammals too.

With that it is possible to formulate a optimization problem for the common good that is solely expressed in economical terms as long as proper values are assigned to the cost of a global warming unit and the prosperity of the next generations expressed in simple darwinian terms (survival of the lineage - which is encoded in all living things)

But then again, i've already been told to get rid of any expired meds.... Oh well....

Jeffrey Davis said...

I read in the last year a theory that there are 2 foundations of morality. One is founded in universality: the Good applies equally to all. The second is founded in the gens, the tribe, etc. God's Chosen People. Submit or die. You can only enter Heaven by faith in Christ.

The only way to understand current Republican behavior is that it's a never ending string of tests to guarantee that you are one of us. The affirmation of torture. The destruction of the environment and the economy. "If you are really one of us, you will believe."

EliRabett said...

Yes, but we are easily bored.

Magnus said...

Well economics is based on morals to... so it rather is who got it right? Dose economics cover it all? (no) ....

Anonymous said...

"[Certainly, if you're doing an economic analysis you're obliged to balance costs and benefits - there is no other way....]

Here's another way: externalize the costs.

- Pete Dunkelberg

Anonymous said...

Eli: "Where economics plays a part is finding the lowest cost method of sharing the problems equitably."

How about finding the most profitable way after admitting the costs (coal & oil subsidies, climate disruption, health , environment, national security) of burning carbon and considering alternatives (lower costs of other energy as the whole process including large scale manufacturing (electric cars etc) installation becomes a normal practice, feed in tariffs ...

Pete Dunkelberg

Hank Roberts said...

> the economic theory of Stoat that justifies the Bunny paying squat
He did put up a tip jar a while back, though I don't see it now.

ScruffyDan said...

Seems a good time to bring up that Sam Harris video from TED

Jeffrey Davis said...

What's dismal about AGW is that the moment the consequences are unmistakable is a moment long after it will be possible to mitigate. Consulting Economics here would be like trying to gauge the right moment to pull a rip cord on a parachute when you're blindfolded.

Anonymous said...

"To each his own"
-- by Horatio Algeranon

Ideology sets the path,
Economics provides the math
And Ethics makes the excuse
For next generation abuse.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

Eli, I am guessing you are an atheist. I am a Catholic and I go to church. I think you should too but it's not my business.

I think global warming is fake, you think it's real. Send money to the government, drive a Prius and eat your food off of bamboo planks if you like, just don't force your opinions on me. We're both looking at the same data but have done different analysis', deal with it.

It's quite humorous, liberals will fight viciously for a woman's right to abortion but on all other issues government knows best.

J Bowers said...

Abortion is legal. Kidnapping, stalking, assaulting, attempting to murder, and murdering staff of abortion clinics, aka single-issue terrorism, is illegal. Looks like gummint knows best.

EliRabett said...

Dear Jay,

No free riders.


Anonymous said...

Fake 'n Bake
...'n I helped
-- by Horatio Algeranon

You think global warming is real
But I know that it's fake
Fake thermometers, that's the deal
Fake climate scientists on the take

Fake science papers in fake publications
Fake academic and Celsius degrees
Fake reports for public relations
Fake bachelors, masters and PhD's.

Fake IR absorption by CO2
Fake Mauna Loa Keeling Curve
Fake effect of the greenhouse too
It's all a fake, as we observe.

Fake arctic sea-ice and glacier retreat
Fake cooling of the stratosphere
It's "Fake 'n Bake" and I repeat
The whole thing's FAKE!! That much is clear

John said...

It's a famous quote: "Why should I do anything for posterity? What has posterity ever done for me?"

But who said it?

Eli attributes the quote to Sir Boyle Roche.

When I was a child, I heard it attributed to Winston Churchill.

Others have attributed the quote to
- the economist Robert Heilbroner (author of The World Philosophers),
- to Joseph Addison (English poet, playwright, and essayist in the late 17th/early 18th century)
- or to Groucho Marx (why not?).

Horatio Algeranon said...

Horatio thought it was Joan Rivers who said it

...or maybe that was "posteriority"?