A Climate Debate I Would Like to See

Of the all the famous names associated with climate change, there are two I would love to see headlined in a debate–against each other. Both of these individuals believe global warming presents an existential threat, both believe Big Green is part of the problem, and both offer a radically different path to decarbonization of the global economy.

Yes, the debate between Naomi Klein and James Hansen would be fascinating.

Klein, as you probably have heard, is the author of a new and much discussed book titled, “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate.” Her publisher describes it as

a brilliant explanation of why the climate crisis challenges us to abandon the core “free market” ideology of our time, restructure the global economy, and remake our political systems.

The New Statesmen, a liberal UK publication, opens its review of the book thusly:

Right-wing deniers of the robust findings of modern atmospheric science sometimes claim that the whole idea of global warming is just a front. What “warmers”, as they call them, really want is allegedly not just a sharp reduction in fossil-fuel emissions but a wholesale socioeconomic transition to tree-hugging socialism. Such cynics will be gladdened by Naomi Klein’s new book. For in it she does explicitly argue that the present “climate emergency” provides an excellent excuse for global revolution.

Before anyone starts hyperventilating, it should be noted, as Klein does in this recent interview, that she isn’t arguing for capitalism to be overthrown by some other ism:

Look, I’m not saying that markets have no role in combatting climate change. I think the right market incentives can play a huge role—we can point to all kinds of companies doing great stuff…There will have to be a strong role for the public sector, a strong role for regulations and, yes, incentives. But the idea of just leaving our collective fate to the market is madness. You wouldn’t treat any other existential crisis in that way.

Still, the larger implications of Klein’s argument will be threatening to entrenched economic interests, a political class concerned more about its fortunes than the planet’s future, and most of all, right wing conservatives who already believe that the “climate emergency” is a liberal stalking horse for a big-government, wealth-redistributive agenda.

In the United States, the response to such a perceived threat has become clear.

James Hansen, the former NASA climate scientist who more than two decades ago elevated the importance of climate science in the public mind, and who has since strongly warned about the dangers of greenhouse gas-driven climate change, believes that conservatives should be mindful of what’s in store when climate impacts really start to hit home. In an interview last year, he said:

If they [conservatives] continue to pretend that human-made climate change is a hoax, eventually you get to the point where nature makes it clear it wasn’t a hoax and then the public demands the government do something and that’s the worst nightmare for conservatives.

What happens then?

It would allow the government to take over and do things by fiat, which not in anybody’s interest in my opinion, because the government never, seldom, makes the right choices. Let the market make the choices, which is a conservative approach.

Hansen’s preferred fix is a revenue-neutral carbon tax, in which the money generated from a rising tax on fossil fuels would be given right back to the public. In a post he wrote last week for Columbia University’s Earth Institute (which received little attention), Hansen explains:

A rising carbon fee alone is not sufficient.  But it is the sine qua non.  New carbon-free technologies are required.  But no policies can spur technologies fast enough without the underlying incentives, for the public, businesses, and entrepreneurs, of a rising carbon fee.

Global agreement on a carbon fee must be approved at home.  It must be of a nature that can receive broad public and political support.  That brings me to my main point.

Hansen couches this as “speaking truth” to friends who share his worst fears about climate change. Are you ready for that truth?

Conservatives are not the enemy of the planet.  Historically they are its best friend.  Conservation and creation care are in the blood of most conservatives.

The political divide occurs because conservatives fear that liberals will use the climate issue to increase taxes and government intrusion.  Policy prescriptions proposed by liberals stoke those concerns and provide fertile ground for anti-science nut-cases to flourish.

Most conservatives I have met are thoughtful.  They do not want to go down in history as being responsible for blocking effective action to stabilize climate.  Gaining their support for a rising revenue-neutral carbon fee, which is in fact a conservative approach, is possible.

Hansen wrote this on the eve of the big climate march in New York City, which he and his family participated in. He closed his post by noting that liberals would account for the largest demographic in the march. He had a message for them:

The truth they must face is the fact that prescriptive liberal policies have no chance of solving the global climate problem.

Naomi Klein believes that only a brave new liberal revolution will usher in the necessary actions to prevent catastrophic climate change. James Hansen believes that this is a dangerous pipe dream. I would love to see them on a stage together, arguing their respective positions.

148 Responses to “A Climate Debate I Would Like to See”

  1. mememine says:

    Seriously?
    The entire world of science can’t say their own “threat to the planet” is 100% proven because of their sacred “scientific method” that prevents them from being absolutely certain but you eager “believers” can?

    Quote one scientist that has said this.

    32 years of science saying “could be” and “believers” telling our kids it WILL be a crisis is why it’s called; “belief”.

  2. Maurizio Morabito says:

    “The larger implications of Klein’s argument” will threaten you too, Keith. “Dramatic social change” and “wartime levels of action” will uproot everybody’s life, and since this is an “existential crisis for the human species” you will be taken care of as soon as you disagree with any of the prescribed policies.

    First they will come for the Koch brothers. But you weren’t a Koch brother. Etc etc.

  3. JH says:

    “James Hansen believes that this is a dangerous pipe dream.”

    For once Hansen and I agree. After the collapse of the Soviet economy, how can anyone possibly think that planned economies can succeed? The idea that a planned economy will fix global warming or any other social problem is the epitome of denial.

    Planners almost always exacerbate the problems they claim to be fixing. To “fix” the problem of high housing costs, they slap on rent controls. So people stop building housing, the supply declines and the price rises. Problem exacerbated. What city has the highest housing costs on the west coast? The same one that has the longest rent-control policy.

    Worse yet, the planners are usually acting to protect entrenched interests, not to benefit the larger portion of the population. The best way to drive down housing costs would be to increase the supply. But planners don’t want to do that because the new supply (obviously) would be built in high-rent districts – which would drive down the value of high rent properties. Right? The people with high value properties want a cap on supply to protect their interests.

    I don’t think this debate would be the least bit interesting. Oreskes doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

  4. Maurizio Morabito says:

    it’s Klein not Oreskes but hey, they do all sound the same 🙂

  5. JH says:

    Aye. Fixed. BTW, “naomi”.

  6. Maurizio Morabito says:

    Furthermore one would have hoped that since capitalism needs a thorough reform and humanity’s survival is at stake, they could have at the very least turned on the “look inside” feature in Amazon.

    Otherwise all the brouhaha and most of the content may look like just an attempt at milking the anti-capitalist movement of a large amount of money.

  7. JonFrum says:

    First, there is no such thing as a ‘revenue-neutral tax.’ Unless you think that volunteers will man the bureaucracy that takes in and doles out the money. Putting that fact aside, if I’m guaranteed to get my money back, then why should I conserve in the first place? And if you reply that it will be revenue neutral in total, but the returns will only go to lower income payers – tax the rich – then call it what it is, income redistribution. Which is exactly what Our Naomi wants. And which just goes to show once more that we skeptics said all along – the whole thing is just another leftist ballgame. Don’t call it communism, call it climate activism. Same man, different hat.

  8. Tom Scharf says:

    I respect Hansen because he acts like he truly believes in this emergency, as opposed to social revolutionists such as Klein who think climate change can be a useful tool to help their alternate agendas.

    Now I think Hansen is a bit alarmist, but he shows he has really put thought into a workable and effective system.

    1. He knows nuclear must be part of the answer.

    2. He knows the system must be global in nature.

    3. He knows it requires buy in from the opposition.

    He is definitely in the 1% of greens in this respect. Klein is a socialist dreamer, Hansen is an engineer pragmatist.

    “Gaining their support for a rising revenue-neutral carbon fee, which is in fact a conservative approach, is possible.”

    The truth: It is actually possible. Replace a progressive corporate/personal income tax with a regressive carbon tax and the conservatives will come running. And say thank you.

    Most people in the green movement believe giving an inch to conservatives is too high a price to pay to save the planet. A bit ironic. Climate change has always been a path to more progressive policy, not less policy. Making a deal such as, we’ll vote for a carbon tax if you shrink the federal budget has never even crossed their minds. Its unthinkable.

    Making enemies of the right was a strategic mistake from the beginning. The rewards are now being reaped.

  9. bobito says:

    You say “believe that the “climate emergency” is a liberal stalking horse” Isn’t it? I don’t think “emergency” is supported by our current understanding of climate science. I’ll agree that the “emergency” position is supported more than a “hoax” position, but still…

    And on Hanson. I am (as a conservative) OK with a revenue neutral carbon tax. But as we all know, it’s useless unless the rest of the world is on board, and the rest of the world ain’t getting on board. So as long as we tax imports from counties that don’t tax carbon, or tax at a level below what the US would, I don’t see why it would impact our economy to implement it.

  10. DavidAppell says:

    “The idea that a planned economy will fix global warming or any other social problem is the epitome of denial.”

    The US has had a cap-and-trade program on SO2 emissions for about 20 years. It’s doing its job; here is the declining trend in SO2 emissions:

    http://www2.epa.gov/sites/production/files/styles/large/public/2014-02/2013-eoy-nox-so2-emissions.gif?itok=GRt7WOEQ

    (Thanks Tom)

  11. DavidAppell says:

    Why do you need 100% certainly before addressing a risk? None of us as individuals, or as a country, live that way.

  12. DavidAppell says:

    “But as we all know, it’s useless unless the rest of the world is on board, and the rest of the world ain’t getting on board.”

    1) The US is a big part of the problem, so it’s not useless.
    2) Americans emits far more per capita than either China or India
    3) China is doing more towards emissions controls than the US is.

  13. DavidAppell says:

    “But as long as we tax imports from counties that don’t tax carbon, or tax at a level below what the US would, I don’t see why it would impact our economy to implement it.”

    The first thing such countries would do is put a carbon tax on their own imports, especially from the US. That would be a good thing, IMO.

  14. DavidAppell says:

    “Replace a progressive corporate/personal income tax with a regressive carbon tax and the conservatives will come running. And say thank you.”

    Hanson’s idea is more than a tax — it’s a tax-and-dividend, where all taxes collected would be returned on an equal per capita basis. So it wouldn’t affect individual or corporate income tax rates.

    At the AGU meeting last December he said that in this scheme, 60% of Americans would get back more than they pay (so it helps alleviate poverty, too) — the other 40% are the airplane flyers and 2nd-home owners in the country. He said one economic study found it would reduce CO2 emissions by 30% in 10 years (I think that with the carbon tax ratcheting up every year.)

  15. DavidAppell says:

    British Columbia has a revenue-neutral carbon tax.

    http://www.fin.gov.bc.ca/tbs/tp/climate/carbon_tax.htm

  16. DavidAppell says:

    “And if you reply that it will be revenue neutral in total, but the returns will only go to lower income payers – tax the rich – then call it what it is, income redistribution.”

    Actually, the point is to stop the income redistribution that’s already going the other way, from the poor to the rich.

    The poor (& the future poor) suffer more than the rich from climate change (The rich have enough money to adapt and insulate themselves from it.) Because the rich — who emit CO2 in disproportinate amounts to their numbers — pollute for free, spreading the damage costs of their pollution across all of society.

  17. DavidAppell says:

    “Climate change is a result of the greatest market failure the world has seen. The evidence on the seriousness of the risks from inaction or delayed action is now overwhelming..The problem of climate change involves a fundamental failure of markets: those who damage others by emitting greenhouse gases generally do not pay.”

    — Nicholas Stern (of the Stern Report)

    .

  18. bobito says:

    I know you know that it doesn’t make a difference where the carbon comes from. And I’m assuming you know how long it stays in the atmosphere. So if we reduce and others don’t it just delays whatever the outcome would be from increased carbon in the atmosphere.

    Also, higher energy costs would just outsource more manufacturing, so the carbon would be created anyway.

    Disagree?

  19. bobito says:

    I was speaking based on the theoretical that the US implemented a carbon tax. If so, there would be no need for additional carbon tax on our exports if you compair apples to apples (apples being a tax that makes up the difference between the exporters carbon tax vs the import carbon tax).

  20. DavidAppell says:

    Us reducing and others not reducing is better than us not reducing and others not reducing.

    Yes, without carbon-taxing imports, more manufacturing will move away. (Though there are already plenty of incentives for manufacturing moving away.)

    And since the US is responsible for a disproportionate share of the problem, it’s morally incumbent on us (IMO) to lead the way to a solution. And we could make money on it too — the entreneurial opportunities for clean energy this century will be huge.

  21. DavidAppell says:

    I don’t get your point.

    But WE wouldn’t tax our exports; countries we tax would tax THEIR imports (our exports).

  22. bobito says:

    If you were locked in a cage in the middle of a pool and there were 20 hoses filling that pool with water would it be better if there were only 18 hoses? I guess so, but in the end you drown either way.

  23. Tom Scharf says:

    Yes, I know, I was referring to a simple carbon replaces income tax scheme. An example of one that would get support.

    The reason I think a Hansen type system will never work is fixing the regressive flaws in this tax scheme will be unworkable politically. Progressives will likely insist that it also functions as an income redistribution vehicle (fulfill other progressive agendas as you document), and that will kill support. You see this is an added benefit, when you should see it as a fatal flaw that it is.

    This is already in light of a hyper paranoid right that wouldn’t trust any tax scheme the greens conjured up to start with. And for good reasons. It needs to be simple, transparent, and appealing.

    You need to give the opposition a reason to like it, and want it. Otherwise it is a thought experiment.

  24. bobito says:

    Perhaps you missed my original point.
    We implement carbon tax.
    A country that exports to us has no carbon tax (or one less that ours).
    We tax those imports to make up the difference so goods produced in this country will be on a level playing field with goods produced elsewhere.

    In the end, it comes down to energy cost. If energy is cheaper, it’s cheaper to produce goods, thus the company using more expensive energy is at a disadvantage.

    And, yes, if another country has a higher carbon tax than the US it would only be fair for them to tax our exports using the same logic.

  25. JH says:

    Which position does this data support – Hansen or Klein?

  26. Buddy199 says:

    So, per Klein, in order to fix climate change we need to trust the same people who recently “fixed” the U.S. Health care system and are now stumbling their way into Gulf War 3. You’ve got to be f–ing kidding me. If at first you don’t succeed, just do ten times as much of the same thing. Here’s an idea. How ’bout we try to think up a public policy strategy that wasn’t already thought of in the 1930’s?

  27. Tom Scharf says:

    This looks good on paper. But countries don’t react well to others unilaterally taxing their exports. It’s protectionism and the response is typically a counter tax on imports to balance the equation. Then a trade war erupts.

    People like buying their $12 DVD players and $2 socks from China. And China has major league leverage with the US and is not someone we really want to pick a trade fight with.

  28. Buddy199 says:

    For a second there I thought you were quoting Howard Stern.

  29. bobito says:

    Ya, call me an idealist I guess. Certainly policy based in logic has no place on the worlds political stage… 😉

    Perhaps if we used logic in our policies we wouldn’t be in the pickle we are in with China. I feel we should be implementing the same types of import taxes based on environmental and employee rights as well. If we implemented protectionist taxes to match our policies that protect our environment and employees we would be making iphones here…

  30. Buddy199 says:

    Well, yeah, if it involves trillions of taxpayer or consumer dollars and massive social change, as close to 100% as you can get.

  31. Tom Scharf says:

    This already has precedent. The EU attempted a unilateral carbon tax with their airline carbon fee and the world went ballistic.

    IATA warns of trade war over EU carbon tax on aviation
    http://www.business-standard.com/article/international/iata-warns-of-trade-war-over-eu-carbon-tax-on-aviation-112061200154_1.html

    The US Senate voted unanimously (when’s the last time that happened?) requiring US airlines to not pay the tax. Similar action was taken in Russia, China, India, etc.

    Eventually the EU backed down and withdrew the tax.

    Low cost labor is big issue and can be viewed as an unfair advantage. We could tax China for their “illegal” employee wages.

  32. Tom Scharf says:

    I understand the moral argument. I don’t agree with it for many reasons. I’m not asking or expecting anyone to change their moral code.

    But it’s not better for me if you are making me pay $50 more a month for power and it isn’t effective with the proposed global climate problem. This is too high a price to alleviate other’s climate guilt.

    Feel free to form a coalition of the willing and raise funds and awareness. Picket Wal-Mart for their climate sins and lead a boycott charge. Here you can alleviate guilt, and have only the willing pay the bills.

    But if you want the unwilling to pay the bills, design an effective solution.

  33. DavidAppell says:

    If the risk is many trillions of dollars of GDPs, far into the future, then you can’t afford to wait for 100% certainty (which science can’t provide anyway).

  34. DavidAppell says:

    Both. It supports the idea that government contraints on a market can lead to declining emissions.

  35. DavidAppell says:

    “But it’s not better for me if you are making me pay $50 more a month for power and it isn’t effective with the proposed global climate problem.”

    a) no every step taken to address AGW has to be a complete solution, black or white, 100% or nothing.
    b) I buy 100% green offsets from my power company. It costs me an average of $1.85/month ($0.008/kWh).

  36. DavidAppell says:

    “But if you want the unwilling to pay the bills, design an effective solution.”

    The effective solution is making people pay for their pollution.

    You don’t dump your trash in your neighbor’s yard or in the street, do you, even though it’d save you the cost of weekly garbage pickup?

  37. Tom Scharf says:

    Of course you can. If the risk is 1% for $5T, and the cost is $1T, then you should wait. If the world were obliterated by an asteroid in 10 years, the money is wasted. If your $1T was spent on something different with a higher risk, it is better spent there.

    Risk assessment is as much art as science. And emotion. The public places an illogical amount of risk on terrorism when the threat is minuscule to them personally.

    The advocates are right that future risk is discounted emotionally. The same can be said for the national debt, a potential catastrophe easily modeled in Excel with even more certainty.

  38. DavidAppell says:

    Our tax system is already progressive, though not nearly as much as is needed.

    Unless the “paranoid right” stops denying climate change and starts proposing solutions that are in line with their ideology, they are eventually going to get
    a) removed from office
    b) whatever solution the left + government comes up with.

    They’re only cutting off their own nose.

  39. DavidAppell says:

    Except the risk is far higher than 1%, and for much more than $5 T.

    And because the public is irrational doesn’t mean our policies have to be.

  40. DavidAppell says:

    The federal health insurance exchange works fine, and about, what, 8 M more people now have health insurance. How exactly is that a failure?

  41. JH says:

    🙂 As ever, proving why no one listens to you.

  42. DavidAppell says:

    “If energy is cheaper, it’s cheaper to produce goods,”

    Not if the cheaper energy has negative externalities.

    “thus the company using more expensive energy is at a disadvantage.”

    That is an argument for widespread pollution. All pollution controls make energy more expensive. They also make life more healthy. Why should the company get to decide how much pollution it will emit and how badly others will be effected by it?

  43. DavidAppell says:

    “But countries don’t react well to others unilaterally taxing their exports.”

    That’s a feature of a carbon tax, not a bug.

  44. Tom Scharf says:

    1. What is the problem?

    2. What are the risks?
    3. What are the proposed solutions?
    4. How much do they cost?
    5. How effective will they be (benefits)?

    I find #4 and #5 to also be important. You want to skip the benefits analysis step.

    Collectively the minimal cost of garbage collection has been found to be worth it.

    Collectively carbon taxes have been assessed to not be worth it.

    Change people’s minds if you can, but the fact you fervently believe in it and find it a moral issue doesn’t answer #4 and #5.

  45. bobito says:

    China doesn’t seem to care about externalities, so if we are going to care about them we must take steps to insure we don’t lose jobs in the process. Otherwise, the externalities will just get produced elsewhere.

    Just like how it’s cheaper to produce a tire / clothing / phone in china and ship it here than it is to produce them here. They can pay pennies on the dollar for labor and not worry about spewing pollution into the air/water.

    One can say that our labor and environmental policies are supporting near slave labor and toxic air and water for Chinese citizens. But if you want to put your head in the sand on that it’s up to you…

  46. Tom Scharf says:

    Then show me how the sum of all efforts gets to an effective global answer. If it costs $1.85/month to fix the risk of global warming, I’m all in. Show me how that happens.

  47. DavidAppell says:

    “China doesn’t seem to care about externalities”

    Bull. The Chinese know they have a huge pollution problem, and they’re taking steps to address it:

    “China’s Plan to Curb Air Pollution Sets Limits on Coal Use and Vehicles,” Edward Wong, 9/12/13
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/13/world/asia/china-releases-plan-to-reduce-air-pollution.html

  48. Tom Scharf says:

    ¡Viva la Revolución!

    The carbon sinners must be punished.

  49. DavidAppell says:

    “But if you want to put your head in the sand on that it’s up to you…”

    If you want to put your head in the smog, that’s up to you….

  50. DavidAppell says:

    Not punished. Just required to stop emitting carbon.

  51. DavidAppell says:

    Plenty of studies have addresses the costs and benefits, like the Stern Report. You can’t get away with pretending they do not exist, and if you choose to ignore them that’s your problem.

  52. DavidAppell says:

    “Collectively the minimal cost of garbage collection has been found to be worth it.”

    Minimal? I pay $502/yr for weekly garbage and recycling pickup.

    I pay 23 times more for clean garbage disposal than I pay for clean electricity.

  53. DavidAppell says:

    “Collectively carbon taxes have been assessed to not be worth it.”

    Where are the studies that say that?

  54. DavidAppell says:

    $1.85/month doesn’t fix global warming — it fixes my electricity’s contribution to global warming. And it’s hardly onerous, even for a freelance writer.

    It’s obvious how the sum of all efforts gets to an effective answer — just as the sum of individual efforts to dispose of garbage responsibly leads to an effective answer for garbage. Or how the US cap-and-trade program on SO2 has led to lower emissions.

  55. DavidAppell says:

    It’s not really about you drowning. It’s about the many hundred generations after you suffering because of your actions. Some people care about that.

  56. NameNotGiven says:

    command and centrally planned failures have been much larger

  57. NameNotGiven says:

    Might seem that way to a luddite. Technology is advancing so fast that it is likely this can be address much cheaper int he future

  58. Tom Scharf says:

    “Why should the company get to decide how much pollution it will emit and how badly others will be effected by it?”

    Why on earth (ha ha) do you think that is the way it works?

    One of the tasks of our government is environmental regulation.

    Start here:
    http://www.epa.gov/

    It currently is highlighting climate change prominently. I counted the word climate on the front page 12 times.

    The failure of society to enforce regulations to one’s personal threshold is due to their failure to convince society it is worth it. Others get a vote too.

    Blaming companies and political parties is a cop out. Communicate more effectively. Pounding the table isn’t very useful.

    This post’s energy use was offset by EPA validated carbon credits.

  59. NameNotGiven says:

    no it is a bug. and any utility is negated by retaliatory measures

  60. NameNotGiven says:

    then you get retaliatory measures,

  61. Tom Scharf says:

    ¡Viva la Revolución!

    The carbon sinners must be eliminated totally!

  62. NameNotGiven says:

    Carbon taxes would be profoundly regressive.

    As far as paranoia, as much of it exists on the left

  63. NameNotGiven says:

    We will be using more natural gas for energy than we ever used for oil Much cleaner

  64. NameNotGiven says:

    China has been saying it would reduce pollution while increasing it all along.

    China and India will be burning more coal that the US ever id

  65. NameNotGiven says:

    The US has massive, truly massive gas reserves. We wont be reducing anything

  66. Tom Scharf says:

    Collectively = public support or political action.

    When asking for other people’s money, it is incumbent upon the asker to demonstrate the worth of the proposal.

  67. Buddy199 says:

    To take the central point, “fine” is certainly a questionable adjective. The roll out was a disaster of planning and squandered taxpayer money. The back end for communicating with insurance companies, and security still isn’t operational. About the 8 million figure: the administration says 700,000 of those who signed up for coverage later dropped out, another 1 million who signed up have what the administration calls “immigration data-matching issues” have been given six months to produce immigration documents. Of all Obamacare signees, 74% previously had insurance, and had their plans cancelled (like me) contrary to the president’s explicit assurance during his re-election campaign. According to Gallup, 59% say the law has had no effect on their lives, 24% say it has hurt and 14% say it has helped.

    My point is that whatever the validity of the scientific projections about climate change, any Klein-style solution conceived and implemented by the same people who came up with the Obamacare dog’s breakfast deserves skepticism.

  68. DavidAppell says:

    Hopefully, yes — because that leads to lower emissions from both countries.

  69. DavidAppell says:

    “China and India will be burning more coal that the US ever id”

    That’s wrong. The USA is responsible for 28% of the manmade CO2 in today’s atmosphere and ocean. China is responsible for about 10%, and India 3%.

    It will take China and India several decades before they reach equality with the USA.

  70. DavidAppell says:

    The President says “if you like your plan, you can keep it.” He didn’t say “…and at the same price.” Insurance companies set the price, not the federal government.

    Of the people who don’t like the ACA, how many like their own government subsidy for their health care, which in total costs the government about $250 B/yr?

    My guess would be “just about all of them.”

  71. DavidAppell says:

    That is by no means clear, and even if it were true, that technology would still need to be employed worldwide, which will be daunting.

  72. Tom Scharf says:

    Yes, winning due to the moral superiority of liberal ideology taking over the world….fantasy. Both sides love to indulge in this one.

    What happened in 2009? Did you notice the prominent place climate change took in the last presidential election, and how many House and Senate races are being run now on a climate platform? Stop by KY, LA, and WV and listen to what the Democrats have to say.

    The silence you hear is because climate has become toxic politically. Both sides say the least controversial things they can and move to the next question ASAP.

    I’d personally love to see the Democrats bring up a big fat climate spending bill in the Senate tomorrow for a vote. Ever wonder why that doesn’t happen?

    You can either wait for the allegedly inevitable liberal takeover or find a way to make the right want to take action. Calling them names and demonizing them hasn’t been very effective so far.

  73. DavidAppell says:

    “Why on earth (ha ha) do you think that is the way it works?”

    Because there is no charge to emit carbon pollution. Or many other pollutants. With no cost, the company decides how much it will emit, not those affected.

  74. DavidAppell says:

    Natural gas still emits CO2 when burned.

  75. DavidAppell says:

    Not eliminated. Just required to stop emitting carbon.

  76. bobito says:

    Yes, it’s not about drowning, are you arguing I made a bad analogy? My point is that the “generations after me suffering” will only be delayed if only the US acts. Whatever the “suffering” turns out to be it would eventually happen either way. This is why I said originally that it “wouldn’t make a difference” unless the world acts.

  77. bobito says:

    So you have a moral problem with the US’s CO2 addiction, but you are fine with China’s near slave labor and toxic air and water since we have clear air and water?

    And, regardless, it’s CO2. So if we stop producing it and China doesn’t (or even increases because of outsourcing due to cheaper energy) our heads will still be in the same CO2 smog. Again, doesn’t make a difference…

  78. Buddy199 says:

    How do we assess the risk? That is the central question that has to be evaluated in an unemotional fashion.

    So far, CO2 is rising steadily. But, oddly, we see a rise in global temps in still unexplained fits and starts, including the current unexplained pause. And, what we don’t see is an identifiable pattern of extreme or even unusual weather that parallels the steady rise in CO2. The climate models since 1990 have also consistently exaggerated the effects of CO2 when later compared with real world data.

    Could extreme weather and other disastrous effects suddenly manifest? I guess, but maybe the current trend will continue and they never will, or the effect will be much less than ever anticipated.
    We just don’t know enough about the risk – based on observable data at this point – to jump head long into global scale plans implemented by people whose track record has proven to be less than competent.

  79. DavidAppell says:

    “Yes, winning due to the moral superiority of liberal ideology taking over the world….”

    See:
    – social security system
    – expanded healh coverage
    – women voting
    – SO2’s cap-and-trade program
    – banning of ozone-destroying chemicals
    – seat belt required
    – same-sex marriage
    – women’s rights
    – progressive tax system
    – banning of child labor
    – etc

    History is nothing BUT liberal ideologies taking over the world. And for good reason:

    “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”
    – John Kenneth Galbraith

    That especially applies to the struggle to address global warming. Unfortunately for conservatives, the trends are all going against them, and it’s just (unfortunately) a matter of time.

  80. bobito says:

    “Bull”

    OK, I’ll concede that one. Allow me to rephrase:

    China doesn’t care as much as the west does about externalities.

  81. Tom Scharf says:

    How much do you think you should be charged for the carbon “pollution” you emit? Perhaps a personal CCS system should be required.

  82. Tom Scharf says:

    Disagreement over the scope of future risks and costs in great uncertainty does not equal one side being irrational. Even if these were agreed on, action is determined as much by tolerance for risk and values as science and economics.

    Science says don’t go to Vegas or play the lottery (and yet our benevolent government actually runs the lottery….). Accepting the risk of climate change can be a perfectly rational decision.

  83. Tom Scharf says:

    That’s pretty funny, ha ha. I guess he knew prices were going up but didn’t think it would be relevant to voters.

    And of course the plans were eliminated that didn’t meet ACA requirements. This “feature” was removed after the huge backlash, not by design. People don’t get subsides by magic, other people have to pay for them. That is why patient rates have to go up, or provider fees for service have to go down.

    We do regret “costing” the government money by not allowing them to take as much of “their” money from us. Please forward them our gratitude for allowing us to keep as much of their money as they currently do.

  84. Tom Scharf says:

    I suppose you have modeled this liberal outcome based on all the current trends with similar technology used for climate models. And are just as certain about the outcome.

    Perhaps you can tell me what this model shows for the election in November so far? A “hiatus” in the liberal takeover by chance? Possibly the model is flawed short term, but we can still be certain of long term predictions.

    “Capitalism is the unequal distribution of wealth socialism is the equal distribution of poverty”

  85. DavidAppell says:

    “But, oddly, we see a rise in global temps in still unexplained fits and starts, including the current unexplained pause.”

    It’s not odd at all — scientists have always (always) said the climate will still respond to natural variation, and that’s what we’ve had over the last decade and a half — a big El Nino in 1998, and a signficant La Nina in 2011, etc.

    The surprising thing is that we’ve seen as much warming as we have, given these natural forcings. NOAA said this summer was the warmest in their records; Hadley’s sea surface temperature set a record in June, and in July was in 2nd place, only behind June.

    Cowtan & Way’s superior dataset shows 0.18 C of surface warming in the last 15 years.

    And the large amount of heat going into the ocean shows the Earth still has an energy imbalance.

  86. DavidAppell says:

    “And, what we don’t see is an identifiable pattern of extreme or even unusual weather that parallels the steady rise in CO2.”

    How about backing up your claims with data, instead of making categorical (and wrong) statements about what is and isn’t.. Investigate the data for extreme weather — what does it say?

  87. DavidAppell says:

    “The climate models since 1990 have also consistently exaggerated the effects of CO2 when later compared with real world data.”

    Climate models don’t make short-term predictions. To do that their programmers would need to know the future — of ENSOs, of volcanic eruptions, of solar irradiance, of aerosol emissions, and more. No one can read the future.

    Climate models also do not know the initial state of the world when they start. Some of the data that’s needed for that simply doens’t exist. They don’t solve an initial value problem, they solve a boundary value problem, based on sound principles like conservation of energy.

  88. DavidAppell says:

    And I’ve always said, that’s a GOOD thing, as far as controlling carbon is concerned.

  89. DavidAppell says:

    1) We certainly will not stop emitting CO2 soon, regardless of what China does.

    2) The US has already created more climate change than China has, and this will be true for several decades.

    3) I don’t live in China, so I don’t need an opinion on their pollution. And I haven’t said a thing about “slave labor,” so don’t attribute opinions to me that I haven’t expressed.

  90. DavidAppell says:

    “Collectively = public support or political action”

    No, you said “assessed.” Where are those accessments?

    And there are carbon taxes around the world, so clearly there is some public support.

  91. DavidAppell says:

    “When asking for other people’s money, it is incumbent upon the asker to demonstrate the worth of the proposal.”

    I’m not asking for other people’s money. I’m asking for them to give back what they’re stealing.

    In any case, the need to reduce carbon emissions have been proven again and again. You will never accept it no matter what data or analysis is put forward.

  92. DavidAppell says:

    “Whatever the “suffering” turns out to be it would eventually happen either way.”

    False. If the US cuts emissions, there will be less climate change than if they don’t.

  93. DavidAppell says:

    What have been the accomplishments of conservativism over the last 25 years? Besides a reduced median income and greater income inequality…

  94. DavidAppell says:

    “And of course the plans were eliminated that didn’t meet ACA requirements.”

    Because underinsured people cost everyone else money.

    “We do regret “costing” the government money by not allowing them to take as much of “their” money from us.”

    Employees and employers don’t pay the full cost of their health care — the federal government pays $250B/yr of it. Other people must make up the difference — employees and employers take their money in order to lower their health care costs. It comes out to about $2,500 per worker per year.

  95. DavidAppell says:

    “Accepting the risk of climate change can be a perfectly rational decision.”

    As if US conservatives have made that decision. They can’t even admit or accept what the science says.

  96. DavidAppell says:

    It should be determined based on the damages. The 2010 National Academy of Sciences report found costs are at least $150 B/yr, and they broke it down by type of fossil fuel and the activity that burns that fuel.

    For example, they found that coal-fired generation facilities created at least $62B/yr in (nonclimate) health costs in the U.S. (in 2005, in 2007 dollars). That’s 3.2 cents/kWh.

    “Hidden Costs of Energy: Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production and Use”
    National Research Council, 2010
    http://books.nap.edu/catalog/12794.html

  97. DavidAppell says:

    “China doesn’t care as much as the west does about externalities.”

    Same link for this. China is taking big steps to reduce their externalities.

  98. DavidAppell says:

    “Ever wonder why that doesn’t happen?”

    Because there are so many science deniers in Congress it would have no chance of passing.

  99. DavidAppell says:

    “You can either wait for the allegedly inevitable liberal takeover or find a way to make the right want to take action.”

    Nature is already taking care of that. And all of Rick Perry’s prayers didn’t influence it at all.

  100. DavidAppell says:

    “Capitalism is the unequal distribution of wealth socialism is the equal distribution of poverty”

    “Map: How 35 countries compare on child poverty (the U.S. is ranked 34th)”
    Max Fisher, Washington Post 4/15/13
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/04/15/map-how-35-countries-compare-on-child-poverty-the-u-s-is-ranked-34th/

  101. DavidAppell says:

    “Capitalism is the unequal distribution of wealth socialism is the equal distribution of poverty”

    Population below poverty line:
    France: 7.9% (2011)
    United States 15.1% (2010 est)

    Soures:
    http://www.indexmundi.com/france/population_below_poverty_line.html
    http://www.indexmundi.com/united_states/population_below_poverty_line.html

  102. DavidAppell says:

    “Capitalism is the unequal distribution of wealth socialism is the equal distribution of poverty”

    Population below poverty line:
    Canada: 9.4% (2013)
    China: 13.4% (2013)
    United States 15.1% (2010)

    Source:
    http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/stats/Economy/Population-below-poverty-line

  103. CB says:

    I listen to David, and he is absolutely correct.

    There are arguments for both Naomi’s and Jim’s positions.

    In general, I find Naomi’s specifics lacking, but I also think a carbon tax would unduly burden the people with the least amount of money to spare, something I think Naomi is correct to be concerned about.

    I would actually advocate for a carbon tax that’s not revenue neutral, which would put me to the right of Jim Hansen, but I’d correct for this with a shift of the tax burden away from the poor in other areas, such as reductions in the payroll tax and a more progressive income and inheritance tax.

    …and I’d also add a sequestration credit matching the carbon tax.

    How would you reduce atmospheric CO₂ in order to maintain a planet compatible with human habitation?

  104. zlop says:

    Hansen and Naomi are elevated to manufacture public opinion. The Carbon Extortion Racket and 9/11 have the common source, the City of London Evil Bankers.

  105. JH says:

    a) David’s position is closest to Hansen’s position in that it enacts a single regulation instead of an economic and social revolution.

    b) I would to continue to provide and increase where sensible incentives for energy efficiency, distributed solar, nukes and R&D. I’d open Yucca Mt for high level waste.

    c) I would focus every effort on economic growth that drives employment and wages upward.

  106. JH says:

    “China is doing more towards emissions controls than the US is.”

    David, you could move to China! There’s a solution.

  107. JH says:

    “Us reducing and others not reducing is better than us not reducing and others not reducing.”

    No, it’s not.

  108. CB says:

    a) The entirety of David’s post suggests that government intervention can and has worked, and he has citations to prove it. Maybe he does want a social revolution, but he hasn’t even hinted at it here.

    b) All reasonable ideas, but none of them address CO₂ reduction. Why should anyone take carbon from the air if there’s no financial incentive to do so?

    c) Doesn’t seem to have much to do with correcting the atmospheric carbon imbalance.

  109. OWilson says:

    What to do about climate change?

    First of all, climate change is a nebulous unscientific term, unless it is qualified with “severe” or “catastrophic”.

    It is also a natural state of our planet.

    Take the current concern with terrorism. When threat is discernible we will act, together, to combat it.

    The last 35 years of satellite data show no statistically significant “threat” from temperature, sea level rise, or decline of global ice cover. Severe weather events like tornados and hurricanes are not at abnormal levels

    So this debate is really what to do about what?

    And the answer depends only on your political point of view.

  110. valorius says:

    You want to reduce co2, plant a tree. I hear they like it.

  111. iFred says:

    Serious question to Appell: “Do you have a live”? It seems a matter of life or death to you to counter all the comments here.

    “Science says the first word on everything, and the last word on nothing” – Victor Hugo

  112. Jeffn says:

    Why did you leave out Hansen’s main point?
    The Hansen column references his letter to Obama and links to a page where he notes he is really urging three things that he summarizes as “coal, carbon tax, and nuclear.”

    Hansen writes, at his link that renewables won’t do it and warns of the damage that would be caused by a “vehement minority of anti-nuclear ‘environmentalists'” delaying nuclear power.

    Given that nuclear power has been deployed, internationally and within the United States, without a global or national carbon tax – refundable or not – it is a fair question whether such a tax is necessary to do what Hansen wants.
    Hansen doesn’t believe “Big Green is part of the problem” he believes it is the problem. Conservatives don’t stand in the way of nuclear power. They stand in the way of one funding mechanism he prefers that hasn’t been necessary in the past.
    I understand, to a certain extent, why it is you want to soften this blow Keith, but the facts are the facts. If Hansen came to understand that we could “pull a France” and switch to nukes without a carbon tax, would Hansen still insist on a carbon tax? No, IMO.
    Naomi Klein would insist on socialism whether it had any impact on global warming.

  113. DavidAppell says:

    “He didn’t want to say that because he wants a social revolution.”

    You’re simply trying to dismiss my argument, not with a counterargument, but by lying about what you think are my goals. Pretty shifty.

  114. DavidAppell says:

    “”Those who damage others”. What does that even mean?”

    It means pooping in the water makes others sick.

    Yes, you should be paying damages to whomever is damaged, to whoever is negatively affected by climate change.

    If you neighbor is dumping his garbage over his fence into your yard, in order to save money on disposal, would you want to be paid for the damages that creates?

  115. DavidAppell says:

    Do you make up your own data? Because none of the actual data support your claims. Look them up.

  116. Matthew Slyfield says:

    “Hansen’s preferred fix is a revenue-neutral carbon tax, in which the
    money generated from a rising tax on fossil fuels would be given right
    back to the public”

    A revenue-neutral tax is a unicorn. It does not and never will exist.

  117. OWilson says:

    Nonsense.

    The data is there for all to see.

    It is why your “Global Warming” has become “Climate Change”, then “Climate Disruption” and “Extreme Weather Events”.

    You can’t even consistently identify your doomsday scenario.

  118. Jeffn says:

    The silliest aspect of this “debate” is effort by one party to claim that the denial of unicorns is “anti-science”.
    The good news is that the strategy isn’t working.

  119. CB says:

    I think trees are actually going to be incredibly important in correcting the greenhouse gas imbalance in our atmosphere, but I suspect refilling forest carbon reservoirs isn’t going to be quite enough to fix the problem we’ve created.

    I suspect we’ll have to actually short-circuit the carbon cycle in order to lock carbon down to the ground.

    Valerie, why is your profile set to private?

    You know people can’t see your replies when you do that… right?

  120. valorius says:

    If you couldnt see my reply you wouldnt have just responded to my post.

  121. DavidAppell says:

    I doubt you know where the data is, or that you can link to it.

    Re: names — The UNFCCC was never the “UNFCGW.” The IPCC was never the “IPGW.”

    But early last decade, the Republican pollster Frank Luntz did suggest, in a famous memo, that Republicans use “climate change,” not “global warming,” because, he said, it was less scary.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2003/mar/04/usnews.climatechange

  122. Tom Fuller says:

    Do you just have to pretend Roger Pielke doesn’t exist when you’re not busy sliming him? What level of concentration that must require.

    Heat waves are hotter now. That is the only Xtreme Weather phenomenon that exists.

  123. Tom Fuller says:

    BAU costs are 4%-5% of GDP according to Stern, who based his calculations on a population of 15 billion. How much does your pet mitigation/adaptation scheme cost?

  124. Tom Fuller says:

    Fortunately in this case, conservatives do not control the presidency nor the Senate, meaning that perhaps political persuasion is not the most likely indicator for reluctance to follow the dictates of Michael Mann and Peter Gleick on how to reach climate Jerusalem.

  125. Tom Fuller says:

    Too bad about the discount rate… it would be nice if we could accept Stern. But he overestimated peak population and used an absurd discount rate. So we’re left with DICE, RICE, etc., Must be really….awkward for you when the only people doing this kind of study correctly aren’t on your side…

  126. Tom Fuller says:

    China is emitting more than America. Their lead in this dubious category will grow quickly through 2050.

    China has more laws about emissions controls than the U.S. Pity about corporate governance, graft and corruption… Cough. Cough.

  127. Tom Fuller says:

    I did. I love it here. But it is not quite environmental paradise yet.

  128. Tom Fuller says:

    You haven’t quantified the problem. I don’t think any government would be likely to sign a blank check over to people as incredibly inept as those promoting climate disaster.

    Quantify the problem. There is no Xtreme Weather. (Ask the IPCC–that’s what they say.) Sea level is not increasing than before the anthropogenic CO2 emissions became a factor. Surface temperatures have stalled.

    Quantify the solution. How much do you want the U.S. to spend? How quickly? Who will be in control of the funds?

    Identify the solution. What does victory look like? Who judges?

  129. Tom Fuller says:

    Stealing? What are they stealing? Who is doing the stealing? Who is being robbed?

  130. Tom Fuller says:

    There are very few carbon taxes. There are several emission control regulations in different parts of the world. They are not working very well.

  131. Tom Fuller says:

    You are the one who is ignoring those reports, pretending the costs of AGW are higher than the reports indicate and living under the delusion that the costs of adaptation and mitigation are less than the reports indicate.

  132. Tom Fuller says:

    The IPCC thinks that emissions peak at around 2105 and decline thereafter. Even with respectable residence times for CO2, hundreds of generations seems a bit exaggerated. Unless you’re referring to bunny rabbits…

  133. Tom Fuller says:

    How much less?

  134. Tom Fuller says:

    Half as much. Perfect bridge fuel.

  135. Tom Fuller says:

    I live there. I have an opinion. It is not in accordance with your naive world view.

  136. Tom Fuller says:

    More laws. Pollution and emissions keep rising. More laws. Pollution and emissions keep rising.
    More laws. Pollution and emissions keep rising.
    China’s history is very different from Western history. So is their present.

  137. Tom Fuller says:

    China burnt about 120 quads last year, compared to the U.S. with about 104 quads. 70% of China’s energy comes from burning coal. 34% of the U.S.’s energy comes from burning coal.

    I see a discrepancy between those facts and your assertions.

  138. Tom Fuller says:

    You should check carefully what constitutes poverty in China. You might then hesitate before using that statistic.

  139. Michael Stone says:

    World governments need to have their citizens plant billions of new trees and globally outlaw deforestation.
    The major problem however is not so much the trees, it’s actually the continuing demise of the ocean’s microscopic green plant life phytoplankton.
    Phytoplankton sequester the most carbon and supply the most oxygen for our planet and they have decreased by near 40% since 1950 when such records were first initiated.
    The issue is burning coal is acidifying our ocean’s waters and that and continual warming of the ocean’s waters is killing the life in our oceans, which includes the single most important life form, the phytoplankton. Without the phytoplankton, no life as we humans understand life will exist.

  140. CB says:

    “If you couldnt see my reply you wouldnt have just responded to my post.”

    I’ve been chasing down your posts, but that’s not going to last long.

    …now why is your profile set to private?

    If you were interested in an honest conversation, what might be the point of hiding your replies to people?

  141. valorius says:

    My posts appear in your feed every day because there’s a response to your post. Perhaps you’re just not smart enough to use the software correctly.

  142. CB says:

    “My posts appear in your feed”

    Uh huh, and that’s still not how it works, Valerie.

    If your profile weren’t set to private in order that your replies might be hidden from people, why did you set your profile to private?

  143. valorius says:

    I guess you’re not smart enough to understand disqus.

    Shrug.

  144. CB says:

    …and no one is stupid enough to miss that you’ve run from my question multiple times now.

    Why is your profile set to private?

    What do you get out of it?

  145. valorius says:

    Stalk much boo?

  146. CB says:

    No interest in being taken seriously at all?

    Well, what’s the point of your existence then?

    If you weren’t interested in engaging in an honest conversation, why did you bother voicing your opinion in the first place?

  147. valorius says:

    My last stalker is in a mental hospital :-O

  148. Michael Stone says:

    Is it the same one where you are confined?

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