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The economic evidence is pretty clear that:

  1. The global warming that has happened to date (we’ve warmed the planet by 0.85 degrees celsius since 1880) has been, on net, an economic positive. That is, the world is richer and safer as a result of the global warming that has already occurred as compared to a counterfactual world where it stayed cooler. You may want to think about why. I WILL point out that the net benefits are not evenly distributed, they tend to be accruing in the rich countries.
  2. Economic models that use the Integrated Assessment Models derived by climate researchers are finding that global warming is going to continue to be producing net benefits for humanity for the very foreseeable future. Your mileage may vary on the timing of the turnaround (e.g. 2040 or 2070 or 2100 or beyond) but this is undeniably true.

How many people are even vaguely aware of this?

And if we are being paragons of science, under what conditions would “scientists” actually recommend subsidizing the activities that promote global warming if indeed the outcomes are going to end up being good? No economist I know of, by the way, endorses such a rigorous view of efficiency, but the thought question is worth asking.

Happy Hollow-green

As I’ve said a hundred times. the “E”nvironmental movement is going to be responsible for destroying the planet. Coyote was at a meeting of California State Parks officials, you can’t make this stuff up:

  • I watched a 20 minute presentation in which a woman from LA parks talked repeatedly about the urban heat island being a result of global warming
  • I just saw that California State Parks, which is constantly short of money and has perhaps a billion dollars in unfunded maintenance needs, just spent millions of dollars to remove a road from a beachfront park based solely (they claimed) based on projections that 55 inches of sea level rise would cause the road to be a problem.  Sea level has been rising 3-4mm a year for over 150 years and even the IPCC, based on old much higher temperature increase forecasts, predicted about a foot of rise.
  • One presenter said that a 3-5C temperature rise over the next century represent the low end of reasonable forecasts.  Most studies of later are showing a climate sensitivity of 1.5-2.0 C (I still predict 1C) with warming over the rest of the century of about 1C, or about what we saw last century
  • I watched them brag for half an hour about spending tons of extra money on make LEED certified buildings.  As written here any number of times, most LEED savings come through BS gaming of the rules, like putting in dedicated electric vehicle parking sites (that do not even need a charger to get credit).  In a brief moment of honesty, the architect presenting admitted that most of the LEED score for one building came from using used rather than new furniture in the building.
  • They said that LEED buildings were not any more efficient than most other commercial buildings getting built, just a matter of whether you wanted to pay for LEED certification — it was stated that the certification was mostly for the plaque.  Which I suppose is fine for private businesses looking for PR, but why are cash-strapped public agencies doing it?

In other news, Chile instituted a (small) carbon tax. How did they get it passed? They passed a larger corporate income tax increase at the same time to deflect attention. Their poor population will pay for it, even if the tax itself is a good idea. This is once again great news for American fossil fuel consumers – lower prices are in the pipeline!

Yesterday, we computed the elasticity of Co2 concentrations with respect to economic output. Today, we’d like to report on what we know about the earth’s temperature elasticity with respect to CO2 concentrations. This of course is a far more “controversial” aspect of the climate change “debate.” The climate scientists have long said that the Earth’s temperature will rise by about 1 degrees Celsius for a doubling of CO2 over pre-industrial levels. You might therefore be saying to yourself, “that doesn’t sound like a catastrophe” … and it wouldn’t. Where the “catastrophe” comes in is based on the assumptions modelers are making about how much more warming the earth experiences because the earth itself is warming. In other words, to get “disaster” we need to model in “positive feedback” into the system.

Without getting into the sciency goodness of the many IPCC reports and the papers that do and do not make it into those reports, let it be known that there is absolutely no consensus about these feedback effects. In fact, based on what we have seen on the Earth to date, not only have they been smaller than advertised it is quite possible that the feedback is negative. But rather that wade into that “science” we could do something that real scientists used to do – go out and measure CO2 concentrations, and go out and measure temperature changes, and show people what has happened SO FAR.

Since the dendroclimatologists have put together long histories of the temperature and CO2 record, it is imaginable that someone could do this on a long pile of data. But I don’t have such data. What we DO know is that since 1880, CO2 concentrations have increased from 280ppm to 400ppm, or a 43% increase. What we also know is that the measured “average global temperature” has increased by 0.8 degrees Celsius over this same time. So we can also just take a look at the observations from this 130 record and estimate what the temperature elasticity with respect to CO2 seems to have been. Of course, it would be nice to take a longer snapshot, but we cannot given my tools here. Of course, if you look over shorter subsections of the data, you get to tell any story you want. For example, if we looked at the last 18 years or so, we’d conclude that the elasticity is zero. If we look from 1975-1995, we’d conclude that it is shockingly high. If we look from 1945 to 1975, we’d conclude, surprisingly perhaps, that temperatures fall in response to CO2, if we look earlier than that we get the conclusion that they are positively related … and as long as we don’t really know the right time frame over which to do this once we shrink the temperature record, recognize that this entire exercise is a bit dicey. You should note, too, that the estimated temperature elasticities would vary based on what part of the planet we are studying, so, for example, warming in the US has been lower than the planet at large, but I digress.

Soooo … what is the temperature elasticity? We need to estimate the percentage change in global temperatures from 1880 to today. We know that they have increased by 0.8 celsius, but over what starting point. In physics, the appropriate way to measure changes is by using the Kelvin scale, Now, the climate people always report global temperatures as “anomalies” – as differences in current temps as compared to some magical baseline number they believe to be “correct” – here is one illustration.  My sciency inclined readers may be perplexed that we report anomalies and not actual temperatures and assume that there is some attempt by the climate community at obfuscation here – we CAN measure the average temperature of the earth. But, the anomalies across the planet, or so I read on the sciency good websites, is that anomalies correlate well over vast distances of the planet whereas measured temperatures obviously are very different over short ranges. I actually don’t see how that makes any scientific difference, which leaves the sciency climate people open to the charge I suppose. What I find MOST interesting about the temperature record, wholly aside from the shenanigans scientists are playing by splicing thermometer records with satellite records, not calibrating historical records (which don’t come from any direct temperature measurements) with those techniques on today’s temperature record, the many adjustments made to the raw data, and so on, is that despite all of this, the huge noise that we recognize global temps are measured. While the measured global average temp is in the 15 degree celsius range, the “actual” temp may be anywhere between 15 and a half and 14 and a half – it should would be nice if all of the sciency good people out there reporting on climate would publish uncertainties every time they published temperature data. The current global average temp is about 15.7 celsius, and was therefore about 14.9 back when this whole thing started. In Kelvin, the temps have risen from 288.05K to 288.85K.

The temperature has increased by about 0.28%.

Computing the temperature elasticity with respect to CO2 we get 0.28% / 43% for an estimate of  0.0065. That seems rather insensitive in the grand scheme of things. This also seems rather preposterously low given what I have been reading. So please do tell me where I have gone off the rails here.

Now we can put yesterday’s data together with today’s data and we find that we can estimate the temperature elasticity with respect to GDP changes by multiplying each of our calculations – i.e. the temperature elasticity with respect to GDP is the product of the temperature elasticity with respect to CO2 and the CO2 elasticity with respect to GDP. From this we find that the temperature elasticity with respect to GDP is 0.02 x 0.0065 = 0.00013. Again, this appears to me preposterously small.

By this estimate, if global GDP were to double, which you could expect it to do over 20 years, then global temps would be expected to increase by 0.013%. If global temps today are 288.85K, then a doubling of GDP is expected to increase temps to 288.89K, an increase of 0.04 degrees celsius. That CAN’T be right.  Or can it?  Over the course of the century, if Earth’s GDP doubles every 20 years, that would still only be producing less than a degree of warming based on what the data have actually shown us.

Again, this is assuming that the impacts of CO2 on temps are linear which they are not, we know that the incremental temperature increase with incremental CO2 additions actually falls, and of course none of this says anything about the economics, that is for a future post. But again, I can’t believe my numbers are right – this is the first time i have sat down to compute them this way based on actual observations and not on what models and reports are telling me. Does anyone care to see where I screwed up? And more important, after we figure out the correct calculation, can anyone explain why this is not the way we present it? And can anyone explain the implications of this “finding?”

I need to revisit this a bit, it just can’t be right.

UPDATE: In the “science” I have found this paper which claims to measure a temperature elasticity. Incredibly, this thing made it into a peer-reviewed journal. As I look at it, albeit briefly, it appears that they are using emissions rates for calculating the elasticity, and NOT changes in the cumulative stock of CO2. Maybe there is some sciency good justification for this, but at a minimum you’d think in a peer reviewed paper they’d be asked to show the calculations both ways. FURTHERMORE, and I may be on drugs here, it looks like they used changes in the Centigrade scale to compute percentage changes in temperatures. Well, I understand that you need to choose some scale, but NO scientist will tell you that a 1 degree celsius increase in temps today from 15 to 16 celsius represents a 6.7% increase in temperature – that simply is antiscience. Now, is the Kelvin scale the right scale? I have no reason to think it is not as it is an absolute temperature scale. However, it appears the way they did their calculation was to avoid that issue entirely and computing changes in the changes, which means you can simply look at the changes in centigrade when emissions change, and compare those changes over time (this is OK because a one degree Kelvin change is equal to a one degree Centigrade change). Finally, I am having a pile of trouble seeing how this paper is even a paper. Aren’t we doing a simple calculation here? We don’t need reference to climate models or human attribution or anything like that. Just take the change in temps and compare that to the change in CO2. Again, am I missing something?

World GDP was roughly $3.5 trillion (in today’s dollars, Maddison’s data is 1990 dollars) when global warming “started.”

World GDP is on the order of $80 trillion today.

CO2 concentrations were roughly 280 ppm at the “start” of global warming.

CO2 concentrations are roughly 400 ppm today.

What is the CO2 elasticity of “demand” with respect to GDP?

We simply compute the percentage change in CO2 concentrations divided by the percentage change on GDP.

CO2 concentrations have increased by 43%.

GDP has increased by about 2100%

Thus, the CO2 elasticity with respect to GDP is 0.02.

More to come … but I don’t think people think that is the “real” elasticity …

End Nonprofits

We read in the news recently that the Crimson Tide Foundation has paid off the rest of head football coach Nick Saban’s $3.1 million home. If there is ever “evidence” that the entire notion of an entity deserving “non-profit” status has gone off the rails, this is it. Presumably organizations are granted non-profit status because they serve some greater public purpose. College football at the Division I level needs no stimulus to promote any public purpose it may serve. Without writing a thesis here, this episode highlights two problems with such non-profit designations:

(1) By granting donors the right to donate to this organization without taxation, and by permitting some expenditures of the foundation itself to go without taxation, we are essentially saying that those organizations and individuals that ARE taxable are going to be asked to pay more than their “fair” share. President Hillary Clinton nothwithstanding, most people understand that businesses and corporations do tend to promote economic growth and productive job creation. And for those of you familiar with the non-profit world, we’d humbly suggest that from within these does not prosperity grow. So the local deli pays higher taxes in Alabama than otherwise. The employees of large firms in Alabama pay larger taxes than otherwise.

(2) Since at the margin, the activities in many nonprofits are not taxed while the taxation upon profits is higher than usual, we devote more effort to the nonprofit sector than otherwise. If the sector actually promoted a general public purpose that might be desirable (I’m not so sure), but at current margins, since my extra labor income would be taxed at pretty high rates, and since our local hockey org is bigger than it would be because of its preferential tax status, I end up devoting more time to working on hockey related matters and less on professional ones. I am not so sure this is what we really want to be encouraging despite how much I enjoy it.

If I were running for office and didn’t are about collecting ANY votes, I’d run on a campaign to end nonprofits, not just on the above grounds but mostly because I find them completely immoral. More on that in a future post.

The Earth was not created and does not change just so that humans are comfortable. The entire human challenge is to figure out ways to remain resilient in the presence of a hostile planet, and to make ourselves as adaptable to what the Earth has to offer us. That means in other words that the Earth is not optimized for us, but rather we optimize for the Earth we inhabit. Hence, ANY change of the climate/planet from where we are today is going to prove “harmful.” Why? Not because change is presumptively bad, or because we cannot adapt to many conditions, but because we HAVE to change our behavior. I’d remind you that since the Earth is always changing and since our tastes and preferences are always changing, we are regularly re-optimizing. In any event, here is the latest “Global Warming” news:

The decline in Arctic sea ice has doubled the chance of severe winters in Europe and Asia in the past decade, according to researchers in Japan.

Sea-ice melt in the Arctic, Barents and Kara seas since 2004 has made more than twice as likely atmospheric circulations that suck cold Arctic air to Europe and Asia, a group of Japanese researchers led by the University of Tokyo’s Masato Mori said in a study published yesterday in Nature Geoscience.

“This counterintuitive effect of the global warming that led to the sea ice decline in the first place makes some people think that global warming has stopped. It has not,” Colin Summerhayes, emeritus associate of the Scott Polar Research Institute, said in a statement provided by the journal Nature Geoscience, where the study is published.

There is a lot to chew on here. First of course, if I read my history of global warming properly, is that we need to use the term “climate change” and not “global warming” precisely because “warming” might actually bring “colding” in some places. What is most intriguing about this apparent fact is therefore that “warming” is not necessarily the problem, in fact it would appear to be the case that for the areas described in this article, we WANT warming. This makes the point I am making above, the reason the “climate change” debate is alluring is that you can easily point to ANY change as being costly. Generally, what this observation above tells us is that severe winters are bad, so where the warming actually leads to milder winters somewhere else that must be “good” or is this not true?

The deeper point of course would seem to be that “the science” is entirely unsettled. Of course, we all mean different things about “the science.” But by “the science” here I mean the net feedback/climate sensitivities from a CO2 forcing increase as well as the attendant economic damages that may result from them.

And, let’s revisit this quote:

This counterintuitive effect of the global warming that led to the sea ice decline in the first place makes some people think that global warming has stopped. It has not

Well, maybe. I haven’t actually met anyone or seen any serious person who has argued that the Polar Vortex, for example, is evidence of the “stopping” of climate change. However, what I have seen is the “claim” (in global warming it seems everything is a claim instead of just going to see what the data says) that the satellite temperature record (satellites are supposedly more reliable measurers of temperature) has shown no statistically recognizeable increase in global mean temperatures in something like 16 or 17 years. So, really nice that this article pays heed to that and instead deflects attention to a giant pink pony.

Much more to say, trying to keep the posts shorter and more readable.

Using the same logic as the current Commander in Speech, we can equally tell every American who is alive today that they should be glad to be enslaved by the government. Why? Well, the government has a piece of legislation on the books that says you may not murder people. And it is because we have that piece of legislation that those of us who are lucky to be alive today have managed to evade being murdered. We didn’t “build that” so we owe a portion (or all?) of our lives to the wonderful people who wrote down the piece of legislation saying that we should not be murdered.

A single dose malaria cure. #GlobalWarmingCatastrophe

In the litany of noise that we hear about “respecting diversity” what I originally imagined was that we should respect diversity because there is a lot of value to be had from learning from, sharing with, playing with, dating, marrying, trading with, writing music with, etc. people who are different than us. And what I imagined was that a quick rule of thumb for “different from us” was simply if your group was small in percentage terms.

(1) Isn’t the push for “diversity” sort of antithetical to the spirit of diversity? If we all have so much to offer one another, and we are all human beings, then isn’t any effort to carve us into various groups like, “college graduates” and “non-completers” sort of doing the opposite?

(2) My real reason for posting is rather how absolutely inconsistent we are in our treatment of “diverse” minority groups. For example, American men now make up a minority share of college enrollments, so are we seeing efforts to make college more welcoming to them and to embrace the diversity they bring to the table? Or more important, by definition, the “1%” is an extreme minority group. But I don’t see any indication that we are being asked to “celebrate diversity” here. Indeed, I see nothing but pitchforks and seething when anything resembling a richer person is brought up. But take the rhetoric of the diversity “movement” seriously and you find yourself uncomfortably arguing that if you are fortunate enough to be in the 1% then you actually have nothing useful to add to the conversation. But I am pretty sure that the women and men among the 1%, that the blacks and whites and Asians and latinos and latinas among the 1% are also worthy persons, fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, friends, and more. So, it turns out that we focus on one observable attribute that we can see (“the color of their checkbook balance”) and not the attributes we cannot easily see (“the content of their characters”) when we demonize the 1%. Indeed, even if the income and wealth of the 1% is ill-gotten, aren’t they nonetheless, as human beings, deserving of respect as human beings? After all, I don’t see a sub-movement among the diversity movement arguing that all people in prison should be ignored and degraded any more than they are already being degraded.

What gives? Why are we not asked to celebrate the 1%, are “they” not people?

Finally, while we are on this topic, I’d like to see the crowd of folks who consistently tell us to “celebrate diversity” to put out an ad-campaign (preferably pasted in colorful posters on the inside of toilet stalls, which seems to be a favorite way of propogandizing on college campuses these days) that contains the message, “Celebrate Republican Ideas!” or “Celebrate Coal and Oil and the Amazing People Who Deliver that to You!” Surely, if we want to celebrate “diversity” these would be minority affiliations and surely there are useful and valuable human beings in those groups, right?

I’ve long maintained that we ought to respect people and their ideas in the most charitable light possible. At first, of course. But when naked cluelessness or malefescence is apparent, all bets are off. I’ve also long maintained that one of the “markers” of someone who is talking about religion and not economics, is to see how brutally they straw man various economic ideas. And here is the 45th President of the US, absolutely torching a tinder box of a hay field by arguing that “trickle-down” economics has been tried and failed.

Sorry Mrs. President. Sorry. No serious economist, no economics textbook worth the paper it is printed on, has EVER used the term outside of suggesting that people like YOU use the term. There is no such “theory” much less one that has been tried and failed. Furthermore, it is the clown-o-cracy that you presume to represent that invokes the “theory” yourselves – with the nonsensical talk about fiscal stimulus, the subsidies from the top-down for green jobs (which has famously failed to create jobs at any reasonable cost), etc.

I m sure Ms. Clinton means only some corporations. Does she realize that places like the U of Rochester are corporations? And that places like the U of Rochester are appallingly good at creating jobs? The Center for American Progress is a corporation, and it, too, is appallingly good at “creating” jobs.

Here is some more on the absolute dishonesty and dubiousness of those who endorse such a theory:

http://theunbrokenwindow.com/2014/06/30/trickle-down-economics-is-silly/

http://theunbrokenwindow.com/2010/10/19/progressive-keynesians-as-reaganite-trickle-downers/

http://theunbrokenwindow.com/2014/10/15/we-should-definitely-ban-fracking-and-lpg-plants/

http://theunbrokenwindow.com/2014/09/17/the-keynesian-pretzel-factory/

If we were actually being civil, I’d point out that ironically Ms. Clinton DOES have a valid point. Does anyone know what it is?

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