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« To an incredible degree - Josh 162 | Main | Lindzen's response to Hoskins et al »

Hansen and the cost of carbon

I was in Edinburgh last week, for the ceremony to award James Hansen the Edinburgh Medal.

Hansen's speech after the event was not much to write home about, but one or two things made me take note. Among these was Hansen's much trailed call for a carbon tax in the USA. This in essence was to be a Pigou tax, with a cost per tonne of CO2 collected at source and redistributed equally among US citizens.

In Hansen's last slide, he mentioned a paper he and a bunch of the usual suspects have submitted to Science, setting out their case. Apparently the paper is struggling to find its way through peer review, although I have to say that if the excerpt we were shown was anything to go by the overwrought tone of the authors' prose would give any reputable journal pause for thought.

I was intrigued, however, by one name on the author list. Frank Ackerman appeared briefly on BH, when I noted his extraordinary inflating of the cost of carbon dioxide from the generally cited $20-30 per tonne to something more along the lines of $1000 or even higher.

Now Americans use 18 tonnes or so of CO2 per capita per year. So that's a minimum of $18000 of redistribution of income per year.

That's a lot.

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Reader Comments (54)

As the tax will be passed on to the consumer at each of whatever process that uses the energy it's in theory a perpetual motion tax machine. In reality the consumer will be worse off because the added cost will be inflated at each stage. Sounds like Hansen & Co don't know much about anything, especially the economic facts for most of us.

Apr 13, 2012 at 7:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

At $18K a head, that handily exceeds our before-tax income.

Apr 13, 2012 at 7:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterPluck

plenty of laughs in here:

12 April: Yale: Besieged by Climate Deniers,
A Scientist Decides to Fight Back
Climate scientist Michael Mann, who has faced years of attacks from climate-change skeptics, explains why he believes bad-faith assaults on science have no place in a functioning democracy and why the truth about global warming will inevitably gain wide acceptance.
by Michael E. Mann


12 April: Climate Depot: Marc Morano: Climate Depot Exclusive: Climategate professor Michael Mann may be moving back to the University of Virginia -- Reportedly offered 'chaired professorship' at UVA

Apr 13, 2012 at 7:44 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

speaking of the price of carbon dioxide, the carbon cowboys are massing down under:

13 April: Australian: International carbon trading firms queue ahead of tax launch in Australia

Apr 13, 2012 at 7:46 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

"That's a lot."

That is a nice way of saying they are madder than a box of frogs.

Apr 13, 2012 at 7:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

Ah, the invisible hand of friction free taxes in the free market. If I get all my money back why do I need to send it to you first?

Apr 13, 2012 at 8:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterCecil Coupe

Jack Savage says

...they are madder than a box of frogs.

Are they, or our we? My family could apparently make more money if we all just stopped breathing.

Apr 13, 2012 at 8:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterPluck

From pat's link above a sickening quote, sickening in the sense of the depravity of man when gold gets in his eyes and withers his soul:

International carbon trading firms queue ahead of tax launch in Australia

"Australia provides a real opportunity because at the moment there is not a lot happening in the European economy and even less in the carbon space."

Apr 13, 2012 at 8:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Carr

I read this and - swear down - I seriously thought I'd maybe missed a story where Hansen had resigned being head of GISS and become a full time activist and fantasist economist. But no, checking the GISS site apparently he's still there. They still proudly detail all the Hansen derived science that GISS use to define the current state of world temperature, and Hansen is still listed as "NASA Official" at the bottom.

So while he tells us his dispassionate measurements of world temperature and the state of the world climate, we also get to have novel abstract economic theories proposed from a guy who has clearly got passionate interests in things not usually assumed to be in his immediate skill set. We are supposed to smile and accept his fingers on the scales. I think I know why we are suppose to accept it, it is because he is a non-corporate left wing "good guy".

Only in the loony tunes world of climate science can these "scientists" complain when they hear they are not respected as being unbiased and honest.

Nuts on stilts.

Apr 13, 2012 at 9:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

If we must take unnecessary or unsubstantiated action to reduce CO2 emissions, please give me a fully-rebated carbon tax rather than cap-and-trade plus government subsidies and regulation. Yes, I am undoubtably out of my mind, but there appears to be some possibility - however remote - that catastrophic climate change is coming this century.

Producers of carbon fuels (oil, gas and coal) can pay a tax per ton of carbon as they sell it to distributors and end-users. No one else needs to pay the tax, just the higher costs The proceeds of the tax are fully rebated to every citizen (direct deposit monthly? or annually with taxes for those who don't want direct deposit), theoretically to compensate him for the damage being done to his share of the planet by CO2. Hopefully, an estimated carbon tax on foreign goods can be charged as they enter the country and rebated to domestic manufacturers when they send goods out of the country. Each country can decide what policy it is willing to follow without gaining an economic advantage and without a world government making decisions for everyone. Yes, a carbon tax redistributes income from large users of carbon to low users of carbon, which is often from rich to poor, but it's no worse than all of the other progressive tax systems in the world. Actually, it's a flat tax, so it's better than most. It even provides greater incentive for those most financially capable of reducing their carbon footprint (or "toe print"), and additional funds for those least capable of reducing their carbon foot/toe print (though the additional funds probably won't be used for this purpose). It certainly beats any cap-and-trade system (and Solyndras) which allow governments to pick winners and losers. When voters are paying a highly-visible carbon tax which doubles the cost of gasoline every time they fill up and doubles the cost of their monthly electricity bill, they won't let their government representatives get away with letting some politically-favored groups escape the tax.

Best of all, a fully rebated carbon tax doesn't provide governments with a new source of revenue to spend.

McKitrick has proposed a carbon tax that increases as global temperature increases (and sea level rises?), assuming that it does increase. A tax that doubled with every 0.5 degC temperature increase might cause appropriate investment in low carbon technologies without central governments making arbitrary decisions driven by alarmists arbitrarily imposing policies appropriate for a climate sensitivity of 4+. If I personally believe climate sensitivity is 1.5 and I want to delay investing in low carbon technology, I'm free to do so (while extending a digit in the direction of the alarmists and central planners). If I believe climate sensitivity is 4, I'll invest today - without the benefit of tax credits, feed-in tariffs, and other government subsidies and regulation. If they want a carbon tax, let's demand a truly free market in return, with a carbon price controlled by current temperature and sea level (both of which are easily and accurately measured satellites). That's far better than what is occurring in Europe these days. In 2050, if mean global temperature is up by 0.5 degC or 1.5 degC or down by 0.5 degC, individual businesses and citizens will have invested as they saw fit and certainly far more sensibly than they would have under central regulation.

Apr 13, 2012 at 9:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrank

Given that he is a US government employee, It is quite extraordinary that Hansen, despite all his overt and ridiculous "death trains" campaigning, (and public arrests which have have brought NASA further into disrepute) has not had his contract terminated, or been granted 'early retirement' by NASA high-heidyins. His tortured data alone should be an embarrassment to NASA, never mind his blatant political activism.

Apr 13, 2012 at 9:19 AM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus

The price of carbon should, as set out by Stern, be related to the likely cost of dealing with the potential consequences of allowing [CO2] levels to rise. That in turn must be assessed by objective science. I have set out to assess that science.

I've homed in on the measurement of 'back radiation', claimed to be twice the energy flux that arrives from the sun in daytime and because it operates at night as well, it's an even greater proportion on a time averaged basis. As we learned from the Denning thread, climate scientists claim CO2 molecules in the sky 'emit' much of this enormous energy.

The measuring device they apparently use is the 'pyrgeometers': . It works by measuring Flux in - Flux from internal black body then adding that theoretical black body flux. Let's assume the detector is at 15 °C and points to a clear sky at -20 °C with an emissivity of 0.2, typical UK night time in summer. Do the sums and the pyrgeometer measures 390 - 46 = 354 W/m*2.

So, not only is this 'back radiation' meaningless because it can't do thermodynamic work, it's apparently exaggerated at night by a factor of ~7.7. T^4 is a powerful lever: if I am correct, this is a serious mistake, the scientific equivalent of criminal negligence and 'climate science' must correct the effects ASAP.

The fact that this apparent mistake has not been picked up by the UK and other scientific hierarchies may be a severe indictment of their competence.

Apr 13, 2012 at 9:30 AM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

I like the idea of Americans 'using' 18 tonnes of CO2 per year - but I ask myself, what for: do they drink a lot of fizzy water, perhaps?

Apr 13, 2012 at 9:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterIan E

And another thread gets the 'Dog' treatment :) You REALLY need to write this stuff up, man!

Apr 13, 2012 at 9:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Sorry BigYin, I was wrong. The device measures 46 W/m^2 instead of 354 W/m^2, but the measurement is still meaningless.

Climate science's claimed extra 333 W/m^ average heat input on top of teh 160 W/m^ 2 from the daytime only sun is still the biggest mistake in scientific history!

Apr 13, 2012 at 10:07 AM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

It's all very well but if we go down your route, you will be the one making the investment decision.
We can't have that. You don't have the knowledge or the skill or the right to decide these things for yourself. Only we, the unelected Elect, know what is best for you and the planet and and us — especially us.
You're a troublemaker and you need to be stopped. Now.

Apr 13, 2012 at 10:07 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Will you please get your paper(s) written and in print and provide the evidence to back up your hypotheses?
Then we will all rejoice and join you in hammering the final nail (or not) into the coffin of CAGW depending on how convincing you are.
Meanwhile can we have a rest from the handwaving and the assertions — because at this stage that is all they are — which are starting to get just a tad tedious?

And I'm on your side!

Apr 13, 2012 at 10:14 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Mike: point taken.

Apr 13, 2012 at 10:19 AM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

Agree with TBYJ and others. MDGMN, you must write this up preferably with the theory first with relevant equations and how values of fluxes, temperatures etc are derived from them. Then some actual experiments and/or observations and how these compare against the theory.

I've tried my best, I've dusted off Huang and Landau and Lifshitz on Statistical Mechanics and I *think* I know what you're getting at but I'd like to see some theory and measurement. I'm very rusty for sure but I managed a PhD in Stat Mechanics many, many years ago so if you present something more concrete I'm sure many here will analyse it with interest. And be capable of doing so. The numpty to non-numpty ratio here would appear to be rather low.

Why not try TallBloke if you don't want to go through the rigmarole of getting it peer reviewed for a journal.

Apr 13, 2012 at 10:23 AM | Registered CommenterGrantB

Citizen dividend style taxation certainly avoids a lot of the rent-seeking from bureaucrats.

Think 1000 USD per tonne is well above the laffer maximum.

I'm a Georgist (really an Adam Smithist/David Ricardoist) so this is surprisingly better than most of the green suggestions.

Apr 13, 2012 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered Commenterac1


The banking industry may love that idea but it will never work from a practicable viewpoint.

Would the Chinese government rely on American data to set the import taxes on Chinese goods. Will the American government rely on anyone else's data for anything?
The EU are currently charging tax for Airlines to fly into Europe, that is having severe knock on effects with cancellation of orders with some European manufacturing.
BA are buying BMI, loss of 1200 jobs East Midlands, just so they can utilise the additional slots to charter international flights to the far east and pick up the dropped business from Chinese airlines. Do you think the Chinese will prefer to fly BA or that the Chinese business and government do not see the direct involvement by the EU as interventionism.
Redistribution of income from rich to poor is only the facade. The banks, large businesses and western Governments want this a hell of a lot more than the environmentalists or emerging economies, and corporate Greenpeace are in on this up to their armpits.

Apr 13, 2012 at 10:44 AM | Registered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

australia is getting a carbon tax AND an ETS. the Opposition has only said they will try to repeal the carbon dioxide tax. they don't even mention the ETS, which seems to still be part of their "climate" policies. the ETS is the mother of all financial bubbles:

11 April: WSJ: Cap-and-Price-Fix
Carbon-permit trading was supposed to be a ‘free-market’ solution. So much for that now that prices are low
Whatever the reasons, you might think lower carbon-permit prices would be a good thing. After all, the price of permits acts like a tax on the economy, and lower prices leave money for things like investment and hiring. If you did think that, however, you wouldn’t be thinking like a climate-change catastrophist…
It would seem then that the real idea behind the carbon-permit system was to drive up the price of emissions to the point that people and businesses would turn to alternative energy. But at current prices, carbon permits are too cheap to make even heavily subsidized renewables attractive. That has the political class in Europe looking for ways to fix the prices…
If governments merely want to raise the price of emitting carbon, it would be simpler, and certainly more honest, to tax it directly. Government price fixing eliminates what little "market" there is in the supposedly market-based solution of cap-and-trade.

an indication pressure can be brought to bear on the EC/EU over unilateral, artbitrary, discretionary carbon dioxide "laws":

5 April: Reuters: France calls for compromise on EU carbon levy
The French government has urged the European Union to revisit a controversial carbon levy that has drawn criticism from countries including the United States, Russia, India and China and threatens to hurt the bloc’s aerospace industry.
The EU must make every effort to find a solution acceptable to countries outside the region, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said in a letter to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso late last month seen by Reuters…

Apr 13, 2012 at 10:53 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

"redistributed equally among US citizens": I don't usually associate a sense of humour with these puritans.

Apr 13, 2012 at 11:21 AM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme

Oh boy...a characteristic of trolldom is the constant polluting of threads with OT remarks. Enough of this backradiation rubbish!! Enough, that is, on threads where it's got nothing at all to do with the post's topic!!!!

Apr 13, 2012 at 11:39 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

As for my on-topic contribution, anybody who believes the "redistribution" will be fair and cost-free is a denier of every law of thermodynamics present, past and future...

But I'll welcome Hansen's contribution on Science to CO2 economics. If that appears on print, then, well, really we will be in ANYTHING GOES territory, where anybody can say anything about any topic.

Funny how the authority-obsessed are actively working to destroy any meaning to the concept of authority.

Apr 13, 2012 at 11:42 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

A major characteristic of the Green/Left is that it hates the past* -- the past must be vilified, and ultimately obliterated to create the space for the Great Green Utopia in the future.

The vital mantra of the left is do something for the sake of doing something. Change for the sake of novelty. Action for the sake of action. This carnival drumbeat loses its appeal when you come to understand how dangerous change can be.

Seeing what a mistake change can be as you watch politicians disgraced, causes revealed as fool's errands and crusades fall apart, is a great teacher of the folly of change for the sake of change. - Daniel Greenfield

*I'm not talking about MWP or LIA here, but the culture and attitudes of the past. Individuality, free markets, that kind of thing.

Apr 13, 2012 at 12:29 PM | Registered Commenterrickbradford

grantb: I have written on tallbloke and teamed up with Doug Cotton who agrees with me that 'back radiation' does not exist, defined as being able to do thermodynamic work.

If it did exist, passive solar panels would also work at night. I don't think the proponents have thought of that proof of its non-existence. Over to you.....................:o)

Apr 13, 2012 at 12:31 PM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

Hansen has a great deal of faith in his redistribution scheme because as a government employee that's how he gets paid his $150,000 salary and benefits. But in practice this is simply another "carbon" tax that will simply be the excuse for ever-escalating warmist boondoggles.

Apr 13, 2012 at 12:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterGarry

Hansen's call for a carbon tax in the US is just whistling to cheer himself up. There is about as much chance of that as there is of the Chinese forgiving US sovereign debt, no matter who wins the Presidential election.

I do wonder, though, what he does to justify his no doubt generous salary in the US. Most of us have to show up every day and, you know, produce stuff. He, OTOH, always seems to be jetting around proselytising, promoting his books and being feted by the media. Or have they decided he is best off away from the office, like some politicians who are made Foreign Ministers, and irritating senior bureaucrats who get sent on fact finding missions to keep them out of everyone's hair?

Apr 13, 2012 at 12:55 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

rickbradford (Apr 13, 2012 at 12:29 PM) - I disagree. A major characteristic of the Green/Left is that it wants us to go back to a fabled past where everything is deemed to have been much better than now.

Even the popularity of "The Artist" is a sign that the Cognoscenti keep dreaming away from the future.

Apr 13, 2012 at 1:08 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Trying to ignore mdgnn to a certain extent but

If it did exist, passive solar panels would also work at night.

...struck me as odd. As seen on the 'back body thread' in Discussion a cooler body can warm a hotter body only if there is an external power source to feed in more energy to the system, in order that the hotter body is emitting enough energy that the enveloping cooler body can re-radiate some of it back, warming the hotter body futher.

Surely, the reason back radiation doesn't work at night is because the heat source (the sun) is not actively powering the system, and ground + atmosphere + space is behaving as freely radiating bodies with no external power source, the conditions under which a cooler body CANNOT (according to the 2nd Law) heat a hotter body, so no 'back radiation'

Am I wrong? (probably!)

Apr 13, 2012 at 1:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Of course radiation can go in all directions. It does so in a microwave oven, but not everything gets warmed in the oven by normal atomic absorption. In fact there is absolutely no atomic absorption involving changes in electron energy states. Instead, liquid water molecules in the food are quickly rotated (flipped or "snapped") through 180 degrees twice with each passing wave of radiation. It is molecular friction which warms the water, not atomic absorption such as happens in the Sun. The molecules in ice are too close to rotate, so ice is not melted this way. (See experiment in an earlier post above.) The defrost cycle turns power on and off in order to allow time for heat conduction from water to ice. The oven demonstrates that low frequency radiation does not act like high frequency radiation, even if the intensity (flux) is greater.

This is because of the main hypothesis in the paper that radiated energy from a source which is cooler than a target is not absorbed and converted to thermal energy by such changes in electron energy states at the atomic level. If the radiation from such a source is spontaneous, then the peak frequency in its Planck curve is proportional to its absolute temperature by Wien's Displacement Law. If thermal energy were transferred from such a cooler source to a warmer target then that process, if independent, would violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics (SLoT.) There are several pages in the paper explaining why this is the case, so I ask you to read Sections 1 to 5 in this regard.

Radiated energy is not thermal energy. It has to be converted to thermal energy, and that only happens if the source of the radiation was warmer than the target. Some or all of the radiation can and will resonate with the target. When this happens it supplies energy to the target, yes, but the energy is used by the target to do some of its own radiating. It can use it because it is identical in frequency to what it can emit itself. And this happens because the Planck curve for a cooler body is always fully contained within that for a warmer body. So the two-way radiation which corresponds to the area under the Planck curve for the cooler body just resonates in each body and gives it energy that can only be used for new radiation. Because the new radiation is identical, it looks as if the original radiation has been scattered. Hence the term "pseudo scattering" or, as I call it in my paper, "resonant scattering."

So the process is not in any way violating the Second Law of Thermodynamics (SLoT) because the radiated energy is never converted to thermal energy. However, there is additional radiation in the warmer body which corresponds to the area between the Planck curves. This is the energy which does get converted to thermal energy in a cooler target. And, since S-B calculations are based on the integrals of Planck functions, the normal calculations (subtracting the two S-B values which represent areas under the large and small curve) still apply, because the difference is the area between the curves.

So you may think of radiation being scattered each time it strikes a target, but only "dropping off" some of its thermal energy when it meets a cooler target. The new radiation then continues just as if emitted by that target, so more thermal energy is only dropped off iff the next target is cooler than the last one.

Because the incident radiation supplied radiated energy to the cooler target, that target does not have to convert some of its own thermal energy in order to radiate what it is "allowed" to radiate as per the Planck function. Hence the target's rate of radiative cooling will be slower, as we observe. So, yes, a wooden table in your back yard may stop dew forming on the ground below it because the table is warmer than the atmosphere and thus slows the cooling more. This is because gases in the atmosphere are cooler, and also because ones like carbon dioxide don't radiate with a full Planck spectrum. Instead they just have a few spectral lines of radiation which can resonate with the surface. So carbon dioxide is like a picket fence with most of its pickets missing, standing up against a full flood of radiation from the surface. Even water vapour molecules can do much better when it comes to slowing radiative cooling of the surface.

Whilst the calculations are the same, there are huge differences in the physical consequences. These are explained in the FAQ's in Appendix Q.7 of my paper. Because there is no conversion to thermal energy, there can be no subsequent heat transfer to other bodies instead of radiation. Hence, in the case of radiation from a cooler atmosphere, there can be no effect upon the rates of cooling by evaporation, conduction and other sensible heat transfer mechanisms. Nor is there any slowing of the radiation that gets through the atmospheric window to space. So only about a quarter of all the surface cooling is affected, and only by a minuscule amount by carbon dioxide with its limited range of frequencies.

Now, the temperature of the surface is stabilised by both the underground temperatures and, more importantly, the amount of solar radiation reaching the surface. The temperature gradient in the atmosphere is governed by the adiabatic lapse rate, and that in turn is controlled by the force of gravity. So, if that gradient is represented by a simple linear equation y = mx + b then m is fixed by gravity and b is controlled by solar insolation which only varies a little beyond our control. Thus surface climate is beyond our control and any slowing of the radiative cooling is simply compensated by an increase in sensible heat transfer.

So there is no overall slowing of the rate of surface cooling, no transfer of thermal energy from the atmosphere back to the surface, and so no greenhouse effect.

Apr 13, 2012 at 1:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Cotton

Hi BigYin: what you appear to be claiming is that when SW energy is heating a surface, the LW energy from that surface heats the atmosphere and because GHG molecules which absorb that energy can re-radiate the energy [up and down], the down bit adds to the LW energy coming out of the surface.

I take that as a claim that the Stefan-Boltzmann constant isn't a constant after all, but varies according to the composition of the local atmosphere. Can that be right? Also, why is that LW from the GHG molecules can heat the surface during the day yet they can't heat the surface at night when it has a much lower temperature? Over to you..........

Apr 13, 2012 at 1:32 PM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

Hansen apparently imagines there is a phenomenon called 'back radiation' which increases the IR absorbed by the atmosphere by a factor of 15.5.

This create equally imaginary dangerous warming but because we can't actually measure it happening, he claims it's offset exactly by imaginary cooling by polluted clouds plus some bare aerosol cooling.

In fact, the only thing about this part of climate science that isn't imaginary is the cost.

Apr 13, 2012 at 1:45 PM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

Carbon trading is the ultimate scam - selling fresh air.

May I remind everybody that there is an e-petition that would send a clear message to HMG that the public will not tolerate this:

However, at the present rate it will struggle to reach 1,500 signatures.

Apr 13, 2012 at 1:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

A carbon tax - Pigou or otherwise - and especially if it is dressed up as Pigou, is nothing but a ego-stroking for activists to say "finally, our efforts have borne fruit". When the reason for imposing a tax is imaginary, and the effects of imposing it revenue-neutral, why do it at all? Only for these guys to say "Ah! we successfully reached into every man's pocket, based on science"?

There are no 'alternatives' to 'carbon-based' energy sources, and whatever they are, they exist already. You cannot 'invest' in low carbon technology because they don't exist.

Tim Worstall and Jim Hansen, in the same bed:

"Tim Worstall, Why did you impose the carbon tax? "I assumed that..."

Apr 13, 2012 at 1:50 PM | Unregistered Commentershub

I think you need a Discussion thread for this, dog.

Apr 13, 2012 at 2:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

The UK government made significant changes to the carbon reduction commitment energy efficiency scheme (CRC) "carbon trading scheme" they have set a £12 per tonne price on carbon and will be re-set each year (probably up), the revenues were to be "recycled" to participants depending on their performance in a league table. Much like Hansen's proposals.

Funnily enough the UK government has announced they are just going to keep all of the revenue for themselves, funny that innit?

As this is now in effect for public bodies this is a straight carbon tax from your local council directly to the treasury.

Apr 13, 2012 at 2:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterJace

Apr 13, 2012 at 1:08 PM omnologos

I hear what you are saying, but beg to disagree..

All politics are the politics of the future. All that we fight for is the ability to shape the future.

Yes, the Green/Left romanticises many aspects of the past (the noble savage, for example), but only as a template for how to construct the future. Most of the past (guilds, industry) they abhor.

The self-appointed Green/Left elites aren't going to give up their i-Pads and conferences in Bali, no matter how much they are able to suppress Third World development.

There is no way back into the past -- the Left/Green vision of the future might look like the idealised fantasy version of the past, but would be nothing like it in reality.

Apr 13, 2012 at 2:27 PM | Registered Commenterrickbradford

Two posters here, one saying Lefties love the future, one saying Lefties love the past. Both are right. Both are wrong. What they together demonstrate is the confusedness of Leftyism, its intellectual incoherence, the fact that its a coalition of the disappointed, united more by what they hate rather than what they love. And of course their special skill is in justifying their mean emotions of envy and hate, coating them with the gloss of altruism.

Apr 13, 2012 at 2:29 PM | Unregistered Commenterbill

I think I have a synthesis...the contemporary Green/Leftie, having as dogma the idea that economics/well-being is a zero-sum game on a finite planet, strongly believes the Great Unwashed should be forced to relive the worst bits of the past in order for the Enlightened Brights to enjoy the best bits of the future.

Apr 13, 2012 at 3:11 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

It's always worth repeating just how much personal carbon tax Europeans already pay on transport fuel. I wonder where that went. Certainly not towards producing a sensible energy policy.

I was also given to understand that industries such as farming have traditionally been exempted [in the UK at least], because they would rapidly go out of business otherwise [don't mention the Common Agricultural Policy].

Apr 13, 2012 at 3:17 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

All of the carbon taxers have, as the end game, ratcheting up the tax to a level somewhere between punitive and ruinous. But only a few of the honest ones will actually admit that.

The "$20-30/ton" figure is just there to get the camel's nose under the tent.

Once the principle of carbon taxation is accepted law, you'll end up with the VAT effect - "oh, a little 3% VAT, people will hardly notice" then a couple decades later it's 23% but you can't get rid of the thing.

It's not the number that matters, it must be stopped on principle.

Apr 13, 2012 at 3:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterJEM

Unless I've misread something, Denning tells me that the sky helps to warm the earth. So this would explain why back radiation would work at night because "the sky" acts as an additional heat source.
The logic of that escapes me but since Denning is an "expert" I'm sure he must be right!

Apr 13, 2012 at 4:33 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Come at this from another angle

Rather than paying tax for creating extra Carbon
Take a Tax Break for reducing excisting Carbon

Strange that theres still VAT on Loft Insulation and Thermostatic Radiator Valves, Double Glassing Convection Combi Boilers perhaps general housing repairs

Taking things further a top of the range modern with a higher spec BMW Merc or VW Passat produces less Carbon than a 10 year old mid range Fiat or Nissan
Talk about cutting Taxes gets the public wet and the politicians wet themselfs

Basic Macro Econnomics
Green Tax Breaks instead of Green Taxes

Property developing is the Greenest form of Capitalism
Basically Recycling Old Houses for Profit

Apr 13, 2012 at 6:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

Today, with cap-and-trade or other form of regulation, central governments - national and supernational, advised by Hansen and co-conspirators - are deciding that you WILL reduce carbon emissions 80% over the next four decades - whether you want to or not and whether their climate models are right or not. With Ross McKitrick's rebated carbon tax (rising with rising temperature), future climate change - not alarmist scientists and bureaucrats - will determine how big a carbon tax businesses and individuals pay through higher cost of goods and investments to reduce emissions. Everyone will be rebated an average share of that tax. There are things that are worse than a carbon tax: the Kyoto Protocol and cap-and-trade for example.

A Pigou tax isn't practical because their is no practical way to predict future climate change (even the IPCC's climate sensitivity has a range of 1.5-4.5 degC/2XCO2. With damage with rising exponential with temperature and the complete inability to quantify some types of damage (extinctions), the situation appears hopeless.

A simple thought experiment: Is there some temperature or sea level rise (from today's level, not some nebulous pre-industrial level) that you believe will be unacceptable: +2 degC, +3 degC, +5 degC, +1 m sea level? Is there some rate of change (averaged over the previous 30 years) translated into years of "safety margin" that would clearly indicate to you that we are approaching a future that you think we should do everything practical to avoid? (Need help deciding? Away from the coast, mean annual temperature in the temperate zone rises about 1 degC for every 100 miles you move south. North Dakota becoming Texas is about 10 degC and 1000 miles.) Forget the climate models, the "adjusted" 2 m temperatures that include UHI and land use change, and the "committed warming in the pipeline"; use real temperature and sea level and/or 30-year average rate-of-change, all measured with adequate precision by satellite.

"Doing everything practical" probably means a carbon tax big enough to make fossil fuels financially impractical for: a) electricity generation (without carbon capture) except during emergencies, and b) short-range trips (plug-in hybrids) and public transportation. IF you can roughly define the future you want to avoid (even if you think it unlikely or impossible), you can design an exponentially rising (with temperature change) carbon tax to roughly avoid that future. If economists tell us that a carbon tax of $128 per ton of CO2 will be enough to promote the necessary change, then step 1 is a carbon tax of $2 per ton, step 2 is $4 per ton, step 3 is $8 ... and step 7 is $128 per ton. If 20th century temperature rise has brought us 1/7 the way to disaster, today's carbon tax is $2 per ton. If you believe we are 2/7 the way to disastrous change, $4 per ton. (When no major problems are apparent today, no popularly-elected legislator is going to defend the alarmist contention that we are currently halfway to disaster today.) Let's split the difference and call it $3 per ton and double it every time (in smaller annual steps) as we get another 1/7 closer to "unacceptable". What happens if the economists are wrong and it takes $64 or $256 per ton to provide an appropriate incentive? There isn't a big difference between steps of 1/6, 1/7 or 1/8. Non-essential uses of fossil fuels may be eliminated by a punitive carbon tax a decade earlier or later than originally intended, but that won't make a big difference. Whether you define +2 degC or +3 degC or more from today as the maximum "permissible" warming is a tougher decision, but the major impact of that decision will occur decades from now and we can't see that far into the future. If we pass the lower threshold in the 21st century, today's skepticism certainly will be obsolete.

Under this system, You know what is coming; YOU invest accordingly. WIth the incentive of a carbon tax, the government won't need to "invest" your money (taxes) for you by subsidizing Solyndra's, your neighbor's solar panels and the local farmer's wind turbines through an impenetrable forest of crony capitalist programs. Throw all that out and replace it with a refundable carbon tax that increasingly tips an otherwise level playing field against carbon emissions at a sensible rate.

When the Chinese and Indians bring their goods manufactured without a carbon tax to your country, you charge a carbon tax based on the cost of the good times tons of CO2 emitted per $GDP produced in their country. A different scheme will be needed for a few products that use much more fossil fuel per unit price than average. Do the opposite for domestic exporters - rebate an average carbon tax based on the cost of goods times tons of CO2 emitted per $GDP in our country (with larger rebates for a few products that use much more fossil fuel than average). Other countries will do as they see fit inside their country and at their borders, which is what they are likely do even if Kyoto II is approved.

Apr 13, 2012 at 8:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank


The emissivity of the atmosphere is the same as the absorptivity of the atmosphere. (Kirchoff's Law) Only about 10% surface blackbody radiation escapes directly to space through the atmosphere (and clouds), so the average absorptivity/emissivity of the atmosphere is 90%, not your absurd figure of 20%. Most DLR reaching the earth's surface is emitted from the lower 1 km of the atmosphere, where the temperature is only a little colder (-6.5 degC/km) than the surface. So an average emissivity of 90% and a slightly lower temperature explains why DLR averages about 335 W/m2, about 86% of the upward surface radiation 390 W/m2. Energy at most long wavelengths bounces mostly back and forth from the surface to the relatively opaque lower atmosphere, waiting for convection to lift it above most the GHGs in the lower atmosphere, to the upper troposphere where it can escape to space. Hey, some of this stuff actually makes sense when you have the right facts.

Apr 13, 2012 at 8:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank

Nice stuff,... but, *why* should a tax be collected? There is no alternative to carbon. Solar is not, wind is not, nothing is. What is anyone, going to do with the tax money?

Tyranny maybe inevitable, but it doesn't have to be invited.

My paradise lies in the shadow of my sword.
-Friedrich Nietzsche

Apr 13, 2012 at 9:17 PM | Unregistered Commentershub

I ;posted on your site but mdgnn got in there as well...the web needs to work out how to filter mdgnn and Doug Cotton from spamming ....without empirical proof
they are just like visitors from the jehoveh witnesses

Apr 13, 2012 at 10:00 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

I had thoughts of a similar comment, but maybe at JeffID's site where Cotton and Claes Johnson have been saying things like " my paper and read Claes' books. It's all explained there."

When the two young gentlemen showed up at my door from the group you mention, i asked some questions, the response to which was to point to a book and say that "It is all explained here."

no matter how good something might be, if it's off topic, it belongs somewhere else. This too. Sorry

Apr 13, 2012 at 10:27 PM | Registered Commenterjferguson

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