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Comments 1 to 50:

  1. Why we need to talk about the scientific consensus on climate change

    PhilippeChantreau @59:

    "The car he used had a combined mileage of about 15 mpg. My car averages 33mpg. In effect, driving his car amounts to driving 2 of mine. Since the total consumption of the auto park determines demand, his car increased overall demand for refined gas whereas mine overall keeps it down. Demand/offer is normally the main determinant of price in free markets. So, in essence, I was subsidizing his use of a inefficient vehicle by participating in keeping prices lower than they would be if everyone drove vehicles like his. At the pump, however, we pay the same price. It would be much more in line with true free market principles to have a sliding scale for gas prices, indexed on the vehicle consumption, with inefficient vehicles paying more according to their role in pulling the prices up. The interlocutor did not respond."

    I disagree with the underlined sentence.

    The rest of the paragraph is correct.  Even allowing for the fact that higher demand results in higher production, that only limits the price rise (ignoring economies of scale).  Ergo higher demand by others in general increases the price of those with a lower demand.  That, however, is not a subsidy.  It is the key feature whereby "free markets" allocate scarce resources in proportion to demand.  The feature does mean the oft used analogy for the free market as "the rising tide that floats all boats" is simply false.  It also indicates the highly technical nature of results that prove that "free markets" maximize pareto optimality.  

    To see this, assume that you both have the same income, then his increased expenditure on petrol means a reduced expenditure on some other commodity, lowering its price.  Ergo your "subsidy" of his petrol use is matched by an equal and opposite "subsidy" by him of other goods and services when averaged across the market.  As you equally "subsidize" each other, though on different commodities, talk of subsidies is redundant and merely confuses the issue by implying some additional intervention in addition to the market mechanism where no such intervention exists.

    That being said, genuine regulatory interventions which distort the market do exist, and are accepted (even lauded) by the great majority of "free market" advocates.  The most obvious of these include propriety organizations (whereby investors can make investments without taking legal responsibility for the acts involved in pursuing their investment; and whereby they can also establish disparate market share allowing economic coercion of minor players including consumers); limited liability which is an unjust direct subsidy of investors by the creditors of limited liability companies; and minimum inflation targets by central banks (which subsidize direct investors at the expense of wage earners and people who invest for the future by saving rather than by possessing property or shares, or companies).  Other examples include public roads, and indeed any infrastructure established on land acquired by compulsory acquisition; the existence of a police force and a court system - particularly court systems where the determination of results is significantly determined by the price of your lawyers. 

  2. The latest global warming bill and the Republican conundrum

    I strongly agree with your take Phaeretic. True revenue neutral would return a check to each person in the US, on a per capita prorated basis: Done. However, as a liberal I do like the various options offered. I'll take it anyway it comes. We must take strong action ASAP, and a carbon tax is an excellent, effective, and efficient process.

  3. PhilippeChantreau at 03:19 AM on 27 November 2014
    Why we need to talk about the scientific consensus on climate change

    Tom makes some interesting points. Talking with free markets advocates almost always revealed to me that their views of what a free market should do is give them freebees. Once I was having an exchange over the respective merits of efficient cars vs SUVs. The SUV driver was essentially saying he should have a right to drive anything he wanted. I responded that I agreed but that I shouldn't have to pay for it. He didn't understand that part and said that he had never received money from me. I told him he did every time he gassed up.

    The car he used had a combined mileage of about 15 mpg. My car averages 33mpg. In effect, driving his car amounts to driving 2 of mine. Since the total consumption of the auto park determines demand, his car increased overall demand for refined gas whereas mine overall keeps it down. Demand/offer is normally the main determinant of price in free markets. So, in essence, I was subsidizing his use of a inefficient vehicle by participating in keeping prices lower than they would be if everyone drove vehicles like his. At the pump, however, we pay the same price. It would be much more in line with true free market principles to have a sliding scale for gas prices, indexed on the vehicle consumption, with inefficient vehicles paying more according to their role in pulling the prices up. The interlocutor did not respond.

    To make this a full market solution, all extrernalities would also have to be included. Since the vast majority of these are paid by taxes, people would see their taxes decrease accordingly.

    The whole socialist/free market fake opposition is nonsense. Money in the economy has a way to flow like energy in thermodynamics. Somehow, everything has to be paid for, and the money for it has to come from somewhere. Some costs are easy to hide, defer, or transfer to other economic actors. The immense majority of so-called free market advocates only defend their right to hide, defer or transfer costs to others so that they don't have to pay for it and can therefore make more money themselves. These costs, however, always come back because, like in thermodynamics, nothing can be destroyed or created out of the blue. Deferred costs accumulated over a long time reach staggering amounts.

    Environmental costs are always in these categories (hidden, deferred, transferred). Some of them, like the full extent of ecosystem services are not well understood, and certainly not quantified until they cease to be provided for free (i.e. by factors totally outside of human management). Then, suddenly, we find that we have to pay for it, through the creation of man-made means for providing them, but even when specific actors responsible for their loss can be identified, they never want to pitch in. These actors being human constructs can easily be dismantled and there is nothing left that could be held accountable.

    Free market advocates have a lot of thinking to do and a lot of hypocrisy to clean up when they talk about paying for others expenses. They also have a lot of "be careful what you wish for" to apply. Some free market solutions to problems might come as very painful surprises.

  4. The latest global warming bill and the Republican conundrum

    The only way Republicans care about reducing the debt is by cutting spending on existing programs. Reducing the debt by increased revenue through a new carbon tax is total anathema and I'd be shocked if it brought a single Republican on board.  And the conservatives I've discussed carbon taxes with, find it totally laughable to consider debt reduction, as well as many of the other provisions in this bill (like infrastructure investments or climate mitigation) to be revenue neutral, let alone instances of 'returning the money to the taxpayers.'

    I agree that the bill has the potential to result in a truly revenue-neutral implementation as written, and it is obviously a starting point for negotiations, but the bill, as written, is just as easily and legitimately described as a tax increase to pay for new spending as it is to describe it as "revenue-neutral", and that makes it a lot harder to sell.

  5. The latest global warming bill and the Republican conundrum

    phaeretic @5 - it's intended to be revenue neutral, but whether that's true depends on how the revenue is ultimately returned to taxpayers. I agree, reducing the debt for example isn't really revenue neutral, but it's thrown in there as an option to get Republicans on board.  If Republicans want it to be revenue neutral, then it will be.

  6. The latest global warming bill and the Republican conundrum

    I'm all for this bill, and am personally ok with any of the spending provisions in it, but describing it as "revenue-neutral" is a bit disingenuous. Some of the provisions, such as lowering tax rates could reasonably be considered "revenue-neutral" in that sense, as the tax cuts would mean less revenue from other taxes offsetting the new revenue (like British Columbia's carbon tax); but spending it on infrastructure or reducing the national debt, and you're really just bringing in new revenue and spending it.  Without tax-cut offsets elsewhere, bringing in that new revenue and spending it would be "deficit-neutral", but if the government is getting more revenue than it otherwise would from this bill, it definitely isn't revenue-neutral... and that is the biggest sticking point among conservatives that I have discussed carbon taxes with.  If you're taxing their carbon and not cutting their taxes elsewhere, you're just raising their taxes overall for new spending.

  7. Why we need to talk about the scientific consensus on climate change

    Ashton @55, yes, I would say that because it is true.  Your attempt to dismiss it shows, however, the poverty of your thought.

    scaddenp @56, I would not, if I were you, trust Ashton's claims or interpretations on any matter.

    Take, for example, the ETS. 

    The most natural way to set up a tradable emissions permit system is to give each citizen or resident (but not corporations) emissions permits on an equal per capita basis, and then require the return of permits from each citizen in proportion to their actual emissions.  Equal per capita because no citizen has a greater right to emit than any other, so that any other distribution by definition represents a preferential subsidy of those who recieve more permits.  Assuming a perfect market, the result will be that those with least emissions, and who can most easilly reduce emissions will sell a portion of their permits to those who want to, or have to emit more.  In general, that means the poorer people will emit less, and recieve a small boost in income from the sale of permits - but that is not compensation.  Just the market in operation.

    Markets are, of course, not perfect, and in this case tracking individual emissions would be far too expensive and intrusive.  Therefore you modify the scheme slightly.  Specifically, you require the wholesale suppliers of emission sources (oil refineries for vehicles, and power stations for electricity) to provide the permits equivelent to the emissions of their products.  The market now consists of primary emitters purchasing permits of private individuals, who recieve their permits free on an equal per capita basis.  

    This still requires that you operate a fairly complex market for the individual permits, however.  So, it may be beneficial to allow the purchase of the permits directly from the government by the primary emitters, and the reimbursement of citizens from that purchase on an equal per capita basis.  If you do that, however, you have essentialy the Rudd/Guilard ETS.  The R/G ETS did vary from that by eliminating the reimbursement on a graduate basis with higher income, and using money gained to fund research, and to protect key industries.  These are, however, in the nature of political compromises necessary to get the bill passed.  The funding paid to lower income earners was called "compensation" but it could with as much truth been called a "dividend".  "Compensation" made for an easier political sell, and hence the name; but you could have a permit and dividend system which differed in no respects from the R/G ETS, so don't let the names hoodwink you.

    If you want to see which side of Australian politics is really all about "compensation" we need ony look at Abbot's scheme whereby emissions are unrestricted, but a reverse auction will be held in which low bidders will be paid by the government to reduce emissions (with not performance requirements to recieve the money).  This is a system in which it is considered a natural right to emit as much as you like, and that therefore one in which you can only be expected to emit less if you are paid to do so.  That is, it is a system in which any reductions in emissions by corporations is to be compensated by taxpayers from general revenue.

    Ashton's description of Australian political proclivities is as biased, and pointless as the rest of his analysis in comments on SkS.

    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Ashton's "rambling man" schtick is indeed wearing thin. I encourage all commenters to defer commeting on his/her future posts because they are likely to be deleted. 

  8. The latest global warming bill and the Republican conundrum

    As an American I have always found it interesting that Liberals treat the environmently conservative while the so-called Conservatives liberally pollute everything (they can get away with) in sight

    Can anyone explain why Conservatives make the worst Conservationists?

    I once called myself an Environmentalist until Conservatives made that a 'dirty word' so I started calling myself a Conservationist but they (unintentionally) made that a 'dirty word' also just by their Brand and besides Conservation simply is no longer enough so now I call myself an Environmental Restorationist

    Let's see them try to twist and screw that up .....

    Wanna see a Republican become a Raving Socialist?  Just try to close an Army base or Defense manufacturing plant in their area ...... Suddenly those Government Jobs that are entirely Socialisticly Funded (100% government/tax funded) are the best thing since sliced bread .... And even Unions look good to them in this environment (pun intended)

  9. Why we need to talk about the scientific consensus on climate change

    Further thoughts. On the whole the Left, is also traditionally interested in social equity and in recent years, especially in widening rich/poor gaps. This interest is completely independent on climate matters. You can also guarantee that the rich Right wingers are always going to resist anything that resembles redistribution of wealth from rich to poor. 

    Climate solutions have a tough aspect:

    1/ At the moment, most non-coal alternatives are more expensive than coal. Ergo, eliminating coal is going to cause energy costs to rise and that will flow through in goods and services. 

    2/ Any effective measure to drive down emissions is going to make coal-powered goods and services more expensive. There has to be an attractive differential in consumer price between coal-powered product and non-coal powered product.

    3/ Coal-based industries need to pass into the history books like asbestos,livery stables, stage coaches and to some extent tobacco.  That is especially tough for people directly involved in the industry.

    Will this exacerbate equity issues? If so, (or if it is perceived to be so), then you can expect the Left to interested in countermeasures of some sort. However, I think it would be pointless if the countermeasures did not have the effect of reducing demand for coal-powered goods and services. 

  10. Why we need to talk about the scientific consensus on climate change

    Ashton - thanks for that. I looked it up here.  I stand corrected. I did not know about the "compensation" scheme for the ETS in Australia. And frankly, I think it is absurd - especially the compensation for industries most effected. I would have thought the compensation aspect would largely negate the effectiveness of the scheme at actually reducing carbons. Sounds like too much horse-trading went on to get the scheme through. 

    Done properly, I would expect an ETS or cap-and-trade scheme to be effective if ramped up slowly but there must be real incentives to emit less emissions which compensation would seem to negate. However, I also think an ETS is an example of a market-creation scheme designed to appeal to Right wing ideology, not the Left.

  11. Why we need to talk about the scientific consensus on climate change

    Tom Curtis To paraphrase Mandy Rice-Davies"You would say that wouldn't you".  That Grrens and Labor supported compensation for the ETS is shown by the Gillard government's household assistance package via changes to the tax free threshold and direct payments into bank accounts to compensate for expenses incurred due to her "carbon tax".  scaddenp apologies for not replying now,  I'm a bit strapped for time.

  12. Why we need to talk about the scientific consensus on climate change

    Ashton, I am very interested to hear your views (in the topic I pointed to, not this one) though on what solutions you think would be acceptable to the Right assuming that there is no way to generate cheaper than coal and no argument that mitigating would be cheaper than adaptation. Ie you have to do something about the externality. Some discussion about Friedman's views here http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2014/10/12/what-would-milton-friedman-do-about-climate-change-tax-carbon/ I found this refreshing since in my experience, the conservatives will argue night is day rather than admit an externality exists let alone acknowledge that something should be done about it.

  13. Why we need to talk about the scientific consensus on climate change

    Ashton @51, it is quite clear from scaddenp's post @50 that he did not misrepresent you.  His entire discussion was disputing your attribution to the left of views he considers to be held by the right.  That is it was directly germain to the point you made, and in no way misrepresented your view.  I will grant that he followed the unfortunate practise of quoting just a key phase to pick out the point being discussed (a practise that should at all times be avoided).  That means his quotation was technically out of context, but his discussion was not and your accusation of misrepresentation is overblown.

  14. Why we need to talk about the scientific consensus on climate change

    Ashton, I apologize if I have misrepresented what you said. I found it utterly extraordinary that there is even a perception that "greens and labour believe they should be compensated by increased taxation". What policy by greens or labour could be the result of believing they should be compensated by taxation for not using FF? Who is articulating this misrepresentation? I am not Australia but I havent heard anyone, even from the looney right, suggest such thing here.

    A ban on new coal-fired generation gives you 30 or 40 years to phase out coal. It provides the necessary market forces to drive new development. I have no problem with nuclear - IFR and thorium solutions are appealing and need investment.

    What about the alternative? That everyone in world affected by climate change sends the bills for adaptation to those responsible for the excess CO2? Doesnt that seem fair? Would the cost of changing fuel seem so bad compared to forking out for that? Of course, there is no legal mechanism to enforce such appropriate justice, but I am stunned at the attitude of those who are usually extremely mindful of rights and responsibilities, are quite happy to fight for low FF fuel prices while mostly others pay the environmental costs.

    Levelised costs of generation from various sources from US DoE in Jan 2014 can found here by the way. However, no externalities are shown in that price and that is the key to this problem.

  15. Why we need to talk about the scientific consensus on climate change

    scaddenp Your omission of the words I wrote that precede your opening sentence which were   "they should be financially compensated for these costs by the government with increased taxation providing the funds for this."  totally misrepresents what I wrote.   What I actually wrote was  "Greens and Labor supporters are considered, whether fairly or not, to believe they should be financially compensated for these costs by the government with increased taxation providing the funds for this"  Having totally misrepresented what I wrote you then add insult to injury by writing "When you say people should be "compensated for costs"  I said no such thing and I deplore your tactics of distortion by misquoting what was actually written and having done so completely misquote what I actually.  

    With regard to energy, if people in the Western world, due to government fiat that banned  or severely reduced the use of fossil fuels to generate energy, did not have ready and affordable access to reliable refrigeration or air conditioning or petrol, that government would not survive.  Look at the clamour in Australia when Abbott reinstated indexation to the excise levy on petrol which added about 40 cents per week to the average fuel bill.  Renewables at this moment do not supply constant power and to cope with that erratic supply. power stations burning fossil fuels are still very necessary.  You ask for a solution-nuclear power.  This of course is anathema to the Greens andf their fellow travellers but it provides energy without CO2 production.  Capital costs are high but over time the cost of energy from nuclear power is around 5 cents US per KWHour with wind and solar at around 12 cents US per KWH (http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Economic-Aspects/Economics-of-Nuclear-Power/)

  16. The latest global warming bill and the Republican conundrum

    XRAY1961 - mouseover for magnifier, or just click on it to see it in its original context.

  17. The latest global warming bill and the Republican conundrum

    While I am pretty sure the meaning of the chart, it is fuzzy and hard to read.

  18. The latest global warming bill and the Republican conundrum

    Republicans have boxed themselves in.   They have no other choice but to repeal the Laws of Thermodynamics. 

  19. Why we need to talk about the scientific consensus on climate change

    "they should be financially compensated for these costs by the government with increased taxation providing the funds for this."


    While I am in NZ, I think this is a gross misrepresentation. The Left is definitely more inclined to look for collective solutions to problems (eg government) but a completely effective government-based solution is simply ban any new thermal generation (eg the Clarke government in NZ) and let market figure out the best replacement. Direct action like this is not acceptable to liberty-loving Right apparently. When you say people should be "compensated for costs", I can only assume you are referring to a Pigovian carbon tax? - a solution proposed purely to pander to the Right. In this set up, those who decarbonize, do effectively get a handout from those who do not. However, given the Right-wing aversion to tax, I would expect the Right to be the ones frantically avoiding the tax. As far as I can see, Right-wing supporters in Australia are just as happy as those in US accept government handouts (eg subsidies) so I would be surprised if they turned down the tax refund.

    I do agree that it is hard to think of way to solve the problem of CO2 emission by individualistic action. Faced with a problem they cant solve within their ideology, Right-wingers seem instead to prefer denial. If you have a better solution, then I have written about it here. http://www.skepticalscience.com/rightwing_solutions.html Please add comments. Depressingly, it seems that for many, if you cant find an energy solution that is cheaper than even unsubsidized coal, then Right-wingers would rather go to hell in a handbasket than accept any other solution. Better ideas are more than welcome.

  20. Will New Climate Treaty Be a Thriller, or Shaggy Dog Story?

    These talks are dealing with the political and economic challenges to climate changes - adaptation.   Mitigation seems to be an afterthought.  

  21. Why we need to talk about the scientific consensus on climate change

    Ashton - Curiously enough, in the US there is a very odd conflict between ideology and reality. From Slate

    With some exceptions, what we regard as red states are sent a whole lot more of your hard-earned tax dollars than the traditional blue states. In effect, supposedly indolent, “tax and spend” liberals actually subsidize the individualistic, pure, and hard-working lifestyle of our conservative countrymen.

    Odd, in that those whose personal identities are most tied to individualism, self reliance, and small government are in fact those most benefiting from taxation, wealth redistribution, and government in the first place. They are led (by their own ideologies) into acting contrary to their best interests. 

    I can think of few better examples of the disconnect between rationality and behavior. 

  22. Why we need to talk about the scientific consensus on climate change

    As I live in Australia not the US, I can only speculate on the question "Do Democrats and Republicans actually experience the weather differently?". Physiologically probably not- at least only to the extent that physiological response may be determined by the particular environment and climate conditions usually experienced. Psychologically-probably yes. In Australia, Greens and Labor supporters are considered, whether fairly or not, to look to government for solutions and so prefer large government. Liberals and Nationals, with the same caveats, tend to rely on themselves and prefer small government. Moving from fossil fuels to other forms of energy incurs costs.  Greens and Labor supporters are considered, whether fairly or not, to believe they should be financially compensated for these costs by the government with increased taxation providing the funds for this.  Conversely, Liberals and Nationals, with the same caveats, are considered not to be in favour of increased taxation, do not expect government recompense and so are less inclined to support extra personal financial imposts.  With the above caveats of course, Greens and Labor supporters are thought to be more sensitive to the environment whereas Liberal and National supporters are thought more in favour of increasing economic performance. This may impact on their psychological response to the weather with the Greens/Labor being more psychologically responsive than Liberal/Nationals.  Whether this speculation is a) valid and b) applies to Democrats and Republicans is eminently debatable. There are, of course, many other possible differences but I think mental attitudes can impact on responses to physical conditions

  23. Why we need to talk about the scientific consensus on climate change

    In his Wonkblog post of Nov 24, 2014, Chris Mooney presents the findings of the new paper that Ashton #44 has referenced.

    Mooney's post is titled, Do Democrats and Republicans actually experience the weather differently? 

    The citation for of the research paper under discussion is:

    The impacts of temperature anomalies and political orientation on perceived winter warming, Aaron M. McCright, Riley E. Dunlap & Chenyang Xiao, Nature Climate Change (2014) doi:10.1038/nclimate2443

    Received 28 Jan 2014: Accepted 20 Oct 2014: Published online 24 Nov 2014

  24. PhilippeChantreau at 00:31 AM on 26 November 2014
    Why we need to talk about the scientific consensus on climate change

    Ashton, there is no doubt that the misinformation campaigns conducted by those who have a vested interest in the continuing unabated use of fossil fuels have been very effective, thank you for confirming that. There is also no doubt that the general population does not realize the level of agreement among specialists who actually know what they're talking about, hence the need to talk about the 97% consensus. I am personally convinced, however, that no matter how much evidence stares at them in the face (such as the various Australian weather event of these past years), the general population will believe what is most convenient, or most pleasing, as people are still nowadays very resistant to rational thinking.

  25. Why we need to talk about the scientific consensus on climate change

    I am probably overly presumptuous in thinking  there may be replies to this comment.  Should there be please note I did not know before posting this paper had been put up on WUWT.  Naturally I cannot prove this but am making this disclaimer to mitigate to some extent,  the opprobrium with which comments such as this often engender. 

  26. Why we need to talk about the scientific consensus on climate change

    There are many portentous statements in the comments on this topic but recent polls suggest that the 97%  consensus of climate scientists is not yet generally shared.  A recent paper in Nature Climate Change (LINK) shows only 35% 0f Americans believe global warming was the cause of the warm winter in 2012.  The lead author (Aaron McCright) made this comment about the study:

    ""There's been a lot of talk among climate scientists, politicians and journalists that warmer winters like this would change people's minds," McCright said. "That the more people are exposed to climate change, the more they'll be convinced. This study suggests this is not the case."

    (LINK)

    This seems in accord with the survey of Australians by Channel 9 which asked > 122000 people "Do you believe in man-made global warming?" and showed about 40000 did and about 82000 did not.  And in accord also  with a 91% response of "No" to the ABC (Australia) program Radio National  question "Is the IPCC right that on current fossil use projectories, we are heading for a global warming of four or five degrees by century's end?" (LINK)

    Moderator Response:

    [RH] Changed URL's to links. You can find the link tool on the second tab above the comments box.

  27. New study shows warm waters are melting Antarctica from below

    dorje - Another collection of seemingly random facts, again lacking content or direction. What are you trying to say (if anything)?

    Moderator Response:

    [RH] dorje's comments have been deleted for failing to indicate that they are actually just quotations from the papers he's citing without adding any additional original commentary.

    [PS] Not to mention being totally off topic.

  28. Why we need to talk about the scientific consensus on climate change

    There is only one way to curtail CO2 levels and that is to stop burning fossil fuels. We all know that. The problem is that the oil and coal companies have massive amounts of money to make sure they can continue their activities. Facts and science are not the issue, its the money that supports the program of misinformation, fully backed by the media and ploiticians of the big polluting countries. We need to move on without them as they are not going to change. http://www.climateoutcome.kiwi.nz/blog/un-climate-change-negotiations

  29. 2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #47B

    Tom,

    Thank you for the clarification.  It is easy to confuse what is claimed with other claims.

    On the other hand, many times the damages from a small increase in summer heat are greatly disproportionate to the measured increase in temperature.  Frequently if the temeprature was 20% lower, compared to the mean, the damage from drought and heat would be greatly less.  Similarly, the last nine inches of flooding from hurricane Sandy in New York caused disproportionate damage.  That flooding was 100% due to AGW since it was sea level rise.  When combined with the uncertainty with how much of the heat is caused by AGW it is very difficult to determine how much of the damage was from AGW, even when it is most of the damage.

  30. President Obama's climate leadership faces the Keystone XL challenge

    A recent peer-reviewed article argued that, because of basic economics, the extra supply of oil on KXL will lower world prices by $3 per barrel. US domestic prices are, to a large degree, controlled by world prices so, other things being equal, US retail gasoline prices should eventually fall a bit if KXL is OK'd.

    I happen to think that this amount ($3/bbl) is too high (my arguments in an SkS post,here), but it is in the right direction. However, the oil market is very complicated and unpredictable and, although you can make predictions of the consequences of a single variable on the basis of everything else being equal, in oil markets everything else never is.

    In any case, concerns about future small changes in the price of gasoline have everything to to do with US politics and not that much relevance to sound environmental policy. I'm against KXL for the same reason that Canadian governments and oil companies are in favour of it: because it will promote production from the oil sands.

  31. 2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #47B

    michael sweet @8, when you say Hansen showed "extremely hot summers were 98% caused by AGW", you need to be careful clariffy what is meant.  What is meant is that an extremely hot summer has a very low probability of occuring without anthropogenic forcings.  The statement could be interpreted as saying that anthropogenic forcings caused 98% of the heat or 98% of the temperature difference from the mean.  In both cases that interpretation would make the claim false.  There are problems in determining the exact temperature contributions of anthropogenic forcings to a particular hot summer (or heat wave), but an intuitive approach is to simply take the zonal land temperature increase as being the contribution of anthropogenic forcings, on which basis the anthropogenic contribution generally resolves down to 20% or less of the difference from the mean.  That is, without anthropogenic factors, what are experienced as extremely hot summers would have been very hot summers or at least hot summers (and ignoring butterfly effect complications).  The small relative contribution of anthropogenic forcings, however, takes the actual temperatures into ranges very rarely experienced without anthropogenic factors.

    (I am aware that you know this, but not all readers or this thread may, so it is worth clariffying.)  

  32. Google It - Clean Energy is Good for the Economy

    States with lower carbon emissions tend to have higher median incomes.

    That may be because higher tech energy strategies create a lot of good jobs.  It may be because wealthier states can afford to invest in the future more.  And it may be external factors that cause both, such as urbanization.  Realistically, it is probably a mix of the three.  But, the fact is, states that are better for the climate are also doing better economically.

  33. 2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #47B

    Continuing the dice analogy what do we think when a 7 or an 8 comes up?

    Hansen showed several years ago that etremely hot summers were 98% casued by AGW.  Hotter summers than that (+ 4-5  sigma) have such a low chance of occuring that they are almost certainly caused by AGW.  This analysis does not address single hot days or weeks. 

    There is still the possibility, however small, that it could have occured without AGW. 

  34. 2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #47B

    @ 5 and 6

    As Firgoose rightly points out, the nature of the beast is inherently non-deterministic. Let's examine this a bit deeper by putting some numbers into the dice analogy...

    In an honest die, the chance of rolling any of the six numbers (1-6) is exactly 1 in 6, or about 16.7%. Consider what happens if a pair of dice are subtly loaded in favour of the 6, such that the numbers 1-5 now each only have a 16% chance of turning up. The chance of rolling a 6 is now 1-in-5, or 20%, and hence the chance of throwing a pair of sixes has increased from 1-in-36 to 1-in-25.

    In a hundred throws of an honest pair of dice, one would expect (on average) that there would be just under 3 (or 2.77777.... to be exact) instances of a double 6 (i.e. an extreme event). With the loaded dice, this anticipated average number rises to 4 per hundred throws.

    How do you even begin to say which 3 were "legitimate" and which one could, with certainty, be attributed to the changed conditions? It is only the persistence of average results outwith the expected range which raises the eyebrow.

  35. It's not happening

    59F tomorrow for Buffalo.  15F above the daily average.   Should they now think that temperatures have risen >10 times faster than IPCC thinks?  Fact is, winter is coming, and it gets cold and snows a lot in Buffalo in the winter almost every year.  Sometimes it gets warm again.

    Ironically, though, the large amounts of lake effect snow have been linked to the warming of the lake, resulting in more evaporation, convective lift and, therefore, snow than previously seen.  It interacted with a large actic air mass, of the sort we've been seeing that last few years.  That pattern has also been attributed to global warming, though the jury is still out.

  36. One Planet Only Forever at 15:51 PM on 24 November 2014
    2014 SkS Weekly Digest #47

    I am looking forward to Alexandre Lacerda's upcoming SkS item “Drought and Deforestation in Brazil”

    The need to be able to reasonably predict things like El Nino/La Nina and resulting regional rainfall is highlighted by the current drought in Sao Paulo.

    Even if El Nino could be more reliably predicted the potential rains in Sao Paulo would appear to be difficult to reliably forecast. The presentation of El Nino impacts summarized by NOAA here indicates that rainier conditions would be expected in southern Brazil but potentially not as far north as Sao Paulo.

    An added challenge of the rapid climate change due to rapidly increased impacts like atmospheric CO2 appears to be that rapid short-term changes of climate patterns make it even more difficult to establish reliable short-term forecast models (models to regionally predict things like generally expected rainfall 3 to 6 months in advance) because what has happened in the past in the short-term is less likely to be what will happen in the future.

    Sao Paulo appears to be at the mercy of whatever will come in the next few months. And a few years ago Tofino on 'reliably rainy' Vancouver Island had its reservoir almost run dry without getting warning several months in advance that it was likely to happen.

  37. CO2 limits will harm the economy

    Check out how carbon emissions correlate to median income.

  38. 2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #47B

    @5, localis: It's somewhat like loaded dice that have been fixed to increase the number of sixes. You can know that the dice are loaded and, given enough trials, you can determine an accurate percentage of sixes above the level that chance would produce. You cannot, however, say what exact balance of natural and unnatural factors influenced any particular six, nor can you predict whether the next roll will produce a six or not.

    I have great respect for the scientific method but there has to be a time when reputations cease to be so important

    It's not about reputation, it's about being scientific. The inability to definitively differentiate the random-roll factors from the dice-loading factors would still be the case with dice so loaded that they gave sixes 99.9% of the time. So any reticence to declare certainty about any given six is quite justified. On the other hand, with sufficient data there should equally be reticence to state that there won't be more sixes on average. And the longer the sequences of rolls that you record, the more certainly you can declare the influence of the loading factor for the sequence. Similarly you can make predictions for future sequences, the longer the better.

    To me this is food for the deniers to thrive on.

    I quite agree but unfortunately everything seems to be food for the deniers. I can't imagine how they'll do it yet but I fully expect them to spin the end of the hiatus as some kind of "proof" and a victory for their anti-science. ;o)

  39. 2014 SkS Weekly Digest #47

    The "Tropical Pacific Ocean moves closer to El Niño" link is not working.  It links to a page with the address "http://www.skepticalscience.com/ov.au/climate/enso/" which gives a 404 error.

    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Link fixed. Thanks for bringing this glitch to our attention.

  40. President Obama's climate leadership faces the Keystone XL challenge

    OPOF...  The other bit I think Russ is missing is the fact that you can't just consider domestic economics relative to supply and demand. The issue is, refiners are going to sell their products where ever they can get the highest price, and any product they sell in the US market is going to be below world price for those products. 

    That is going to have the effect of pushing domestic prices higher.

    Ironically, the Forbes article I linked is written by Tim Worstall, who is a UKIP supporter, and by no means a liberal.

  41. Why we need to talk about the scientific consensus on climate change

    Glad to see my horrible typing may serve a larger purpose!  That way I don't have to learn how to correct it.

  42. One Planet Only Forever at 11:32 AM on 23 November 2014
    President Obama's climate leadership faces the Keystone XL challenge

    Russ R.,

    Specifically to your point regarding gas prices in the US.

    In addition to the many articles referred to by Rob, here is another reference. It includes the following statements which are consistent with the sales pitches the Alberta Government and other promoters of the oil sands currently continue to proclaim, XL will increase the price they can get for Oil Sand Bitumen which is a key part of the mid-West US refining system.

    "TransCanada’s 2008 Permit Application states “Existing markets for Canadian heavy crude, principally PADD II [U.S. Midwest], are currently oversupplied, resulting in price discounting for Canadian heavy crude oil. Access to the USGC [U.S. Gulf Coast] via the Keystone XL Pipeline is expected to strengthen Canadian crude oil pricing in [the Midwest] by removing this oversupply. This is expected to increase the price of heavy crude to the equivalent cost of imported crude. The resultant increase in the price of heavy crude is estimated to provide an increase in annual revenue to the Canadian producing industry in 2013 of US $2 billion to US $3.9 billion.”"

    "Independent analysis of these figures found this would increase per-gallon prices by 20 cents/gallon in the Midwest."

  43. One Planet Only Forever at 09:39 AM on 23 November 2014
    President Obama's climate leadership faces the Keystone XL challenge

    Russ R.,

    The purpose of this discussion is the justification of XL.

    There may be other reasons people may 'want' XL but XL is unjustified unless you or anyone else can substantively refute the points I provided. QED

    Moderator Response:

    [JH] The first sentence of the SkS Comments Policy reads as follows:

    The purpose of the discussion threads is to allow notification and correction of errors in the article, and to permit clarification of related points. 

    Russ R's commentary about a statement made in the OP is therefore legitimate. He/she is, however, skating on the thin ice of excessive repetition which is prohibited.   

  44. President Obama's climate leadership faces the Keystone XL challenge

    Russ... Here's a study from Cornell.

    KXL will divert Tar Sands oil now supplying Midwest refineries, so it can be sold at higher prices to the Gulf Coast and export markets. As a result, consumers in the Midwest could be paying 10 to 20 cents more per gallon for gasoline and diesel fuel. These additional costs (estimated to total $2–4 billion) will suppress other spending and will therefore cost jobs.


    That 10-20 cents a gallon completely wipes out any gains we achieve from additional jobs within about a year. [LINK]

  45. President Obama's climate leadership faces the Keystone XL challenge

    Russ @40...  May I ask, did you read any of the articles that I posted stating that KXL would likely cause gas prices to rise nationally?

  46. President Obama's climate leadership faces the Keystone XL challenge

    One Planet Only Forever,

    Your comment @41 is not in any way a response to my argument @40.

    Starting from my first comment in this thread @1, I've been solely focused on a single issue... whether or not KXL will raise gasoline prices in the US, as claimed in the original post.  

    I'm not discussing other arguments.  There are many, many cases to be made both for and against the approval of this pipeline, but at least some of those arguments may be factual.

    The claim that KXL will raise US gasoline prices is pure fiction, and I've laid out the facts refuting it.

    Moderator Response:

    [JH] You are again skating on the thin ice of excessive repetition which is prohibited by SkS Comments Policy.

  47. One Planet Only Forever at 08:20 AM on 23 November 2014
    President Obama's climate leadership faces the Keystone XL challenge

    Apologies in advance to the Moderator, but I find it difficult to resist responding to Russ R's recent elaborate presentation.

    Russ R.,

    Please substantively refute all of the following (previously pointed out points regarding this issue that your most recent comment does not address):

    • The burning of buried hydrocarbons needs to be curtailed to meet a total global cap on the resulting emissions. Only a small percentage of the buried hydrocarbons currently located and able to be extracted can be allowed to be burned.
    • It would be beneficial if a maximum amount of useable energy was obtained from the burning done within the global limit. It would be even more beneficial if the burning did not produce impacts reaching the global limit.
    • The hydrocarbons planned to be shipped through XL are among the poorest sources of useable energy for the harm done to get that useable energy. The resource is not in the top half of the most beneficial to burn so it clearly is counter-productive to burn it.

    Unless you can substantively refute all of the above (and there are more points against what XL would prolong and potentially expand that would have to be refuted), the XL pipeline is not justified. QED

  48. 2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #47B

    Thankyou for your replies but what I have difficulty with is the obvious evidence of climate change throughout the globe especially in the Artic and good evidence of melting glaciers elsewhere but when it comes to attributing any weather event to climate change there seems a reticence to do so by many scientists. To me this is food for the deniers to thrive on. I have great respect for the scientific method but there has to be a time when reputations cease to be so important if we are to escape the science itself becoming the millstone that condemns us to failure.

  49. 2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #47B

    localis @3 anthropogenic climates forcings are a factor in every weather event that occurs (which I believe is what you are saying).  However, just because it is sunny with a chance of showers in Brisbane today (made up example) does not mean that the probability of its being sunny with a chance of showers in Brisbane in November would have been low without anthropogenic forcings.  In fact, given conditions over the range of holocene climate conditions, that would have been a reasonably common occurence in any event.  So, while it is true that anthropogenic factors are a factor in every modern weather event, it does not mean that the probability of such weather events has been changed by anthropogenic factors.  And it is such changes in probability that we are concerned with.

    However, for some types of weather events there have been detectable increases in the probability of such events (particularly extreme warm weather, but also floods and droughts) which are potentially attributable to the influence of anthropogenic forcing.  Typically such events are similar to events that are fairly common (or would have been) in any event, but small increments in temperature, or evaporation (for droughts) or precipitation (for floods and hurricanes) have increased the intensity of the event so that very intense events are occuring more frequently.

    Further, some of the events are so intense that the probability of their occuring if their had been no anthropogenic forcing is << 1% (the 2010 Russian heat wave comes to mind; as does the proximate cause of the 2011 Brisbane floods, although the floods themselves were not unprecedented and have a magnitude with a return interval between 50 and 100 years).

    So, as I understand your point it is valid - but it is not very interesting except to note that some pseudo-sketpics contradict themselves by insisting that (a) weather is chaotic, such that "the flap of a butterflies wings can cause hurricanes", but that (b) anthropogenic factors have not influence on weather.

  50. 2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #47B

    At what point do we accept that anthropogenic climate change is actually taking place? If we accept that it is actually occurring now (as many scientists seem to concur) then all weather events must be accepted as being influenced by that change unless it can be proved that any part of our climate system functions independently of the rest.

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