Ep. 14 Krugman’s Climate Hysteria Refuted

19 December 2015     |     Tom Woods     |     28

The Paris agreement on climate may have saved civilization, says Paul Krugman. The usual fact-free analysis then follows. But as you know, Paul Krugman is the bologna, and Contra Krugman is the slicer.

Krugman Column

Hope From Paris” (Dec. 14, 2015)

Contra Columns

Jerry Taylor Shows the Weakness of Case for a Carbon Tax,” by Bob Murphy
A Handy-Dandy Carbon Tax Temperature-Savings Calculator,” by Patrick J. Michaels and Paul C. Knappenberger
On Climate Catastrophe, Show Your Work, Dr. Krugman,” by Bob Murphy
Naomi Klein Showcases What’s Wrong With Climate Alarmism,” by Bob Murphy
Economists Agree: Economic  Models Underestimate Climate Change,” by David Roberts

Article Mentioned

Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution,” by Murray Rothbard

Related Episode

Ep. 555 (The Tom Woods Show) A Climate Heretic Speaks Out (Judith Curry)

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  • Lucien

    Paul Krugman is a nut-job.

  • Nate Russell

    This may come across as a non-intellectual low-blow, but why does Krugman not take the same Keynesian approach to the long-run in climate as Keynes professed in econ?

    • Budthestud

      We are actually doing more harm to the environment by not destroying it? That’s crazy….so crazy it just. might. work.

      • Nate Russell

        I mean we are all dead in the long run, right?!

  • Michael Fleischer

    It may be true that dumping amounts of human generated carbon dioxide into the atmosphere over such a relatively short time frame is going to have some effect on the global climate. In fact it makes perfect rational sense to posit that changing the composition of the earths atmosphere in a significant way over the last hundred years or so will affect the overall climate and atmospheric conditions BUT we dont know exactly what those effects will be AND if there is a way to address the postential negative consequences for humanity that way or answer or solution does NOT involved entrusting governments around the world to manage it. All energy “policies” should be abolished and eliminated. Energy should be entirely in private free market hands. Its the absolute height of idiocy to imagine that governmental organisations can “save the planet”, when these same hopelessly failed institutions cannot balance their books, deliver health care or even deliver mail

    • lousarah

      This. I think it is all about wanting the congregation to tithe so the clergy can dine on gold plates

      • Michael Fleischer

        Very witty reply. Gov simply has no qualifications to deal with this problem

  • Michael Nolan

    Regarding Krugman’s comments on renewable energy prices, I have been watching solar tech for some time now, and I think Krugman’s analysis is flawed for a few reasons:

    First, there is an assumption that panel prices = solar energy prices. It’s a PIECE of a solar power system, but if you actually break out the cost of a home system solar is still a roofing job, and from this side the prices are not likely to make sense unless/until energy consumption inside of a house has been dramatically reduced.

    Second, I don’t think Krugman understands why the prices are coming down. 5 years ago when I was trying to start my own solar company (based on the mistake in the previous paragraph!), I did a good bit of research on subsidies and quite literally, up to half the price of your install is subsidized. If you take Chinese manufacturer subsidies into account (at one time you could get a loan for a song if you built a plant over there), quite possibly even more of the renewables price is subsidized. Take those away, and your “cheap” system may double to quadruple.

    Finally, something I have rarely seen discussed by anyone, is the difficulty for smaller groups of people to start and operate their own power co-ops. When a leftist says “let’s go solar,” they *never* mean “How about ten or twenty of us pool our money together and buy a big renewable energy system and battery banks?” And in the rare case they do, they find out the extreme protectionism put in place by energy companies.

  • B.B.

    Rothbard piece?

  • RobertRoddis

    Krugman’s biggest “admission against interest” was pointing out that the more affluent the Chinese get, the more likely they will want clear air and will have the means to pay for it:

    “Seriously, China faces a huge air quality crisis, brought on largely by coal-burning, which makes it far more willing to wean itself from the worst form of fossil fuel consumption. And China’s economic growth — real income per capita has quadrupled since 1997 — also means that it has a rapidly growing middle class that demands a higher quality of life, including air that’s relatively safe to breathe.”

    Most watermelons (green on the outside, red on the inside), just hate human beings, especially poor and average ones. They don’t want 3rd world people becoming suburbanite shoppers. They don’t respond to the argument that “climate change” legislation will simply promote more poverty and produce a bunch of people who are more likely to eat the bark off the giant redwoods than protect them.

  • got_g


    There were times in the past when the CO2 levels were 4000 – 6000 ppm. (they are ~350 ppm now) and the life was thriving. Plus this prove that run-away CO2 accumulation is total-bull. (If it were 4000 and is now 300 then there is natural mechanism that will make CO2 go down when it reach certain level)



    If you read this simple fact sheet article

    You will see that currently the flora on Earth is STARVING. Plants need at least 1300 ppm to grow optimally. (we are hurting the ecosystem by not producing enough CO2 😉 ).

    From the data of the same article if you do back of the napkin calculation if the CO2 level goes to ~1300pm you can expect Earth-plant biomass will double i.e. sequester big amounts of CO2.
    Also increasing CO2 speeds up the plant growth which also could possibly counter acceleration of CO2 emissions.

    I haven’t heard those two points anywhere on Internet.

    What do you think ?

    • Dinch

      Excellent points. There is also this statistical analysis done by Laughing Target on mises.org disqus comments that shows that above 260 ppm CO2 ceases to account for the temperature level at all. Under 260 ppm it accounts for only one third of the temperature changes. So clearly the entire foundation of ACC is flawed beyond saving.


    • Michael Fleischer

      This may be correct but a very warm earth and high CO2 levels is not conducive to human evolution and survival
      Reptiles like dinosaurs were COLD blooded. When CO2 levels dropped reptiles died off and mammals with 4 chambered hearts and warm stable body temps evolved
      So the point is that rising CO 2 levels certainly could contribute to rising global tenps and threaten human survival
      My take on this is even if it is true ( which it could be ). The way to deal with it is NOT to trust world governments but instead the private energy markets

      • got_g

        Why would it …. even if the coastal areas got flooded we can build self sustaining cities on the ocean. And the ocean is 70% of earth. So there are plentiful of opportunities that we can embrace.
        We just have to face the attitude that world ecology is constantly changing and adapt to it, rather than trying to achieve the unachievable goal of “freezing” the Earth in its current state.

      • got_g

        Dinosaurs didn’t die because CO2 levels dropped.

    • Michael Fleischer

      Plants consume CO2 which then produce O2 . Higher rates of O2 can contribute more more vigorous and frequent fires of burning plant material the ash and by products of which reduce the greehouse effect and could lower temps. Also remember there is strong evidence that the early earth had no oxygen in its atmosphere and bacteria produced all the oxygen that made multicellular life possible.

  • Joshua Brownstein

    While I enjoying listening to lukewarmers like Murphy and Michaels (from CATO) I recently came across a survey which interviewed economist who had published papers on climate economics on climate change. The survey found that: over half of respondents thought the social cost of carbon was over 37 dollars, that if a constant discount rate is used the median answer was 2%, that ” The
    mean and median estimates were GDP losses of 10.2% and 5.5%, respectively, with a variance of 133%.” from 3 degrees of warming by 2090, and that the probabilty that 3 degrees of warming would cause global GDP to be reduced by 25% or more had “[a] mean and median probabilities were [of] 22% and 10%, respectively.” Does this change your mind on the economics climate change? If not, why do you think the collective wisdom of climate change economist is so wrong? http://policyintegrity.org/files/publications/ExpertConsensusReport.pdf

    • lousarah

      No because it is all speculation. They have no clue if they are correct and they put it so far out in the future everyone will be dead when it occurs thus cant be held accountable. The models have been and continue to be wrong…there is absolutely no reason to hurt the GDP NOW with solutions that would have little to no impact. Let me ask you why you would want to solve 22nd century problems with 20th century tech?

      • Joshua Brownstein

        Historians of climate change can go back and see if past predictions were correct and in that way there is some accountability although it is much weaker then the accountability one gets from running a business. As for reducing GDP now to help people in the future, that’s a good point and one that I have made myself. One thing to note is that the report I initially cited talked about damaged by 2090 so it’s using 21st century tech to solve 21st century problems. Second, future benefits are less value then current benefits but have a value greater then 0. That’s the whole point about the discount rate. Given even a larger discount rate then the one suggested by the report it is predicted that damages due to climate change will be so large that it is worth it to curb greenhouse gas emissions today. The benefits of doing so is higher GDP in the future for yourself (if you live that long) and other such as your kids.

      • Joshua Brownstein

        In thinking about your post I tried to figure out what the cost of limited climate change to 2 degrees Celsius would be. I didn’t really get an answer a came across this paper with this fascinating abstract which says we really have no idea about the cost and benefits of CO2 reduction but we should do it anyways. “he long-term economics of mitigating climate change over the long run has played a high profile role in the most important analyses of climate change in the last decade, namely the Stern Report and the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment. However, the various kinds of uncertainties that affect these economic results raise serious questions about whether or not the net costs and benefits of mitigating climate change over periods as long as 50 to 100 years can be known to such a level of accuracy that they should be reported to policymakers and the public. This paper provides a detailed analysis of the derivation of these estimates of the long-term economic costs and benefits of mitigation. It particularly focuses on the role of technological change, especially for energy efficiency technologies, in making the net economic results of mitigating climate change unknowable over the long run.

        Because of these serious technical problems, policymakers should not base climate change mitigation policy on the estimated net economic impacts computed by integrated assessment models. Rather, mitigation policies must be forcefully implemented anyway given the actual physical climate change crisis, in spite of the many uncertainties involved in trying to predict the net economics of doing so.” http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0040162514000468 That paper cites a 2006 paper which includes in it’s analysis technological change (I wouldn’t blame for not trusting the modeling of that). Honestly the math and modeling are over my head but here is a link to the paper. http://www.tyndall.ac.uk/sites/default/files/wp89.pdf

    • got_g

      they couldn’t predict 2008, you are saying they predict such nuances.. not to mention that GDP is inadequate measure to measure economic prosperity and activity.
      What about the social benefits of plant growth if CO2 goes up ?

      • Joshua Brownstein

        What do you mean they couldn’t predict 2008? Are you saying the failed to predict the temperature that year, that they failed to predict the US presidential election that year, or they failed to predict something else?

        • lousarah

          I think he means the bubble and pending financial crisis

    • Joshua Brownstein

      Googling climate model accuracy made me less sure if climate models are accurate. You can find charts which show climate models lining up with temperature records and charts showing the climate models over predict temperature. I don’t know why the charts are different but I suspect it has to do with the exact models they pick and what temperature record they use. The satellite temperature record seems to be lower then other temperature records though it may be more accurate because it doesn’t have to worry such things as heat island effects. Charts from http://thefederalist.com/2014/05/06/climate-change-is-real-too-bad-accurate-climate-models-arent/ http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/ClimateChanging/ClimateScienceInfoZone/Exploringwhatmighthappen/2point4/2point4point4.aspx http://www.skepticalscience.com/graphics.php?g=36 and http://web.archive.org/web/20100322194954/http://tamino.wordpress.com/2010/01/13/models-2/

      • lousarah

        The tech though proposed is 20th century. Wind and solar arent going to be able to meet demand. They dont work all the time and have low energy density which require a lot of land and materials. They also require maintenace and replacement. Despite a green push, wind makes up 4.4 pct and solar 0.4 pct of the grid. Also the fuel ethanol program should be scrapped

        Right now the best bet is to continue going towards nat gas, and lift the the red tape on nuclear to produce more with a small complement of solar, wind, and hydro. Solar should be scrapped completely other than small individual applications.

        The proposed solutions if any seem to have little impact. It is best to adapt as necessary. Frankly i am not too worried about it as co2 has diminishing returns. Also i am not sure it is understood how the natural variation and natural variables all interact with contributions from man.

        China pinky promising they will stop increasing by 2030 will make any reductions of other places irrelevant. Also while carbon taxes and cap n trade are ways to reduce, i have no faith in politicians to implement these for a positive gain and not funnel it to their cronies

      • lousarah

        Whoops sorry this reply meant to be above

  • https://www.facebook.com/david.rogers.hunt David_Rogers_Hunt

    If ContraKrugman were to challenge Paul Krugman to debate (preferably, using Wikia technology) what an economist perspective on Global Climate Change should be,… what resolve would you use?

    The venom driving the present hysteria over Global Climate Change is that at root, must folks are instinctual malthusians who believe the entire world is one big life boat,… literally,… and nothing more. Again, wealth is seen as something that is being used dangerously when being invested, while any opportunity to engage in immediate consumption is seen as moral, just, and not questionable. Eat that seed corn now and be quick about it! Let the problem of next year’s harvest be solved next year.The idea that nature can mind it’s own business pretty much without help or interference from man is no more believable than the idea that market interest rates don’t require centralized authorities to help them find their own fair market values.

    What would Libertarians have Plato’s Philosopher Kings do? The response that Philosopher Kings should be free to say whatever they want,… while the rest of humanity is free to ignore them,… is hardly gratifying to anyone smarter than their inferiors,… as all smart folks agree among themselves. The only exceptions are these weird, perverse, Libertarians, who believe that, however smart Philosopher Kings are, economies work better when those who bear the cost of their own decisions, get to make their own decisions. Nothing gratifying for monstrous egos here!

  • got_g