Climate Change

Webinar on the Economics and Law of Climate Adaptation

Adapting to Climate Change: Economic and Legal Perspectives featuring Matthew Kahn and Robin Craig

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This Wednesday, at noon EDT, the Coleman P. Burke Center for Environmental Law at Case Western Reserve University School of Law is hosting a webinar, "Adapting to Climate Change: Economic and Legal Perspectives," featuring Matthew E. Kahn, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Economics and Business and Director of the 21st Century Cities Initiative at Johns Hopkins University, and Robin Kundis Craig, James I. Farr Presidential Endowed Professor of Law, University Distinguished Professor, University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law.

Here's a brief description of the event:

Some degree of significant climate change is inevitable. Even aggressive greenhouse gas emission reduction strategies will not eliminate the need to adapt to ongoing environmental changes. Adaptation will be an essential element of the climate policy toolkit. In the new book, Adapting to Climate Change: Markets and the Management of an Uncertain Future, economist Matthew Kahn explores how decisions about where we live, how our food is grown, and where new business ventures choose to locate are impacted by climate change and suggests new ways that big data can be deployed to ease energy or water shortages to aid agricultural operations and proposes informed policy changes related to public infrastructure, disaster relief, and real estate to nudge land use, transportation options, and business development in the right direction. The law, however, is not always attentive to ecological demands, and to the broader environmental changes wrought by climate change. How climate adaptation occurs will be influenced and shaped by legal rules, both in the context of environmental law and more broadly.

In this webinar, Matthew Kahn, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Economics and Business, and Robin Craig, James I. Farr Presidential Endowed Professor of Law, will examine the law and economics of climate adaptation.

It is hard for me to think of two people I would rather discuss and learn about climate adaptation with than Kahn and Craig, so please join us for what will be a fascinating conversation.

The webinar is free and CLE approval in Ohio is pending. Registration information is here.

NEXT: "The Common Objects of their Love"

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  1. We are overdue for a Mini Ice Age from the Maunder Minimum.

  2. The mean time for a CO2 molecule at elevated energy to conduct this energy to adjacent molecules in the atmosphere is about one-millionth of the mean time for a CO2 molecule at elevated energy to emit a photon. Ponder that.

    1. You about to pull in Plank’s equation or Stephan Bolzman? ha ha

    2. There are about 1.04 × 10^40 CO2 molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere.

      1. FYI, Numberphile showed there are 3.28 x 10^80 particles (i.e. photons, neutrons, electrons, etc.), in the Universe.

  3. The two most important initiatives promoted by climate change activists—ethanol in America and diesel passenger cars in the EU—have been unmitigated economic and public health and environmental DISASTERS!! If you want to reduce carbon emissions my advice is to do as little as possible. 😉

    1. I agree. They were promoted as climate change initiatives, but the former was actually a scheme to enrich investors in and owners of ethanol producers, starting with the Bush family. I was hoping Trump would have gotten rid of this, along with the goofy gas can regulations that result in gas cans that don’t work.

      1. Ethanol got its big push during the arab oil embargo of 1973 and the second oil embargo during the carter administration.

    2. The electric car is an unmitigated environmental disaster. It needs to be banned. Child slaves mine the lithium. China has a 75% monopoly on the cobalt. The battery costs $16000 every 5 years. Its range goes to 100 miles in winter. The rapid charger costs $250000 and requires a zoning hearing for the drain on the electric supply of the town. Disposal cost 5 times more than the child slavery. It all gets dumped and leaches into all parts of the environment.

      1. Who needs to read Twitter when I can read a 10-second condensed version of all that B.S. here, from you!

        Such a service!

      2. “battery costs $16000 every 5 years.”
        Total BS. Let’s do the numbers.
        The average family car goes 12,000 mi/yr that is only 40 deep discharge cycles for a 50 kW-hr battery that costs less than $40,000 installed and has a half life of more than 2000 deep discharge cycles.

        1. In addition in CA the average owner of BEV drive only about half the miles of the owner of gas powered vehicles.
          That means that in term of battery value alone the resale value will be higher than comparable gas-powered cars.

      3. China has a 75% monopoly on the cobalt.

        China isn’t in the top ten cobalt producing countries in the world, you racist loon. It’s the DRC, not the PRC, that produces most of the world’s cobalt.

  4. Still wondering why John Kerry Climate Czar bought a house on the water at Martha’s Vineyard.

    1. Because it’s a beautiful place to live and he’s got the cash and political connections to ensure he takes little to no loss?

      Climate change isn’t going to impact the daily lifestyles of the rich and famous; it’s going to–is–messing with the poor.

      1. Right on, shawn.

  5. Another stimulating, thoughtful thread.

    1. Many thanks for your own sage contribution.

      1. Not particularly sage, but more so than the reflexive BS from others. Morons.

        1. Pete Townshend: Here’s a song by Mose Allison. He was a musical sage. I’m not really sure what that means.

          Keith Moon [faintly heard from the drum set]: It means he tastes good on chicken.

  6. Great a “rent a keynsian economist” with no hard science or engineering background is now telling us how we should give up our liberties to “the experts” because of a problem that well we are not sure if it is a problem in terms of human action/living standards..if it is driven by man or a natural cycle or if the climate is changing at all…this is just another example of allowing liberal art majors who live in “never never land” control our lives..all these folks should be kept far away from any decisions on our lives..

  7. Let’s bring Tom Massie on and have this discussion…a much much smarter person than this lawyer

  8. The solutions proposed by the climate activists such as 100% renewables, subsidies for fossil fuels vs renewable energy, demonstrates that the activists have a very low comprehension of basic engineering and basic economic concepts. Which begs the obvious question is how they can have the superior intellectual capacity to understand the complexities of climate science when they as so wrong on basic engineering and economic concepts.

    1. Tom,
      Anything but a Greta Thunberg, brainless analysis shows that 100% renewables + suitable large scale storage makes no economic sense, i.e., results in electricity that is too expensive. What is needed to fill in the poor availability of wind and solar power is gas turbine peaking generators. Presently, nuclear power is too expensive to build. Small modular reactors may change that. But even if they do. Fission reactors are not suitable for peaking generation.
      So some amount of large scale storage will be needed. Maybe that could be provided by all the BEVs that are prohibited from being on the road those days. If the grid can stand that.

      1. Eh, this sounds to me like Malthusian thinking, i.e. extrapolating based on current limitations.

        Not that we should aim for 100% renewables with a clear timeline; progress doesn’t work like that. But it’s also not a long-term goal to scoff at.

        1. “Malthusian thinking”?
          Not at all S_0 and not if you know anything in detail about the power market, actual availability of renewables and the costs of large scale energy storage.
          You might also check the weather patterns in large areas such as Europe such as the UK where recently there was no wind and and overcast skies for three consecutive days.
          There is also no reason why 100% wind and solar is a “goal to strive for.” By their very nature they are unsuitable for baseload power.
          without a large amount of peaking generation from gas turbines.

          Not taking account of modern engineering is setting wind and solar as religious goals, not to mention ignoring their environmental impacts in installing 10’s of thousand of sq km of generators. Of course, Germany had a solution for that colonialism of Northern Africa.

          1. I’ve taken courses on energy policy.

            The limits you’re talking about are based on current understandings of the technology. As you even admit when you bring up energy storage above.

            Just as Malthus based his thinking on current grain yields, and couldn’t imagine things differently, our understanding of what’s exploitable and how is only for today.

        2. I should also add that this is a position taken by an LBNL study and in a recent article in ISSUES in Science and Technology

          1. They said we will never be able to reach 100% renewables? If so, I have the same objection – they are confusing current engineering limits with fundamental physical limitations.

      2. Don Nico, what price per kilowatt hour do you suppose is the best renewables will be able to deliver on their own? Based on no subsidies for either renewables or fossil fuels, how does that figure compare with current pricing in the nation’s more-expensive electricity markets. What do you suppose is the highest price currently being paid in any retail electrical market with substantial population?

        And what defines, “too expensive?” I presume you are smart enough not to be suggesting merely, “More expensive than alternatives with different externalities.”

        What fraction of total electrical demand do you think could be eliminated by economically reasonable (defining reasonable in terms of the higher costs for energy you project) investments in conservation?

        How big is the actual gap between what might reasonably be attainable by exclusive use of renewables, on one hand, and what will happen with continued fossil fuel reliance with externalities figured in, on the other hand?

        Do you have confidence you can deliver useful, reliable answers those questions?

        1. “what price per kilowatt hour do you suppose is the best renewables will be able to deliver on their own?”
          The LCOE range for solar is $25 to $125 per MWhr.
          For onshore wind from $40 to $120; for off shore wind from $60 to $170 per MWhr.
          The value of an LCOE is subject to the assumptions concerning the quantification of discount rate, overnight construction costs, construction time, O&M costs, decommissioning costs, fuel prices (fuel cycle), heat rate, capacity availability factor and economic life.
          Notwithstanding the economic realities absent government subsidies and most-favored regulation. Recent deals to provide Solar generation have come in at $20 MWHr.

          Conservation says nothing about preferred means of generation. It is always preferable not to use energy unnecessarily. There is still considerable room to improve energy efficiency in appliances, new building and even in industrial processes. Efficiency and conservation are first “no regrets” steps to take.

          Too expensive is simple. It means that cheaper sources of energy generation are available on the grid.

          How big is the gap is a question that is time variable. At present including wind and solar the peak electrical generating capacity in Germany is about 150% of the baseline demand. German energy policy is that wind and solar must always be used in Germany to meet demand if they are available. Consequently, sources of baseload power which are not easily variable over short time periods must search for buyers outside of Germany for their electricity. The result is not infrequent periods in which the spot price of electricity is negative. What happens when wind and solar supplies are low? The baseload sources in Germany are insufficient to meet demand. In that case Germany buys electricity fro coal-fired plants in Poland or nuclear plants (forbidden in Germany) in France.

          An addition difficult brought about by the most-favored source policy has been the perverse incentive that as the cost of producing renewable generation decreases, the return on investment for the production of large scale storage has been decreasing. Therefore, until this trend changes there will not be muti-day (3 or 4 at least) storage available at the scale of a European nation or a mega city.

          The answers are not simplistic and have nothing to do with one’s environmental “religion.”

          1. Too expensive is simple. It means that cheaper sources of energy generation are available on the grid.

            To repeat Stephen’s question, are you taking externalities into account?

            What does LCOE stand for?

            1. LCOE stands for levelized cost of energy which its primary purpose is to show only the costs associated with the specific source of the electric generation.

              Unfortunately, LCOE by design omits other relevant costs in its equation which makes any analysis of costs using LCOE highly deceptive.

              For example, for wind and solar, LCOE omits the cost of back up power during times of low electric generation from wind and solar, it omits the costs of maintaining both reliability and frequency stablization across the grid, omits the additional transmission costs.

              It should be noted that during the Feb 2021 Texas winter storm that electric generation from fossil fuels lost approx 40% of capacity for approx 12 hours and lost approx 25-30% electric generation from fossil fuels for 30-36 hours. Basically a 2 – 2&1/2 day period.

              forgotten is that electric generation from Wind and solar power dropped by 70-90% for a 9 day period. This 9 day period was not only across the state of Texas but it was also over the entire North American Continent. Europe has had several bouts of 2-4 day periods in over the last 4 months.

        2. “Do you have confidence you can deliver useful, reliable answers those questions?”
          Yes, my opinion is former by my work of an international energy analysis group of which I am co-chair. Our members are economists, energy echnologists, and scientists that include the former chair of the world energy council, a senior member of the IAEA, director of a middle eastern country’s energy institute, a member of the US Academy of Engineering specializing in nuclear power.

          1. that was “technologists”
            In the end one has to look in depth at the numbers and behind the hype of advocates of any one technology.

  9. Don Nico, have I misunderstood you? Based on your numbers, you seem to be arguing against replacement of existing fossil fuel technology with actually more-economical renewable energy sources. If the cost of electricity from onshore wind generation is a small fraction of the cost from existing fossil fuel generators, why is it not sound economic policy to close more-expensive generators and replace their product by use of less-expensive onshore wind generation, backed up by modern gas plants which also deliver lower costs than the existing sources? Isn’t that what the market is choosing to do right now? If you have an objection, what is it?

    I note also that you did not answer my question about current high-priced electrical markets. I live in one such area, and note from your figures and others I can find online that my electrical bill would apparently be notably lower with more reliance on onshore wind power.

    I am also at a loss to understand your dismissal of environmental considerations as, “religion.” That approach strikes me as more an argument that a preferred group of policy makers should decide which considerations are admitted to the policy debate, and which excluded.

    By the way, do you count yourself an outdoorsman, a birder, a fisherman, or a gardener? What part of your time do you give to any activity which might bring you into direct contact with ongoing environmental changes you could see first-hand?

    I do not think the difficulty of modeling accurately future climates affected by fossil fuel use is justification for acting as if changes anyone can see in process do not matter, or do not suggest disturbing implications for the future. Do you suppose hard-to-measure means superstitious? Are you arguing that energy policy making must consider only accurately measurable and predictable evidence—and ignore readily-noticeable dynamic changes in the environment which happen to defeat efforts to measure them? We see them happening, but we just dismiss them anyway? That strikes me as unwise.

    1. Steven,
      You definitely misunderstand what I wrote.

      First of all the LCOE does not capture technology-specific quantity or price risks in markets where revenues and risks vary for different technologies and where policy intervention create uneven playing fields. Also not included are the costs imposed by a technology on on electricity system integration through transmission and distribution grids. It does not capture the costs of maintaining spinning reserves or additional dispatchable capacity or the costs of energy storage systems. It does not capture transmission costs.
      Therefore the LCOE is not the price that you might be paying on your electric bill. It is a concept that energy economists use The range of LCOE for Coal is $40 to $100 per MWhr and from gas combined turbines $55 to $70. And $80 to $95 for peaking gas turbines.
      The cost for onshore wind (median price $52) is not much cheaper that gas ($67) or even coal ($750) when when adds in the costs for the costs of transmission, spinning reserves, storage or purchase of more expensive energy to account for the availability of wind systems that seldom attain availability as high as 35%. In contrast baseload power generators operate at about 90% availability.
      Your objection “isn’t that what industry is doing now” is only possible because of large baseload capacity and because many industrial process are not electrified.
      I have no expertise in local markets. Therefore I did not answer your question. You’ll pay what your PUC allows the distributors to charge you.
      The statement that moving to 100% wind and solar is religion. It is not possible when availability is less than 35% when there are no massive storage systems for at least 3 days supply, when no environmental considerations concerning land use are accounted for ad when there is no baseload generation capacity. If you include nuclear energy – which is now too expensive to build. That story can change. If you are sitting on massive geothermal of hydroelectric systems, that story can change. The religion is thinking are a part can serve as the whole.
      Whether I am an outdoorsman, a birdwatcher or a nature photographer is irrelevant to whether commandeering 10,000 sq km for onshore wind and solar is consistent with currently acceptable environmental impacts and whether long range transmission

      Your last paragraph states “the difficulty of modeling accurately future climates affected by fossil fuel use is justification for acting as if changes anyone can see in process do not matter, or do not suggest disturbing implications for the future.” Who said anything about climate modeling? I did not. Who said anything about price trends of solar, wind, biomass, nuclear? I did not. Where did you find anything that “ignore readily-noticeable dynamic changes in the environment which happen to defeat efforts to measure them?” You have made up an entire strawman to argue against.

      Indeed I would say that you looked at the world through a narrow tube preferring to ignore all the complexities of a massive energy system that will change as more industrial processes are electrified and as more vehicles are BEVs.

      Your comment about conservation is another gross misunderstanding. You argue as if I said that it makes no sense. I said exactly the contrary. One conserves or avoid energy use because it is the most sensible thing to do. It is the first thing to do. Rather than your angry screed, you tell me how conservation tells you to prefer solar to wind or to prefer biomass to hydropower. You can’t. That is what I wrote. The first thing to do does not tell you what to do next.

      1. Don Nico, at least you admit you dodged the question of what more-expensive electricity markets already charge. But note, you assume I based my comparison on my overall cost for electricity. I did not do that. I based it on the itemized cost for electricity my utility pays its suppliers, before it ads all its other costs (transmission, plus a long list) accounted separately. That electricity-cost-to-my-supplier strikes me as a potentially meaningful comparison number. Using it, and based on available numbers (some from you) for electricity costs from onshore wind supported as needed by gas-powered backup, it looks as if that combination would make my electricity bill go down, not up. Until you get that out of the way, it will be difficult to scare me with assertions about ruinous costs from renewables.

        I know it is a complicated topic. You do not make it simpler by cherry picking arguments. You can’t pile on extra costs which using renewables entail, but leave off environmental costs which fossil fuels impose.

        Your characterization of environmental counter-arguments as, “religious,” is offensive of course, but far worse, it ignores that many such arguments are substantive. Your claim not to have attacked climate modeling is mysterious, because climate modeling seems to be the only target in sight which could have justified your, “religious,” charge in the first place. Or perhaps I am wrong. If so, what did you refer to when you mentioned, “answers which have nothing to do with, one’s environmental religion?”

        And why is it an, “angry screed,” to say, “Conservation may be an argument against stubborn assertions that more-expensive energy generation is necessarily economically ruinous. Considered in isolation from other factors, nothing is ruinous if it delivers less cost than people already manage successfully.”

        I just moved from an energy-profligate home to an energy-conserving home, albeit in an area with higher energy costs. My first winter’s results show my energy bill to be just a bit more than 60% of what it had been previously—higher rates, more conservation, lower costs. Tell me, why should I be disappointed?

        If I can afford it, and even save money, why does ability to do that not tell me something useful about what means of generation I am free to choose? When you say, “Conservation says nothing about preferred means of generation,” you make an arbitrary choice (on behalf of cost alone, apparently) about the standard of preference, and leave out the question who is doing the preferring, and on what basis.

        Make it a point to notice: among the complications of societal choices about energy issues, you ought to number near the top of the list the preferences of the vast majority of people who are not energy technologists. If you are an energy technologist, and wish to give useful advice to people who do not share your preference for a standard of decision, then it behooves you to learn their standards in some detail, respect them, and factor them into your advice, lest you leave out what they need to hear to make their own decisions.

        1. “Your characterization of environmental counter-arguments as, “religious,” is offensive of course, but far worse, it ignores that many such arguments are substantive. Your claim not to have attacked climate modeling is mysterious, because climate modeling seems to be the only target in sight which could have justified your, “religious,” charge in the first place. Or perhaps I am wrong. If so, what did you refer to when you mentioned, “answers which have nothing to do with, one’s environmental religion?””

          I make no apologies for decsribing a point of view that is not substantiate by science, economics or practical politics as religious. If you are offended by that. I suggest an examination of conscience.

          I note that you show no understanding of the LCOE which is the major quantity that energy economists and policy analysts use.

          You criticize me for not tlking about issues of your region. I do not spout homespun anecdotes about topics in which I have not expertise or have not studied. You seem to have no problem doing that.
          You keep trying to make my answer into a debate about atmospheric chemistry. I have not mentioned or alluded to that. If that is your motivation for a narrow point of view, so be it. My position on the future energy mix is independent of my opinions about climate science.

          I do not respect the ideas of know-nothings such as Ms Thunberg, who thinks that it is okay to travel in high carbon footprint style. I also do not need your lecturing about how to describe technical issues which is what I have done.

          I’m happy that you like your new house. But that does not make you virtuous.
          I tried to have rooftop solar on my home with a large south facing room. Unfortunately given the number of skylights and exhausts the firm withdrew its offer. An alternative would have been to install small panels with micro-inverters at triple the cost and 30 years break-even financial horizon. I am not that religious or that stupid.

          I see no logic whatsoever in your claim that conservation and energy efficiency determines a preference for generator source. In fact you give no rebuttal to my statement. You only make an assertion based on your “religion.” That dog don’t hunt. I worked for years with people who were the ground breakers in conservation and energy efficiency. I know the possibilities. They are great and they should be adopted. That says nothing about how baseload power is to be provided.

          I notice that you ducked commenting on the impact of 10,000 to 20,000 sq km in the US on native plants and animals. Where is the virtue in that?

          Why an “angry screed”? Because your paragraph had no content beyond emotion. I see that you consider my answers to be an attack on your virtue.

          But now let me give you some advice. Read some serious literature on energy economics.

  10. Conservation says nothing about preferred means of generation.

    I suggest that is mistaken. Conservation considerations may tell us that even a more-expensive future energy source can result in reduced out-of-pocket cost for consumers, while delivering other policy goals the consumers favor. Conservation may be an argument against stubborn assertions that more-expensive energy generation is necessarily economically ruinous. Considered in isolation from other factors, nothing is ruinous if it delivers less cost than people already manage successfully.

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