Do We Owe Future Generations Anything?

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Over at the environmenatist webzine Grist ("gloom and doom with a sense of humor"*) Bill Becker argues:

Intergenerational ethics argue against us leaving massive, intractable problems for future generations, forcing them to deal in perpetuity with nuclear wastes, carbon sequestration sites and geo-engineering systems — all subject to human error and to failures that would be deadly.

Really? Perhaps intergenerational ethics tells us that poor people (us) should not sacrfice their livelihoods, health and welfare for rich people (future generations). Reducing current incomes will certainly be deadly for some people now alive. 

Should people making an average of $7000 per year be forced to lower their incomes in order to boost the incomes of future generations that some scenarios project will have incomes in 2100 over $107,000 per capita in developed countries and over $66,000 in developing countries? Also keep in mind that not only will future generations be much richer, they will have access to better technologies with which to address any problems caused by man-made climate change, nuclear waste and geo-engineering projects. 

As bioethicists are always fond of saying, I'm just asking questions here.  

*Humor? Not so much.

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  1. are the estimates for future income in today’s dollars? do they account for inflation?

  2. It’s sloppy reasoning to assume that the costs will be borne equally among people alive today, but that’s what the observation about the median income does.

    Americans who generate a great deal of carbon because of their wealth (in a relative global sense) will pay far more of a carbon tax that low-carbon-producing people in Africa.

    At the same time, the costs associated with global warming (which don’t seem to have entered into this calculation, hmmm) can be counted on to fall, as with all environmetnal harms, on the poorest people.

    Median figures are good for a lot of things, but you have to be careful how they’re applied.

  3. Excuse me, that’s my False Dichotomy Detector beeping.

  4. “Americans who generate a great deal of carbon because of their wealth (in a relative global sense) will pay far more of a carbon tax that low-carbon-producing people in Africa.”

    Joe, that is sloppy reasoning. It assumes that money means the same to everyone. Paying a few hundred or a thousand dollars a year in carbon tax isn’t much to an American whose average income is $30,000 a year. Paying $50 a year in carbon taxes is a hell of a lot to someone making $2 a day, a circumstance that describes most of Africa.

    Basically the West can afford to indulge your superstitions about global warming. Africa really can’t.

  5. At the same time, the costs associated with global warming (which don’t seem to have entered into this calculation, hmmm) can be counted on to fall, as with all environmetnal harms, on the poorest people.

    Cost calculations plz.

  6. Where’s your sense of humor, Ron? Surely we can solve all the world’s problems, in perpetuity, exempt from human error. It doesn’t sound so hard! And if you can’t do it, Al Gore can!

  7. This post lacks a disclaimer, Ron. It can’t be trusted.

  8. Where’s your sense of humor, Ron? Surely we can solve all the world’s problems, in perpetuity, exempt from human error. It doesn’t sound so hard! And if you can’t do it, Al Gore can!

    We just have to work together to make the world a better place!
    The power is ours!

  9. *sings*
    Heal the world
    Make it a better place
    For you and for me
    and the entire human race

    There are.. people dying
    if you care enough for the living
    make a better place
    for you and for me
    */sings*

  10. “At the same time, the costs associated with global warming (which don’t seem to have entered into this calculation, hmmm) can be counted on to fall, as with all environmetnal harms, on the poorest people.”

    There nothing obvious at all about that. In fact evironmental costs often fall less proportionately on the poor. For example, if you build a big polluting factory in place of a nice pristine forest, the poor benefit from the jobs and the cheap good created by the factory. It is the wealthy and middle class who bear the cost in the lost greenspace. Yes, everyone suffers from the pollution, but the poor benifit more from the growth. Given a choice between being a subsistance farmer or working in the factory and putting up with the pollution but doubling my wages, I will take the factory. If I am already well off, I vote for the greenspace.

  11. For some cost calculations take a look at Yale economist William Nordhaus’ deconstruction of the Stern Review. See also some of my calculations here.

  12. I know, why don’t we address the problems of global warming and make ourselves richer by transforming the economy and opening up new markets.

    That way, we’ll be richer, future generations will be even richer still, and the environment will benefit.

  13. John,

    1. People who describe science as superstition aren’t going win a lot of converts among those who respect science. If you can’t even discuss a scientific subject without lapsing into imitations of the creationists, please don’t.

    2. Those poor people in Africa (or, say, the South Pacific) are also less able to afford the effects of climate change, such as disappearing islands, more storm activity, and changing growing patterns.

    3. The effect of a carbon tax (or other efforts) will be to spur the generation of technologies to replace carbon-intensive forms of energy, which (in a world with ever-greater demand for energy) would be a great boon to poor areas now depending on increases in the consuption of fossil fuels to spur their development.

  14. Neu Meijican: Do you subscribe to the “broken windows theory” of prosperity? Run around an break of all of the windows in buildings and then we’ll all get rich and have more jobs by replacing them.

  15. You know what? I’m not going to bother to explain that environmental costs always fall harder on the poor.

    If you consider this a controversial statement, you’re not even trying to approach the question in a fair-minded mannder.

  16. Ron,

    You make the same point I do; if you are one of the world’s really poor people and are given the choice of getting out of poverty but having to deal with a higher tempature or staying in poverty and keeping the climate where it is, you are going to take getting out of poverty every time. Further, you have to discount the benefits of a stable climate against the considerable risk that the science is wrong or that some other non man made cause like an asteroid or solar activity or volcanos won’t change the climate anyway.

  17. Developing new sources of energy = breaking windows?

  18. Windows are being broken right now. Climate change is breaking them..

    The question is about paying a cost to stop or reduce that.

  19. joe,

    No, developing new sources of energy = making new windows.

    Its an easy analogy, dont be dense. Im going to do like you do and accuse you of being intentionally dense.

  20. “You know what? I’m not going to bother to explain that environmental costs always fall harder on the poor.”

    Translation: I don’t really have an answer to your point but I have always been told this is true and will believe regardless of reasoning presented to the contrary.

    The costs of poverty and lack of economic growth really fall disproportionately on the poor. Basically you are telling the poor of the world to stay that way because trust us if they got wealthy it would be even worse for them because “the evnironmental costs always fall disproportionately on the poor”. Has it ever occured to you that it may be that the beneifits of carbon based growth outweigh whatever the environmental costs associated with it are?

  21. joe,

    Windows are being broken right now. Climate change is breaking them..

    People claim this is happening. Whether it is true or not has yet to be seen.

  22. See also some of my calculations *here*.

    Come on, Bailey, I can’t be fooled that easily. I know if I click on that link I will be hypnotized by a revolving, pulsating virtual pocket watch, and brainwashed into buying Hummer on a ten year loan.

  23. robc,

    I’m not being dense; Bailey is. I was noting his statement to N.M. amounted to the assertion that investing in new technologies to 1) solve an expensive problem by 2) developing new energy sources is “breaking windows.”

    Glad I could clear that up for you.

    If it’s any consolation, I don’t think your density here is deliberate.

  24. John,

    The greater concentration of environmental harms in poor communities is widely understood and documented. I’m not interested in bringing your ass up to speed.

  25. What good is being rich in the future if everybody’s dead? I don’t really ascribe to the doom-and-gloom as much as other people, but let’s at least characterize their argument properly (i.e., “intractable” and “deadly” problems).

  26. Has it ever occured to you that it may be that the beneifits of carbon based growth outweigh whatever the environmental costs associated with it are?

    Has it occured to you that allowing the same growth to occur without the environmental demage of climate change would be even more beneficial?

    You want poor people in Africa to pay the cost of global warming in exchange for their economic development, while I want richer people to pay the cost of avoiding climate change.

  27. joe,

    No, you claimed that new tech = breaking windows when Bailey was clearing claiming that replacing current tech = breaking windows.

    The question wasnt about whether the tech needs to be replaced, NM claimed that creating new tech would help the economy. Whether it needs to be replaced or not, the act of replacing the one with the other is a cost not a gain.

  28. People claim this is happening.

    Don’t take advice on democracy, or on solving climate change, from people who don’t believe in it.

  29. joe is right that environmental problems hurt the poor worse. But that’s only because every problem is worse for the poor. Poverty is like the opposite of MSG–it makes everything taste worse.

    The question presented by Ron Bailey is whether we should transfer problems to today’s poor in order to spare a potential problem to tomorrow’s unborn.

    I say screw posterity, what’s it ever done for me?

  30. I own one-third of Zimbekania. My mines and farms already supply sufficient economic opportunity for these people. We need to protect the other two thirds of Zimbekania from further development.

    1) We all know the poor will suffer the most from any further development in Zimbekania.

    2)This planet really can’t afford for the existing 80 million inhabitants of Zimbekania to become beef eaters, it would be a environmental disaster. It is that these continue the Gaia friendly eating habits of consuming wholesome legumes and bacteria enriched water.

    3)Trust me, me and my family have been helping the good people of Zimbekania for decades, see the long history of philanthropy my good family has been involved in.

  31. We have no idea what the future holds or how are actions will effect it. We have no real clue what the real problems facing future generations will be. If you went back 50 or 100 years and asked people living then what the biggest problems facing the world in 2007 would be, no one would have said, radical Islam and global warming. Yet, those two things would rightly or wrongly get a lot of votes today.

    There is one thing we do know, however. Whatever the problems faced by future generations are, those generations will be better able to deal with those problems the wealthier they are. The best thing we could do for future generations is leave them as much wealth as possible.

  32. joe,

    Dont take advice on democracy, or climate change, on people who believe in it.

    Belief is bad way of doing things.

  33. I’m not being dense; Bailey is. I was noting his statement to N.M. amounted to the assertion that investing in new technologies to 1) solve an expensive problem by 2) developing new energy sources is “breaking windows.”

    Actually, the breaking windows part is the part where you heavily tax the existing technologies.

    If we crushed all cars that burn gasoline, it might spur the construction of cars that burn hydrogen. But it would definitely be “breaking windows”.

    I’m not saying I support this argument against a carbon tax – I’m merely pointing out grudgingly that the “broken windows” metaphor can in fact be employed against the claim that subsidizing or requiring the use of new technologies will contribute to economic growth.

  34. No, robc, I didn’t. I explained my statement, and I’m pretty sure I have a better idea of what I was saying than you.

    BTW, do you know what one of these – ? – is?

    There was one at the end of the sentence you misunderstood.

    Whether it needs to be replaced or not, the act of replacing the one with the other is a cost not a gain.

    The broken window fallacy, dear Robert, is about BREAKING WINDOWS – ie, introducing a cost where none previously existed, for the purpose of creating the economic activity necessary to replace them. There is no one suggesting that we “break windows” in this scenario, but respond to (as opposed to creating) a cost. The windows are already broken, and Bailey is incorrect to suggest that N.M. is proposing to break, rather than repair, them.

  35. “Has it occured to you that allowing the same growth to occur without the environmental demage of climate change would be even more beneficial?”

    No Joe it hasn’t because that is not how it works. The third world cannot grow in isolation. The way that it grows is for it to get access to first world markets and capital. Tax those markets and capital away in the name of global warming and there is nothing to get access to. Growth is not a zero sum game. In an environment of free markets, first world growth lifts all boats and also sinks all boats after people like you destroy their economies.

  36. I tried to sue past generations for wiping out all the Wooly Mammoths.

    Turns out they are judgment proof.

  37. joe,

    The windows arent broke. They function just fine. They may not be the prettiest windows in the world and we might want to replace them at some time. But government goons sledge hammering them in the middle of the night isnt the way to do it.

    Fluffy’s post is dead on. We may need to replace the windows, but lets not pretend it will help the economy (like NM did).

  38. I’m pretty sure that the global carbon tax pushers don’t give a damn about burdening out future generations. If they did you’d hear these FDR worshipping schemers talking about the 74 trillion dollars in off-balance sheet debt that they are planning on making our kids pay through higher taxes.

  39. Belief is bad way of doing things. Good advice, robc. Always best to stick with the science.

    Fluffy,

    I disagree. A carbon tax (for example) wouldn’t be breaking windows. It would be the collection of window-repair money from those already breaking the windows.

    That cost is already there. It’s just a question of who’s going to pay it.

    By discouraging net-loss activity and redirecting it into areas that would generate fewer harms, such a cost-restructuring would be an economic boon.

  40. Why should I care about posterity? What’s posterity ever done for me?
    –Groucho Marx

    Intergenerational ethics has already given me Medicare and Social Security. Is it necessary I subsidize generations unborn, too?

  41. “Investing” in new sources of energy will create jobs, don’t you understand?! Jobs! “Good” jobs!

  42. Don’t take advice on anything from people who think they know, absolutely, what will happen in 50 years.

  43. joe,

    Good advice, robc.

    I assume that means we will never see another of your stupid “Dont ask advice on democracry from people who dont believe in it” posts again.

  44. To answer the question, yes I do. At least to the children I decided to bring into this world.

  45. Don’t take advice on anything from people who think they know, absolutely, what will happen in 50 years.

    We’ll have solar powered flying cars, which we will never use because everything will be virtual and we’ll never need to leave our houses!

  46. Episiarch,

    Don’t take advice on anything from people who think they know, absolutely, what will happen in 50 years seconds.

    Fixed.

  47. Let me know when humanity has perfected the art of fortune-telling. As it stands, such an exercise is the province of flim-flam artists, their gullible victims, and people with too much time on their hands (or government grants).

  48. We’ll have solar powered flying cars, which we will never use because everything will be virtual and we’ll never need to leave our houses!

    Listen, McFly…hey, is that an almanac you have there?

  49. Well, robc, if you juse assume away the costs of global warming like that, then spending any money to “fix” windows that aren’t broken or discourage additional window-breaking is, of course, a bad investment.

    John,

    Seen oil prices lately? You’re stuck in this static vision of the economy, where the introduction of new energy technologies doesn’t help the global economy, and oil-based growth will realistically be available to developing countries.

    You don’t get how it helps Africa is Americans pay the cost of allowing Africans to avoid bidding wars with the Chines and Indians over a shrinking pool of oil?

  50. Fluffy’s post is dead on. We may need to replace the windows, but lets not pretend it will help the economy (like NM did).

    It might. Who knows.

    “Investing” in new sources of energy will create jobs, don’t you understand?! Jobs! “Good” jobs!

    Investing in new technologies is like R & D in any other industry. It DOES have the potential to make everyone involved in it a profit. And it can create jobs if it catches on.

    I don’t understand what the anti-warming crowd is implying…that somehow taxing polluters is bad or unfair?? And investing in/researching alternative energy/green technology and stupid and futile and will only harm the economy?

  51. robc,

    I assume that means we will never see another of your stupid “Dont ask advice on democracry from people who dont believe in it” posts again.

    Democracy is a value. You’re supposed to believe in values.

    Maybe that’s your problem. Now, how about trying to accomplish something other than starting a pissing match with me? That would be novel.

  52. It seems a little weird to say that we oppose externalities because we shouldn’t put the burden of our choices on our neighbor’s, but we appear to be OK placing those burdens on the neighbor’s great grandchildren.

  53. To answer the question, yes I do. At least to the children I decided to bring into this world.

    I’ll second this.

    I believe we do owe our future generations quite a bit when it comes to leaving the earth as an inhabitable and good place to live. I believe we do have an obligation to try not to trash the place in the relatively few years of life in a generation. Absolutely

  54. Actually, insofar as Mr. Bailey may be read to have misunderstood N.M.’s comments and thus relied incorrectly on the broken window metaphor it may be more a case of suggesting that the ‘solution’ N.M. is advocating is to a possibly imaginary problem — replacing unbroken windows, as it were, rather like I personally suspect much money was spent ‘fixing’ Y2K.

    But this still doesn’t go to the heart of the question Mr. Bailey posed (and, BTW, I hinted at yesterday), which is why any poor people anywhere should pay or even contribute toward paying now to fix global warming if, indeed, future generations will be richer and have better technology available to fix it. If we are averting the end of the world, well, that’s one thing. But if all we are doing is figuring out which would be cheaper and who can more easily and affordably fix a non-doomsday event, then the question is quite real.

  55. ChicagoTom,

    And investing in/researching alternative energy/green technology and stupid and futile and will only harm the economy?

    If you assume that there are no costs to environmental harm or benefits to avoiding it, then yes, such investments are stupid and futile.

    Hence, the uncharacteristic confidence in the unknowability of the effect of greenhouse gasses on the climate; such a thing is necessary in order to reach the proper conclusion.

  56. Neu Meijican: Do you subscribe to the “broken windows theory” of prosperity? Run around an break of all of the windows in buildings and then we’ll all get rich and have more jobs by replacing them.

    No.

  57. N.M. is advocating is to a possibly imaginary problem — replacing unbroken windows, as it were, rather like I personally suspect much money was spent ‘fixing’ Y2K.

    Or maybe he was implying that we should invest in “upgrading”…kind of like electronics.

    Sure many of the electronics we have work just fine. But that doesn’t mean we should stop looking for the next great new feature. Many people don’t upgrade out of necessity, but out of wanting more.

  58. joe,

    “I was noting his statement to N.M. amounted to the assertion that investing in new technologies to 1) solve an expensive problem…”

    The world has yet to see a shred of “actual” evidence that global warming is a problem, let alone an expensive one.

    I invite you to point out any costs that can be attributed to the last century’s 0.6 degree Celsius increase in average global surface temperatures, which IPCC attributes to human’s emissions of GHGs.

    All of the economic costs you’re refering to are predictions, derived from climate forecasts, which are are based on models, which scientists run on expensive computers, all of which requires a good amount of funding, which doesn’t get renewed if said models don’t deliver newsworthy forecasts and predictions, where “newsworthy” = “catastrophic”.

    I trust you can see the inherent problem with this system (because I know you would instantly see the problem if the research was funded by corporations and contradicted your views).

  59. This cut in getting infected. Future joe will have more money to afford to treat it, so Contemporary joe should do nothing. Smart?

    This reasoning only makes sense about a problem that isn’t getting worse and isn’t doing harm now – for example, a hazardous waste site in which the materials are contained, and no more are being produced.

  60. Joe,

    Oil prices right now have as much to do with speculation and the slide of the dollar as anything. If oil gets too expensive people will invest in those new technologies. The technologies, if they are truly benificial will happen on their own.

  61. If you assume that there are no costs to environmental harm or benefits to avoiding it, then yes, such investments are stupid and futile.

    I dunno.

    Even if you assume no environmental harm, and there is no benefit to avoiding environmental harm, there are still advantages to doing things like being more energy efficient, or potentially switching to a cheaper form of energy being able to do more with less.

    Being environmentally conscious and being a capitalist are not mutually exclusive.

  62. Or maybe he was implying that we should invest in “upgrading”…kind of like electronics.

    Sure. And, in any case, he can and does speak for himself. I was merely trying to figure out Mr. Bailey’s response which I, too, took to be a bit of a disconnect.

  63. Carbon emissions are waste.

    Waste is a cost.

    All things being equal, reducing that cost would be good for the economy.

    All things are never equal, of course, but current technologies are capable of reducing waste with minimal capital investment.

    Making that capital investment will have an overall benefit to the economy.

  64. Actually, Russ R., there are already Pacific Islands that have been abandoned to the rising seas.

    Oh, right, those lying scientists again. Yawn.

  65. “This cut in getting infected. Future joe will have more money to afford to treat it, so Contemporary joe should do nothing. Smart?”

    No. Current Joe gets a disease that is slowly progressing and will take years to have any effect on him. Does current Joe spend his entire life savings on dubious cures for the disease or does he save his money and wait and see if their are more effective and cheaper cures in the future?

  66. “Intergenerational ethics argue against us leaving massive, intractable problems for future generations…”

    Oh you mean like the social security, medicare and medicaid programs?

    Funny, I don’t hear any of these “ethicists” calling for elimination of those programs that confer massive (and increasing) financial liabilites on future generations.

  67. Look, there’s a tremendous difference between me deciding that I want to buy a low-emission car or take steps to reduce the amount of energy that I consume (be it for economic or environmental reasons). It’s quite another thing to claim that artificially raising the price of energy so that I can only afford to consume the reduced amount (that I already choose to consume), and no more, is a boon to the economy.

  68. I think the appropriate medical metaphor is prostate cancer.

    Most men who get prostate cancer will die from something else before the prostate cancer kills them.

    You have been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

    Do you invest in treatment or not?

  69. Don’t take advice on anything from people who think they know, absolutely, what will happen in 50 years.

    We’ll have solar powered flying cars, which we will never use because everything will be virtual and we’ll never need to leave our houses!

    Any clean safe hydrogen fusion will be only 20 years away.

  70. “The world has yet to see a shred of “actual” evidence that global warming is a problem, let alone an expensive one.”

    Indeed.

  71. John,

    The technologies, if they are truly benificial will happen on their own. If the only benefit we were looking at here was the reduction in energy costs/dispersal of energy technologies, that would be enough.

    However, the question is about several other costs and benefits. The supposed cost to developing countries was thrown out as an argument against investing in new energy technologies. I was presenting the economic benefit of these technologies not as an adquate reason for this investment, but to more accurately understand the economic impact of that investment – that redirection of investment – on the developing world.

  72. Whoops, on the first ‘graph sould be in italics.

  73. “The world” has seen plenty of evidence of how global warming impacts the species living on it. Sometimes it is a good thing, sometimes it is a very very bad thing. Hell even in the relatively short time frame humans have been around, climate change has wiped out cultures. You really need to be willfully ignoring evidence to make your claim.

  74. Does current Joe spend his entire life savings on dubious cures

    Implausible assumptions bolded.

  75. if they are truly benificial will happen on their own.

    Technologies don’t happen on their own.

    People recognize a problem and develop a solution for it.

    If you deny the problem exists, you will not put energy into solving it and the technology will not be developed.

  76. I’ve lived in “rich” neighborhoods.
    I’ve lived in “poor” neighborhoods.
    I’ve visited many “rich” nations.
    I’ve visited many “poor” nations.

    One thing I have found remarkably consistent is that rich, in a neighborhood or in a nation, is much cleaner than poor. Grosse Pointe is cleaner than Detroit. The U.S. is cleaner than Fiji. There is a lesson there that many in the environmental movement refuse to even consider.

  77. It’s funny. If joe had lived in the 1920s, he’d have been a supporter of eugenics. I mean, all the hip scientists were for it and believed in it. It was a consensus, right?

  78. Remember when eliminating leader gasoline was going to wipe out the American automobile industry…by 1975?

    Remember when the cost of removing acid rain precursors was going to be so high that a profitable market in credit-trading was going to emerge?

    Has there ever been a prediction about pollution reduction destroying our economy that didn’t turn out to be wrong?

    The private sector has proven itself to be incredibly adept at innovating in response to price incentives, and we’ve always come out with a stronger economy in the end.

  79. It snowed in Baghdad and Jerusalem this year, and we’re still talking as if Global Warming is for real.

    Every year, reality and politics just get farther and farther apart.

  80. joe,

    Democracy is a value.

    Wrong. Democracy is a government system. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, like all the others. Better than most. What it isnt, is a value.

    Freedom is a value (in the sense you mean). And its one I believe in (in the sense you mean). As Ive said many times before to you, democracy is a tool that can (and is usually very useful) help advance that value. When the tool is inappropriate, it shouldnt be used. Which, amongst other reasons, is why we arent a pure democracy. The FFs realized that democracy has its limits.

    Some people dont value freedom, some value safety or wealth or power. Its that disagreements about values that makes democracy just a tool.

  81. Joe S.

    Weather does not = climate

  82. Episiarch’s “contribution:”

    You know who liked scientists? HITLER!!!

    When you are arguing literally against science as a means of understanding the universe, it’s time to re-evaluate.

  83. Neu Mejican:

    “Hell even in the relatively short time frame humans have been around, climate change has wiped out cultures. You really need to be willfully ignoring evidence to make your claim.”

    Enlighten me… which culture are you referring to that was wiped out by climate change?

    If you’re talking about an Ice Age wiping out Neanderthals, please refer back to my original comment: I invite you to point out any costs that can be attributed to the last century’s 0.6 degree Celsius increase in average global surface temperatures, which IPCC attributes to human’s emissions of GHGs.

    Yeah, and I’m the one being wilfully ignorant.

  84. robc,

    I believe the idea that people have a legitimate claim to input into their government’s actions, aka democracy, is a value just as liberty is a value.

    That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, – That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

    Does this not advocate for democracy as a value?

  85. robc,

    Democracy is both a system and a value.

    This was, literally, in Chapter 1 of freshman poli-sci.

    You should stop posing as if you’re talking down to me.

  86. When you are arguing literally against science as a means of understanding the universe, it’s time to re-evaluate.

    When you are arguing literally for consensus as a means of understanding the universe, it’s time to re-evaluate.

  87. NM,

    The prostate cancer analogy is a good one. And the answer is: its up to me to decide. The government shouldnt put a per-cell cancer tax on it to encourage me to get the treatment.

  88. Russ R.

    “The world has yet to see…” is what I was commenting on.

    It was an attempt to get you to look beyond the narrow time-frame.

    You don’t, btw, need to go back as far as the Neanderthal to find evidence of cultures wiped out by climate changes.

    Maya, Anazazi, etc…

  89. It’s funny. If joe had lived in the 1920s, he’d have been a supporter of eugenics. I mean, all the hip scientists were for it and believed in it. It was a consensus, right?

    What’s actually funny about this is that it’s pretty clear who among us seems more predisposed to favor faux-rationalist policies that flatter our own ideological leanings. (Hint: Episiarch.) But, yeah, climage change = eugenics, or something.

    I remember Ron Bailey once described the web site Real Climate (written by scientists) as “alarmist” and now Grist is “environmentist”.

    My own term for Ron’s science writings has always been much simpler: hack. I look forward to his next breathless report of a Venezualan study suggesting that electromagnetic waves from Prius batteries causes puppy eyeballs to explode. Those stupid environmentists!

  90. When you are arguing literally for consensus as a means of understanding the universe, it’s time to re-evaluate.

    One scientist is a pioneer. Ten thousands scientists is a deluded conspiracy.

    The denialists are now reduced to arguing that global warming is false, because TOO MANY SCIENTISTS have concluded that it’s true.

  91. joe-

    there are already Pacific Islands that have been abandoned to the rising seas

    Do you have a reference for this? I just spent a minute looking online and couldn’t find anything.

  92. “It snowed in Baghdad and Jerusalem this year, and we’re still talking as if Global Warming is for real.”

    That never slows down the true believers.

    Whether it’s cold or hot, wet or dry, it’s all “proof” of global warming.

    LOL

  93. Saul, if you’re going to make a point, it needs to make sense. Try again.

  94. And the answer is: its up to me to decide.

    Doesn’t fit the metaphor. In this case, the person with the cancer in the world as a whole.

  95. I invite you to point out any costs that can be attributed to the last century’s 0.6 degree Celsius increase in average global surface temperatures, which IPCC attributes to human’s emissions of GHGs.

    Increased air conditioning costs?

    😉

  96. There can’t be global warming, because it was cold somewhere.

    Nobody on the “skeptical” side of things ever bothers to call this nonsense out.

    But hey, buddy, you’d better give me a list of sources if you expect me to believe the environmental problems fall harderst on the poor!

  97. The denialists are now reduced to arguing that global warming is false, because TOO MANY SCIENTISTS have concluded that it’s true.

    How many is that? That’s very scientific. “Too many.” Bonus points for your religious heretic word “denialists”.

  98. Changing the original question up a little bit. Do I, as a well-off citizen of the USA, owe anything to an impoverished resident of sub-saharan Africa?

  99. I see the thread has deteriorated to name calling.

    Sad.

    It is a topic that could engender discussions about the benefits or lack thereof of various ideas for addressing an issue that is certain to gain importance in our society in the next few years.

  100. Maybe if I put the words “scientist” and “relgious” in the same comment, no one will notice that I don’t have anything to say.

  101. Kinnath,

    Respect, at least.

    And that would include acting according to some version of “do unto others…”

  102. Yup. Thread’s done.

    Too bad, it was going pretty well there, discussing costs and benefits and how they are spread among differenc populations and different incomes.

    Then at 10:53 AM, we got “there is not global warming.”

    Then Episiarch showed up.

    And you know how that goes.

  103. Neu Mejican”

    “The world has yet to see…” is what I was commenting on. It was an attempt to get you to look beyond the narrow time-frame.”

    Fair enough. I should have been a bit more specific:

    “The world has yet to see a shred of “actual” evidence that anthropogenic global warming is a problem, let alone an expensive one.”

    Better?

  104. I have issues anytime there is a discussion of “we.” Can it be better defined please?

  105. Does this not advocate for democracy as a value?

    It seems to me it advocates democracy as the tool to secure the rights of the people. It could also be considered a value, but in a perfect world where government wasnt needed, democracy wouldnt be needed either.

    I can imagine (and realize it is impossible to achieve) a world with freedom and security and etc but without democracy. If democracy was a value itself, wouldnt we be missing it? I dont think we would.

    In a stable (yeah, yeah, I know, its impossible) anarchy, democracy is unnecessary, and thus, not a value.

    In the real world where anarchy is, at best, metastable, its probably useful to think of democracy as a value. But it isnt really.

  106. “Has there ever been a prediction about pollution reduction…”

    If carbon dioxide is a “pollutant” then you need to stop breathing.

  107. Intergenerational ethics argue against us leaving massive, intractable problems for future generations, forcing them to deal in perpetuity with

    … Social Security, Medicare, National Debt, etc.

  108. joe, try to take a breath and walk away from the childish sarcasm. I can’t believe that you’re astonished that people would actually ask you for proof of your wilder assertions like:

    – There are real, major costs associated with global warmining right this very second that are akin to broken windows in houses.

    – That (ceterus paribus) the effects of global warming fall predominately in poorer areas rather than wealthier ones.

    So, where are the real, immediate and catastrophic costs? The only thing I’ve gotten from you is an unsubstantiated claim that there are some lost islands, which you imply were swallowed by the ocean because of a rise in water levels, due to melting caps.

    State your facts and thesis plain and clear and stop acting like a child.

  109. Respect, at least.

    Endowed by their creator with certain unalienalble rights . . .

    And that would include acting according to some version of “do unto others…”

    Not relevant, since I have never seen a resident of sub-saharan Africa, and it is highly unlikely that I will during the remainder of my life.

    The question is more directly related to whether or not I have an exiting obligation to “do something for them” rather than “to them”.

  110. If carbon dioxide is a “pollutant” then you need to stop breathing.

    Yes, Gil, Lord knows the human body doesn’t excrete anything that can be harmful to human and other life.

  111. joe, if I can ruin “your” thread with 2 or 3 snarky posts, you are truly pathetic. But I sure am glad to help!

  112. joe:

    “Yup. Thread’s done.”

    Uh, you can’t call the thread done until you tell us which Pacific Islands were evacuated due to rising sea levels.

    FYI, sea levels have risen less than 20 centimeters in the last century, and only about 3 centimeters in the last 25 years.

    Chart

  113. Ayn Randian,

    No one has claimed that there are “immediate catastrophic” costs. There are immediate cost, and there are expected costs of increasingly greater scope, if the problem continues to grow.

  114. Russ R,

    Sure that’s better.

    Why would we assume that the warming that we are causing (assuming we are…) would have any less detrimental effects than similar natural warming cycles observed in the geologic record?

    We can even look at similarly dramatic cases of CO2 emissions in the past and estimate their impact.

    Usually it is considered prudent to avoid causing situations that have been shown in the past to be detrimental to overall well-being. No?

  115. But I sure am glad to help!

    Yes, troll, we know. It’s pretty much all you ever do.

  116. Russ R.,

    Tuvalu and Kiribati have each lost islands already.

  117. Yes, troll, we know. It’s pretty much all you ever do.

    Sure is! joe, someone once asked you if it seemed odd to you that anyone who disagreed with you eventually got called a troll, racist, or various variations on “stupid”.

    You didn’t seem to understand their question. How about now? THINK HARD.

  118. robc,

    In a stable (yeah, yeah, I know, its impossible) anarchy, democracy is unnecessary, and thus, not a value.

    In the real world where anarchy is, at best, metastable, its probably useful to think of democracy as a value. But it isnt really.

    So, to sum up.
    In a hypothetical fantasy land where anarchy works, democracy is not a value, but in the real world we can “think” of democracy as a value, even though it isn’t really, because it wouldn’t be in a hypothetical world where anarchy works.

    Is that about right?

  119. There are immediate cost, and there are expected costs of increasingly greater scope, if the problem continues to grow.

    I am going to temporarily grant this assertion as true, and tell that (even if the above is true), I very much doubt that inefficient systems like government and taxation are going to in any help resolve the situation.

    That said, in re: the above assertion: what are the costs? Would a cap-and-trade or carbon tax be more or less beneficial WRT to these costs? That is, what is the estimated dollar amount of these costs, and what would be the estimated collection amount of the tax?

    And don’t you think that, regardless, the market is a better problem-solver for this kind of thing?

    That money belongs in R&D for the private sector, not in the pockets of some dumb congressman with his next horrible “idea”.

  120. joe,

    It would be difficult to attribute the events in Tuvalu and Kiribati to global warming.

    It is easier (not yet definitive, of course) to attribute loss of coral reef to global warming, and given the impact this will have on fish stocks, I believe that is a important cost.

  121. NM,

    yep, thats about it.

    Call democracy a psuedo-value. It acts much like a value, but it really isnt.

    If you think the hypothetical world part is silly, think about the more common hypothetical of being Tom Hanks, alone on an island. Other values still have, umm, well, value, but democracy is worthless at that point (unless he is giving Wilson a vote).

  122. Episiarch,

    I would rather “think hard” about global warming than about your feelings.

    Please, either add something to the thread, or kindly fuck off.

  123. Kinnath,

    Not relevant, since I have never seen a resident of sub-saharan Africa, and it is highly unlikely that I will during the remainder of my life.

    The question is more directly related to whether or not I have an exiting obligation to “do something for them” rather than “to them”.

    We’re all connected man.

    It is disingenuous to assume that your actions on impact those whom you have face-to-face contact.

    But as for the “do something for them” question.

    We all live the lives we do because, in general, humans believing in doing things to support each other. It is the core feature that has led to our species success.

  124. Do you invest in treatment or not?

    Depends on how old I am. If I’m 25, yes. If I’m 85, probably not.

  125. believing = believe in

    Sheesh

  126. Ayn Randian,

    And don’t you think that, regardless, the market is a better problem-solver for this kind of thing?

    Both cap-and-trade systems and a carbon tax are all bout the marking solving the problem. The market does a great job innovating and solving problems – when there is an economic incentive to do so.

    That’s the government’s role here – to incentivize the private sector – for the most part. Direct government action akin to the DPW paving a road is, by anyone’s calcultion, a very small part of the solution.

  127. I would rather “think hard” about global warming than about your feelings.

    Maybe you should start, then. Lapping up the offerings of your consensus isn’t thinking.

  128. robc,

    “pseudo-value”

    Sorry, but I fail to see how you can create a meaningful distinction between a “real-value” and a “pseudo-value” given that values are nothing more nor less than beliefs.

  129. Heh.

    The conclusions drawn by an overwhelming majority of the world’s climate researchers from their study and observation are now “my consensus.”

    You flatter me, Episiarch!

    Please, write a few more comments about ME. Because everyone really comes here to read about what you have to say about ME.

  130. robc,

    Regarding Tom Hanks on an island.

    In that scenario, property rights also turn out to be “pseudo-values.”

  131. Fine and fair, joe, but for this democratically-inclined individual to actually motivate his government to alter the market, I need more evidence that AGW is like an “infected cut” that requires immediate treatment, rather than another fad like the “population bomb”, “the upcoming global famine” or “global cooling”.

  132. Russ 2000

    So, is human culture 25 or 85?

  133. Please, write a few more comments about ME. Because everyone really comes here to read about what you have to say about ME.

    Freudian slip, or direct honesty? Hard to tell.

  134. Do you really need more evidence, Randian? Would any amount of evidence really make a difference in what you believe?

    Really?

    This is obviously so wound up with other things you believe and value, and the sheer volume of the evidence already available is so overwhelming, I really have to wonder if the amount of evidence is actually the sticking point here.

    If you want evidence, Google IPCC 4 and read the report. There evidence is there, and a layman like me couldn’t possibly do it justice in the comment thread of a blog post.

  135. Reading through all of Episiarch’s comments, it would be impossible for someone to tell what the subject of the thread is.

    Useless troll.

  136. Neu Mejican:

    “Why would we assume that the warming that we are causing (assuming we are…) would have any less detrimental effects than similar natural warming cycles observed in the geologic record?”

    Good question. I’ve got a one simple answer: Technology. Future warming is nearly certain to have less detrimental effects than those in prehistoric times because we humans have access to countless survival aids that earlier species or civilizations did not.

    Furthermore, the geologic record indicates that ice ages, volcanic, and impact events were associated with mass extinctions, not the warming cycles. Biodiversity proliferated during periods with warmer temperatures. (See Cambrian Explosion).

  137. Useless troll.

    Projection, or just more insults? Not so hard to tell.

  138. joe, to answer:

    Do you really need more evidence, Randian?

    Yes, I need more evidence to consider getting government involved. I have a higher threshold, is all.

    Would any amount of evidence really make a difference in what you believe?

    Absolutely, provided I found the evidence compelling enough.

    In sum, yes, joe, the amount and type of evidence really IS the sticking point here. Remember when there was overwhelming consensus from the world’s intelligence communities that Saddam had WMD? And how we all believed it too? I feel like I’m in AGW UN and Colin Powell is saying stuff that may make sense, but doesn’t feel right; it feels like theater.

    Lesson to you: there’s rarely such a thing as too much skepticism when it comes to governmental interventionism, either here or abroad.

  139. So, is human culture 25 or 85?

    Probably closer to a million. Too damn old to keep on life support if you ask me.

    Both cap-and-trade systems and a carbon tax are all bout the marking solving the problem.

    You’re trying to convince people that a market in taxation is a real market? What. The. Fuck.

  140. Russ R.,

    Actually, there is strong evidence that Folsom (or was it Clovis?) Man endured a massive die-out during a warming period 13,000 years ago, as the area they were living in on the east coast of North America was subject to massive dust storms.

    But be that as it may, technology is a double-edged sword here. In all other warming perioids, humans were more mobile, and had much less constructed. If the water’s edge was fifteen horizontal feet closer this year than last year, then they set up their camps fifteen feet further inland, or found a different field. No big deal.

    Today, we have an enormous amount of our wealth is tied up in settled construction. We can’t just take buildings in Manhattan with us if the seas rise. Farm families who see their land become less productive are much more screwed than families that just followed the herd if it moved.

  141. This is obviously so wound up with other things you believe and value

    That’s a given with ALL values. They’re relative.

  142. Russ 2000,

    You’re trying to convince people that a market in taxation is a real market?

    Its a real market, its just not a free one.

  143. Ayn Randian,

    Remember when there was overwhelming consensus from the world’s intelligence communities that Saddam had WMD? No. I do remember that a great deal of what some politicians claimed about Iraqi WMDs required them to remove all sorts of warnings and qualifiers from the reports from the intelligence officials.

    Russ 2000,

    OK, what’s a “real market?” One without taxation? I think my point was perfectly clear about how the market respondes to incentives.

  144. joe:

    “Actually, Russ R., there are already Pacific Islands that have been abandoned to the rising seas.” … “Tuvalu and Kiribati have each lost islands already.”

    The result of a few minutes on Wikipedia (emphasis mine):

    “According to the South Pacific Regional Environment Program, two small UNINHABITED Kiribati islets, Tebua Tarawa and Abanuea, disappeared underwater in 1999.”

    *** AND ***

    “The highest elevation is five meters (16 ft) above sea level, which gives Tuvalu the second-lowest maximum elevation of any country (after the Maldives). Because of this low elevation, the islands that make up this nation MAY be threatened by any future sea level rise.”

    Sorry joe… looks like nobody had to abandon any Pacific Islands due to rising sea levels. At most, a few coconut trees were lost.

  145. That’s a given with ALL values. They’re relative.

    Yes, but we were talking about the state of the science.

  146. OK, what’s a “real market?” One without taxation?

    One without coerced participation.

  147. Russ R,

    So? You see the kitchen is on fire, but it’s ok, because you’re in the living room?

  148. Even in markets that don’t meet your purity test, participants respond to incentives.

  149. participants respond to incentives.

    Slaves responded to the whip.

  150. joe:

    “…technology is a double-edged sword here. In all other warming perioids, humans were more mobile, and had much less constructed.”

    True, we might incur moving costs, possibly significant, but this is a long, long way from the catastrophic extinctions that our species technology helps us avert.

    In fact, were talking multiple orders of magnitude difference between the two edges on your double-edged technology sword.

  151. Muggers respond to the whip, too.

    When you are harming others, it is apporpriate to use force to protect them.

    Polluting others, destroying their property, is an assault.

  152. joe – you’re misremembering, but I’m not inclined to have THAT argument out for the one-thousandth time.

    In light of the “lost populated islands” thing being debunked, in what way is global warming:

    – A broken window in the house?
    – A fire in the kitchen?
    – An infected cut?

    All of these things require immediate attention. I’ve seen no evidence that convinces me that such immediacy is warranted.

    joe, additionally there is debate that the cut in GHG emissions because of a carbon tax (in the US) would be so minuscule that the effect on AGW would be nil.

    Now, let me sum up my position:

    – No one can tell me what the immediate or long-term harms will be, if there are any at all.
    – Claims of these harms are specious because of the difficulty in predicting the future.
    – I very much doubt that, if the harms are shown to be real, that a carbon tax is going to help in any way.

    You want to help “fight” AGW and do something good? Let’s get the war ended.

  153. Russ R,

    Costs are what we’re talking about here. It is probably a good idea to avoid harms even if they come up short of “catastrophic extinction of the human species.”

  154. When you are harming others, it is apporpriate to use force to protect them.

    YES, but you have presented zero proof of immediate harm. Or even long-term ramifications, for that matter

  155. joe:

    “So? You see the kitchen is on fire, but it’s ok, because you’re in the living room?”

    More like “There’s a fire in the kitchen, on the stove, making my dinner warm. And a side effect is that it’s warming up the living room by a barely noticable amount. But it’s ok, because if it gets too warm, I’ll either open a window, or turn on the air conditioning.”

  156. The greater concentration of environmental harms in poor communities is widely understood and documented.

    Hence the link in joe’s posts. C’mon, people, click n’ learn!

    Tuvalu and Kiribati have each lost islands already.

    Oh for God’s sake. The sea level around Tuvalu has actually been declining . If Tuvalu is about to go under, its because Tuvalu is sinking (key phrase: “sinking volcanic rock”), not because the oceans are rising.

  157. Polluting others, destroying their property, is an assault.

    Then offer me an insurance policy against those assaults and see if I accept your offer.

  158. Ahem.

    joe | March 25, 2008, 11:58am | #

    Actually, Russ R., there are already Pacific Islands that have been abandoned to the rising seas.

    Nothing has been debunked. Just so we’re not fudging, Randian.

  159. I’ve seen no evidence that convinces me that such immediacy is warranted.

    Then you couldn’t be looking very hard. That’s ok – I understand you’ve got a lot on your plate right now.

    joe, additionally there is debate that the cut in GHG emissions because of a carbon tax (in the US) would be so minuscule that the effect on AGW would be nil. The direct reduction from lessened fuel usage isn’t the point – it’s the economic incentive it will provide for research into new technologies that matter.

    And by all means, let’s get the war ended, and not go down that road again.

  160. Randian, if you want proof and projections, google IPCC 4.

    Your understanding of this issue shouldn’t be wholly dependent on what I write.

  161. joe – not debunked, but certainly called into question, specifically about whether the islands were populated and whether the sea level is rising or the island is sinking.

    One problematic example of (possible) harm? I’m not overwhelmed, joe. Not at all.

  162. Oh for God’s sake. The sea level around Tuvalu has actually been declining . If Tuvalu is about to go under, its because Tuvalu is sinking (key phrase: “sinking volcanic rock”), not because the oceans are rising.

    Wait, are you saying joe doesn’t know what the fuck he’s talking about, makes uninformed statements out of his ass, and comes to conclusions that fit his preconceived notions, yet treats anyone who doesn’t believe with his religious fervor as a heretic, fool, or liar?

    Bonus question: how much money does reason make from joe’s page hits (which include POST redirects)?

  163. Russ R writes,

    Then offer me an insurance policy against those assaults and see if I accept your offer.

    The problem here is two-fold. First, people who can’t afford insurance policies are endangered, too.

    Second, do you take out mugger insurance, or do you pay taxes for a police force and whatnot?

  164. joe:

    “Costs are what we’re talking about here. It is probably a good idea to avoid harms even if they come up short of “catastrophic extinction of the human species.”

    Yes, costs are what I’m talking about. Not hyptothetical ones… real costs.

    And I’m wondering:

    Have you got any evidence of the real costs that the last century’s 0.6 degrees celsius of AGW has unleashed upon humanity?

    Is the best you can offer me some coconut trees on a sinking Pacific Island?

  165. Oh, look, Episiarch is writing about me again.

    Because it’s all about me.

    RC, Cato? Really?

  166. Bonus question: how much money does reason make from joe’s page hits (which include POST redirects)?

    Lol, I mentioned that years ago.

    He’s just a shill for Big Liberty.

  167. it’s the economic incentive it will provide for research into new technologies that matter.

    yes, but the purpose behind those future technologies is to reduce future harm. Said future harm cannot be demonstrated to even exist, nor to what extent.

    perhaps I should expand my knowledge and get back to you. However, I don’t think that this should be the level of proof to get government involved. It should be a very simple, clear-cut case, and right now it is very much NOT that way at all.

  168. joe…

    minor detail… that was Russ 2000 talking about insurance, not me. But I do like his point.

  169. Russ R.,

    Have you got any evidence of the real costs that the last century’s 0.6 degrees celsius of AGW has unleashed upon humanity?

    The IPCC 4 does.

    Really, you’re better off learning what the experts have to say than random people in comment threads.

    Unless you’re Episiarch, in which case you have to make sure that there aren’t TOO MANY SCIENTISTS who agree on something. Because that’s just like Hitler.

  170. Because it’s all about me.

    Finally, joe begins to understand his own personality. Narcissism, or insecurity? Hard to tell.

  171. You talk about me more than I do, Episiarch.

    So, still nothing about…uh…what was this thread about again?

    Typical troll.

  172. Bonus question: how much money does reason make from joe’s page hits (which include POST redirects)?

    Let’s not forget about those produced by people who post exclusively on the subject of me.

    It’s a multiplier-effect.

  173. Second, do you take out mugger insurance, or do you pay taxes for a police force and whatnot?

    Both. So what?

    You’re not a very good insurance salesman.

  174. We are the world.
    We are the joe.

  175. You talk about me more than I do, Episiarch.

    Just helping you out, joe. You know, with item one.

  176. ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME

    Thank Episiarch.

  177. We’re all connected man.

    Not really.

    It is disingenuous to assume that your actions only impact those whom you have face-to-face contact.

    A butterfly flaps its wings in Europe, and then it rains in Brazil, right?

    More seriously, should I feel some form of guilt because children are starving in Africa and I drive a late-model 350Z?

    But as for the “do something for them” question.

    We all live the lives we do because, in general, humans believing in doing things to support each other. It is the core feature that has led to our species success.

    I can engage in cooperative enterprises with my family, my friends, my neighbors, my co-workers, and to some smaller extent the local area through community projects. Beyond that I have no real way of affecting other people except through free trade.

    One could argue that in some generalized zero-sum game I have an affect on sub-saharan Africa (e.g., I consume oil from Saudi Arabia, so residents of Darfur can’t). But I don’t really buy that.

  178. “Yes, Gil, Lord knows the human body doesn’t excrete anything that can be harmful to human and other life.”

    No more so than any other animal does – just as it has always been as long as life has existed.

    But if you’re feeling distressed about it, I suggest you refrain from excreting anything forthwith and assume room temperature.

    LOL

  179. RC, did you even read the links you posted?

    The Tuvalu links attributes the problem to global warming!

  180. Gil Martin is like a smarter version of Episiarch.

  181. RC, Cato? Really?

    The man quoted an article in Science for the proposition that I linked for. Based on work by French scientists. You dissin’ the French, joe?

    What about the link to PBS?

    Or even a response that isn’t ad hominem?

  182. The Tuvalu links attributes the problem to global warming!

    Whoa. Sinking volcanic rock is caused by global warming? Sea levels that have been declining for 50 years are caused by global warming?

  183. While a narcissist might criticize others the narcissist strongly dislikes to be criticized by others.

  184. joe:

    “Really, you’re better off learning what the experts [IPCC 4] have to say than random people in comment threads.”

    True… very true.

    So I went and checked. And I thought you might like to know what IPCC has to say on the the havoc that AGW has wreaked on our planet (emphasis mine):

    “A global assessment of data since 1970 has shown it is likely that anthropogenic warming has had a DISCERNABLE influence on many physical and biological systems. Other effects of regional climate changes on natural and human environments are emerging, although many are DIFFICULT TO DISCERN due to adaptation and non-climatic drivers.”

    So, the impact is likely noticable, except for where it isn’t.

    Yup. Pretty dire.

    Full text

  185. You didn’t read the link, RC.

    Ha ha.

    You scored an own goal – you posted a link that supports my case.

    Read it. It doesn’t say that.

  186. Anyway, I stand behind my point that the actual costs associated with a century of diligently measured and undisputed global warming have been negligible.

  187. Russ R,

    Yup, it’s caused some harm so far, and is growing. There are areas where the evidence is irrefutable, and others where it is questionable.

    Once again, an own goal.

  188. If the effects could be reasonably expected to be no more serious than what has occured to date, Russ R., this wouldn’t be such a serious issue.

    But atmospheric carbon levels are still rising, as are temperatures. It is the avoidance of future harms that is the big deal here – hence, Bailey’s post about our responsibility to future generations.

  189. The narcissist is preoccupied with himself/herself, his/her preferences, needs and aspirations and with his/her fantasies of unlimited success.

  190. Actually, Russ R., there are already Pacific Islands that have been abandoned to the rising seas.

    wow, i’m generally on the anti-‘denier’ of this, and haven’t read through the rest of the comments but this is bullshit.

  191. From RC Dean’s second Tuvalo link

    A tide gauge set up by Australia’s National Tidal Facility indicates that sea levels have been rising slightly but steadily over the past 10 years, and a local meteorologist shows Pollock that during high tides, sea water actually bubbles up on land through the porous coral. Encroaching salty ocean water is ruining pulaka gardens, the main crop, and eroding coconut trees.

  192. Sorry, wrong link above. The PBS link actually stands as a good example of global warming hype – read it carefully, and its full of “ifs” and “fears,” and actually tells you a lot about why people are fleeing Tuvalu for reasons that have nothing to do with the sea level.

    Real information can be found here

  193. Actually, Kolohe, it’s not. It’s well-documented, with links and everything. (Thanks, RC!)

    You should really read through the whole thread.

  194. I see. The report that doesn’t make your point is “hype,” while that which seems to back up your report is “real information.”

  195. The real reason for problems with the soil in Tuvalu:

    As of February 2002, “based on short term sea level rise analyses … the nearly nine years of data return show a rate plus 0.9 millimeters (0.03 inch) per year,” they say.

    . . . .

    Mitchell said seawater encroachments into vegetable growing pits is occurring but is not due to sea level rise.

    “It could be something as simple as chopping down coconut trees. It could affect the hydrology of the atoll,” he said.

    The population density, and its associated pollution, might be destroying the atoll.

    Mitchell points to Funafuti’s infamous “borrow pits,” large holes filled with trash.

    During the war the Japanese reached Tarawa in the then Gilberts. To turn them back the Americans secretly used Funafuti as a forward base and constructed an airfield by simply digging out a third of the main islet of Fongafale.

    It has been known for years that Funafuti’s water table has suffered because of the pits and while Tuvalu used to appeal to the Americans to fix the pits, nothing has been done.

    Mitchell believes that may be the real problem with the land degradation Tuvalu’s politicians blame on global warming.

    “It’s not sea level rise. It cannot be,” he said.

    “It must be some other land use change that is going on.”

  196. Seriously, folks. Compare the PBS link I provided above (the comments provide lots of links to actual, you know, facts, is how it snuck into my linky cut ‘n paste) with the article with actual data and facts about what’s going at Tuvalu.

    Then, ponder the example of “confirmation bias” being presented by joe before your very eyes.

  197. Seriously, joe, your team is arguing that a sea level rise of less than a millimeter in ten years is responsible for the wrecked hydrology of this island? In spite of all the other culprits? Oookay . . .

  198. joe…

    “Once again, an own goal.”

    I’ve only posted the IPCC headings… before you start calling out the score, you should go read the actual paper. Once you’re done, draw your own conclusions about whether the impact to date has been significant or not. I read it and concluded “not significant”.

    “There are areas where the evidence is irrefutable, and others where it is questionable.”

    And by the way… it’s particularly bad form to go inserting words like “irrefutable” when IPCC themselves only use the word “likely”… It give the appearance that you might be exaggerating.

    “If the effects could be reasonably expected to be no more serious than what has occured to date, Russ R., this wouldn’t be such a serious issue.”

    I agree with you entirely… the next 0.6 degrees is likely to have a bigger cost impact than the last 0.6 degree. I’ve already taken that into consideration.

    What remains to be demonstrated is how much bigger the impact is likely to be. From my perspective, even a 10-fold increase in cost impact per unit of temperature would still be pretty insignificant, but I admit, that’s a subjective judgement.

    However, I see no reason to expect that the cost impact per unit increase in temperature should be more than an order of magnitude higher in the near future than it has been in the recent past.

  199. Ok, I read the RC dean links:

    People have lived in Tuvalu for 2,000 years, but some are now beginning to leave, fearing that global warming and rising seas will render their homes uninhabitable. As they emigrate to New Zealand, the Tuvaluans may be the vanguard of a new and growing category of displaced people: “ocean exiles” or “environmental refugees.”

    First of all where the frack does it say in any of the links that ‘islands have been abandonned’ It does not. It says people are leaving – so ‘will be abadonned’ is a possible case, but definitely not any past or even present tense construction of ‘to abandnon’ is appropriate.

    I have a passing familiarity with the sociopoliticeconomic dynamics of various Pacific islands. In addition to the specific local environmental pressure that rc dean refers to at 2:03, the primary reason for pacific islanders leaving their home islands is there ain’t no frickin jobs.

    So i still say bullshit.

  200. From the IPCC 4:

    Small Pacific Islands are the subject of much concern in
    view of their vulnerability to sea level rise. The Pacific Ocean
    region is the centre of the strongest interannual variability of the
    climate system, the coupled ocean-atmosphere ENSO mode.
    There are only a few Pacific Island sea level records extending
    back to before 1950. Mitchell et al. (2001) calculated rates of
    relative sea level rise for the stations in the Pacifi c region. Using
    their results (from their Table 1) and focusing on only the island
    stations with more than 50 years of data (only 4 locations), the
    average rate of sea level rise (relative to the Earth’s crust) is
    1.6 mm yr-1. For island stations with record lengths greater than
    25 years (22 locations), the average rate of relative sea level rise
    is 0.7 mm yr-1. However, these data sets contain a large range
    of rates of relative sea level change, presumably as a result of
    poorly quantifi ed vertical land motions.
    An example of the large interannual variability in sea level
    is Kwajalein (8?44’N, 167?44’E) (Marshall Archipelago).
    As shown in Figure 5.18, the local tide gauge data, the sea
    level reconstructions of Church et al. (2004) and Church and
    White (2006) and the shorter satellite altimeter record all
    agree and indicate that interannual variations associated with
    ENSO events are greater than 0.2 m. The Kwajalein data also
    suggest increased variability in sea level after the mid-1970s,
    consistent with the trend towards more frequent, persistent
    and intense ENSO events since the mid-1970s (Folland et
    al., 2001). For the Kwajalein record, the rate of sea level rise,
    after correction for GIA land motions and isostatic response to
    atmospheric pressure changes, is 1.9 ? 0.7 mm yr-1. However,
    Figure 5.17. Overlapping 10-year rates of global sea level change from tide gauge
    data sets (Holgate and Woodworth, 2004, in solid black; Church and White, 2006, in
    dashed black) and satellite altimetry (updated from Cazenave and Nerem, 2004, in
    green), and contributions to global sea level change from thermal expansion (Ishii et
    al., 2006, in solid red; Antonov et al., 2005, in dashed red) and climate-driven land
    water storage (Ngo-Duc et al., 2005, in blue). Each rate is plotted against the middle
    of its 10-year period.
    414
    Observations: Oceanic Climate Change and Sea Level Chapter 5
    the uncertainties in rates of sea level change increase rapidly
    with decreasing record length and can be several mm yr-1
    for decade-long records (depending on the magnitude of
    the interannual variability). Sea level change on the atolls of
    Tuvalu (western Pacifi c) has been the subject of intense interest
    as a result of their low-lying nature and increasing incidence of
    fl ooding. There are two records available at Funafuti, Tuvalu;
    the fi rst record commences in 1977 and the second (with
    rigorous datum control) in 1993. After allowing for subsidence
    affecting the fi rst record, Church et al. (2006) estimate sea level
    rise at Tuvalu to be 2.0 ? 1.7 mm yr

  201. Actully, RC, the International Panel on Climate Change is not, in fact, “my team.” They are the gold standard of the current state of climate research.

    And no, they don’t claim that global warming is the sole reason for Tuvalu’s sinking, just one of the reasons.

  202. But, yes, by all means, compare RC’s links – you know, the opinion of a fellow named “Mitchell” to the summary of the research in the IPCC 4 report.

  203. Speaking (again) of REAL intergenerational problems, CNN Money’s web site just put up a “breaking news” banner saying Treasury Secretary Paulson says social security is finacially unsustainable and will run dry in 2041 without quick action.

  204. joe-
    I’m not disagreeing with you that rising sea levels will affect coral atolls.

    Where in your IPCC link does it say Kwajalein or Tuvalu were abandoned?

    Just admit you were wrong with:
    “there are already Pacific Islands that have been abandoned to the rising seas.”

  205. Those of us in the environmental protection and cleanup industry have made careers cleaning up toxic messes made by the Greatest Generation.

    I don’t see anyone complaining about their unprecedented technological explosion that we have been free-riding and building on.

    The next generation will be smarter, better educated and will have more tools to deal with our shortcomings.

    It’s amazing how many atheists are taken in by the end times mythology. The problem with you emotional thinkers who hate humanity (just like the “God” of the desert) is that you have no scientific training or experience, so your opinions are at the level of a Cargo Cult.

    That is not to say that we should halt the rise of CO2 in the atmosphere. Unfortunately, with environ mental-illness impact group therapy as practiced in the US, real red-meat solutions will be turned away in favor of circle-jerk crumb collecting.

  206. Kolohe,

    I’ve already provided links that back up the statement there are already Pacific Islands that have been abandoned to the rising seas.

    Every person who fled those islands has abandoned it.

    We could have a nice little semantic quibble if that’s what you’re up for, but it would probably be a better use of our time to consider something more meaningful: global warming has already created climate refugees, and is creating more all the time, starting with those Pacific Islands.

    Uninhabited islands have already sunk. People have fled inhabited islands, and more are fleeing. Because of global warming. You want to argue about how I phrases this well-documented, inarguable fact? Why?

  207. joe,

    I’ll summarize what you posted at 2:16.

    “We don’t have a real good idea what sea levels are doing in the Pacific, because our data sucks. But we think they’re going up.”

    I’ll get right on worrying about estimates based on faulty data sets sometime around never.

  208. T,

    After allowing for subsidence
    affecting the fi rst record, Church et al. (2006) estimate sea level
    rise at Tuvalu to be 2.0 ? 1.7 mm yr

    Nice “summary.”

  209. joe,

    However, these data sets contain a large range of rates of relative sea level change, presumably as a result of poorly quantified vertical land motions.

    That’s the “our data sucks part”. The bolded word indicates they’re guessing as to why the data sucks. See also the 50 year history from only 4 sites.

    Church et al. (2006) estimate sea level
    rise

    That’s the “we think they’re going up”. An estimate is a guess dressed up for company.

    So, what exactly, did I miss?

  210. “global warming has already created climate refugees, and is creating more all the time, starting with those Pacific Islands.”

    Interesting.

    Some might say that the lack of any meaningful domestic economy has led to emigration from Kiribati and Tuvalu. Foreign aid is the largest part of both Kiribati’s and Tuvalu’s GDP.

    Kiribati’s per capita GDP (PPP) is around $2500 per year… right below Djibouti. Tuvalu’s is even lower, clocking in behind Chad and Senegal.

    But you if want to ignore the dismal economic environment, and prefer to believe that these emigrants are really “climate refugees” fleeing because the sea level is rising at a rate of ~2mm per year, I don’t think there’s much that any of us can do much to help you. We call that sort of belief ‘faith’.

  211. Paine had an interesting notion on this: he proposed that since the earliest men had laid free claim to all the land, those born in (his) modern times deserved a lump-sum payment at birth and a stipend for life.

  212. Russ R,

    Some might say that the lack of any meaningful domestic economy has led to emigration from Kiribati and Tuvalu.

    Some might say that. However, the populace and government of Tuvalu say something different. There are first-hand reports of people fleeing the island because of the flooding, and the siltation it has caused in the fields. I believe RC’s Frontline link has some quotes.

    Which, I imagine, is not terribly good for GDP.

  213. Climate refugees are just the beginning guys. Consider the inscrutable Chinese:

    Dr. James Lovelock says he has, er, scruted them:

    “By 2040, China will be uninhabitable.” Lovelock believes that the Chinese, because of their high levels of industrial activity, will be the first to suffer, with the death of all plant life.

    “So I think the Chinese will go to Africa. They are already there, preparing a new continent – the Chinese industrialists who claim to be out there mining minerals are just there on a pretext of preparing for the big move.”

    James, I find your views intriguing and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

    I also suspect the Beijing Olympics are just a plot to steal the cream of the human race’s genetics to breed Sino-supermen, able to survive temperatures up to several degrees warmer than today and subsist for weeks on a single grain of rice while producing cut-rate textiles in a sweatshop, thus carrying the Chinese culture through the post-apocalyptic hell of 2040. The CIA has been trying to steal these thoughts from my brain, but fortunately I have devised an intricate and elegant system of mind-ray suppression.

  214. Tuvalu has special problems:

    Additionally, Tuvalu is affected by what is known as a King Tide, which can raise the sea level higher than a normal high tide.[9] In the future, this may threaten to submerge the nation entirely.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuvalu

  215. Rain follows the plow.

  216. Kolohe,

    I’ve already provided links that back up the statement there are already Pacific Islands that have been abandoned to the rising seas.

    Every person who fled those islands has abandoned it.

    Wow, just wow

  217. Uninhabited islands have already sunk.

    That’s generally due to local geographic causes, not…

    Observational and modelling studies of mass loss from glaciers and ice caps indicate a contribution to sea-level rise of 0.2 to 0.4 mm/yr averaged over the 20th century.

    I mean, come on, if your island is only a couple millimeters over sea level to begin with…

  218. “However, the populace and government of Tuvalu say something different.”

    Right, because the government is really going to say that its population is leaving because the country’s economic prospects are pretty bleak?

    Why would the government accept any blame when it can point fingers at AGM, and be the world’s poster-child of victimhood?

    Kind of like this quote: “I feel angry because we are being forced to move, to relocate, by something that has nothing to do with us, by factors that are beyond our control,” Paani Laupepa, Tuvalu’s assistant secretary of foreign affairs

    Come on joe. I know you’re smarter than you’re letting on.

  219. “Yup. Thread’s done.”

  220. A 160 square mile chunk of the Antarctic ice shelf just fell into the ocean. This prove AGW . . . so the world as we know it is coming to an end.

  221. The intergenerational debate is a phony issue anyway. It only comes when people don’t take the problem seriously — nobody ever criticizes Winston Churchill for fighting Hitler in 1939 instead of waiting until his country was wealthier and could afford it.

    For that matter, nobody but Pat Buchanan criticizes the USA for fighting WWII and putting the economy on a war footing all those years. If we hadn’t done that, we’d be able to afford to fight the Reich AND solve global warming, all out of penny cash!

  222. Has anyone mentioned how cold it is where they are as proof that global warming isn’t real?
    If so, hats off to you, sir!

  223. “Whole ISLANDS have been ABANDONED thanks to global warming”

    “you mean, some people left them, for reasons that may vary?”

    “YES! Those people did ABANDON the island, didn’t they???!”

    Not your finest hour, joe.

  224. I, personally, intend to use up as much of the earth’s resources as I can before I die, so the snot-nosed, disease-carrying, whining, kicking little vermin known as children don’t get anything.

  225. Screw the future! I want my money now! Money money money money money! To hell with the world my kids will grow up in. Who cares whatthe world will be like in 50 years? I’ll be dead long before then and I intend to die with as much material wealth as I can get my paws on.

    Ya know, all those fools in the “Greatest Generation” who worked hard and sacrificed so that their kids and grand kids could have it better than they did – what a bunch of idiots!

  226. Ima – thanks for the intellectual equivalent of a child making a diaper change necessary.

    Don’t let the door hit you…

  227. Ima,
    Maybe you shouldn’t post under different names.

  228. joe | March 25, 2008, 2:41pm | #
    T,

    After allowing for subsidence
    affecting the first record, Church et al. (2006) estimate sea level
    rise at Tuvalu to be 2.0 ? 1.7 mm yr

    Nice “summary.”

    Any respect for your point of view vanished when you presented “estimate … 2.0 ? 1.7” as anything other than supposition. I’m amazed a peer reviewed journal would allow such tripe to be published. But you have no background in science past 11th grade biology do you?

    Galthran, PhD organic chemistry, UH Manoa 2005

  229. Screw your damn carbon tax!!

  230. to joe, neu mejican, and Chicago Tom

    why are you posting on this board? You all sound like you are intelligent and have, possibly, some form of morality.

    you obviously do not belong here.

  231. Joe,
    Thanks to your info on Tuvalu, I learned something new today. For example, most of Tuvalu’s “islands” are actually atolls and though rising sea levels are a concern for some people (indeed some wanted to relocate the country’s residents), the former PM of Tuvalu didn’t think it warranted such concern.

    Thank you for sending me looking for info.

  232. Obviously I should have refreshed the screen and seen that you guys were already talking about some of this.

  233. Perhaps intergenerational ethics tells us that poor people (us) should not sacrfice their livelihoods, health and welfare for rich people (future generations).

    Well, I suppose nobody is owed an inheritance. But given that all of civilization is a cumulative inheritance of previous generation’s efforts, many of which were motivated by a desire to create more favorable circumstances for their descendants, and almost all of whom were comparatively poorer than we are, I’m sure glad this seems to be a largely instinctive behavior on the part of human beings. Elsewise our founding fathers might have thrown the world’s largest cocktail party after the revolutionary war, rather than writing a constitution.

    The assumption that subsequent generations will be richer assumes they’ll inherit circumstances where they can become richer. If we have a massive, multi-national, nuclear war in this generation, my guess is that the next few generations will be feeling a bit of a pinch. If every generation destroyed it’s accomplishments upon exiting, I doubt we’d be much richer than your average chimp.

    File this one under “Sure, you have the right to be a jagoff. That doesn’t make you any less of a jagoff”.

  234. Screw the future!

    You can’t fuck the future, the future fucks you.

  235. Incredible, how hard some folks will parse things to come up with “you’ll all CERTAINLY rue the day you didn’t worship my magic rock!”

    And by magic rock, you can be certain they are talking about whatever massive wealth re-distribution plan du jour is being touted (carbon credits seems to be the one on this thread).

    I remember the days when joe used to run the same old rhetorical scams on me. Now I post even less than ever before – I’m sure its one of his greatest victories.

  236. Soon my people will rise up out of the waves and smite the unbelievers.

    All Hail Magic Rock!

  237. Probably too late, but…

    Russ R,

    Furthermore, the geologic record indicates that ice ages, volcanic, and impact events were associated with mass extinctions, not the warming cycles. Biodiversity proliferated during periods with warmer temperatures. (See Cambrian Explosion).

    Well, actually, there are cases where warming seems strongly associated with mass extinction. The Siberian Traps led to a massive increase in CO2, global warming, warmed oceans, which became anoxic. Bacteria that thrive in anoxic oceans began pumping out poisonous farts which filled the sea a gassed out onto the land leading to 90% of all land a sea species dieing out.

    Similar events seem to have occurred at other times in the geologic record.

    Kinnath,

    kinnath | March 25, 2008, 1:44pm | #
    We’re all connected man.

    Not really.

    Yep, really.

    It is disingenuous to assume that your actions only impact those whom you have face-to-face contact.

    More seriously, should I feel some form of guilt because children are starving in Africa and I drive a late-model 350Z?

    I wouldn’t say guilt is a very useful emotion in most situations.

    I can engage in cooperative enterprises with my family, my friends, my neighbors, my co-workers, and to some smaller extent the local area through community projects. Beyond that I have no real way of affecting other people except through free trade.

    You under-estimate your impact on others.
    Most people do.

    One could argue that in some generalized zero-sum game I have an affect on sub-saharan Africa (e.g., I consume oil from Saudi Arabia, so residents of Darfur can’t). But I don’t really buy that.

    Nor should you, but that doesn’t mean you don’t impact the people in sub-saharan Africa. Zero-sum is not required.

  238. Who said no humor involved in the environmental movement…

    Green gadget idea.
    http://www.core77.com/blog/images/washer_toilet.jpg

    No broken windows needed.

  239. BTW,

    Pig Mannix gets my vote for the best post in this thread.

  240. Putting aside the religious debate for a moment, does anyone else think those numbers are a bit odd? I didn’t see anything about them being adjusted for inflation, and $107,300 in 2100 will almost certainly be worth considerably less than $7,000 now…

  241. The dollars in those future wealth estimates are universally constant. You do have to check whether they are 1990 dollars, 2000 dollars, or present day dollars. But they are constant dollars, not nominal dollars.

    And necessarily so… It is much easier to predict the rate of economic growth than the rate of inflation.

  242. joe sez Every person who fled those islands [the two UNINHABITED “islets” he mentioned] has abandoned it.

    Apparently joe’s dictionary has a different definition of “uninhabited” from everyone elses.

    Seriously joe, you must be the world’s worst spokesman for AGW.

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