Ep. 160 Climate Change Alarmists Prematurely Cheer New Nobel Winner

15 October 2018     |     Tom Woods     |     10

The media is delighted that William Nordhaus shared this year’s Nobel Prize in economics. Why, he warns about the damage likely to be caused by climate change, just as we do! Not so fast, alarmists. Not so fast.

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  • https://2vnews.com 2VNews

    What will be, will be.

  • JimD

    Well, I looked at Nordhaus’s 2017 paper. While he does not adopt the IPCC approach, he seems alarmist enough: “high likelihood of rapid warming and major damage….urgency of taking strong climate change policies today…most recent stock taking has more bad news…and more pressing need for ” policy changes.

    • Vangel

      I read the papertoo and do not see a case for alarm.

      First, Nordhaus assumes that the sensitivity is high but the actual scientific literature points out that the sensitivity is much lower than the IPCC has wanted it to be to make the alarmist rhetoric credible.
      Second, Nordhaus assumes that a warmer planet is a bad thing for humanity and develops his models from there. But the planet is currently in an interglacial period that is imbedded in an icehouse era that is on average around 4-5°C colder than the historical average. Worse still for the alarmists is the fact that even within the interglacial, we are well below previous temperatures.

      And time is not on the side of either the IPCC or Nordhaus.
      Glaciologists are finding four thousand year-old forests under the receding ice sheets in some locations and 500 year-old forests under others. Even the models show that a warmer world would be wetter and that the glacial ice in Antartica will grow because of the much greater precipitation. Few ‘climate scientists’ bother explaining that melting depends on the number of days that temperatures are above freezing, not by the change in the average temperature. If Antarctica warms up by 10°C or so, it will still be covered in ice because temperatures will still be well below freezing most of the time.

      As for the oceans, they remain basic and will stay basic even if we burn every bit of fossil fuel. What I find ironic is that the observations over monthly periods show natural changes in ion concentrations that are orders of magnitude greater than the worst case prediction due to changes caused by human emissions. The supposed ‘experts’ are expecting their audience to stay uninformed. When that ends, and it will, the game will be up.

      The bottom line is that given that the premises used are wrong, the output of Nordhaus’ activities will be worse than useless. And he will find it harder and harder to make excuses about why the IPCC predictions have diverged from reality and why he keeps using the same premises.

  • bogart1

    The best part of this IPCC prescription for human poverty and misery is that any human who believes the IPCC can immediately follow most if not all of their recommendations and lead by example but they for some reason choose not to do so. This leads me to believe that these folks are trying to use the climate to institute one world government and international socialism.

    • Vangel

      I did read the paper and do not see a case for alarm. For one, Nordhaus assumes that the sensitivity is high but the actual scientific literature points out that the sensitivity is much lower than the IPCC has wanted it to be to make the alarmist rhetoric credible. For another, Nordhaus assumes that a warmer planet is a bad thing for humanity and develops his models from there. But the planet is currently in an interglacial period that is imbedded in an icehouse era that is on average around 4-5°C colder than the historical average. Worse still for the alarmists is the fact that even within the interglacial, we are well below previous temperatures. Glaciologists are finding four thousand year-old forests under the receding ice sheets in some locations and 500 year-old forests under others. Even the models show that a warmer world would be wetter and that the glacial ice in Antartica will grow because of the much greater precipitation. Few ‘climate scientists’ bother explaining that melting depends on the number of days that temperatures are above freezing, not by the change in the average temperature. If Antarctica warms up by 10°C or so, it will still be covered in ice because temperatures will still be well below freezing most of the time.

      Given the fact that the premises used as the basis of the study are wrong, the output will be worse than useless. And it will be harder and harder to make excuses about why the IPCC predictions have diverged from reality.

  • Roger Barris

    Hi Bob: Your quip about 1.5 and the follow up were some of the very best. This has reminded me that I need to make my annual donation to the show.

    One comment: I think that it is important to point out, whenever you are talking about a carbon tax, that someone like Nordhaus advocates a carbon tax to REPLACE all other forms of regulation and subsidy. Otherwise, the efficiency logic doesn’t work. This is obvious to you and me, but it is amazing how little this is understood in the general public, in large part because the Democrats always describe it as an add-on to the current morass. Also, I think that most conservative/libertarian advocates of a carbon tax (and I recognize that you might consider that an oxymoron) want it to be revenue neutral, with the amount raised by the tax returned to households as a reduction of other taxes or, as advocated by George Schultz and James Baker (and me), a monthly dividend (as described in this op ed https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-conservative-answer-to-climate-change-1486512334).

    Keep up the good work! (PS. I am sure you saw the Tyler Cowen interview of Krugman. The amazing thing about it was how boring it was. Once you get Krugman away from hurling insults at his political opponents, he really has very little original or interesting to say.)

  • Alexander Orubor

    Hello Bob and TIm

    could you guys example the ideas of steve keen?

  • Vangel

    When I looked at Nordhaus’ book, The Climate Casino, I was shocked to see reviewers ignore just how many times the word uncertainty came up and how critical the author was of the adequacy of the economic and climate models. If they stick to what was actually written rather than the narrative crafted to look as if the studies support the IPCC’s corruption of science, skeptics find an ally in Nordhaus while the alarmists will find an enemy.

    One of the tricks that I found amusing was the cost to deal with warming above some perceived optimum. We have to get around 140 pages into the text to read, ” The first surprise is that, for the range of changes that have been calculated, the estimated impacts of climate change are relatively small. The largest damage estimate is around 5 percent of output. The most carefully studied scenario shows 2½°C of warming (which we estimate to occur around 2070). For this warming, the central damage estimate is around 1.5 percent of global output.”

    The bottom line is that we benefit from more warming but when we get to 2.5°C of warming the cost is only 1.5 percent of global output? That includes making all kinds of ridiculous assumptions that are not being supported by science. And that is why the Nobel may have dealt the IPCC a very damaging blow.

    No matter how the story is spun, Nordhaus creates a focal point for the rational skeptics to use in their battle against the irrational authoritarians. Add to this a Trump administration that is more likely to examine the problems with the data integrity and scientists in other fields pointing out that any of their students who dared use such inadequate data to draw conclusions that are not reproducible or observable and we could be looking at a reversal in momentum. The trick for the rational contingent is not to get too dramatic and to keep sticking to the facts. I have already heard some of my fellow Canadians question the idea of the need for our governments to destroy jobs and make the poor poorer because our politicians think that Canada is too hot and in danger if the average temperature in Toronto started to reach the level of Memphis Tennessee. I heard Cuomo talk about the reason why New Yorkers were moving south. It wasn’t taxes, he said but a cold climate. Sadly, the CNN guys never bothered to ask him if that were the case why he thought that a bit of warming was a bad thing.

  • JimD

    The Daily (a NYTimes podcast) on October 19 focussed on the IPCC and interviewed Nordhaus. He did not seem to have any issues with the IPCC. Contra Krugman needs to explain to him that he does not understand his own work.

  • Robert

    Nordhaus’s 2015 book, The Climate Casino, is also surprisingly mild. He describes six major predicted effects of climate change (agriculture, life expectancy, sea level rise, ocean acidification, hurricane intensity, species loss).

    He tries his best to make each of these categories sound disastrous, but I kept noticing that the data he presents and the potential for human adaptation to these issues absolutely do not match his alarmist sympathies. He freely acknowledges that there are major limitations and exaggerations in the studies, especially the predicted species extinctions.

    His data on shorter life expectancy amounts to something like by 2050, some regions of Africa could have ~5 days shorter life expectancy on average due to the spread of malaria. I think he had one decent section (hurricane intensity) and then added 300 extra pages to trick people into thinking the data was much worse than it is.