Monday, May 26, 2014

Lomborg Screws the Poors

In an amusing way, when thinking of two things, bunnies are likely to run across something illuminating  about one when net doodling the other.  Today the one is the Lomborgian, "don't do anything about climate change because of the poors" a position adopted by the Bengtsson
Dreams of better worlds have always existed. I remember all the images from long ago at the happy Big Rock Candy Mountain where the cigarettes grow on trees. There were dreams that many poor had in 1700s Germany. That many poor people today in the 3de world can have similar dreams, I can understand, but on the other hand  I have a hard time understanding dreams of a worse life and a worse world. For me that is rather perverse and contributes to my extremely negative perception of the green-red ideology. (translation w. help from RayP)
Eli has mentioned before there are many reasons for, well, being skeptical about whether this argument is, shall the Rabett say, an argument from convenience, but it has many problems on moral grounds.  Stephen Gardiner points out there are issues
The first is the threat of a false dichotomy. Arguments from opportunity cost crucially rely on the idea that if a given project is chosen, then that choice forecloses some other option. But this is not the case in Lomborg's version. Helping the poor and mitigating climate change are not obviously mutually exclusive. . .

Second it is not clear even that the two projects are independent of each other, in the sense that they are fully separable opportunities rather than necessarily linked and perhaps mutually supporting policies. . . .

Third, it is not clear that the opportunity that Lomborg wants to emphasize is really available.
After all, the poors have always been with us, and there is no evidence that rich countries will step in to eliminate poverty (or, as Gardiner points out to mitigate climate change). To Gardiner and Eli this looks a lot like the first step in a "bait and switch" strategy.  Bengtsson and Lomborg are arguing that climate change is a concern of the well off who are morally obligated to do something that would really help the poors, but, as it turns out Gardiner hit the nail on the second point.  Not mitigating climate change screws the poors. 

It is here that Eli's pursuit of Tol's demon provided illumination.  The Rabett was re-reading Tol (2009), and in particular Table 1, the one where all the mistakes are.  The big one is obvious, Plambeck and Hope, and was pointed out in the comments by Julie Nelson in 2009 but she merely noted that +2.5% was from a study that the Stern review was based on and it contradicts the Stern review so something was fishy.  Eli, simple bunny that he is, only asks how can the net impact be +2.5% GDP when all the regional impacts range between -0.5 and -11.4?  Even Dickie and his Demon should have spotted that through his GWPF blinkers.

Setting aside for another post the Bob Ward issue about where some of the numbers come from, or how they were calculated by R. Tol, or where the calculations are hidden, what screeches out is that the developing countries, particularly Latin America, South Asia and Africa get hammered by climate change.

Tol himself brings this home in his 2011 position paper for Lomborg's Copenhagen Consensus on Human Challenges,

Climate change threatens the developing world more than the developed world according to every economic model and remember in many ways FUND is the most optimistic of the integrated assessment models.  Were Eli to believe FUND, or DICE or PAGES it is not only the Pacific islands or Bangladesh that need worry, but the almost every third world, or developing country and seriously so.  Read Tol's map bunnies, the Copenhagen Consensus, Lomborg, Tol and Bengtsson are advocating policies (screw mitigating climate change, help the poors with other things) that screw the poors and help the rich.

Eli understands that the Richard and Roger Sr show will be featured at a US House of Representatives hearing in the coming week.  Perhaps someone could show him a map?  A clue might also be useful.


Anonymous said...

Probably the best way to help Africa is build them coal fired generation plants.

corey said...

Tol troll.

It's astonishing how often the same few clowns are called upon by the GOP to provide 'balance' at such hearings. How can one not be cynical about the future?

Anonymous said...

corey, actually it is simple. The amount of clowns is quite limited. There is not much to choose from. Saulius

Lars Karlsson said...

Of course, the poor are not the ones emitting the most CO2.

The argument can be rephrased as follows in order to highlight its inherent absurdity:

"People in rich countries (i.e. we) should not reduce our fossil fuel consumption because that would hurt people in poor countries."

Thomas said...

I think you are unfair to Bengtsson here. He doesn't say anything resembling "don't do anything about climate change because of the poors". He is complaining about how the green movement is dreaming of a world that, in his opinion, is worse than today's.

The part about poor dreaming about getting a better life is sort of disconnected from the surrounding discussion and there is no indication here that he opposes such dreams.

OTOH on other places on the same blog he does show a tendency to only consider how climate change will affect Sweden. He looks at it from a Swedish perspective and wonders why we should do more than other industrialized countries (our CO2-emissions are already rather low) when Sweden is unlikely to be hit hard by climate change, helped by him being convinced climate sensitivity is low.

Lars Karlsson said...

Byt the way, its Stephen Gardiner.

corey said...

I can appreciate that, but in my corner of the world it seems that the likes of Curry and Lindzen are as well known as Mann (for example), and probably trusted more. At this point we largely have to rely on Executive Orders for positive climate action in the US, and that may well end after 2016.

Although fewer in number, the clowns continue to control the discussion.

EliRabett said...

Thanks. Been posting about Stephen Gardiner for years, and then. .

EliRabett said...

Coal generating plants in Africa make about as much sense as Richad Tol and Bjorn Lomborg in a sandwich. Ethon tells Eli it tastes a bit grittier tho. Getting power from a generating plant to a village or industrial estate, let alone getting the coal to the plant requires a distribution network and the history of same in places like Africa, Iraq, Pakistan, etc. is not good. You could do it in South Africa and maybe Morocco, but elsewhere, 20 hour outages every day.

It's Mother Bell vs. Cell, and in places like the third world, Cell wins every time, which means that wind and solar will be both better and more reliable for generating power because once installed they are less reliant on infrastructure.

Hank Roberts said...

well, we can guess who funds 'anonymous':
Why are the Koch brothers opposing solar energy?

(links in the original from which the excerpt below is taken)
.... they are also targeting "net metering" which is the law allowing a homeowner who owns a rooftop solar unit to sell excess power back to the utility.

Please read that again. The Koch brothers do not want you selling your excess power to the market. Their beef is with filling energy markets with millions of little-guy producers. Their "institute" proclaims that its aim is to "preserve the public utility power company concept" -- a state mandated monopoly system in which single companies control all access to energy. Some enterprise capitalists! Some libertarians! (Read in the New York Times: Koch Attack on Solar Energy.)

But let's dig deeper to the heart of it. WHY are the Kochs (and their Saudi partners) doing this right now?

Because solar energy is taking off. Because the efficiency and durability of photovoltaics have been skyrocketing, in part because we had the wisdom to use some mild incentives to boost an important new industry, the way the U.S. Postal contracts stimulated air travel, in the 1920s, or public roads spurred the rise of the automobile.

Only with this difference: renewable energy systems are improving far faster than airplanes or automobiles did, in their nascent days! And more spectacular tech advances loom on the horizon, that the Kochs can see coming fast.

citizen-solar-powerDig it well. They would not be doing this if renewables weren't taking off and a looming threat to the brothers' bottom line. Millions of autonomous citizens, generating and selling their own power is no longer a sci fi pipe dream. It is coming true fast…

...and parasitic dinosaurs are bellowing.

Anonymous said...

It's pretty obvious that economic development goes hand in hand with declining birth rates. Therefore, fostering economic development in Africa, beyond the moral justification for improving life and reducing suffering, should also be a prime environmental priority.

Some things we've tried ( direct aid to countries which wound up building dictator palaces ) have obviously failed. There are indicators of independent growth. Free trade agreements would probably be most helpful.

andrew adams said...

The notion of AGW as some kind of Western conceit which rich countries are trying to force on developing ones is one I've often seen pushed by the contrarians, and it's so vacuous and dishonest it's just embarrassing. I mean anyone who has even a vague passing acquaintance with what has gone on at the international negotiations at Copenhagen, Cancun, Durban etc. would know that developing countries are entirely aware of the threat which AGW poses to the wellbeing of their people and support action to prevent it. They just, entirely understandably, expect those largely responsible for the problem to help them play their part without damaging the interests of their people.

Frankly, the "CAGW alarmist want to hurt teh poors" brigade are full of sh*t and don't give a toss about the poor.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

I must say that I absolutely love all the folks who are absolutely sure they know what is best for developing countries without having ever actually set foot in a developing country.

Do you think the poor are ignorant of how climate change is affecting them? Do you think they don't see through you like water?

I've seen development aid work. I've seen it fail. With my own eyes. Until you can say that, please spare us your deep feelings for the poor.

Anonymous said...

Stephen gardiner is a wonderful moral philosopher. He has also written intelligently about the problematic moral status of climate engineering, especially the essay on the flaws in the "arming the future" argument. We'll worth reading.

By the way, neither my translation nor lennarts original said anything about cigarettes, though the song, of course, does.


EliRabett said...

The song does, and Eli took poetic license. Big Rock Candy Mountain was right on for Schlaraffenland

John Mashey said...

See Lomborge and Playing the Long Game, about the tactics of Lomborg's Cool It!.

Think who this message is intended to appeal to or at least confuse.

Bernard J. said...

"...and parasitic dinosaurs are bellowing."

They are indeed.

"I must say that I absolutely love all the folks who are absolutely sure they know what is best for developing countries without having ever actually set foot in a developing country. "

I was fortunate, when having Earthwatch volunteers helping with my fieldwork, to have a village chief from a "Third World" country assist us for two weeks. His was a traditional indigenous village where the old ways still held sway, and he was amazed and amused to work with a taxon that was taboo amongst his people. He was also a very wise man, and full of an understanding of the environment that even my most hoary old colleagues lack.

He came to work with us because his forest home was being destroyed by timber getters and palm oil planters. His philosophy was that the only was to try to protect his home against Western technology was to understand Western approaches to conservation, and hence his sponsorship to participate in our project.

He was adamant about several points:

1) His people did not want Western (or local, Western-influenced) governments or multinational corporations telling them what was best for them.

2) His people did not want a Western lifestyle. They lived very contentedly as they were, and although their lives were 'harder' they valued their hardship for the benefits that he felt completely escaped Westrerners.

3) The removal of their land and the pressure to repatriate was theft, and invasion/war by subterfuge. The destruction of their forest brought not only pain in the loss of their home, but in the loss of a part of themselves and of the beings that lived in the forest - for these indigenous peoples there was no clear distinction between themselves and their forest.

This man was the funniest, most joyful, and most generous man I have ever met. He was diminutive, but worked harder than the strongest and most experienced of my colleagues. He was warm, and embraced me as a brother. And he was sad in a way that cannot be described until one actually lives with and talks to a people whose home and whose world is being stolen from them through no fault of their own, by rich people seeking to become richer, on behalf of self-indulgent people who wish to live more self-indulgently. All he wanted from us was for us to understand that he wanted his home, his people, and his culture to be given their right to exist.

Yes, there is poverty in the world, but much of it is a product of inequity caused by Western political and economic practices. Patronising bastards like Lomborg and Dickie need to pull their heads from their arses and understand that they are greasing the wheels of a machine that is chewing up and spitting out something that they simply do not have the ledger columns or glossary terms to describe, let alone understand - it is not making the world a better place for indigenous peoples.

Pretending to hold concern for "the poors" whilst promoting practices that destroy their world is an indescribable moral offence, and my chief friend would have blessed them with a stare and a gentle rebuke that would have seen their testicles drop off and run for the nearest hole in which to wither to shadowy husks of manhood.

John MAshey said...

Some arguments are designed to appeal to people who could care less about the poor.

Other arguments are designed for the above to repeat in order to confuse people who might actually care.

Lomborg's Cooll It! confused some generally savvy people around here until they looked a lot harder at what was going on.

Anonymous said...

A few months ago I read Tol's paper (before he corrected it) and noted that developing countries would suffer for all temperatures rises!.

If Lomborg and Tol feel so strongly they should be advocating a 2-for-1 strategy: for every coal-burning power station opened in the developing world, two should close in the developed world. Or whatever is fair to the poor, and to the planet.


J Bowers said...

Speaking of net doodling.

Elevated indoor carbon dioxide impairs decision-making performance

EliRabett said...

Especially inside large beer kegs at breweries. People have died from it.

Susan Anderson said...

From a selfish POV, the world is a much better place because it includes Rabett and most of the above. It makes it a mite painful what we are doing with it.

Bernard J, particular thanks for the story.

Yours heartwarmed ...

Anonymous said...

Hey - what erroneous assumptions is that map based on?

Anonymous said...

I doubt the Plambeck and Hope result that Eli quotes had much (if any) impact on Tol's conclusions because it was for 2.5C of warming, for which even Tol's own analysis indicates significant negative economic impact.

Even before Tol's "correction", the fitted curve and all the data points on which it was based indicated <~0 impact at 2.5C.
One point is just barely positive, but certainly nowhere near 2.5%.

In otherwords, Eli's point about the Plambeck and Hope entry in the table, while accurate, is really quite meaningless for the standpoint of the "Tol debate"

The Old Man is back said...

side note. For a lot of continental (non-coastal) Africa, wind is a no-go because there isn't on average, enough of it. Same goes for large parts of other developing regions.
Where it does work, for example Pakistan,or Nigeria, it comes up against vested interests which don't want their disenfranchised to get access to distributed energy because it will help to enfranchise them. In other words, renewables can be politically locally problematic.
But I would insist that local aidd can work - my company funded a well project in Ghana (relatively inexpensive, produced local employment) which has resulted in access to clean water for nearly 1000 people. I would be more concerned with large scale (state scale) aid programmes, because they are too open to mismanagement, corruption and profiteering, besides which, they often harm the locals more than they benefit the 'state'.

The Old Man is back said...

Second thought:
There is a presumption implicit here and elsewhere that providing energy will provide wealth, and that nothing else will work in quite the same way. This may be a questionable hypothesis.
Ref. climate change, a small point: with the WAIS etc., some places will simply cease to exist meaningfully, like Bangladesh. Some of the 150 million affected locals may stay around to sink with their fields. Most will not; they will go somewhere else. Ditto, other climate-change affected areas, and other phenomena, drought, flooding, etc...
This is why CC is a Global issue and not a local or regional one.

Anonymous said...

Very low tech 'Human powered" is sometimes the best solution.

Martin Fisher's designs have been successful in no small part because he actually asks the people who will use them what they want and need.
Imagine that.


it should be said in Mr. Gore's defense that lead-zinc mining on his family estatesbegan only after attempts at rock candy tobacco cultivation failed. Still, one never knows what synthetic biology can accomplish until it tries.

EliRabett said...

Anon 8.37, please take a number.

The reason the range is important is that even a Rabett looking at the numbers could tell that something was fishy. Also, it was the only positive number of any magnitude similar to Tol 2002. Without that the Tol 2002 becomes an obvious outlier.

Go read andrew gelman

Bernard J. said...

Susan Anderson.

Yes, it was one of the most heart-warming and simultaneously one of the most heart-breaking fortnights of my life. Sadly I suspect that there was not a good outcome back in his home country...

Prof Dr Rabbett, if I could beg an indulgence what was the URL of the site that you used a couple of years ago to do those clunky animations with the synthesised voices? UTFSE doesn't seem to be working for me...

Anonymous said...

"it was the only positive number of any magnitude similar to Tol 2002. Without that the Tol 2002 becomes an obvious outlier."

Tol 2002 was for 1 C of warming. As I pointed out above, even Tol found significant negative impact at 2.5C.

Go read the above table, Eli.

"The reason the range is important is that even a Rabett looking at the numbers could tell that something was fishy.'

So why didn't the Rabett read it before?

EliRabett said...

Tol (2002), as Andrew Gelman points out, bent the curve. Also see Rabett.

So no, Tol's inclusion of Tol 2002 was consequential and, pace Gelman and Rabett, stupid.

EliRabett said...

Anon 5 12. Eli has better things to do than proofread a bag of wind. . . Wait

EliRabett said...

Bernard J. Xtranormal

Anonymous said...

"Tol's inclusion of Tol 2002 was consequential and, pace Gelman and Rabett, stupid."

No disagreement there, but a straw man with regard to my comments above.

Mal Adapted said...

Unnumbered Anonymous,

The trouble with the plain "Anonymous" handle is that it's hard to know which Anonymous is which. "You" (the Anonymous I'm addressing) don't seem to be here just to disrupt, and we'd like to know which comments are yours and which are by some other Anonymous, who may be commenting with a different object than yours.

On Eli's site, it's easy to register a pseudonym that identifies your posts as your own. Failing that, you could at least undersign your comments with a 'nym or even just a number, as our Anonymous Troll '1' was persuaded to do.

willard said...

Andrew Adams is mad as hell and won't take it anymore.

Contrarians may not like this.


If all your HotfxEarnings are belong to us, is including the inferior potassium?

Canman said...

Lomberg sounds perfectly reasonable to me. There is no getting around the fact that cutting CO2 is going to put a burden on poorer people in the short run. This doesn't mean that it's not worth doing. Lomborg argues that actions should be scrutinized carefully -- eminently sensible.

Thomas Lee Elifritz said...

perfectly reasonable, eminently sensible

The siren calls of the anti-science deniers. Credentials will be next. Awards will be sure to follow.

Anonymous said...

Lomborg learned (the hard way) to couch his ideology in reasonable sounding bite-sized pieces for the public.

The overwhelming criticism by scientists of his demonstrably false claims in Skeptical Environmentalist left him with the choice: either stop peddling his BS outright or become much more stealthy and harder to pin down and disprove.

he chose the latter, for obvious reasons: so he would keep getting schmoozed by politicians and the press.