Buy

Books
Click images for more details

Support

 

Twitter
Recent comments
Recent posts
Currently discussing
Links

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace
« Top weatherman slams partisanship among scientists | Main | A blast of the 12-Gore »
Tuesday
Mar172015

In which computer models collide with the real world

Yesterday's post on the trade-off between the need to expand use of fossil fuels in Africa and the wish to restrict carbon dioxide emissions seems to have stirred up a bit of a rumpus. Most commenters from the other side of the debate apparently deemed my question over the wisdom of access restrictions as entirely illegitimate, although the reasons why are somewhat unclear to me.

Firstly, as Roger Pielke Jr pointed out, in the real world there are trade-offs that have to be made.

 

 

The first of the papers contains this:

 

...under US Senate Bill S.329 (2013) the Overseas Private Investment Corporation – a federal agency responsible for backstopping U.S. companies which invest in developing countries – is essentially prohibited from investing in energy projects that involve fossil fuels, a policy that may have profound consequences in places like sub-Saharan Africa that are seeking to develop oil and gas resources to help alleviate widespread energy poverty.

I have heard no arguments that there isn't a trade off, so this is presumably not the reason why my questions are being declared off limits.

Ken Rice, of AndThenTheresPhysics says that my framing is malign although his allegation displays his normal attention to facts. Readers may recall that in the early days of his visits here I wrote a long piece explaining why climate science could only rely on physical models because of the difficulty in choosing a statistical model. To this, Rice responded, in effect, that I was an idiot and that climate scientists should be using physical models. Something similar seems to have happened here. I carefully framed my case as how to weigh deaths in the present against deaths, albeit hypothetical ones, in the future. This is the essence of the trade-off that has to be made and which is, according to Pielke Jr's paper, being made in favour of those not yet born and at the expense of those alive today. Rice says my framing is that:

...those who might be concerned about the risks associated with climate change [are not] concerned about the fate of poor people in the developed world.

But I specifically said this was not the case. My words were:

The accusation is not...that greens are callous about deaths in Africa.

As I explained, the choice is between real deaths now or hypothetical deaths later and all points in between. It is the choice that politicians are making right now. And, advised by climatologists and economists of the Stern/Fankhauser genre of the horrors to come and the costs to be borne, they have decided to do what they can to keep fossil fuels out of the hands of Africans. Who knows, it might even be the correct decision.

This is where the computer models of climatologists and the discounting choices of economists bang right up against the real world. The projections and predictions are no longer academic playthings to be bickered over at conferences and seminars, they are the tools with which our leaders make life-or-death decisions.

I hope scientists have the right caveats in place.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

Reader Comments (104)

Models do indeed need to weigh up consequences now and in the future, to the rich and to the poor, for events that are more likely and less likely but still possible. The best models try to be transparent about how they do this.
@cwhope

Mar 17, 2015 at 10:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris Hope

Chris Hope - The best models try to be transparent about how they do this.

And yet the best modellers don't seem willing to debate what their models assume about what they model.

Mar 17, 2015 at 10:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

Prepare to issue colanders and pitchforks:

Where the complex climate models go wrong:

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/03/16/where-the-complex-climate-models-go-wrong

Monckton at full tilt/head on.

Mar 17, 2015 at 10:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterEx-expat Colin

Chris Hope, I struggle to understand 'transparency'. In Greenpeace's Energy Revolution model (not an economic one), 80% of the world's energy supply can come from renewable sources by 2050. In the real world, translating this into action might mean enormous hardships. What is needed is therefore a model or models, that can break down the target into a thousand little non-painful pieces of policy objectives and targets.

What models do these currently?

Mar 17, 2015 at 10:14 AM | Registered Commentershub

If the US isn't interested in developing oil and gas reserves in sub-Saharan Africa, maybe the Chinese will be more helpful in speeding up such regional development. Climate scares are no reason to limit the development of civilisation which will itself inspire more technological innovation.

Mar 17, 2015 at 10:17 AM | Unregistered Commenterson of mulder

Best not mix up economic models with climate models. The climate models cannot even get local temps correct. The economic models are even worse than the climate models according to Edenhofer, the resident IPCC Marxist economist.

Mind you I doubt anyone will create any model that considers potential deaths due to climate change policy as there is no grant money available for that and no inclination for alarmists to consider climate policy as anything other than jolly, jolly good for all mankind - in the fullness of time, all other things being equal, considering the worst-case scenarios as most likely and with all due caveats that allow economists to be 100% wrong but still not responsible for the havoc they engender.

Mar 17, 2015 at 10:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Re: Shub,

> In Greenpeace's Energy Revolution model (not an economic one), 80% of the world's energy supply can come from renewable sources by 2050.

Their base assumption was that energy demand would decrease, non-renewable energy sources would shutdown and renewables increase until they produced 80% of the supply. Needless to say, the MSM never questioned any of the assumptions but happily regurgitated it as the way forward.

Mar 17, 2015 at 10:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Tangentially related, I half heard someone on Radio 4 last night talking about what a wonderful thing is public shaming via social media, mostly discussed was racism (decided by the Twitterati on the basis of video clips) and tax avoidance, but climate change (presumably "denial") was mentioned in the list of target areas.

Nice to see here a bit of shaming going in the opposite direction.

Mar 17, 2015 at 10:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

Methink, you give too much credit to ATTP. He is just a seeming intellectual Buffoon to be tolerated for a few seconds, and no more. Any longer is to put one's IQ in jeopardy

Mar 17, 2015 at 10:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterDEEBEE

"Who knows, it might even be the correct decision."

I'd bet my house it isn't.

According to WHO:
Over 4 million people die prematurely each year from illness attributable to the household air pollution from cooking with solid fuels.
More than 50% of premature deaths among children under 5 are due to pneumonia caused by particulate matter (soot) inhaled from household air pollution.

I reckon that you have to be pretty callous to inhibit solving this problem in order to push an anti-capitalist, anti-western, misanthropic agenda. Even those who genuinely believe that AGW is a significant problem would need to be certain that future deaths from AGW will far outstrip this immense tragedy and that future technology would not be able to mitigate those deaths. I really do not think anyone can so they are really saying that their cause is more important than all these current African deaths. They are not even prepared to acknowledge that this huge problem exists because to do so would force them to concede that their policies involve collateral.

Mar 17, 2015 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterDocBud
Mar 17, 2015 at 11:03 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Collateral damage that should be.

Mar 17, 2015 at 11:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterDocBud

Oopse posted this in Al Gore's thread by mistake

I think it comes as no surprise to discover that warmists are not pragmatists. If they were, they’d know that every action had unintended consequences and pretending that they don’t is childish. Climate scientists have shied away from any responsibility for decision making… they just make it known when someone makes the ‘wrong’ one. They’re all about caveats, they just stick them in the fine print.

Mar 17, 2015 at 11:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

This is an important question, but unanswered for the time being.

There are a few papers on the trade-offs between climate policy and public health in the area of infectious disease:
https://ideas.repec.org/p/sgc/wpaper/109.html

Cooking with firewood is bad for you:
https://ideas.repec.org/p/sus/susewp/7214.html

Mar 17, 2015 at 11:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Tol

Why can Nepal reduce their infant mortality rates by installing Gobar Gas systems for domestic cooking but that the NGOs seem very reluctant to promote these same systems in Africa?

The cynic in me wonders if it has anything to do with reducing peoples need for support from the same NGOs?

Mar 17, 2015 at 11:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterLeskerrxx

In Greenpeace's Energy Revolution model (not an economic one), 80% of the world's energy supply can come from renewable sources by 2050.
There are a few assumptions that need to be explained here:

1. What is considered to be the 100% energy required in 2050?
2. How much of that is base load?
3. How would that figure be affected if the Third World could magically gain access to abundant, cheap energy in the same way that the First World does?

It is quite plain that there are huge swathes of Africa and Asia that have no access to reliable 24/7 electrical energy. As a result, it is a fundamental of life that large families are the norm. Cheap, abundant and 100% available/reliable electrical power will reduce the need for large families while allowing the Third World to grow its productivity. But that scenario will totally bugger up the works for the Pro-Consuls of Greenpiss. Not for them the inconvenience of a power outage because the wind has dropped or the sun's go in - or there is a shortage of camel dung for the furnaces. No, that's for the plebs: they are the expendables.

If ever the World needed a true definition of immorality it would be spelt GreenPeace.

Mar 17, 2015 at 11:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

Climatologists would have more of a case if their models worked.

Mar 17, 2015 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

All the Africa Aid Dollars should be used to finish the engineering/invention of small nuke thorium reactors coupled with small synfuel plants where the difference between peak use and full generation is used to produce the dreaded "fossile" fuels known to science as hyrdocarbons. The benefits to the poor nations are so obvious even the Greens will be embarrassed to oppose it (maybe). No need for "fracking", no need for pumping oil, no need to ship crude oil, no need of refineries, no need to ship refined fuel, no need to build pipelines or road systems and no need to give Al Gore and the loons of Green a cut.

Mar 17, 2015 at 11:45 AM | Unregistered Commentercedarhill

"they have decided to do what they can to keep fossil fuels out of the hands of Africans".. They are doing their best to keep them out of the hands of the citizens in the UK as much as possible. And people are in fuel poverty or dying as a result of these policies.

Mar 17, 2015 at 11:53 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

There's something I never understood.

Let's assume that it would indeed be possible and feasible to shift 80% of present energy production to non-renewables.

Has anyone ever thought of the implications for countries such as Saudi Arabia (31 million people), Iran (78 million), Venezuela (30 million), Nigeria (175 million), Russia (144 million) - whose economies are either largely, or totally, dependent on the exports of fossil fuels? Besides such countries as Mexico, for which oil exports are very important even if not to the same extent as for Venezuela and the like.

The immediate effect would be a collapse in the international oil price, crippling those economies instantly. In Saudi Arabia, it would probably mean the fall of the House of Saud, with unpredictable consequences - possibly a large war in the case of the Middle East.

Has anyone ever thought about any of this? Or the idea is that "somehow" the economies of those countries would peacefully change into something else, too?

Mar 17, 2015 at 11:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter B

Here is an extract from the abstract of a 2008 study of indoor air pollution (http://www.atsjournals.org/doi/full/10.1513/pats.200707-100RP):

"Globally, about 50% of all households and 90% of rural households use solid fuels (coal and biomass) as the main domestic source of energy, thus exposing approximately 50% of the world population—close to 3 billion people—to the harmful effects of these combustion products. There is strong evidence that acute respiratory infections in children and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in women are associated with indoor biomass smoke. Lung cancer in women has been clearly associated with household coal use. Other conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in men and tuberculosis could be also associated but evidence is scarce. According to estimates of the World Health Organization, more than 1.6 million deaths and over 38.5 million disability-adjusted life-years can be attributable to indoor smoke from solid fuels affecting mainly children and women."

Mar 17, 2015 at 12:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

Oh, Peter B, all these skilled and unskilled people would get wonderful green jobs.

Mar 17, 2015 at 12:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterDocBud

ATTP needs to learn how to read.
We do not say:

our solution [give them fossil fuels] is the only way to help the poor in the developing world...anyone who disagrees with this [giving them fossil fuels] is arguing for the death of people in the developing world.

That is not what we are saying.
We are saying:

Your solution [denying them fossil fuels] is arguing for the death of people in the developing world, especially if you offer no viable alternative.

Mar 17, 2015 at 12:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterWijnand

DFID climate and Environment

DFID works with partners such as the multilateral development banks and other development agencies to enable developing countries to deliver a dynamic low carbon future that will support poverty reduction. Our work is about understanding and responding to the opportunities and risks, especially to poor people, resulting from the transition to a global low carbon economy.

DFID Environment policy

Our current priorities include:

Green growth

Working to support economic and environmental sustainability together.
Supporting poor countries to improve their infrastructure, expand markets and trade with the rest of the world – with a focus on environmental sustainability.

Whitepaper

Sustaining our
Common Future
47
The challenge
3.1
We stand at a crossroads. The world’s
response to climate change can either be
a development disaster or a development
success story.
3.2
One path is “business as usual” –
dangerous climate change and a reversal in
global human development, undermining
the progress made in poverty reduction over
the last century. If we do not change course
the world is heading for a change in climate
that is unequalled since the end of the last
Ice Age. The scientific consensus predicts
a temperature rise of as much as 6.4ºC
by 2100, which would have catastrophic
consequences.
42
3.3
Climate change hits poor countries
first and hardest. Seventy five per cent of
the poor are dependent on natural resources
for their livelihoods.
43
Africa is especially
vulnerable, with agricultural yields projected
to fall by up to 50% in some countries if
climate change goes unchecked.

Don't get me started!

Mar 17, 2015 at 12:53 PM | Registered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

"I hope scientists have the right caveats in place."

And lawyers.

Mar 17, 2015 at 12:55 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamesp

Meanwhile, back in the real world, here in the UK, wind (a well-known 'renewable') is providing 0.17GW - equivalent to 0.4% of electricity demand...

Mar 17, 2015 at 1:14 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

Meanwhile, back in the real world, here in the UK, wind (a well-known 'renewable') is providing 0.17GW - equivalent to 0.4% of electricity demand...

Mar 17, 2015 at 1:15 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

Sorry, folks - my mouse is out of control....

Mar 17, 2015 at 1:17 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

...Conflating climate change concerns w/a disregard for African children dying from smoke inhalation by @mattwridley is totally abhorrent....

Er... what does this mean?

Does it mean that it's incorrect? Obviously not. We have the data in the piece above to support it, and the activist Schmidt provides no counter evidence. He just says the data is 'abhorrent'...

I have tried to understand what Schmidt is saying, and the best I can come up with is:

"Conflating climate change concerns w/a disregard for African children dying is a statement that I find to be unpleasant. It is one that I personally do not like, and all people who think as I do must also find it unpleasant. I need not specify why it is unpleasant - it cannot be because it refers to Africans dying, because many of my arguments about the danger of Climate Change also refer to African people dying. I probably hate it because it damages my argument.

Under Climate Change rules of argument, I am right, and therefore any statement that damages my position is therefore wrong. More than that, any such statement MUST be made maliciously, because it is obvious that I am right, and therefore any contradiction MUST be an intentional lie, designed to support a shadowy group of malicious people who hate the truth. Such a group would be made up of very unpleasant people, and that is why I find any statement emanating from them to be unpleasant.

Therefore I have won the argument."

Mar 17, 2015 at 1:43 PM | Unregistered Commenterdodgy geezer

Anyone who claims computers can model the earth's climate has completely lost the plot.

That can happen when you engage with a deliberately phony debate between liars like Schmidt and 5th column, right wing nuts like Ridley, Lawson and the GWPF.


Naomi Klein

Green movement is in bed with big oil. In fact it to all extents and purposes, It IS big oil.


http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/e373bd70-3d8e-11e4-b782-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3IlD0mBsv

again

http://www.salon.com/2013/09/05/naomi_klein_big_green_groups_are_crippling_the_environmental_movement_partner/

Mar 17, 2015 at 2:05 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

It would be fascinating to see an African organisation sue the UN and climate scientists for the evidence that has led directly to the preventable deaths of 1.6 million Africans a year.

Their lawyers could even quote the UN's own documents in court. Damned in their own words.

Mar 17, 2015 at 2:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

"When in a hole, keep digging" appears to Gavin's motto.

He replied to Roger P with
'Not unexpectedly, your reading comprehension leaves something to be desired'
'What's tiring are your frequent misrepresentations & seeming need to find some gotcha to use instead of good faith engagement'

Mar 17, 2015 at 2:09 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

"...those who might be concerned about the risks associated with climate change [are not] concerned about the fate of poor people in the developed world."


Climate scientists. You only had to do one thing. Make a reasonable guess at the temperature of the planet in the years following the Kyoto Protocol signing in 1998. You got it spectacularly wrong.

Yet, here we are speculating on the future of Africa with completely, clueless, lying idiots like Gavin Schmidt.

Mar 17, 2015 at 2:17 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Is "climateofgavin" some kind of computer model simulation, in which Gavin is always right, and anybody who disagrees with Gavin is therefore wrong. Sounds like some kind of self delusion fantasy, where contact with the real world, will always end in tears.

Mar 17, 2015 at 2:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

Cleverness is not intelligence. ATTP is the perfect example that a modern education, qualifications, seeming intellect and a wide vocabulary cannot prevent glacial idiocy, wilful ignorance and a profound lack of wisdom - all at the same time. This is what our world has come to. How do they manage to find their mouths with their forks?

Mar 17, 2015 at 2:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterHenry Galt

Accomplishing farther fetched goals like thorium nukes would need the convergence of many minds and risktakers

The nuclear industry is nowadays a crony capitalist undertaking with many marxists earning a good keep producing documents. Fukushima proved that nobody knows anymore where the many certified pipes and cables lead to..Too many paper pushers and certifiers and no engineers at all anymore..probably glossy year reports with pictures of multiculti nincompoop looking over the shoulders of young proud wimmin "smilingly doing something" on a desk..all with pesodent smiles.

But worry not..the singularity is near and whether we are run by a 65 avg IQ establishment (now) or a 120 avg IQ establishment as it should is gettin irrelevant as 5000+ IQ is on the horizon.

Mar 17, 2015 at 2:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterVenusNotWarmerDueToCO2

I’m finding it difficult to fathom Gavin’s complaint. If he is affronted by the premature death of African children through the inhalation of smoke, then all he has to do is consider alternatives and reveal them to his adoring public.

We bears of little brain have so far only thought of gas, oil or (Heaven forfend), coal, but I’m sure someone of his massive intellect will be able to suggest a clean, portable and energy-dense alternative. If not, what is he beefing about..?

Mar 17, 2015 at 3:13 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Paul Matthews (Mar 17, 2015 at 11:03 AM): the comments are interesting, too, and pleasant to note that so many others are also aware of the scam. May favourite is (edited):

If the science is settled why are we paying these [persons] millions for climate research? Surely they should all be down signing on as they are no longer needed?
A very good point made, I feel.

Mar 17, 2015 at 3:39 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

I think I might paraphrase this somewhat artificial 'trade-off' argument as follows:

Whilst climate scientists, environmentalists and other hangers on to the CAGW bandwagon scramble for pole position on the moral high ground defined by a set of failing climate models, realists and climate change sceptics naturally inhabit the less glamorous, but no less moral and certainly more tangible territory defined by the dubious policy of curtailing fossil fuel use in the Third World with its consequent detrimental - even fatal - effects upon the existing populace.

How's that?

Mar 17, 2015 at 4:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterJaime Jessop

Jeepers, I wasn't going to comment here again, but since you've managed to write a whole post about me, maybe you can try to show that my general view that this is an appalling site where bad faith is the norm is wrong. Firstly, this


Let me try and lay this out again, as this is what I thought the point of this post was. Framing this whole discussion as "my solution is the only way to help the poor in the developing world...anyone who disagrees with this is arguing for the death of people in the developing world" is appalling.

wasn't referring to you specifically, but to the general topic that there are those who are arguing that it's either fossil fuels (mainly coal, according to you) or the death of millions in the developing world. There was also an "I thought" in there, which means you could have corrected my view. However, from what I saw in the comments, what people were saying was essentially how I paraphrased things. It also was the general theme of the post and what motivated it (Gavin's response to Matt Ridley's article). It's one thing to state that this isn't what is meant, but it's hard to believe that that is true if people keep saying things that appear to be exactly this.

Now you say


The accusation is not...that greens are callous about deaths in Africa.

Let's go back to your earlier post

My response is a clear "yes" to more coal and gas for Africa. Schmidt, ....... Recognition that fossil fuels are of vital necessity for Africans might be off-message; it might impact on funding; the "colleagues" might be upset. But silence in the face of such a death toll is inexplicable.

Igorning that you've managed to conflate "Greens" with "people who disagree with me", maybe you could explain how this is not essentially laying the potential deaths of people in the developing world at the feet of those who either disagree with you or who won't provide some kind of alternative. One problem with providing an alternative is that there are (whether you like it or not) risks associated with continuing to increase our emissions. It is quite valid to point that out, without necessarily knowing how to resolve this issue. Physical reality doesn't care if it's easy or not. Not having a viable solution also doesn't immediately imply that someone who is proposing a solution is proposing one that is optimal or sensible.

The point that I was trying to make (and maybe you could actually concentrate now) is that playing this "death of millions" (paraphrasing) card is an appalling way in which to engage in a discussion. It doesn't make for a good faith discussion if there is a chance (a very good one) that one party is going to suddenly imply/state that the other party's views will lead to the death of millions. This is especially galling given how much people like yourself complain whenever anything remotely similar is used by someone you regard as a warmist.

If this goes as it normally does (as with the whole modelling saga) you'll claim I'm wrong, have misrepresented you and then immediately say something that appears entirely consistent with what I said. Now, you could of course surprise me by actually trying to engage in good faith, but I don't think you can help yourself.

Wijnand,
Jeepers, how is this


Your solution [denying them fossil fuels] is arguing for the death of people in the developing world, especially if you offer no viable alternative.

any different from how I paraphrased things. It's one thing to claim that I've misrepresented the argument. It's another to then immediately follow that up by saying something that is entirely consistent with what I was saying. Furthermore, that isn't my solution, so maybe you should try concentrating. My point, as I've said numerous times, simply relates to the whole playing the "death of millions" card. It's not conducive to a good faith discussion. Of course, maybe that isn't your goal. It isn't really mine, to be fair, but that's mainly because I can't see the point when dealing with people who will claim that my argument (which I've made nowhere) will lead to the death of people in the developing world.

Mar 17, 2015 at 4:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnd Then There's Physics

I would have thought the logic is inescapable. If those Africans had access to coal or fossil fueled electricity then the chances of them dying of smoke related illnesses would be reduced. What would the Cognoscenti like them to burn instead? Tobacco? Witches? Rubbish left from Green music festivals? Dead raptors from wind farms? Well it has to be something abhorrent, doesn't it?

Mar 17, 2015 at 4:40 PM | Unregistered Commenteramoorhouse

ATTP, sometimes a valid criticism is not just 'a card' the other person's playing at you, but actually something more, something real. 'What do you propose?' - is a real and pressing question.

This problem is well-known and the contradiction sits at the heart of the UNFCCC. The wonk term for the conundrum is 'common but differentiated responsibilities'. In other words, what to do about the billions stuck at the stage of not even being able to burn charcoal or coal and how to assign a share of the burden of global warming mitigation on their heads. There is one true solution to the problem and that is nuclear. But it is expensive, slow to implement, and therefore impractical as a rapid 'policy option'. What are we left with? Nothing.

This is the shameful open secret of the global warming movement, everybody is aware of it, everyone just politely looks this way or that, but it is true: the activists raised the spectre of a problem without a possible solution. They thought it was like ozone, and caught hold of the tiger's tail and they can't let go.

Mar 17, 2015 at 4:42 PM | Registered Commentershub

If you withhold food from millions, causing their deaths by famine, it is reasonable for people to hold you to account for that.
Yes, their are risks from obesity. In the long term you may have helped the survivors, maybe.

But claiming that playing the "death of millions" card is not conducive to a good faith discussion begs the question.
Why is starving people an act of good faith?

(Cheap Energy is the same as Cheap Food).

Mar 17, 2015 at 4:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterMCourtney

Ken Rice: "One problem with providing an alternative is that there are (whether you like it or not) risks associated with continuing to increase our emissions. It is quite valid to point that out, without necessarily knowing how to resolve this issue. "

But...

Ken Rice: "The point that I was trying to make (and maybe you could actually concentrate now) is that playing this "death of millions" (paraphrasing) card is an appalling way in which to engage in a discussion. It doesn't make for a good faith discussion if there is a chance (a very good one) that one party is going to suddenly imply/state that the other party's views will lead to the death of millions."

Spot the difference. Ken Rice want to privileged seemingly unquantified 'risks' in the debate, yet wants to omit from the discussion the subject of consequences of incautious policies -- policies which he is broadly in favour of, and is hostile to criticism of.

We know two things... One, the consequences of poorly-formulated policies are easier to quantify than the consequences of a small, incremental changes in climate over hundreds, and perhaps thousands of years. Two, the best protection from any climatic phenomenon, whether or not a consequence of climate change, is wealth.

If Ken Rice really objects to body counts being used as moral weapons in the climate change debate, he should take it up with the WHO, who estimated 150,000 deaths from AGW per year. And he should take it up with Kofi Anan, whose think tank claimed a few years later that the figure was 300,000, and would rise to 500,000 by 2030. And he should take it up with the other organisations such as Oxfam and Save the children, who said that this made action to mitigate climate change a moral imperative.

For those of us who have taken an interest in the moral arguments made by environmentalists, the more interesting empirical fact is that between 1990 and 2010, ten thousand fewer infants die each day as a consequence of wealth, their movement away from poverty, not because the climate is more stable.

Here's to more carbon emissions.

Mar 17, 2015 at 5:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

Sherlock1, 1:17pm

I've found that the best remedy for an out of control mouse is a Little Nipper trap baited with peanuts, cheap, humane and far less indiscriminate than poison baits. I've got over 30 of the buggers in the last six months that keep chewing the plastic lids of the bins that I keep my chicken and bird seed in.

The odd thing is that although several now have mouse-sized holes in them, they're not touching the food, just eating the lids. I assume this is because they are made from 'green, biodegradable' plastic, i.e. vegetable oil feedstock and expoxidised vegetable oil plasticisers. They might smell and taste edible, but a sure going to do them mice no good when their guts get blocked up.

On an equally surreal point: The DM is reporting this afternoon that scientists at Oxford and ENSTO-E, are claiming that the solar eclipse on Friday could cause Europe-wide blackouts as the grids are able to cope with the 'sudden' loss of solar power, unlike at sunset.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2998674/Will-solar-eclipse-cause-electricity-blackouts-Europe-Operators-prepare-power-grids-unprecedented-event.html

Mar 17, 2015 at 5:46 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Salopian: did you mean ".the grid is NOT able to cope..."?

Mar 17, 2015 at 6:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

Salopian: perhaps the Daily Wail reporters think that the Europeans use the copious quantities of “clean” (ho, ho!) energy of solar during the day to let the fires die down in the coal-fired stations to clear the grates of clinkers and empty the ash, just as their grandmothers told them had to be done in the parlour, before gas and central heating was invented. The fear may be that the eclipse will happen before the fire-lighters have done their job.

Mar 17, 2015 at 6:11 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Messenger, 6:10 pm;

Yes sorry, there was a missing not. Errant mouse has been summarily executed!

Mar 17, 2015 at 6:19 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

ATTP

"The point that I was trying to make"

You make many points on many blogs and when someone points out you're wrong, you've been misunderstood or you meant something else. Happens too offten to be credible.

Mar 17, 2015 at 6:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterIbrahim

"One problem with providing an alternative is that there are (whether you like it or not) risks associated with continuing to increase our emissions."

Yeah. OK. There are risks associated with *not* increasing our emissions, too. And it's quite valid to point that out, without necessarily having a solution.

For that matter, there are risks associated with skiing down mountains, driving a car, and getting pregnant. If all you wanted to do was point out that there were risks, there'd be no problem. But it doesn't stop there, does it?

"The point that I was trying to make (and maybe you could actually concentrate now) is that playing this "death of millions" (paraphrasing) card is an appalling way in which to engage in a discussion."

That's exactly Matt Ridley's point! The one you're disagreeing with, remember?

The position Matt was arguing with was the one where "The next time that somebody at a rally against fossil fuels lectures you about her concern for the fate of her grandchildren ..." I think you'd agree that's an apalling way to engage in a discussion, yes? If you disagree with me, you must want to harm my grandchildren, yes? So if we're talking about people who would use such tactics, then we can't possibly be talking about *you*, because you'd never say that. The bit about African children is only an example to explain to the person using their own grandchildren in this same way why their behaviour is so disgusting.

So once again, you actually agree with Matt and the Bish, and the point you're arguing against.

"If this goes as it normally does (as with the whole modelling saga) you'll claim I'm wrong, have misrepresented you and then immediately say something that appears entirely consistent with what I said."

Yes! Because your point about the depravity of using harm to children as an 'appeal to emotion' is exactly Matt Ridley's point! What Matt said is entirely consistent with what you said. The mystery is why are you arguing with it?

"but that's mainly because I can't see the point when dealing with people who will claim that my argument (which I've made nowhere) will lead to the death of people in the developing world"

The problem is that the policies of the people arguing for drastic cuts in fossil fuel emissions *will* lead to the death of people in the developing world. You can have several possible answers to that. One is that the price is worth it - which might be the case if the forecast impending climate disaster was bad enough and the confidence high enough. (A Venusian runaway, for example, would clearly be worth stopping at any cost.) Another is that it's *not* worth it, and we ought to do nothing, or find something else to do. That latter is a legitimate position if that's the one you want to make - just say so. But then don't claim that the phrase "somebody at a rally against fossil fuels" is referring to you. Yet another position is to argue for selective cuts, applying only to the people you don't like politically - that's the position of the international climate negotiators and associated campaigners. Problem is, it obviously isn't sufficient to fix the climate, and only makes sense if the threat of global warming is a deliberate political lie.

Whatever your position, just answer the question! How do you resolve the conflict between the supposed need to cut fossil fuel use globally, and the consequences for African kids if you do? If your position is that "We shouldn't cut fossil fuel use, but I think climate change is still a risk, I don't know what the answer is", then that's fine. You're not one of those Matt is talking about. But for heaven's sake, either answer the question or stop moaning about "bad faith". Because that's exactly what your not answering the question looks like.

Mar 17, 2015 at 7:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterNullius in Verba

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>