Carbon Tax

Confessions of a Former Climate Skeptic

Jerry Taylor on why he now considers climate change a serious problem.


Jerry Taylor used to be one of the foremost libertarian critics of regulatory efforts to forestall climate change. No longer. Now, as head of the Niskanen Center, he advocates for a carbon tax and urges center-right folks to take climate change more seriously.

What caused the conversion? Writing in the Bulwark, Taylor explains why one does not have to be a climate alarmist to think that climate change is a serious problem that merits a serious policy response. Writes Taylor:

The big debate in climate science right now isn't whether or not climate change is occurring—or whether human activity is the main cause. The big debate is about scale: How much change will there be, over how long a time frame, and how large (or small) will be the follow-on effects.

As a consequence, we have to think about climate change as a risk-management problem, and take seriously that our "best guess" about prospective climate changes might be wrong, and account for potential downside risks, including the possibility that some risks are greater than others. This leads Taylor to the following conclusion:

If we think about climate risks in the same fashion we think about risks in other contexts, we should most certainly hedge—and hedge aggressively—by removing fossil fuels from the economy as quickly as possible. . . .

As Taylor explains, this is a consequence of taking risk and uncertainty seriously, and need not be based upon the assumption that particularly apocalyptic scenarios are certain or even likely. Cost-effective mitigation measures make sense insofar as they provide protection against downside risks. This approach doesn't justify every potential climate policy proposal, but it is more than sufficient to overcome the "do nothing" approach favored by most Republican officeholders and conservative policy mavens.

For my part (as a fellow recovered climate policy skeptic) I have also argued that a principled commitment to property rights further counsels in favor of taking climate change seriously—again without any need to embrace apocalyptic visions of a hothouse cataclysm. While there may be good arguments against many of the policy proposals forwarded in DC, including the ill-fated Waxman-Markey climate bill and the Clean Power Plan—the alternative to these policies should not be doing nothing at all.

NEXT: When Should Plaintiffs Be Able to Sue Anonymously?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. If the globalists pushing this actually cared about the climate and truly believed the theories as presented, we’d have gone balls to the wall nuclear decades ago instead of using this as an excuse to seize and centralize government power.

    1. I have many many reasons for doubting the sincerity and even the truthiness of climate warming alarmists; this is the number one.

      If I really did believe that absent a drastic reduction in carbon use/emission, the climate was on the verge of tipping over to a runaway Venus climate, I would leave no stone unturned in pushing for nuclear power. Anyone with half a brain can see that solar and wind power are diversions: slow, expensive, and limited in ways nuclear never will be.

      I would risk shoddy construction killing millions, because that pales in comparison to the certainty of killing billions (ie, everybody).

      In short, anyone claiming global warming is in crisis who does not advocate nuclear power first, last, and in between, is a charlatan who doesn’t believe in his own cause.

      And even shorter, there are so few who actually do advocate nuclear power that I do not believe climate warming is in the top 1000 things to worry about.

    2. Don’t know about “globalists” but climate scientists do support nuclear. Even the IPCC has called for more nuclear.

      1. And yet…when it comes to actual policy choices from supposed supporters of green energy, Nuclear is always given the short straw and ignored.

        1. Although I don’t support the Green New Deal, the current version doesn’t nix nuclear.

          1. NToJ: “the current version doesn’t nix nuclear.”

            But the FAQ that was first posted on, and then removed from, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s office page, does explicitly talk about shutting down all the nukes. They’re just not sure they can accomplish that in the first ten-year plan: “It’s unclear if we will be able to decommission every nuclear plant within 10 years, but the plan is to transition off of nuclear and all fossil fuels as soon as possible.”

            See here

          2. It’s not just the new Green Deal. It’s the policy choices made by every supposed “Green” or “Global warming’s important” government. From Obama’s politics shutting down Yucca Mountain (Because, yes, a stable long term waste facility for nuclear power waste is an important consideration for supporting nuclear power) to Germany’s shutting down all its current nuclear power plants.

            There’s a vague promise of “yeah…maybe..nuclear” and then there are the actual actions made.

            1. Possibly, that is because the actual engineering to make nuclear economically competitive and safe is slow in arriving. As the price of renewables continues to plunge, it gets harder and harder for engineering advances in nuclear to stay realistic. A nuke plant is a very long term capital investment. It has to look justifiable against foreseeable competitors many decades into the future. Presently declining renewables prices complicate that analysis.

              In general, the pro-nuclear comments on this thread seem to assume anti-nuclear adversaries are mindlessly ideological. That kind of advocacy would not prove durable if nuclear advocates had solved the long-term reliability and economic-return problems of nuclear.

              1. You have that exactly backwards. By every objective measure, nuclear is already economically competitive and more safe than just about every alternative. The problem is that humans are bad at evaluating risk so nuclear is perceived as more risky than it objectively is.

                The price of renewables, on the other hand, has notably failed to plunge and remains well above any competitive measure based on actual output. No one is yet installing renewables at scale for purely economic reasons.

                1. Rossami, at what pace has the price of renewables been declining? At what pace has the cost of nuclear been declining (or not)? Extrapolate those curves for a few decades to discover the market problem nuclear proponents now confront. Far from justifying new nuclear plants, the future competitive picture those curves suggest for renewables is now being used by power companies to justify scheduling early closures of existing nuclear plants.

                  That, by the way, is all going on without yet considering the continuing cost of managing and storing nuclear waste—a problem which power companies are currently doing what they can to distance themselves from long-term, undoubtedly with an eye to eventually dumping that cost on the public as an externality.

                  1. Stephen,

                    It’s beginning to sound like you don’t fully support nuclear power. That, despite nuclear power being the only source that has been proven to be able to effectively replace fossil fuel generated electricity in a large country (France), you don’t support expanding nuclear power use.

                    Is that a fair statement, that you don’t support expanding nuclear power use?

                    1. Not fair, as a general thing. If nuclear power were safe, secure, economical, and free of its long-term waste problems, I would support it. But those are imposing “ifs.”

                      As a matter of present knowledge and practice, I am at least a skeptic, and closer to an opponent. I believe today’s nuclear power plants are safe within reason, not secure, likely uneconomical, and plagued by unsolved waste problems. I doubt some of those problems—the security problem especially—can be solved without making nuclear power uneconomical, if it is not already so for other reasons.

                      And even on the safety side, I base my favorable judgment on the apparently successful public experience with the technology. But to do that, I have to suppress personal knowledge of the daunting quality control problem that constructing a nuclear plant presents—at least with regard to the technologies used to build the plants now in service.

                      During the time that many of those plants were constructed, I worked as a steel fabricator, including extensive work with stainless steel and pressure vessels, albeit never on projects stressed to the pressure levels of nuclear power plants. A nuclear power plant is inherently dangerous in the way a giant wooden hotel is a dangerous fire hazard. Size and complexity multiply opportunities for something to go wrong, and anything which goes wrong can bring the whole thing down.

                      No steel construction project of that size gets completed without mistakes and corner cutting. Do you remember the movie, The China Syndrome? Part of the plot turned on faked weld x-rays. The technique for doing fakes of that sort is something instructors discussed during my welding training, before the movie came out. Students were cautioned to be on the lookout for it. It was said to be commonplace.

                      Nevertheless, in skilled, conscientious hands, welding is an excellent steel construction technique—but always too dependent on skill and happenstance (poorly controlled construction environments, particularly) to be reliable to high-pressure standards unless every critical weld passes x-ray testing after the weld is installed. However systematically x-ray testing was conducted, I never saw a worksite where testing wasn’t regarded as an aggravation, and an impediment to construction efficiency. Depending on circumstances—especially in the later stages of project construction—re-work of a failed weld test can occasion vastly disproportionate expense—resulting in a tendency to bias subjective judgments on behalf of passing a marginal weld.

                      Leaving all that aside, what about the security problem? What would be your estimate of the maximum force a determined terrorist attacker could bring to bear against a nuclear power station—and thus of the size of the force necessary for instant defensive response, 24-hours-a-day, 365-days a year? If terrorism is to be realistically taken into account, won’t the defense force necessary be at least several times larger than the maximum potential attack, just to assure adequate mobilization full-time? And that before any consideration of any objective to outnumber terrorist attackers in combat? And what about a reckoning of measures to make hot nuclear wastes secure against suicide attacks from the air? I suggest all that has been scandalously slighted, resulting in abiding insecurity, because the expense of doing it is so obviously prohibitive.

                      I am aware, of course, that nuclear power advocates tout revolutionary new technologies, said to reduce or alleviate these problems. When I research such claims, I discover apparently informed skepticism from experts in the field, who point to flaws that went unmentioned by original proponents. I am in no position to evaluate competing claims on their merits. But the long history of over-confidence, over-assurance, and downright public lying associated with the nuclear industry should make anyone cautious, so I am.

                      Thus, I sort of want to be in favor of an ideal nuclear solution to the nation’s energy problems—or even just a conscientiously workable solution—but as you can see, I am pretty far gone as a potential convert.

                    2. Ah….

                      I understand the concerns on nuclear power, and many are valid. The major issue here, is one of competing risk.

                      One one hand, you have global warming via CO2 emissions, somewhere between mild concern and potential world-ending devastation if nothing is done (depending who you’re talking to).

                      On the other hand, you have a power source (nuclear power), which could immediately alleviate much of these emissions, but as you’ve pointed out, there are concerns on safety and security, among others.

                      Now, if global warming is of world-ending devastation concern that demands that something immediately be done to alleviate carbon emissions, if it’s a WWIII type situation, then the concerns over nuclear power are overruled. Yes, they’re there, something to key an eye on, but GW is just too important to wait on other technologies to mature.

                      If, on the other hand, GW is more on the moderate concern side, then perhaps the concerns over nuclear safety and long term waste storage outweigh the GW risk. A dozen or more years of a few score or hundred natural gas powered electrical plants pumping out CO2 is fine and reasonable, while we wait for other technologies to mature and be available to take up the baseline electrical load that they can’t right now.

      2. theres SUPPORT as in making it front and center and ‘yeah whatever’ support. I’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader as to what kind the majority of the ‘proAGW will destroy the globe unless we do something drastic’ camp gives.

      3. And James Hansen, often called “the father of climate change awareness,” is an advocate of the use of nuclear power plants. In fact he has specifically said we can’t end global warming without nuclear.

        In the U.S., replacing all coal and natural gas (and a handful of oil-fired back-up) power plants with 200 (count ’em!) nuclear power plants, would get us to zero carbon electricity. Without even tearing up the grid.

        1. Nobody ever said that no climate alarmist, anywhere, takes this seriously. Just that most of the push comes from people who don’t.

    3. For me, the reason to doubt the AGW theory is that every single “solution” the left puts forward involves transferring wealth from the West to the third world.

    4. Unless someone sincerely thinks nuclear is as bad.

      I’m a big proponent of nuclear power myself, but this isn’t the inconsistency you think it is.

      And all those claiming bad faith because global warming requires large government action to solve are being pretty silly.

      1. Anybody who sincerely thinks nuclear is bad, is technologically ignorant. It’s our safest source of energy in terms of terawatt hours generated per lives lost, and it isn’t even a close thing.

        And that’s taking crazy outliers like Chernobyl into account.

        1. I agree; but ignorance isn’t bad faith.

          From the conversations I’ve had, it looks like a Cold War hangover. Generational, so I’d expect it to fade.

          1. I don’t expect it to fade; It might have started as a cold war hangover, but it’s currently being fed by Green propaganda indoctrination in all levels of our educational system. And that’s only getting worse with time.

            1. You think all levels of our education system are teaching that nuclear power is bad?

              Where do you think I learned that it was good?

              1. I think that you probably didn’t just graduate from high school… I did say “currently”, and that the problem is getting worse with time.

        2. Though said technological ignorance has been somewhat self-fulfilling, as we’ve not put out minds to solving the waste problem sufficiently.
          You think race and class cause NIMBY problems…

  2. Ok, let’s subsidize nuclear energy, ban private aviation, tax overseas tourism and impose tariffs on all products coming in by plane or from farther than 3000 miles away.

  3. Aren’t the solution to all the worlds problems just give the socialists more tax money and everything will be fine? I mean Kalipornia is going to be our first socialist utopia once the state requires 100% “green power” and bans any transmission lines across the state line. Hope it helps with the infectious disease outbreaks, having the most po’ people by percentage and people defecating in the streets, sidewalks and alleyways.

    1. Kalipornia
      po’ people

      Serious argumentation here.

  4. 1. A carbon tax is a miserable idea, on multiple levels.
    a. It encourages “offshoring” of carbon-intensive industries, which has the net effect of raising carbon emissions. Now the production is still going, and adds the carbon emissions of being needed to be shipped back to the original source.
    b. It is, in effect, a massive regressive tax on the people
    c. Offers to make it “revenue neutral” rarely occur. And they do, inevitably are phased out, and the carbon tax just acts as another source of revenue for the state…not a policy measure.
    d. It doesn’t truly address the massive industrialization occurring in China (and soon, India), which will massively eclipse first world emissions. Asking China and India to sabotage their economies by having a carbon tax is…naive.

    True concerns over carbon emissions need to take the form of technological advancements and reduced costs for alternative and new energy sources. If green energy is cheaper than carbon-based energy, everyone will take it up. As long as carbon-based fuels are cheaper, it encourages “cheating” in order to provide a benefit for one’s own economy (while everyone else is left with more expensive choices). And without a real enforcement mechanism…cheating is inevitable.

  5. I wish Professor Adler had included the scientific information that lead to the conversion of Mr. Taylor. As usual, it is just assumed that the science is convincingly true.

    1. Taylor’s arguing from the “Risk management” standpoint that “It could be true that climate change would be very very bad, so we should hedge against it by limiting carbon emissions”

      There are a few issues though.
      1. The poor policy choice of a carbon tax, which I allude to above
      2. Mis-analysis of the actual risk
      3. Lack of analysis of the risk of limiting carbon emissions, and the resulting economic damage.

    2. You could find some of it by following the links, but here’s a decent summary:

      1. The bibliography of the Niskansen Center Primer shows that it has some VERY serious problems with cherry picking the science. It completely ignores every single paper which contradicts or falsifies its contention. Would you trust the outcome of a court case in which the judge only listened to the plaintiff and didn’t even allow the defense counsel to rise from his seat, much less make arguments, cross-examine witnesses or present any evidence?

  6. Let’s assume that everyone in the US commits suicide tomorrow.
    How will that change the outcome?
    China and India together are over 2 billion people. Their CO2 output (huge and growing substantially every year) make ours a rounding error pretty soon.

    1. Wow things must be pretty desperate if your argument is ‘everyone else is bad; lets not try’

      1. You must be either an idiot or a demagogue to use the
        “We must do something; this is something; therefore, we must do this” argument.

        1. Except I’m not. Your objection would make sense if you and I were speaking against a particular policy.

          But you’re speaking about any action at all.

          If you’re going to support the null proposition, you’re going to need a better argument than ‘it’s all over so screw it.’

          1. No, the argument “isn’t it’s all over, so screw it”.
            The argument is the other side’s argument is moronic because it’s clearly not about what the temperature is, but, instead, who has wealth and power, and so not worth respecting.

            1. This: China and India together are over 2 billion people. Their CO2 output (huge and growing substantially every year) make ours a rounding error pretty soon.

              Is not an argument against the sincerity of those who want to do something in the country in which they live.

              It looks more like a clumsy appeal to lazy nihilism to me.

              I remember locking horns with you in like 2015. You never did this lame name-calling stuff that’s peppering your comments these days. When did you change?

  7. “Climate sceptic” or “warming alarmist” are useless labels that deflect from the rational discussion that needs to be held. What can sensibly be done to reduce global warming or climate change or whatever you call it? Models show that even if the US stops emitting carbon, the world will still go to hell in a hotpot. So, begin there. What rational and global policies can be effectively instituted to stop human carbon emissions? What — none, you say? Too bad, but that’s what I thought.

    1. Very much like reducing mass shootings. Liberals admit that their “reasonable restrictions” won’t stop them, but “That’s no reason not to have common sense gun safety laws!”

      We all identify a problem, but there’s no real way to fix it.

    2. Wait, why START with the models that predict the planet going to hell? Why not start with the models that, when run based on measurements up to 20 years ago, accurately predicted today’s measurements? Those models show quite modest warming, hopefully enough to keep us in the current interglacial period we are now.

      Then, once you predict each likely outcome weighted by probability you can perform risk mitigation.

      The Niskanen Centers summary presupposes that warming is our largest risk, even though far more people die from cold than from heat. If we really take a risk management approach, the riskiest plausible outcome is the return of the glaciers, not a return of the climate of the Cenozoic.

  8. The entire basis of the “science” of the AGW warming threat is the Greenhouse Gas Hypothesis pioneered by Svante Arrhenius. But that hypothesis has NEVER been empirically validated and is fundamentally at odds with basic thermodynamics, which (unlike the Greenhouse Gas Hypothesis) DOES accurately predict surface temperatures of planets (including Venus) having an atmosphere with surface pressure greater than 10kPa (about 1/10th the atmospheric pressure at Earth’s surface). Indeed, even James Hansen’s work on the so-called “runaway greenhouse effect” on Venus completely ignores the fact that the surface pressure on Venus is 9,200kPa, or 92 times the pressure on the Earth’s surface, and STILL lacks any rigorous explanation of the surface temperature. Basic thermodynamics, considering adiabatic compression, convection, and the difference between Earth and Venus in solar insolation, completely explains both the surface temperature of Venus AND the temperature on Venus at an altitude with 1 atm of pressure and can accurately predict both temperatures without regard to greenhouse gases. A theory that lacks any predictive ability really should not be taken too seriously, certainly not seriously enough to completely upend our entire economy.

    1. Basic thermodynamics, considering adiabatic compression, convection, and the difference between Earth and Venus in solar insolation, completely explains…

      You have no idea what you’re talking about.

      1. Sadly, I must agree.

        The greenhouse effect is proven. It’s just that it’s extension to dangerous warming is dependent on tremendously complex interactions which aren’t proven, only posited in models.

        CO2 warms the planet a tiny bit more, which causes more water to evaporate, and H2O is a much more powerful greenhouse gas, so the additional evaporation causes even more warming, which causes even more heating.

        The assumption here is that there are positive feedbacks which put the planet right on the bare edge of thermal runaway.

        But we know there are all sorts of positive AND negative feedbacks, (For instance, clouds at one altitude increase warming, at another altitude reduce it.) and the whole mess is far too complex to be accurately modeled even if we had an exhaustive list of them.

        So the model is really more of an exercise in curve fitting with excess variables, rather than a simulation of known physics. And there IS that pesky fact that almost all the models have shown much more warming than we’ve actually experienced, which suggests there’s some bias in their design.

        I fall on the side of the line that say, so long as more people are dying of too much cold than too much heat, you’re going to have a hard time convincing me the thermostat is set too high.

        1. I don’t pretend to be enough of an expert to know about the feedback effects. But thermodynamics? I know thermodynamics. And that was just buzz-wordy BS.

          I’m unconvinced by your appeal to too many degrees of freedom. It’s a problem I have with string theory, but here it’s a determined but complex system. Neither you now I have the expertise to evaluate whether the science is at a predictive point yet.
          Which is why consensus is a useful heuristic when you yourself can’t know, and so am very much on board the global warming bandwagon to the point of wanting a carbon tax.

          1. So you would have burned the witches in Salem, then…based on the heuristic situation.

            1. And you wouldn’t have?

              Don’t pretend to be some grand-high rationalist who would have risen above his time.

          2. Oh, come on, I’m an engineer, I know thermodynamics, too. That wasn’t wordy BS, it was just the truth: The system is too complicated to simulate from first principles, so they create models with a whole bunch of free parameters, and try to fit the parameters to the data. Literally an exercise in curve fitting in multiple dimensions.

            And, with the retroactive alteration of temperature records, not even fitting to real data.

            Sometimes people board the bandwagon because the experts are persuasive, and sometimes they board it because that’s where the money and your career not being destroyed is.

            Again, my bottom line is, more people die from excess cold than excess heat. Until that changes, you’re going to have trouble convincing me the planet is too warm.

            1. I want to be clear: the wordy BS wasn’t your comment, which was clear albeit IMO fallacious. The BS was DjDD’s positive statement ‘that hypothesis has NEVER been empirically validated and is fundamentally at odds with basic thermodynamics

              Similarly, Basic thermodynamics, considering adiabatic compression, convection, and the difference between Earth and Venus in solar insolation, completely explains both the surface temperature of Venus AND the temperature on Venus at an altitude with 1 atm of pressure and can accurately predict both temperatures without regard to greenhouse gases. THAT is thermodynamic technobable. Thermo is agnostic about greenhouse effects and the like; saying Thermo explains a temperature differential a temperature doesn’t exclude greenhouse effects.

              Your appeal to ‘too many degrees of freedom’ continues to be an appeal that a legit general issue is for sure what is happening based on your…feeling? Maybe based on some anecdotes?

              In this very comment you evince an understanding of science that means you have to know how dumb your bottom line is as a metric.

              1. My point here is that the modelers make assumptions about what is going on, design models with those mechanisms in them, then adjust numerous parameters in the models to optimize the models’ fit to the available past data.

                If they’re wrong about the underlying mechanisms, or miss some significant variable that’s actually driving things, the model still optimizes to the data, but fails to be predictive in the future when the variable they missed stops being correlated to the variable they based their model on.

                This can happen because the models ARE exercises in curve fitting, not just tour de force exercises in simulating basic physics. There are too many relevant phenomena involved that aren’t understood yet, such as the dynamics of cloud formation, or plant responses to CO2. So, unavoidable free parameters, lots of them.

                Now, am I ultimately skeptical about the exercise? No, eventually they’ll get it right. But the test of a model is prediction. You have to predict the future, not the past. If they’ve finally gotten it right today, we won’t know that for 2, 3 decades.

                So, in the meantime we’re being asked to make expensive choices based on unproven models, where the previous models were, frankly, lousy. The demand does not impress me.

                1. Yeah, but all you’re doing is attacking modeling as useful science generally. Which has loads of conterexamples of models advancing science even in the face of incomplete data.

                  Science has ever been an art of best guessing. And it has nevertheless been great. Am I super-duper sure it’s got it right this time? I am not. But all we can try is our best; and my belief is way above ‘more likely than not.’

                  And policy paralysis in the face of incomplete data has never been a good rout to go.

                  So lets get moving.

                  1. Modeling is highly useful, what I’m attacking is relying on models that haven’t been demonstrated to be predictive yet. (You can NOT declare a model predictive based on it’s agreeing with the data you used to construct it, you have to wait on new data.)

                    Policy paralysis in the face of incomplete data is, in fact, a really good idea, when you don’t even know the sign of what you should be doing, let alone the magnitude.

                    I’ll return to this point: We are currently in an ice age, and for in excess of 12K years have been enjoying a balmy interglacial period, which, not even slightly by coincidence coincides with a flourishing of human culture. Interglacial periods, rather disturbingly, don’t tend to last much longer than that.

                    We are, if anything, overdue for a return of the ice.

                    Are the climate models able to explain exactly what causes an interglacial period to end? Not that I’ve heard.

                    Let’s learn enough to be sure that all this CO2 isn’t staving off a return of the glaciers before we get rid of it, OK?

                    1. In any good policy analysis, you need to analyze the null proposal of doing nothing as well. There is no inherent bias towards doing nothing being a better policy. That doesn’t mean all somethings are created equal, but saying ‘the science isn’t sure enough yet because models are inherently uncertain’ is not support for the null proposal.

                      In the very same comment you protest ‘models that haven’t been empirically validated are useless’ and also put forth a narrative about an ice age. You contradict your own standard!

      2. OK, Sarcastro, since you are obviously so much smarter than I am, please cite me to one peer-reviewed paper which, based upon real-world empirical evidence (i.e., no reliance solely on GCM climate models, like Gavin Schmidt’s idiotic paper from 2017) which demonstrates AND quantifies the causal effect of CO2 on atmospheric temperatures. And, while you are at it, please point out the flaws in the paper cited above concerning thermal enhancement from adiabatic compression and convection.

        1. I’m not going to do your homework for you. I think the OP does some of that.

          I’m not smarter than you; I just had an extended fling with thermodynamics in my youth, and thus can spot a bamboozle in that area when I see it. (Note that Brett is aligned with me on that one point).

          Points more to how easy it is for non-experts to be fooled than anything about you or I. This is why I don’t tend to go into the more quonky debates about hocky-sticks and tree rings and the like.

  9. This is hardly any different from mainstream climate skepticism. If you read Anthony Watts or Judith Curry, this is precisely their reasoning. Yes, anyone who knows the physics knows that there will be some greenhouse warming. However, evidence shows that it will be low, and I have still not seen any evidence that shows the effects will be net negative, and certainly nothing that shows it will be catastrophic. Every last actual event that I have seen people blame climate change was an attempt to divert attention from negligent local or regional planning.

    On the contrary, actions taken to reduce CO2 are often extremely detrimental to the economy, humanity, or even the environment. Most notably, biofuel production, and arguably large scale wind and solar have net-negative effects on the environment past a fairly small fraction of the grid. Many people have had their poverty deepened through an attempt to restrict their electricity to only renewables (See the Scientific American article on “fake electricity”, as well as the World Bank denying funding for power plants for African and Indian regions).

    That is ignoring the elephant in the room. Essentially every proposal is several orders of magnitude too small to actually make a change. The Paris agreement would have made a reduction of 0.01C under the absolute most optimistic of scenarios, and would have bound Russia to nothing and China and India to less than nothing. It was still cripplingly expensive for Europe and America.

    This leads many activists to push “Population Reduction” in all it’s euphemisms. The one good thing I will say about the Green New Deal. It was the only correct order of magnitude proposal that did not include a substantial volume of genocide.

    So, no. My risk-reward analysis falls very much on the side of continuing to use fossil fuels until technology develops that can replace it in an economically sustainable manner.

    1. [The Green New Deal] was the only correct order of magnitude proposal that did not include a substantial volume of genocide.

      Don’t be so sure.

      “9. Ensure that population growth is kept under control by giving priority to education and health services for girls and women. …”

      Is a call for population control, it’s just more subtle.

      1. Do you know what genocide is?

        1. Yes, although I suspect you may have some confusion on the subject.

      2. Compared to explicit calls to deindustrialize (which would cause mass starvation), or actual demands for humanity’s extinction, that’s nothing.

    2. There is an extremely good chance that anyone claiming to “know thermodynamics” probably does not know thermodynamics very well. It is laughable. Curry and Waats are not skeptics and both acknowledge the greenhouse effect and warming temperatures. Not much has changed since the 1980s … the IPCC has had five major updates and their conclusion on “how much” warming has not changed .. i.e.l 1.4 to 4.5 deg “C. These are all model projections. The entire approach still is deterministic in the sense of modeling and statistics… models are focused on greenhouse gas forcing esp. CO2 and do not include important known but unquantified forcings such as solar variabilitiy, particulates, urbanization, … What has changed is the intensity of propagandizing including youth indoctrination. Many people have much at stake in the game including salaries, careers, lifetime appointments, reputations… Millennial scale projections of global temperatures should be questioned and questioning assumptions and basis of claims should be celebrated not berated not condemned… ask Galileo.

  10. Jonathan,

    While there may be good arguments against many of the policy proposals forwarded in DC, including the ill-fated Waxman-Markey climate bill and the Clean Power Plan—the alternative to these policies should not be doing nothing at all.

    May I say that this is of a piece with your previous posts on climate change. My impression, perhaps unfair, is that you are prepared to accept climate change as a reality, but unwilling to endorse any attempt to address the problem, because all proposals fail some sort of ideological test.

    You are workibg both sides of the street here. You don’t want to be labeled a “denialist,” yet feel you must maintain your bona fides with the NRO crew and others, so the strategy is to accept that there is a problem, but find endless reasons to oppose any solution.

    Prove me wrong.

  11. I repeat: since Volokh moved to Reason, the comments have been inundated by right-wing cranks.

    1. As opposed to the left wing cranks at WaPo.

    2. “Right-wing cranks” – everyone who questions the existence of a “crisis” created in the imaginations of statists in order to justify complete government control over every aspect of our lives.

      1. The immigration “crisis?” The Iran “crisis?” The abortion “crisis?”

        Bigoted right-wing cranks are among my favorite faux libertarians.

    3. From what I’ve seen the same general dynamic and regulars prevail here as in WAPOO. The biggest difference is that occasionally Somin/Eugene would make a post that would inexplicably be picked up by other outlets and the general WAPOO audience would come flooding in and spam hundreds of posts about Drumpf or ad hominem sexual or homophobic insults against conservatives. So it was mildly annoying since you couldn’t hold an adult conversation for a couple hours till the tide receded away to the next clickbait Buzzfeed/WAPOO article about how Drumpf was executing children at the border.

      So there was that, which I’m frankly fine without. Other than that, the commenting system here kinda sucks and is missing a whole bunch of QoL features for no apparent reason.

  12. Is it any real surprise when a libertarian starts writing articles from a center-left perspective once he joins the staff of a center-left publication?

    1. Libertarians are left, just not on taxes/spending and guns.

      1. Libertarians are neither left nor right. A one-dimensional model is inadequate to describe anything beyond simplistic (and highly idealized) two-party politics. It’s long past time to toss that one-dimensional model onto the garbage heap of history.

        1. “Libertarians are neither left nor right.”

          Libertarians are both left AND right.

          This is so because no two libertarians agree about much of anything, including just what, exactly, makes one a “libertarian”. There are right-ward facing libertarians, there are left-ward facing libertarians, and there are centrist libertarians.

  13. Climate SCIENCE is about whether or not the climate is changing, and if it is, how fast and how big with the change(s) be?

    Climate POLICY is about what, if anything, should be done about it. Choosing to ignore the change has the advantage of not requiring any immediate change to behavior, and a lot of people find that comforting.
    On the other hand, choosing to ignore the change doesn’t make the change not happen any more. The costs of climate change are becoming more and more obvious. More and bigger storms, hotter, drier summers in the west, with the resultant wildfire problem. More and bigger tornadoes in tornado alley. Colder winters in the north.
    Casualty insurance costs are going to rise, and any casualty insurance company that isn’t rock-solid is going to have financial problems.

    1. The costs of climate change are becoming more and more obvious.

      Are they? I would like to see the attribution analysis. You know: the percentage of the drier western summer that can be concretely ascribed to climate change, and therefore the adjusted material cost for which it can be held to blame.

      No, I think the costs are not only not obvious: they are absolutely inscrutable. You can’t pull apart a tornado and say it was 3 percent climate change that caused that $50 million in damage, so climate change got us for $1.5 million that time. Or rather, you COULD, but you would just be MAKING UP NUMBERS and all the while claiming that the costs were becoming more and more obvious.

      The impact is impossible to measure with any degree of confidence. The costs are impossible to measure with any degree of confidence. Having absolutely no credible approach to estimating those “obvious” costs means that yes, doing nothing– the definitive low-cost-outlay strategy– is a serious candidate for consideration. To some of us, it is the obvious candidate for consideration.

      1. Indeed. And the other side of the coin needs to be addressed. Did the climate change lead to any beneficial effects? Did the warmer temperatures increase growing seasons, increasing crop yield? Did it reduce heating costs in the winter? Did moderation of the extreme temperature variations reduce severe weather events?

      2. “No, I think the costs are not only not obvious: they are absolutely inscrutable. You can’t pull apart a tornado and say it was 3 percent climate change that caused that $50 million in damage, so climate change got us for $1.5 million that time.”

        Um… why would you want to do this?
        The cost of climate change is that you get more wildfires in the west, more and bigger storms, more severe winters in the north. This is readily observable.
        The fact that you can’t say “there will be exactly $15.23 billion worth of climate change damage” doesn’t mean that the damage didn’t happen.
        You can’t tell, in advance, how many people a drunk driver will kill. This doesn’t mean that dead people aren’t a cost of drunk driving.

        1. “The cost of climate change is that you get….more severe winters in the north”

          So….global warming causes more severe winters. Hmm…. Something’s askew here.

          1. That’s the brilliance of climate alarmism. Anything other than perfectly average days year-round is evidence of climate change.

            1. Evidence of the climate being different now than it used to be is evidence of climate change.

          2. “So….global warming causes more severe winters. Hmm…. Something’s askew here.”

            If something’s too complicated for you to understand, just say so.

            Climate change causes more severe winters. That’s why people who know what they’re talking about look at you like you’re saying something stupid when you make that “look at all this snow. Where’s my global warming?” joke every year.

            1. “Climate change causes more severe winters”.

              For the sake of argument, we’ll assume by climate change you mean global warming via increased greenhouse gas emissions, and not some obscure other type of climate change (IE volcanic sulfur emissions).

              So, why don’t you explain how increased warming is going to create more severe winters? Please, go into depth.

              1. Heat does not have a uniform effect on temperature.
                This is a solved problem. Has been for like a century The ‘if global warming, why snow’ argument has been asked and answered many times, don’t play the fool.

                1. “Heat does not have a uniform effect on temperature”

                  Depends… But, for the sake of argument, in general, heat applied in a specific area of a system will heat up that area of the system at a faster rate, before it can equilibrate to the rest of the system.

                  Where James really gets in trouble is when he seems to claim that additional heat will cause a reduction in temperature. Which….is generally wrong. Indeed, if you look at the average winter temperatures in Minnesota, for example, they’re going up. Not down. Not more severe. And in fact, higher average temperatures would moderate any cold-weather events (in terms of temperature)

                  Note, I didn’t claim anything about weather or snow or anything. Indeed, James made the claim about “more severe winters”. Which means he’s either making a weather argument about GW (which is wrong), or he’s actually thinking GW will lower average temperatures (Which is dead wrong). Worse, he complicates it by not explaining his position, but insinuating anyone who questions an unusual argument is too dumb to understand.

                  This, BTW, undermines your entire line of argument on GW, when facts and theories, especially very unusual ones like James purports, aren’t backed up, but are just responded to with “you’re too dumb, listen to the smart people in charge” It makes it sound like you’re 17th century preachers blaming everything on the devil.

                  1. Additional heat energy will cause more chaos in any non equilibrium areas of the system. More chaos means more variability in temperature, among other things.

                    So the average goes up, but so does the deviation. Pointing to Minnesota as a counterexample only works if JP had said ‘always causes.’

                    You can’t draw a causal line to a specific event, but that doesn’t mean nothing is happening.

                    I’m not undermining anything by calling out your glib ‘if winter why cold’ strawmanning of JP’s comment.

        2. “The cost of climate change is that you get more wildfires in the west, more and bigger storms, more severe winters in the north. This is readily observable.”

          Except that NOAA says that’s not actually true.

          “With increased National Doppler radar coverage, increasing population, and greater attention to tornado reporting, there has been an increase in the number of tornado reports over the past several decades. This can create a misleading appearance of an increasing trend in tornado frequency. To better understand the variability and trend in tornado frequency in the United States, the total number of EF-1 and stronger, as well as strong to violent tornadoes (EF-3 to EF-5 category on the Enhanced Fujita scale) can be analyzed. These tornadoes would have likely been reported even during the decades before Doppler radar use became widespread and practices resulted in increasing tornado reports. The bar charts below indicate there has been little trend in the frequency of the stronger tornadoes over the past 55 years.”

          And, by “little trend”, they mean that the only trend they’ve seen is DOWN.

          Worse storms is an activist talking point, not a scientific observation.

          1. A good example “bigger badder storms” are the warmists predicting more bigger and more intense hurricanes due to warme sea surface temps.

            Adjusting for observational deficiencies, the accumulated cyclone energy index (ACE) has remained virtually unchanged since the mid 1800’s. During the same period of time, the SST has increased at a similar rate as the overal temp increase. In effect, the rising SST trend line has had no effect on the flat ACE trend line, yet, the climate science consensus is that some unknown day in the future, that trend line will shift.

            1. In fact, my general expectation would be that greenhouse mediated warming would suppress storm intensity. Storms are, essentially, heat engines, and the greenhouse effect raises temperatures by insulating the heat sink end of those engines. Not exactly what you’d expect to boost engine power.

              That is just my general expectation, though. It could certainly work out differently. Just doesn’t seem to be, to date.

              1. “In fact, my general expectation would be that greenhouse mediated warming would suppress storm intensity”

                If you think it’s relevant that your expectations are contrary to other peoples’, OK. Most of us had figured that out, already.

                Storms are driven by heat energy. So your theory is that if there is more heat energy, the intensity of the storms will go down? So, then, what is causing the increases?

                1. “Storms are driven by heat energy”.

                  That’s not exactly true. Storms are driven by a differential in heat energy (or temperature).

                  Now, what global warming does is an interesting effect. It raises temperatures. However, the way it does so (by absorbing IR and re-radiating as heat), effectively acts to equalize temperature differentials. By acting to equalize temperature differentials, it may effectively reduce storms.

                  1. Where are you getting this? Because that’s just not true in a system with oceans.

                    1. Climatology 101. Winds, weather, storms, etc, are a response to the uneven heating of the earth by the sun. Temperature differentials.

                    2. Except global warming doesn’t act to equalize temperature differentials in a system with oceans acting as thermal sinks.

                2. Polloack comment – “Storms are driven by heat energy. So your theory is that if there is more heat energy, the intensity of the storms will go down? So, then, what is causing the increases?”

                  FWIW – The empirical evidence shows that the number/frequency/intensity of storms has remained flat for the last 170+ years. The warmists claims of increaing intensity & frequency is without empirical data supporting the alarmist/warmist claims.

        3. Except that none of the things you list as “readily observable” actually are observable.

          Are there more wildfires reported in the west? Yes. How many of those are the result of our decades long self-destructive forest management policies which lead to a massive buildup of debris, brush and undergrowth? (That is, regardless of climate.) How many are the result of people choosing to live in closer proximity to forests and therefore more likely to report fires than previously would have gone unremarked?

          Are there more big storms or bigger storms? No, the actual measured evidence is explicitly against you on this one. The actual measures of storm energy and large storm count is flat to slightly down over the period of CO2 increase. The only two measures going up are total storm count with the increase entirely in the small storms that were previously beyond our ability to find and report and $ amount of storm damage – a factor that is skewed by our continued policies of incenting construction in known storm zones.

          1. “Except that none of the things you list as “readily observable” actually are observable.”

            Pick a news channel that doesn’t have a politically-biased reason to obscure it.

            “Are there more big storms or bigger storms? No, the actual measured evidence is explicitly against you on this one.”

            Right. All those people saying their houses are underwater are mistaken, or speaking figuratively?

      3. ” To some of us, it is the obvious candidate for consideration.”

        As I said, some people like stupid but easy solutions.

  14. If we think about climate risks in the same fashion we think about risks in other contexts, we should most certainly hedge—and hedge aggressively—by removing fossil fuels from the economy as quickly as possible. . . .

    I’ve been in the financial markets for 35 years, and the writer of the above wouldn’t know a hedge if it snuck up behind him and bit him on the ass.

    1. I’ve been in the financial markets for 35 years, and the writer of the above wouldn’t know a hedge if it snuck up behind him and bit him on the ass.

      Is that like a shrubbery?

    2. My understanding is a hedge’s function is to sneak up behind you and cover your ass.

  15. It is striking how few of the comments respond at all to the theme of the OP—which is not about endorsing or debunking climate models. It is about which approaches make sense when managing risks of uncertain magnitudes and uncertain probabilities.

    1. You’re new here aren’t you?

    2. “It is about which approaches make sense when managing risks of uncertain magnitudes and uncertain probabilities.“

      The one approach which makes NO sense is to accept as a given the existence of a risk when there is zero empirical evidence for its existence. Under your approach, we should develop an approach to deal with the possibility that human civilization is attacked by millions of fire-breathing dragons – a risk of “uncertain magnitude and uncertain probability.”

      1. We’ve put some of our most imaginative brains on that exact subject, and the result is kaiju movies.

        1. And yet there are no kaiju-and-trade policies enacted anywhere in the world. We’re just burying our heads in the sand.

          The policies of the unregulated capitalism are driving us towards a point of increasing kaiju attacks. We should be paying taxes now to offset the inevitable expenses that will come when (not if) kaiju attacks begin to destroy major coastal cities.

      2. It is hard to take seriously any argument from someone willing to ignore each of: laboratory science, rising measured CO2 levels in the atmosphere, and a profusion of observations from the natural world (retreating glaciers, northward species migrations, melting ice caps, advancing seasonal responses among species, etc.). You may find that evidence unconvincing. A claim that they amount to “zero empirical evidence” is preposterous.

        Equally striking? The dearth of empirical evidence pointing in the other direction.

        1. “and a profusion of observations from the natural world (retreating glaciers, northward species migrations, melting ice caps, advancing seasonal responses among species, etc.). ”

          Those items mentioned are very strong evidence that the earth is warming.

          There is good theoritical evidence that rising CO2 is a contributing factor, but there is very little evidence that co2 is anything more than a minor contributing factor. It is highly unlikely that the rising co2 is a major factor, much less, the driving factor in the current warming.
          280ppm to 400ppm. That is the equivilant of going from 3 parts to 4 parts out of 10,000 over a period of 170+years.

        2. Stephen Lathrop, you are either being willfully obtuse or just a liar. The claim for which I asserted “no empirical evidence” was the claim of attribution – that increases in CO2 is the primary, if not sole driver of warming temperatures. I do NOT deny, and never did, (a) the fact that Earth has experienced minor warming (about 0.8 degree C) from 1880 to the present; or (b) the fact that atmospheric levels of CO2 have increased from about 280 ppmv to about 410 ppmv during the same period. But SHOW ME THE EVIDENCE that (b) is the direct and proximate cause of (a).

          1. You said there was no evidence. All of that is evidence, which you choose to deny piecemeal to avoid confronting its imposing totality. The strength of that totality is in the variety of its methods. Lab science makes a powerful case that (b) is the direct and proximate cause of (a). Empirical results from myriad studies stand as confirmations of the predictions from the laboratory.

            That is a classic example of the scientific method at work, but standing ready to be falsified. Falsification would require science to the contrary, which seems not to be forthcoming, or unpersuasive. For instance, critiques of climate models as inaccurate are inherently unpersuasive, because the models themselves are not the empirical evidence justifying the theory. What is your suggestion for the most persuasive falsification of the empirical case for man-caused global climate change?

            1. Steve – As Diver & I stated, there is plenty of solid evidence that the earth is in a warming trend. The evidence you cited is clearly solid evidence for the warming trend. However, there is good theoretical evidence that co2 is a contributing factor in the warming, but very little if any evidence that co2 is the primary driver.

    3. Look, this is “precautionary principle” thinking. And the precautionary principle is just a fancy way of saying, “Don’t just stand there, DO SOMETHING.”, in cases where you don’t actually have enough information to decide what to do.

      We’re in the middle of an ice age right now, basking in a temporary inter-glacial period. That’s the long term climate reality. There’s an enormous amount of downward risk when it comes to climate, that climate alarmists don’t like to talk about, because they’ve focused on warming as the threat of the moment.

      For all we know, anthropogenic global warming is the only reason the glaciers aren’t marching across civilization, burying our cities under miles of ice. There’s significant reason to believe this might be the case.

      Taking a leap in the dark kind of requires knowing which direction you need to leap. People advocating the “precautionary principle” generally rig the game by specifying what you’re to take precautions against, and implicitly ruling out of consideration threats that might counsel the opposing action from what they want.

      1. “For all we know . . . ”

        Right. We know damned little about future climate. What we do know about, is the climate upon which our present biological, ecological, and economic systems are founded. Specifically, we know those systems depend on the continuation, insofar as may be possible, of the climate in which they evolved, and with which we are accustomed. Any thought to the contrary is as subject to standard climate-skeptic-like critiques about uncertainty as the climate models themselves are.

        That leads conservatives to conclude, “Best to do what we can to avoid too much change to the material basis of our civilization.” Against that conservative argument are arrayed objections of at least 5 distinct kinds:

        1. Nothing man-made is happening. It’s all a hoax, perpetrated by people trying to make money by fooling everyone.

        2. We can’t know with specificity what is going to happen, so we can’t afford to care. And especially we refuse to suffer arguments based on the direction of change as justifying policies which push in the opposite direction. Everything must wait until the future has been quantified with an accuracy beyond our ability to object.

        3. We refuse to consider anything that is happening to be sufficiently threatening to justify policy changes. All the policy changes would require collective action, and market regulations. Our ideology insists on limiting policy to individual choices, in a free-market context. We judge the magnitude of climate threats according to the challenge to our ideology posed by any proposed solutions.

        4. People advocating policy responses to climate change are people we oppose, on everything. If they prefer a policy, we oppose it.

        5. Proposed policies are too expensive. We don’t know how costly the damages might be, or when they will occur, so it is stupid to suffer expenses now to prevent damages later.

        Brett, can you think of any objection to climate-change policy which is not motivated by reasoning from one of those categories, or some combination of them? Do any of those 5 strike you as a more conservative approach than advocating policies to minimize climate change?

        What I am looking for here is a test of reason, not some diatribe about China and India. Please note that reason excludes the China/India kind of response for anyone who objects to unknowable futures.

        1. I suppose you’d class Bjorn Lomberg’s work as #5?

          I think we can conclusively say that rising CO2 levels are the work of man. I’m tentatively willing to agree that this is going to lead to some degree of warming. I am as yet rather unpersuaded that it will be a large amount of warming; So far the climate seems to be running cooler than most of the models.

          Now, prove that some degree of warming is a bad thing. Rather than just assuming that the Earth was at some global optimum temperature back in the 60’s or whenever. Again, more people dying of cold than heat, remember?

          Prove that it’s a bad enough thing to be more expensive than the proposed remedies. Taking into account the lost growth to the global economy due to that expense, mind you.

          Give me some reason to think that any proposal capable of reversing this stands some realistic chance of being adopted widely enough to actually do that. Rather than just being a unilateral cost to no ultimate effect because the developing world burns enough coal to swamp the reductions in the developed world.

          Don’t just assert these things, demonstrate them.

  16. I expect that the majority of readers winced (justifiably) at the loaded term “climate policy skeptic.” Most flinch at the word “denier.” The catchy kicker (“not do nothing”) at the end of this post was obvious bait.
    Only those utterly unaware of the planet’s geologic history think that climate conditions are stable. Yes, yes, “humans have contributed” heat and pollution to the environment – without malice. Many recognize that there’s change. It’s a shame that all this is politicized.
    What appalls me most is that few climate alarm advocates (even those shrouded by cover of actuarial terminology) speak to the urgency of adapting to change (whatever the place or scale). No, no … policy makers priority is “stop climate change” and “reverse climate change” through taxation. Tax carbon, tax the use of natural resources, nudge-nudge-nudge. This approach to does not impress.
    All species have always had to adapt to survive climate changes (plural), even sudden, natural, cataclysmic climate changes. If seas are rising rapidly, better get to moving those massive populations uphill or build seawalls (how’s Holland faring? Go take notes). If temperatures are rising and storm patterns are really on the rise, engineers should be focusing their efforts on heat-exchange technology instead of what may be poorly-situated wind farms. Get on with whatever …and that whatever should be tangible.

    1. “No, no … policy makers priority is “stop climate change” and “reverse climate change” through taxation.”

      The core problem is that since the link between actions that cause climate change, and the damages resulting from climate change, is highly complex. Our legal system has long been able to handle cases where one person does something that harms another person (or their property) and the link between action and harm is clear, direct, and obvious.
      Sometimes, though, it’s possible to harvest profits from some activity because someone else pays the costs. My lead mine produces gold for me, and lead poisoning for people downwind of my mine. But how do they prove that it was MY lead that poisoned them?
      The goal of applying taxation are twofold… first, you generate money that can be used to help people adversely affected, and secondly, it encourages people to alter their behavior without setting a law that says “You have to…”

    2. It’s a shame that all this is politicized.

      No. Except for violence, however organized, politics is the only tool people have to deal with collective problems. The shame is using a premise that there are no collective problems, or that there shouldn’t be.

      All species have always had to adapt to survive climate changes (plural), even sudden, natural, cataclysmic climate changes.

      Problem is, this particular change is more sudden, and notably so, than any previous climate change science has disclosed. That is at once suggestive evidence that today’s change is man-made, and also sufficient evidence to open the question whether species will fare less well in this instance than in previous (unlike) examples.

      1. “Problem is, this particular change is more sudden, and notably so, than any previous climate change science has disclosed.”

        More so than any previous climate change the advocates presently care to acknowledge. For instance, the “little ice age” had a fairly fast onset.

        I think they don’t want to talk about fast onset climate changes in the past, because they were mostly downward, and the activists don’t want anybody thinking about the possibility of downward temperature excursions at the moment.

        1. I think they don’t want to talk about fast onset climate changes in the past, because they were mostly downward, and the activists don’t want anybody thinking about the possibility of downward temperature excursions at the moment.

          You are attributing bad faith to those you disagree with. What a surprise.

          1. I’m observing bad faith. The East Anglia emails did get leaked, remember. They’re not getting stuffed down the old memory hole.

            Past temperature records ARE being messed with, conspicuously.

            Peer review IS being gamed to suppress the other side of the argument.

            That doesn’t mean that global warming is a total fabrication, but some dodgy things ARE going on.

            1. Right. Anything that can be spun as “dodgy” implies that everyone who takes the same side of a debate is acting in bad faith.

      2. Huh? Do you even know where you are? Politics IS violence; just highly organized. If you want to deal with some collective problem without violence, start a corporation, duh.

  17. I’m enjoying the pivot from ‘it’s not happening’ to ‘there’s no point in doing anything about it.’ It’s making the comments here especially incoherent.
    And yet neither side takes the other to task. Almost as though they’re tribal allies just trying on arguments.

    1. Are you a lawyer?
      Have you ever heard of arguing in the alternative?

      1. No one is claiming to be arguing in the alternative.

        Even more tellingly, no one is actually arguing the it’s all a hoax science attempts that used to be copypasted all over threads like this, except for DjDD for whom it is not going well.

        I will note that the ships passing in the night issue I brought up has Brett as a counterexample.

        1. I don’t think it’s all a hoax, but I’m open to the possibility that there’s a hoax component to it, because some of the adjustments to the temperature records in the US and several other countries, (Australia, for instance.) look rather dodgy. High quality rural stations having their temperatures brought into agreement with urban stations subject to the heat island effect, for instance. It has been established that, if you restrict your analysis to just the rural stations that haven’t had their numbers “adjusted”, the warming rate declines rather significantly.

          But, notably, doesn’t go away completely.

          1. And I don’t deny that as with any academic area, there is some monkeying with the numbers to get the result you expect. But the idea that this effect has dominated for years in the aggregate will require more evidence than that it has happened in specific instances.

            1. And more evidence will require more transparency.

          2. A hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, no doubt.

        2. So far as I can tell, I’m the ONLY one here to have cited a published scientific paper written by a PhD in Atmospheric Physics in support of my argument. So, yeah, if by “not going well” you mean that no one has yes offered a substantive response to that, I guess you are right.

          1. The rebuttal is that your paper, at least as you interpreted it, fails Thermodynamics 101.

    2. Everyone agrees that the climate is changing. It’s been changing from the beginning of the earth, and it’s changing now. What we deny is that it’s “settled science” that human CO2 emissions have caused that change (there’s zero evidence of that), and when the left’s power grabbing schemes purport to only slow down the “We’re totally screwed” such that it happens in 2080 instead of 2075, it’s hard to take it seriously.

    3. And I don’t see pivots.
      I see layers and layers of objections, only one of which need suffice to destroy the “let’s ground every airplane, grab everyone’s money, and imprison anyone who disagrees with us” argument.

      1. Layers of objections? What, that the other side are morons, hoaxers, AND Marxists?

        As I said, look at a climate thread from just 2 years ago. People were arguing graphs and stuff that global warming was full-on not happening. Still wrong, still bamboozling, but they at least pretended to be into the science.

        Now that’s a rare breed and the new hotness seems to be ‘consider my policy argument or you’re a liar!’

        You can pretend it’s actually just a layered defense, but it looks more to me like a fallback defense.

        1. A fallback defense is a layer defense.

          The number of commentators here has declined so I don’t think a decline in assertions that it is a hoax is meaningful.

          1. Falling back from one layer to another is fine in the courtroom, but a bit more problematic when you’ve claimed all who disagree with your original position are dupes or liars.

            And then you withdraw from your original position.

            The VC’s sample size is small and not a great representation of the right generally. But the regulars that remain have notably shifted their chosen thesis.

      2. “I see layers and layers of objections, only one of which need suffice to destroy the “let’s ground every airplane, grab everyone’s money, and imprison anyone who disagrees with us” argument.”

        This will come in handy if anybody ever makes a “let’s ground every airplane, grab everyone’s money, and imprison anyone who disagrees with us” argument.
        Although, there have been some rallies recently where chanting “lock them up” over and over when referring to political opponents has been popular, so at least one third of this unholy triad of imaginary arguments is at least one the horizon, if not the one you imagined.

    4. I don’t know about your experience, but most of the Climate Skeptic community has been saying “it’s too small to worry about and the cures are worse than the disease” for decades now.

      It’s only the small fringe that thinks it doesn’t exist. It’s similar to the fringe that thinks India will be uninhabitable in 20 years. They aren’t important, don’t understand the facts, and aren’t very numerous. However, those groups are loud, so people hear them a lot

      1. Could be. All I have is my sample here, and occasional dipping my toe into more fringy places for fun.

        I’ve heard the economic argument before, but not the nihilistic one. And the death of the complete denial position does seem a notable shift to me.

        1. I haven’t encountered the nihilistic argument much. After all, it does require taking seriously the more extreme predictions; “Climate zones will move a couple hundred miles North over the course of the century!” is not normally the stuff of nihilistic resignation.

          1. Indeed – I’m commenting on them here because they’re new to me. But they’re coming from multiple vectors on this thread.

  18. Niskanen Center and The Bulwark. Quite a laughable combination.

    “Climate change could end human civilization by 2050: report”

    This a good example of pseudo science perpetuated by the alarmist community.

    Yes the earth has been on a warming trend for the last 170+ years and yes the increased co2 may be a contributing factor.
    However, science fiction masquerating as legitimate science doesn’t enhance the credibility of the actual scientists, nor does it provide any insight to the science.

  20. Nuclear waste is valuable and recyclable. And it should only get better if we continue to invest and research.
    Recycling Nuclear Waste

  21. The problem with his position is that it assumes that our predictive abilities are sufficiently well-developed to even know what the spread of distributions is in order to conclude what hedges make sense. But they aren’t, and that’s where this all falls apart.

  22. Not an argument. “We must act because the outcome might be bad” is the sort of thing you do in risk management, but if the cost of dealing with the risk is too great, the answer is to not be in that business to begin with.

    1. The business of living on earth?

      1. The business of green industry. Take an environmental economics course sometime. The best path forward is to follow the market. When fossil fuels are no longer viable, that’s when change will occur. If global warming is really so damaging, it will be reflected in the markets.

        1. “If global warming is really so damaging, it will be reflected in the markets.”

          IF, and it’s a big “if”, all of the costs are correctly attributed. If they aren’t, and costs can be and are transferred to others, then markets will happily ignore those costs because someone else is paying them.

        2. Markets’ timescale is not what you think it is.

  23. Yes, there is a greenhouse effect at work. The unanswered question is whether the planet reacts to it very little or a whole bunch.

    A whole bunch is if the planet warms up more than 2 degrees C for a doubling… the IPCC assessment reports still think the upper bound is over 4 degC.

    If it is 1.25C like some physicists think, there is no problem. At all. It takes a 2C increase for a doubling to even have climate instabilities (think tipping points). Warming would be mild and small compared to natural variations, and some also think that a big natural variation pointing to cooling is upon us… that solar cycle 25 will be less energetic than 24 has been, and cycle 26 will herald a Daltonish or even Maunderish solar minimum. Little Ice Age conditions.

    Warmists keep ignoring the energetic Sun that has illuminated the planet from the 1930’s until fairly recently has been at an 8000 year peak; I’d bet the crash of the Warmist alarm politics will be in the next five years.

  24. There are way too many holes in global warming to take it seriously at this point.

    The one I always go to first is this: The best models in the world, ones whose fundamental mechanisms have still not been updated, predicted twice as much warming as occurred. IMO this alone makes it likely they’re off by half. Which means it is a non issue.

    Then there’s stuff about knock on effects, the reality that solar cycle based models predicted the observed changes almost spot on, etc etc etc.

    Is the earth warming a bit? Yet. But we have no real idea why or how much. Even the catastrophic guesses are not actually going to be world ending… So until they can actually create a model that works at guessing future temps before they happen, I will remain skeptical.

Please to post comments