Thursday, October 05, 2006

Answers to a few questions

Although I've answered these in various posts, I think it's useful to repeat this material. Recent commenters continue to bring these questions up.
  1. Is the Earth warming?

  2. Duh. Of course it is. Next question.

  3. Are humans to blame?

  4. I blogged on this point here. The bottom line is that we are virtually 100% certain that humans are contributing to the present warming, and we think it's likely that humans are contributing most of the warming over the last few decades. However, no one credible argues that humans are responsible for ALL of the warming.

  5. Will the effects of climate change be beneficial or disastrous?

  6. Clearly, some people will benefit from warming, while others will suffer. There are a lot of dimensions to this (economic, moral, etc.), but I'll just give the broadest answer. For small warming (e.g., 1 deg C over the next 100 years), current thinking is that harms and benefits are largely comparable, although it is estimated that harms still outweigh the benefits. As the warming increases, the harms get much bigger, and begin dominating over benefits somewhere around 2-3 deg C of warming. That's why 2-3 deg C is often referred to as a tipping point or threshold for dangerous anthropogenic interference. Warmings much greater, say 5 deg C, would be a calamity of Biblical proportions ... real Wrath of God stuff.

  7. Can we do anything about it?

  8. I don't know. I think the problem is largely political, but I'm hopeful that we can get our act together in the next decade to make the technical and societal changes necessary to stabilize atmospheric CO2 around 550 ppmv (double pre-industrial levels). If we fail, then we move on to other options (like geoengineering), but I think we have to at least make a legitimate effort to to reduce emissions.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

"For small warming (e.g., 1 deg C over the next 100 years), current thinking is that harms and benefits are largely comparable, although it is estimated that harms still outweigh the benefits. As the warming increases, the harms get much bigger, and begin dominating over benefits somewhere around 2-3 deg C of warming. That's why 2-3 deg C is often referred to as a tipping point or threshold for dangerous anthropogenic interference. Warmings much greater, say 5 deg C, would be a calamity of Biblical proportions ... real Wrath of God stuff."

Look dude. You can comment on anything you like of course. But third parties should realise that when it comes to the above you ARE RIGHT OUT OF YOUR FIELD OF EXPERTISE.

And people don't realise this. I come from the point of view that warming will be good. Warming of ALL the magnitudes you mention here. But my background is in economics. Not in Climate Science.

So far I have not seen any concrete facts about climate science offered by you that don't sound right to me.

But the above words that I've quoted of yours contain quite a great deal of economic inferences. Economic inferences that I find implausible.

Now how is it that you reckon a 5 degrees average increase in temperature would be so catastrophic IF IT WAS CAUSED BY CO2-BASED WARMING.

Since it would be a case of heat differentials reducing its likely to be very benign.

And how can you possibly suggest that the net of benefits/costs is likely to be skewed towards the cost side with CO2-based warming?

As you would know CO2 increases plant yields and reduces water transpiration of plants. CO2-based warming is going to increase average rainfalls.

So its not credible (speaking from an economics perspective) that costs would outmatch benefits on an A-PRIORI basis.

GMB

Dano said...

I'm hopeful that we can get our act together in the next decade to make the technical and societal changes necessary to stabilize atmospheric CO2 around 550 ppmv (double pre-industrial levels). If we fail, then we move on to other options (like geoengineering), but I think we have to at least make a legitimate effort to to reduce emissions.

Yes.

Can we actually lead and govern ourselves to get everyone to go down one direction? I think that's harder than the geoengineering bit.

Best,

D

Andrew Dessler said...

GMB-

I acknowledge that impacts are not my field of expertise. But I do listen to the experts, and my post describes their conclusions. Of course, you're free to reject the opinion of the experts. But that seems to me to be a prescription for bad policy.

Regards.

George Landis said...

Dr. D, now just who are these experts in global economics, business and government investments and expenditures, and finance that you are trusting in here? Do they also have some shadowy societies ruled by a small, elite cadre of politically aligned executives and have developed a "consensus" on this?

Andrew Dessler said...

My source is the working group II report of the IPCC. You can view it at www.ipcc.ch

Mark UK said...

Here a few stories on the relatively low cost of taking action:

http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/sep2005/2005-09-13-04.asp

http://environment.guardian.co.uk/climatechange/story/0,,1887096,00.html

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa003&articleID=A378383B89E6719E15CD1AA45478627C

Mark UK said...

And here is the Pricewaterhousecoopers report:

http://www.pwcglobal.com/extweb/pwcpublications.nsf/docid/DFB54C8AAD6742DB852571F5006DD532

"Our analysis suggests that there are technologically feasible and relatively low-cost options for controlling carbon emissions to the atmosphere. Estimates suggest that the level of GDP might be reduced by no more than around 2-3% in 2050 if this strategy was followed, equivalent to sacrificing only around a year of economic growth for the sake of reducing carbon emissions in 2050 by around 60% compared to our baseline scenario".

George Landis said...

Ah yes, such distinguished macro and micro economists, econometric modelers, business experts, and financial wizards. Let see, here's the list for WG II participants from the Feb. 2005 meeting:


Q.K Ahmad Bangladesh Unnayan Parishad (BUP) BANGLADESH

S.J. Cohen University of British Columbia CANADA

C. Gay-Garcia Lic Francisco Estrada PorrĂșa MEXICO
Speaker M. Gillet Observatoire National sur les Effets du
RĂ©chauffement Climatique FRANCE
Speaker M. Glantz National Center for Atmospheric
Research USA

S. Huq IIED UNITED KINGDOM

R.J.T. Klein Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact
Research (PIK) GERMANY

M.M.Q. Mirza University of Toronto CANADA

Vice chair IPCC M. Munasinghe University of Colombo SRI LANKA

L. Nurse Ministry of Physical Development and
Environment BARBADOS

A. Nyong University of Jos, Plateau State NIGERIA
chair IPCC R.K. Pachauri Tata Energy Research Institute (TERI) INDIA


J. Price California State University USA

A. Rahman Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies
(BCAS) BANGLADESH

J.B. Robinson University of British Columbia CANADA

TSU C. Sear Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and
Research UNITED KINGDOM

P.R. Shukla Indian Institute of Management,
Ahmedabad (IIMA) INDIA

F.L. Toth IAEA AUSTRIA

T.J. Wilbanks Oak Ridge National Laboratory USA

S. Wu Chinese Academy of Sciences CHINA

Sorry Dr. D, these guys are most all climatologists or general government technocrats, and we are supposed to trust them but you reject the Nobel Prize winning economics profs from the Copenhagen Consensus? Sorry, your bias is showing here, they know about as much about economic and financial impacts of adjusting to climate chnage as you do, not much.

Andrew Dessler said...

George-

First, I appreciate your efforts to paint me as biased. That's a tried-and-true technique of those who have run out of legitimate rational arguments. That said, I try to discourage those types of posts because they don't enhance the blog's atmosphere.

Second, the Copenhagen Consensus answered the question "what should we spend our money on?" They compared various problems and concluded that AGW was at the bottom of the list. That's quite different from what I (or the IPCC) am talking about. My point (based on the IPCC) was that the harms of climate change will outweigh the benefits significantly for warmings greater than about 3 deg C. That is not at all addressed by the CC. And as far as I know, no one credible disputes that.

Regards

Mark UK said...

George,

Actually the Copenhagen Consensus worked to some pretty clear base assumptions. The most important ones being that you have 5 years and $50Bn to spend. If that is the case what would you spend it on?

As everybody agrees taking action against global warming will taek more than 5 years and $50Bn. So under those assumptions it makes sense to spend the money on the other issues discussed at the CC.

In the real world we have no 5 year restriction on action and we can spend a bit more....

Also, not very strong on climate scientists was it?

George Landis said...

Dr. D., as you know we all have biases and are biased based on what we know, think we know, or learn, not only on our world views. I was not saying you're a bad person, I was just pointing out that on this particular issue (economic impacts of doing something about a 3-5 degree C climate change) that you should have people who know #1, what has to be done, and #2, what it will cost the economy and all the multiplier effects, and #3, the costs of doing nothing about it. Now, I contend that this group of "experts", WG II, have no experts at all in this field of analysis.

If you would like to see a real, rigorous and robust model of this type I am very familiar with, try this link:

http://tinyurl.com/hwk4m

You will see that the IPCC WG II are novices compared to this. I would hope that someday the IPCC really tries to gather something other than government scientists, politicians, and climatologists to work on this issue.

Mark UK said...

Just a question here... Do all climate skeptics work for lobby groups?

Mark UK said...

Let's see what the novices at the World bank have to say (by way of Mr Wolfowitz):

The industrial world is overwhelmingly responsible for today’s greenhouse gas emissions—which means that it’s those countries that must take the lead in doing something about it. Rich countries’ per capita greenhouse gas emissions today are five times higher than those of poor countries.

As rich and poor countries invest in energy infrastructure, they will need to apply energy-efficient technology to cut future greenhouse gas emissions

http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/ENVIRONMENT/EXTCC/0,,contentMDK:20764291~menuPK:407870~pagePK:64020865~piPK:149114~theSitePK:407864,00.html

And:

We have an opportunity today, to think outside the box and find new ways, practical solutions, to promote the generation and diffusion of low carbon technologies and the integration of climate concerns in development strategies. Let's work together for a climate friendly future." said World Bank President Paul D. Wolfowitz

http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/ENVIRONMENT/EXTCC/0,,contentMDK:20660008~menuPK:407870~pagePK:64020865~piPK:149114~theSitePK:407864,00.html

Anonymous said...

"I acknowledge that impacts are not my field of expertise. But I do listen to the experts, and my post describes their conclusions Of course, you're free to reject the opinion of the experts. But that seems to me to be a prescription for bad policy."

Look I can't let this ridiculous unreason go.

What experts?

What ECONOMICS experts are you relying on for the ECONOMIC inferences associated with various climate temperature outcomes?

Thats a rhetorical question because I suggest you haven't been relying on any such economics experts and have just adopted the ideas of the panic-movement.

The phrase 'THE EXPERTS" isn't going to cut it. The real deal to this panic is that its a big assertions tsunami. An internet assertions tsunami.

"Of course, you're free to reject the opinion of the experts. But that seems to me to be a prescription for bad policy."

I mean look at that for a smalmy tendentious reply. I tell you that the idea that we won't adapt economically is really quite ridiculous. And all that extra plant yield and rainfall is the biggest dumb luck we could hope for.
>>>>>>>>

What is your view on glaciation? Have we definitely overcome this potential disaster for all time in your opinion?

That fellow Hansen seems to think so. But is that all cut and dried?

GMB

George Landis said...

Mark UK, there are numerous analysis that were done for the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship bills, if you don't like this one, check the EIA website, or the Charles River Associates analysis (both commissioned by the Senate), they came up with similar orders of magnitude for the high costs. Only the MIT group quoted a lower cost analysis, and that was funded by Pew, a noteable left leaning lobby group. Who do you trust? It's obvious you are not going with the "consensus" here.

Andrew Dessler said...

GMB-

"What experts?" The IPCC working group II.

I suppose I should ask you what experts you're relying on.

Regards

Mark UK said...

George,

who do I trust? Not too many! Sorry if I was not clear but I am not dismissing the link and studies you posted. I think there is a lot to debate as to how much we should do and what we should do. I don't think the answers are there yet...

We do need to start those discussions though rather than getting stuck in the debate on whether or not AGW is real.

EliRabett said...

Anon is hijacking the thread. The question is what harm or good various degrees of global warming will cause. Economic issues are but a subset of these.

EliRabett said...

As George Landis started this, allow me a bit of space to actually list the AR4 convening lead authors for WGII. The rest of the author list can be found here.

CHAPTER 1. ASSESSMENT OF OBSERVED CHANGES AND RESPONSES IN NATURAL AND MANAGED SYSTEMS
C. Rosenzweig (USA)
G. Casassa (Chile)

CHAPTER 2. NEW ASSESSMENT METHODOLOGIES AND THE CHARACTERISATION OF FUTURE CONDITIONS
T. Carter (Finland)
X. Lu (China)
R. Jones (Australia)

CHAPTER 3. FRESH WATER RESOURCES AND THEIR MANAGEMENT
Z. Kundzewicz (Poland)
L. Mata (Venezuela)

CHAPTER 4. ECOSYSTEMS, THEIR PROPERTIES, GOODS AND SERVICES
A. Fischlin (Switzerland)
G. Midgley (RSA)

CHAPTER 5. FOOD, FIBRE AND FOREST PRODUCTS
W. Easterling (USA)
K. Aggarwal (India)

CHAPTER 6. COASTAL SYSTEMS AND LOW-LYING AREAS
R. Nicholls (UK)
P.P. Wong (Singapore)

CHAPTER 7. INDUSTRY, SETTLEMENT AND SOCIETY
T. Wilbanks (USA)
P. Romero-Lankao (Mexico)

CHAPTER 8. HUMAN HEALTHU. Confalonieri (Brazil)
B. Menne (WHO / Germany)

CHAPTER 9. AFRICA
C. Vogel (RSA)
A. Nyong (Nigeria)
M. Boko (Benin)

Horrors, all Africans, what will George think!

CHAPTER 10. ASIA
S. Wu (China)
H. Harasawa (Japan)
V. Cruz (Philippines)
M. Lal (India)

Horrors, all Asians, what will George think

CHAPTER 11. AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
B. Fitzharris (New Zealand)
K. Hennessey (Australia)

Good Lord, a Kiwi and an Aussie, no USAians. What will George think

CHAPTER 12 EUROPE
J. Alcamo (Germany)
J. Moreno (Spain)
B. Novaky (Hungary)

Well, at least no French. That should molify George a bit.

CHAPTER 13. LATIN AMERICA
G. Magrin (Argentina)
C. Gay Garcia (Mexico)

Hmm.....don't they know that George thinks the US owns that place?

CHAPTER 14. NORTH AMERICA
C. Field (USA)
L. Mortsch (Canada)

Well, at last a USAian.

CHAPTER 15. POLAR REGIONS (ARCTIC AND ANTARCTIC)
O. Anisimov (Russia)
D. Vaughan (UK)

Where are the polar bears??

CHAPTER 16. SMALL ISLANDS
N. Mimura (Japan)
L. Nurse (Barbados)

CHAPTER 17. ASSESSMENT OF ADAPTATION PRACTICES, OPTIONS, CONSTRAINTS AND CAPACITY
N. Adger (UK)
S. Agrawala (OECD / France)
M. Mirza (Bangladesh)

CHAPTER 18. INTER-RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN ADAPTATION AND MITIGATION
S. Huq (Bangladesh)
R. Klein (Netherlands)

One of my favorite hobby horses. I shall read this with interest.

CHAPTER 19. ASSESSING KEY VULNERABILITIES AND THE RISK FROM CLIMATE CHANGE
A. Patwardhan (India)
S. Semenov (Russia)
S. Schneider (USA)

The dread Steven Schneider. Alas. Alack. What will George think:(

CHAPTER 20. PERSPECTIVES ON CLIMATE CHANGE AND SUSTAINABILITY
G. Yohe (USA)
R. Lasco (Phillipines)

George will ask whether that Yohe character is a REAL American.

and so it goes

Anonymous said...

"What is your view on glaciation? Have we definitely overcome this potential disaster for all time in your opinion?"

I'd like to see this one answered.

GMB

Andrew Dessler said...

GMB-

Given present forcing levels, I doubt we'll have another ice age. Humans are now controlling the climate, for better or worse.

Regards

Anonymous said...

Yeah well thats Hansens claim.

Pretty much word for word.

But not many of the older climate scientists appear to be saying this.

GMB

Anonymous said...

GMB, you said:


[I come from the point of view that warming will be good. Warming of ALL the magnitudes you mention here. But my background is in economics. Not in Climate Science.]


Then, permit me borrow verbatim your other words of wisdom.

[Look dude. You can comment on anything you like of course. But third parties should realise that when it comes to the above you ARE RIGHT OUT OF YOUR FIELD OF EXPERTISE]

How could anyone say it better?

John L. McCormick

Anonymous said...

GMB does have a valid point to make it seems to me, Andrew.

We still don't have convinving proof that climate change will severely impact the world in an adverse way. Moreover GMB is arguing that we could actually accrue benefits from warmer earth.

Would you like to bet, just a gentleman's bet, that the world's GDP will be higher in 30 years. We of course cannot bet the end of the century for obvious reasons.

Andrew Dessler said...

GMB-

You wrote: "But not many of the older climate scientists appear to be saying this."

Which "older" scientists are you referring to?

Regards

EliRabett said...

Anon, evidently has not heard of the year 10K problem....:). Ice ages are of course one of the standard throw spaghetti against the wall strategies.

The short answer as Andrew said is that if current levels of greenhouse gases increase, orbital variation will not be able to induce an ice age. A somewhat longer answer would say that even if CO2 mixing ratios remained at ~300 ppm the start of an ice age would be many thousands of years off.

Which, of course, returns us to the first paragraph. Why is this strawman being set alight?

EliRabett said...

Anon appears to think that no one has ever heard about inflation, and, of course, we have the interesting point that world GDP is not very evenly distributed. Finally, he appears to have discounted the possibility that effective (although not cost free) mitigation and adaptation strategies would be adopted.

Anonymous said...

EliRabett says:
"Anon appears to think that no one has ever heard about inflation, and, of course, we have the interesting point that world GDP is not very evenly distributed. Finally, he appears to have discounted the possibility that effective (although not cost free) mitigation and adaptation strategies would be adopted."

Rabbit, please stop throwing in a strawman. Of course my assumption for GDP growth would be netting out inflation. My bet is that world economic growth as measured by real GDP will be higher than it is now.

GDP has always be unevenly distributed so what in Gods name has this pathetic attempt at a curve ball have to do with it. Nothing!!!

"Finally, he appears to have discounted the possibility that effective (although not cost free) mitigation and adaptation strategies would be adopted"

Well actually no. I am hoping this "mitigation and adaption" strategy will be avoided like the plague so our GDP will be much higher. The only thing that could derail it is fraudulent policies such a Kyoto and such like.


It gets more interesting as this goes along. George L's list of contributors showed not one major economist in the group advising governments, yet we are to take their advice on major economic matters. JHC almighty, this is becoming more of a fraud as we go along.

Eli, you really have nothing to contribute to this discussion.

Anonymous said...

ELI
If you are happy to make a bet:

I will be happy to bet that real Global GDP will be higher in 20 years than it is now."(real means inflation free)

I see your name up at differemt sites frequently passing fraudulent and scary nonsense about AGW.

I bet you US$100,000 that world GDP is higher in 20 years time.
We can escrow with an escrow agent of your choice. Chicago Escrow Agency will do the job. If you accept this bet we can migrate to email correspondence to finalise it.

Mark UK said...

Aren't we having fun with our GDP... The few hurricanes destroying large parts of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast are also good for GDP. All those construction companies, people being paid to to help out and rebuild... Just because GDP goes up does not automatically mean that everybody is happy and things are swell...

An oil spill contributes to the GDP, so does war. Lots of people ill and in hospital? GDP goes up.

It does not measure sustainability, it does not take into account the environment.

If Bangladesh needs to spend (and thus borrow) billions to defend itself against flooding from rivers and sea that will raise the GDP. isn't it great?!

Honestly guys, at least pick up an economics book and try and learn something before you accuse other people of being ignorant or not able to contribute to a discussion.

D. B. Paul said...

Is that $100,000 in 2006 dollars or $100,000 in 2026 dollars? (sorry - I couldn't resist after all this talk of inflation and real GDP)

EliRabett said...

Feel free DB.

As to Anon 2, would he please point to something that Eli has said which he can demonstrate was fradulent? It's put-up or shut up time Anon. Get those Googling fingers busy. And, by the way, we want some evidence.

As to the size of the bet, why I never bet anything greater than $1000 or less than $10,000,000. It is so ten year old to say I'll bet you a hundred thousand dollars (although most 12 year olds say a million).


And no darlin', in a bet it ain't clear that you are talking before or after inflation unless it is specifically stated. If you want a reason why you have to be specific take a look at the article in today's Washington Post about the Lerner's.

Finally, a bet on GDP, as mark uk pointed out is a suckers bet. In many ways this is proved by the two bets Julian Simon made. The one with Paul Ehrlich (which is quite well known) was diffuse, such as the bet Anon offered (e.g. subject to changes in many things including energy costs, efficiency, substitution,etc.) Simon made another, less well known bet on the price of
pine sawtimber,
which he lost.

Anonymous said...

There once was a man named Al
Who said believe what I say pal.
Do what you can
And stick it to the man
There's no way that global warming isn't foul.