The Post Partisan Power Play

There’s a new climate & energy policy debate brewing. It could get interesting fast, judging by the crossfire that flew on wed alone. Here’s the abridged version:

First comes the release of a bipartisan “white paper” that argues for public investment in energy innovation as the best way to end reliance on fossil fuels. It gets a respectful hearing in the NYT. David Roberts at Grist is perturbed. Joe Romm at Climate Progress is…well, let’s put it this way, much more perturbed.

But Bryan Walsh at Time and Ezra Klein at WaPo, noting the painful and prolonged death of cap & trade, send out positive vibes about the new bipartisan energy plan. That makes David Roberts agitated and crotchety.

Meanwhile, a mini-wonk scrum breaks out between Roger Pielke Jr. and Michael Levi.

Where this all goes is anyone’s guess. For his part, Roberts, who seemingly accuses Walsh and and Klein of participating in “narcissistic post-partisan fantasies,” forecloses any possibility of a good faith debate, much less a bipartisan agreement on energy policy:

It’s a power struggle, not an argument. It will be won through political force, not persuasion. It’s the oldest war in the book, progress vs. status quo, and it doesn’t help matters that so many smart people refuse to fight for, or even associate with, their own side.

Yup, in the climate debate, it always boils down to whose side you are on.

UPDATE: A reader offers a link to an excellent overview of responses that is well worth checking out.

155 Responses to “The Post Partisan Power Play”

  1. Roger Pielke, Jr. says:

    What is remarkable about Roberts’ view that climate policy is about power not argument is that they leave no place for policy analysis or evaluation (or even science) — except as a means of exerting political authority.
     

  2. Keith Kloor says:

    Here’s another take, from Teryn Norris, who works for one of the think tanks that produced the white paper.

  3. thingsbreak says:

    If the “tone” of Romm and Roberts bothers you, kkloor, Matt Yglesias makes related points in a completely civil, relatively non-tribal manner:
    http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/2010/10/the-case-for-carbon-pricing-remains-incredibly-strong/
    I don’t think anyone interested in averting significant climatic fallout rejects the idea that we should fund clean energy projects. What many object to, as with geoengineering, is it’s banking on something that’s completely un-demonstrated and possibly a political non-starter rather than something that is merely a supposed political non-starter. I’ve seen zero evidence that the GOP will support a massive expenditure on clean energy when they’re in full on obstructionist “government out of my medicare” mode. I’ve seen zero evidence that a game-changing energy technology is possible *that can outcompete domestic coal in the US or China* absent emissions pricing.
     
    I also think it also really stinks that much of the coverage is presenting this as a “new” strategy rather than the nth iteration of the same old, same old technology gambit. Although I can’t say that I’m surprised.

  4. Andrew says:

    Here’s the thing, though – though there might be a new debate brewing, there is absolutely no chance of a new policy.
    It used to be that everybody in Congress supported increased funding for R&D into clean energy, but the divide was over how or whether to pay for it.  Everybody always agreed on extending the Renewable Production Tax Credit, for example, but the divide was over the tax increases that Dems proposed to pay for it.

    Now, with this new crop of conservative tea party types, and a Republican party scared to death of being labeled as overspenders, there’s going to be no chance that they’re going to commit to $25 billion in new spending to address something that they don’t think is happening.

    A Cap and Trade or a Carbon Tax have the nice bonus of providing a revenue stream.  Without that revenue stream, there’s no way that any increase, above a marginal change, is ever going to happen in Congress.

  5. Keith Kloor says:

    TB,

    Thanks for the link to Yglesias. I don’t think his post lives up to the headline. But let me address a few of your points. What’s “new” is that the strategy is put forward by three think tanks from across the political spectrum. That’s a starting point.

    Of course, as everyone involved has noted, in the current political environment, it’s unlikely to gain much traction. But I guess what’s disconcerting about the dynamics of the debate over this is the lack of willingness to consider an alternative climate policy framework in the face of utter failure of the existing framework.

    It seems to me that folks like Roberts and Romm are so wedded to their beliefs that they can’t even abide a dialogue over new paths to a common goal that is shared by their friends and allies.

    Tone matters a lot. If it’s condescending and/or nasty, it suggests that you’re not interested in a debate.

  6. Fat Bastard says:

    Roger,
     
    As a political scientist, I’m surprised that you find Roberts position objectionable.  It seems to me that he’s stating a fairly obvious truism: climate policy –particularly in the United States — does not advance based on a discussion of technical merit.  It moves forward on the basis of political expediency.
     
    IMO you and the BTI folks have yet to demonstrate why your approach is more likely to succeed than past approaches.  And please don’t say you discuss it in your book :).  I will  get to it, but am looking for a succinct overview at this point.
     
    Keith,
    Bbefore I lay into you for this post, let me give you kudos for your coverage of the recent Wegman affair.   IMO you, RPJr, Zorita, and AMac are the only ones in the ‘non-warmist’ tribe 😛 that come out looking good in this affair.  As Roger said, if he plagiarized he should be fired. period.  To see how Watts, Curry, Lucia, and particularly McIntyre distract, obfuscate, and ignore what is pretty obvious has been instructive to say the least.  It’s been a watershed moment for me in terms of blogger credibility.
     
    Now on to the bad.  Have you read what Romm and Roberts actually wrote?  Do you have any opinion on their substantive criticisms?  It seems to me that your deliberately trying to setup a blog fight along ‘tribal lines’ rather than substantive areas of legitimate, reasonable disagreement.
     
    And your last line strikes me as particularly egregious.

  7. Keith Kloor says:

    FB,

    Before we go any further, can you go back to your other moniker? Aside from the fact that it causes me to chuckle like a 15 year old before getting to your comment, I find it off-putting to learn that I’m having a dialogue with a person who is going by two different handles. (I saw the RPJ thread where you suddenly shape shifted from Marlowe to FB).

    It’s already starting to really annoy me that I’m having so many exchanges with anonymous people. I’d like to at least keep it straight who I think I’m talking to, even if you are anonymous.

    I’ll return to your criticisms shortly.

  8. Groan. One of those too many irons in the fire moments but I’ll have to say something about this completely expected and unimaginative initiative, and Keith’s completely expected defense of it.
     
    In short, there is a difference between sounding reasonable and having a reasoned opinion. I support the “energy plan” out of desperation. If there’s a deus ex machina salvation out there, it would be foolish not to look for it. But that doesn’t change the fact that it probably isn’t there.
     
    The idea, basically, is to look for a high tech solution that is cheaper than digging up filthy crap from the ground and torching it (without accounting for externalities). Unless and until we run out of combustible filthy crap, it’s hard to imagine how a high tech solution will actually be cheaper. Why don’t we take the actual, standard issue capitalist approach and account for externalities instead?
     
    The Pielke Jr answer amounts to an assertion that “a sound solution based in capitalist theory is politically infeasible”, which seems to amount to a claim that collective decision-making  is hopelessly stupid. Well, there’s plenty of evidence for that, but I don’t see why we should be mild and polite and dancing ever so delicately around that.
     
    The approach in question is a desperate hail Mary which gives up on all the principles on which civilization is based. Terriffic. I’m all for it. Throw the ball; it would be foolish not to. If you’re down to your last twenty dollars and owe a million, you might as well buy a few lottery tickets.
     
    Just don’t ask me to be satisfied with this foolishness as a substitute for reality. It has nothing to do with “sides”. It has to do with the real world we live in.
     

  9. Marlowe Johnson says:

    No problem Keith.  Just tell Richard Tol to be nice should he ever come here for a visit 🙂

  10. Keith Kloor says:

    Thanks, Marlowe. It’s much easier to address you in this incarnation. As for Tol, I don’t think you’ll have to worry, he doesn’t come around this neighborhood.

    Now, to your gripe with me on this (6):

    “Have you read what Romm and Roberts actually wrote?  Do you have any opinion on their substantive criticisms?  It seems to me that your deliberately trying to setup a blog fight along “˜tribal lines’ rather than substantive areas of legitimate, reasonable disagreement.”

    I think that this would be better directed at Romm and Roberts. Of course, I read their posts. Did you? What did you make of the tone and how those “substantive areas of legitimate, reasonable disagreement” were packaged, especially in Romm’s case?

    Those weren’t critiques by them so much as shots across the bow. And this goes to the heart of my issue with Romm. It’s plain to see he’s not interested in discussing “substantive areas of legitimate disagreement.” That post was intended to chill any continued debate over the white paper. (I’m sure Romm is having nightmares of Friedman taking it up in a column.)

    Now, it’s important to remember here that Romm to a large degree sets the terms (and tone) of the debate for his side. There’s no getting around that.

    So I’ll tell you what: you go ahead and chastise him the way you do me, then we’ll talk some more about who’s being egregious.

  11. thingsbreak says:

    @kkloor #5:
    What’s “new” is that the strategy is put forward by three think tanks from across the political spectrum. That’s a starting point.
     
    How are they “across the political spectrum”? You’ve got AEI (anti-mitigation), Breakthrough (anti-mitigation), and Brookings (not so much “centrist” as schizophrenic).  Not really seeing the “post-partisan” “across the spectrum” aspect of three groups agreeing on something together that they at least partially agreed on apart.
     
    I suppose that if I were Ezra Klein, and lunched with these think tanks regularly, I would feel obligated to pass off their talking points as news. I’m not sure why those outside the beltway would feel obligated to act as stenographers instead of just reprinting a press release, but I suppose they wouldn’t be in as good of a position to know what a non-event getting those three to agree to do nothing about mitigation is.
     
    It seems to me that folks like Roberts and Romm are so wedded to their beliefs that they can’t even abide a dialogue over new paths to a common goal that is shared by their friends and allies.
     
    They’ve had this dialogue. We all have. This isn’t a “new path”. This is a regurgitation of the technology-pixie-dust anti-mitigation argument that “serious” people like Lomborg have been arguing for for years.
     
    I guess what’s disconcerting about the dynamics of the debate over this is the lack of willingness to consider an alternative climate policy framework in the face of utter failure of the existing framework.
     
    It’s not that no one is willing to consider the idea. That’s absurd. People have considered it for the decades that it’s been offered as a strategy. It’s got tepid endorsement from even strong critics as a last ditch effort. But it’s hard to pretend that this represents some sort of new thinking. It’s the standard anti-mitigation line pushed by those who don’t outright deny climate change year after year after year. Yes, please invest in clean energy. We should do that absolutely.
     
    But if you want to get people to actually believe that this represents a viable solution, show your damn work. Explain how absent pricing emissions the clean energy breakthrough will outcompete something as cheap as coal. What possible technology could do that on the timescales we’re talking about knowing that for the decades it takes to develop said technology you’re locking into place yet further decades of carbon intensive infrastructure?

  12. Keith Kloor says:

    TB (11):

    The fact that you identify the proposal as anti-mitigation tells me how you approach it. That is, of course, straight out of the Romm playbook.

    Here’s the thing you need to wrap your mind around: climate policy, as currently constructed by Romm, is dead. It’s not going anywhere. How about we start from there. Now, if we can agree that Romm’s way leads to another dead end, what do you put in its place?

    That’s the starting point for me. Do you want keep banging your head against the wall for another two decades? Or are you open to different ways to solving climate change?

  13. Paraphrasing #12: We’ve been digging a trench with a handheld shovel, and that has clearly not been enough. Do you want to keep at this futile effort? Shouldn’t we try something new, like digging the trench with a goose feather?
     
    Again, the question is not “openness to different ways”. The question is whether the proposed “way” makes any damned sense at all. You don’t get to presume that. There are lots of fundamental reasons to expect that the proposed “way” is barely different from nothing. That’s the question. To talk a lot about goose feathers, or even to deploy goose feathers, is not going to divert the flood.
     
    Also, this idea that climate policy has been “constructed by Romm” is funny. No disrespect to Joe, but, um, what?
     

  14. thingsbreak says:

    @kkloor #12:
    straight out of the Romm playbook…climate policy, as currently constructed by Romm, is dead…Romm’s way
     
    Keith, I’ve tried to explain this to you several times before. Not everyone (and I’d hazard nearly no one) is as obsessed with Joe Romm as you are. I can’t tell you the last time I went to Climate Progress’s site or left a comment there. Probably some time in the last two months, but I couldn’t tell you any more specifically than that off the top of my head.
     
    Give your obsession a break. Engage what I wrote, not what your imaginary “Romm playbook” says.
     
    Limiting emissions for the foreseeable future requires either a command and control economy or a price on carbon. Clean energy funding absent a price on carbon is not a mitigation policy, because it in no way ensures a reduction in emissions. If you don’t like me saying “anti-mitigation” I’ll happily revise my characterization as soon as you or anyone else can explain *how funding clean energy absent a price on emissions will lead to emissions abatement for the foreseeable future*.
     
    are you open to different ways to solving climate change
     
    Of course I am. But this is neither a solution (until someone can articulate how it is) nor new.
     
    We all get that the “conventional wisdom” says that pricing emissions is politically dead. I’m certainly not debating that. But claiming that setting up a clean tech fund is a new, viable alternative when:
    – there has been no demonstration that it is politically viable in the present political environment
    – there has been no demonstration of how this will ensure emissions reductions absent a price on emissions
    – this is in no way a “new” idea
    is absurd. And boring.
     
    Stop talking about Joe Romm for ten minutes and explain how (in a way that doesn’t involve as much or more hand-waving than reviving emissions pricing would) this is supposed to ensure that the US and China stop burning coal. You do that and you’ll have no shortage of people taking this seriously.

  15. Keith Kloor says:

    Michael,

    You completely gloss over the way this debate is being conducted by Romm and Roberts. The way they frame it, the path outlined in the white paper is a nonstarter unworthy of discussion. An extension of their disdain is expressed in the way TB calls it “anti-mitigation.”

    I’m perfectly willing to engage in a good faith debate over the merits of the proposal put out yesterday. Can you say the same of Roberts and Romm?

    As for my garbled construction of “climate policy constructed by Romm,” yeah, that’s not what I meant, that he constructs policy.

    What I meant to say is that he is/was a leading advocate (and blog enforcer) for a failed climate policy.

  16. rustneversleeps says:

    I’m certainly with thingsbreak’s comment about “show your work”.

    Just skimming the “white paper” one of the things that strikes me is the comparison in Fig. 1 of relative R&D spending in “Communications. Semiconductors. Pharmaceuticals. Software. Computers. All Industries. Energy.” The takeaway they suggest seems to be that R&D spending (primarily?) determines the innovation of an industry.

    What if it is primarily the other way ’round? I.e., that the innovation potential of an industry drives the relative amount of R&D spending in that industry? Basic economics suggests that if the firms in each industry were free in their choices to maximize their profits, they would deploy funds and resources in such a way to to do so in their particular industry. 

    Clearly, industries like semiconductors and pharmaceuticals decided that the potential profit from projected innovations made the R&D investment worth it. Were energy firms simply to dense to do the same, or did the business cases simply not indicate that sufficient payoff was there?

    My understanding is that many energy technologies – internal combustion engines, photovoltaics, batteries, transmission – face theoretical maximum efficiencies based on basic thermodynamic principles. And in many cases we are already achieving a large percentage of what’s going to be possible in a best-case scenario.

    I also understand that – despite the obviously large potential economic payoffs – our progress on things like batteries and ICE over the last century have been depressingly pedestrian.

    So where/what are these big breakthroughs supposed to be? Fusion? What?

    Seriously, I want to believe, because if we don’t get a lot of help from technology advances it makes everything so much more challenging. But it only makes things worse if we are chasing shadows and then up with less-than-needed.

    This just seems to be like a huge hope-for-a-miracle strategy with little fallback.  

    If they’ve got the goods to show that the R&D WILL deliver, then why not show the work? In fact, it seems to me that the onus should be on those who suggest that investments in energy technologies should have anything like the trajectories in these other industries, rather than just apparently equating spending with inevitable success.

  17. Keith Kloor says:

    TB, this post is about the flurry of exchanges and tenor of criticism that took place yesterday, specifically the rapid responses to the white paper fired off by Romm and Roberts.

    I’m going to ask you one thing again, which you haven’t answered yet. Does tone matter in a debate?

    Lastly, let me say to you what I just said to Michael Tobis: I’m willing to have a good faith debate on the merits (or strengths and weaknesses) of the proposal put out yesterday. Would you say the same is true of Romm and Roberts, based on what you read in their posts?

  18. NewYorkJ says:

    Thingsbreak nails it:

    I also think it also really stinks that much of the coverage is presenting this as a “new” strategy rather than the nth iteration of the same old, same old technology gambit.

    The NYTimes buries a comment about the question of how to finance this project.  The nice thing about a carbon pricing mechanism (such as cap and trade) is that it brings in revenues, some of which can be directed towards research.  Waxman-Markey does this, although at a much smaller amount.  Most revenues go towards allowances to utilities and rebates to low-income Americans.  Brookings had an article in mid-2009, calling for a much larger portion of revenues going to R&D, similar to what they’re calling for now, minus the cap and trade portion of course.

    http://www.brookings.edu/opinions/2009/0629_energy_muro.aspx

    So the so-called “new” idea does the big R&D investment, but with borrowed money, something I guess right-wingers are used to (and so the “bi-partisan support”).  So how to finance the $25-$30 billion beyond borrowed money?  Well, there’s always a carbon tax, or cap and trade bill.  There’s also simply raising income taxes a little, perhaps on high income folks. 

    The NYTimes also has a one-line comment about the other great weakness to this approach.  It doesn’t utilitze the free market as an incentive to innovate.  It just throws money at research and hopes for the best.  This ignores success stories on the power of the free market to innovate. 

    Maybe if ideologues are averse to anything that increases the price of dirty energy, one could also consider lowering the price of clean energy through incentives (as is currently done to varying degrees).  This has a similar effect, but again, has the problem of financing.  Although most Americans support reducing emissions, even if it means somewhat higher energy prices, the borrow and spend approach is probably even more palatable.

  19. thingsbreak says:

    @kkloor #17
    this post is about the flurry of exchanges and tenor of criticism that took place yesterday
     
    Why? For someone who ostensibly wants to see an end to “tribalism” in climate discussion, you certainly seem heavily involved in perpetuating it with all of this navel-gazing. There was an ostensibly “post-partisan”, “new” “solution” offered. Was it any of those things? Doesn’t that seem more interesting, more meaningful than talking about people’s tone?
     
    Does tone matter in a debate?
     
    Short answer: Sure. Longer answer: To some more than others. And to those who fixate on tone rather than the meat of the argument, that fixation often serves as a convenient excuse to not engage with the merits of disagreement or criticism.
     
    Personally, I think it’s hideously perverse for people to complain about an uncivil tone when they are themselves engaged in egregious deceptions about subjects that will ultimately have life or death consequences- as a purely hypothetical example: Let’s say someone who frequently presented himself as a climate science expert, going so far as to appropriate a blog of the same name, claimed that a regression to the mean of a long term declining trend after an outlying minimum represented a cessation of that decrease. He would be giving information to people that could cause them to fail horribly at their jobs or school. Which is the greater affront to civility- the willful misleading of his unwary readers, or someone calling that person to account using an impolite tone?
     
    I’m willing to have a good faith debate on the merits (or strengths and weaknesses) of the proposal put out yesterday.
     
    Great! So please explain how this is either a mitigation strategy or new.
     
    Would you say the same is true of Romm and Roberts, based on what you read in their posts?
     
    What do I care? Their attitudes have zero bearing on whether or not the “breakthrough” technology gambit is a viable strategy. I’m not posting at their blogs.

  20. Shub says:

    I agree with thingsbreak.

    “For someone who ostensibly wants to see an end to “tribalism” in climate discussion, you certainly seem heavily involved in perpetuating it…”

    Tribe members should be ‘allowed’ to belong to their tribes, but they should be allowed to express opinions that fall outside their tribal boundaries as well.

    The tribe concept is useful as a mechanistic device, but it ought not to become a normative cage.

  21. Keith Kloor says:

    TB,

    I’m glad to see you acknowledge that tone matters in a debate. We happen to disagree on the degree. In politics, as in policy debates, I think tone colors the way people discuss issues.  The nastier and more dismissive the tone, the less serious the issues will be taken. (That is, of course, exactly the point for those being nasty and dismissive.)

    Personally, I don’t think it’s possible to have substantive debate over this issue so long as thought leaders in green/climate circles are willing to dismiss them out of hand. So I suggest that if you really want to make difference and actually work towards having more constructive debate, then you should be posting over at CP rather than here. What I think about all this means squat. I’m not the guy that Thomas Friedman is highlighting in his op-ed columns, and this is not the go-to blog for the climate and energy crowd.

    I don’t set the terms of debate in the climate blogosphere.

    I’m merely arguing that the way the debate is conducted by some people has a way of influencing the seriousness which issues are discussed. That’s all. And that’s what I’m limiting myself to discussing in this thread. I’m perfectly willing to take up the White Paper all on its own in a separate post at a future time.

  22. thingsbreak says:

    @kkloor #21:
    I don’t think it’s possible to have substantive debate over this issue so long as thought leaders in green/climate circles are willing to dismiss them out of hand.
     
    That’s odd- I’d say that it’s not possible to have a substantive debate over this issue as long as you keep focusing on people’s tone rather than the substance. It’s entirely possibly to have a nasty-toned discussion about the substance, but it’s rather impossible to talk about the substance if we never talk about the substance, regardless of our civility.
     
    If talking about the substance of the issue is out of bounds for this thread, so be it. I hope that you’ve heard the reasons why people are not treating this as “new” or “post-partisan” or “mitigation”. I- politely- look forward to a thread about the substance.

  23. Marlowe Johnson says:

    Keith,
     
    The last thing I want to be is a tone-troll.  That being said, I tend to overlook Romm’s tone (which isn’t at all useful for bridge-building or dialogue except from the choir) and focus instead on the substantive points that he makes.  His language is often so over-the-top that it borders on comedy, but IMO his facts aren’t, nor are the arguments that he presents.
     
    With that out of the way, what do you think about the proposal?  Do you see it having any chance of success? Or do you agree with Roberts, Romm, Mt, Yglesias,TB, and me that there is no reason to expect that it has any greater chance of success than carbon pricing + R&D (funded by revenues from carbon pricing) proposals of the past?
     
    It’s ok if you don’t have an opinion.  Climate/energy policy isn’t everyone’s  cup of tea.  But at the very least do you recognize that it was a mistake to characterize the debate as  “new” and the proposal as “bipartisan”?
     
     

  24. Keith Kloor says:

    Marlowe, TB,

    After I actually read the paper, I’ll be happy to discuss it in full.

    Now, if you don’t see me responding for a while, it’s because I have to head out. Back online tonight.

    Lastly, I will say that I find it quite odd that some people are willing to overlook the partisan tone and hyperbole used in any debate, be it on the right or left, be it coming from climate concerned or climate skeptics.

  25. I propose we focus the conversation on the crucial question, Joe Romm, Threat or Menace? Let’s not get distracted by relatively minor issues like whether we should boil off the oceans and steam cook every living thing on earth like a goddam lobster dinner.
     

  26. Keith Kloor says:

    Michael, I propose you answer my question:

    I’m perfectly willing to engage in a good faith debate over the merits of the proposal put out yesterday. Can you say the same of Roberts and Romm?

  27. thingsbreak says:

    @kkloor #24:
    I will say that I find it quite odd that some people are willing to overlook the partisan tone and hyperbole used in any debate, be it on the right or left, be it coming from climate concerned or climate skeptics.
     
    As I said earlier, I care a great deal less about someone’s tone than whether or not they are engaged in gross deception. If Marc Morano made a good point in the nastiest possible way, that hardly detracts from whether or not it’s true, whereas other climate bloggers might be the epitome of civility while egregiously lying about basic statistics or earth science.
     
    For the life of me, I can’t figure out why the latter isn’t viewed by everyone as a greater affront to civility than the former. Can you explain that to me? I think I’ve explained my position fairly clearly.

  28. […] New Climate Fight, Same as the Old One? By ANDREW C. REVKIN The decade-long effort to pass comprehensive climate legislation framed around a declining cap and trading for carbon dioxide emissions died an ignominious death. Now new proposals focused on a substantial ramp-up of investments in energy innovation are percolating — and instantly being attacked. Keith Kloor has nicely woven together links to relevant coverage and commentary in a riff titled “The Post Partisan Power Play.” […]

  29. Roger Pielke Jr. says:

    It is amazing to me that people can in one breath demand that policy be reality-based, and in the next call for a high carbon price.  It ain’t gonna happen.  This position is not “anti-mitigation” — it is reality.  The response can be to throw a tantrum and/or shoot the messenger, but it is not going to change this reality.  Sorry.
     
    Once that point is accepted, we can move ahead discussing where policy might go from here.  Those who refuse to accept that fact are left arguing about issues that the political system has already decided for the foreseeable future.  Or maybe they can just argue about science 😉

  30. kdk33 says:

    “Let’s not get distracted by relatively minor issues like whether we should boil off the oceans and steam cook every living thing on earth like a goddam lobster dinner.”

    sweet

  31. Steve Bloom says:

    Lobster for all!  At last, a policy everyone can agree on. 🙁

  32. Rob C. says:

    How can you have a civil policy discussion when one side of the “discussion” is not at all interested in honest discourse? The fossil fuel industry is solely interested in protecting their immediate economic interests as they see them. Their agents, both paid and unpaid, are interested only in preventing action on the profound threat of global warming.
    The science is in, and has been in for well over a decade. The fossil fuel industry’s response has been to hire an army of lobbyists and public relations consultants to influence elections and spread a steady stream of disinformation and outright lies in order to create the illusion of a legitimate controversy. The Republican party has adopted the industry’s stance because it toenails into their election strategy while bringing in incredible amounts of cash from the fossil fuel lobby. I seriously doubt the GOP leadership will change that position until it starts costing them elections. Joe and Dave are right; the opposition will not let this measure come to pass any more than they would let a carbon cap come to pass.
    It would be nice to think that we could have an honest discussion across the isle on this subject, but I am afraid that thinking it is possible is hopelessly naive while one side of the debate is fully controlled by the industries opposing action.

  33. kdk33 says:

    “Now, with this new crop of conservative tea party types… there’s going to be no chance that they’re going to commit to $25 billion in new spending to address something that they don’t think is happening.”

    I’m not sure what you that something is supposed to be.  It varies.  Some may think there has been no warming, some think it isn’t anthropogenic, some thinks it’s anthropogenic but not a big deal…

    In general, people don’t see a looming catastrophe and have correctly concluded we shouldn’t spend money on it.  We have bigger problems.

    Scary stories and hyperbole aren’t working.

  34. Rob C. says:

    To add, I am really surprised that journalists seem to continually fail to recognize or report on the fact that the “climate change controversy” is another of many examples of a wealthy powerful business interest using its influence to quash science in order to protect their profits. Instead, journalists seem addicted to reporting on this as if it were a football game. Does “journalistic objectivity” require an absence of critical thinking?
     
    As for your tone argument, did you see the healthcare reform debate? Did the tone of the Tea Party hurt or help them? Personally I think when one side is not being remotely honest you should call them on it. If they are lying about something important, like, say, the potential destruction of our civilization due to climate imbalance, a little outrage is not only in order, it is required for authenticity.

  35. NewYorkJ says:

    Looks like Pielke wants to end debate…

    “It is amazing to me that people can in one breath demand that policy be reality-based, and in the next call for a high carbon price.  It ain’t gonna happen.  This position is not “anti-mitigation” “” it is reality.  The response can be to throw a tantrum and/or shoot the messenger, but it is not going to change this reality.  Sorry.
     
    Once that point is accepted…”

    I find that to be laughable, considering how far c&p legislation got over the last couple of years, or where California’s AB32 is at now.  Oh, I’m sure Pielke wants a carbon price to never become reality, and he’s doing his part .  He also doesn’t want his state to have a strong renewable energy standard, yet he failed to stop it.

    http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/GovRitter/GOVR/1251572412416

    So it’s always a matter of political will, which varies from government to government and waxes and wanes with various economic conditions.  Global warming is one variable that slowly continues to push towards effective action.

  36. RP Jr. “It is amazing to me that people can in one breath demand that policy be reality-based, and in the next call for a high carbon price.  It ain’t gonna happen.  This position is not “anti-mitigation” “” it is reality.  The response can be to throw a tantrum and/or shoot the messenger, but it is not going to change this reality.  Sorry.”
     
    Never? In that case there is not much future to worry about.
     
    On this theory, investing in energy or climate research or much of anything long term is a very long shot. My breakthrough suggestion is to put every spare dime into butter and garlic instead.
     

  37. Tom Fuller says:

    Michael, you’re venturing a bit beyond what most people expect as a result of global warming. It is not an extinction-level event, you know–or ought to. Over at your blog you sound pleasantly surprised that it’s estimated to cost 3% of GDP over the course of the century.
     
    Chill.

  38. Roger Pielke Jr. says:

    NewYorkJ-  Actually, I call for a carbon price in my new book.  I just think that the best way to get one is to start small.   I also support a RES in CO, and testified before a state gov’t committee saying so … so please stop lying about my views.  Thanks!

  39. “The best way to get one is to start small” is a very different proposition than “never”.

  40. Marlowe Johnson says:

    IE9 beta ate my last comment, so let’s try firefox….
     
    Roger,
     
    The devil of course is in the details.  One of my peeves with academics, particularly in the blogosphere is the tendency to oversell/overgeneralize a valid point (e.g. by making pronouncements of ‘ironlaws’ 😀 ).
     
     
    How is it that British Columbia has a carbon tax that is set to kick in @$20/ton next year and $30/ton the year after?  And they survived an election with this schedule as part of their election platform?  How do you explain this?  Why is this kind of policy possible in B.C. but not the U.S.?  These are the kinds of questions that I would have thought a political scientist with an interest in climate change policy would engage in.
    You suggest that high carbon prices are politically unpalatable.  What do you mean by ‘high’?  Which jurisdiction? What timeframe? What disposable income/carbon price ratio 🙂 ?  Is $25/ton in 2020 high for the midwest U.S./California/NY? How about $15 in 2015, or $50 in 2030?  Waxman-Markey and most other similar proposals had cost-containment mechanisms that effectively limited permit prices to < $30/tCO2e in 2020. That’s less than 10 cents a gallon.  (See  blogs can be used for ‘useful?’policy analysis 🙂 ).
     
    Considering that prices fluctuate by far larger margins for much less palatable reasons (e.g. traders become ‘concerned’ about war in the middle east, or the ‘man’  at lehman’s stubbed his toe @ the pump), why is it that C&T died in the U.S. congress?  IMO it has far less to do with a rational evaluation of policy options and more to do with crass political strategy by the the hardcore elements of the GOP and shocking incompetence on the part of democrats and centre right to dare to speak to the electorate on adult terms.  This is what Dave Roberts is, correctly IMO, driving at.
     
    As a political scientist (if in name only 😀 ) I’d have thought that your natural inclination would have been to delve into these sorts of questions in more detail, e.g. ala Chris Paterson).  But if not, then at least explicitly circumscribing the scope of your own critique and recommendations.   To use the B.C. example again; they don’t need a technology-centered approach.  They’ve already opted for the carbon pricing one.  Does that mean that they don’t support R&D? No.  But they’re a sub-national….
     
    Do you see what I’m getting at?
     
     
     
    Which brings me to my biggest problem with your technology first approach.  It assumes too much and promises too little.
     
    It assumes that investment in research rather than deployment will bring prices down, when all the evidence in the energy sector over the last 40 years suggests the opposite.  It promises….what exactly?
     
     
     
     
    Keith,
     
    TB and MT have said it best.  Pause. Reflect. Respond.
     

  41. Roger Pielke Jr. says:

    MT, I never said “never” that was your word — If you want a high carbon price, then the only chance you’ll get there is by starting small.  The political ability to increase that carbon price from a low level will be a function of our ability to expand energy availability, security and access while keeping costs low.  You can add all that up and see where that leaves you in terms of policy options.

  42. jakerman says:

    Tom asserts:

    “It is not an extinction-level event, you know”“or ought to.”

    What is not an extinction event? And for whom? You sound so sure, that you can be so lose with your specifics.

  43. Marlowe Johnson says:

    Roger,
     
    ” If you want a high carbon price, then the only chance you’ll get there is by starting small. ”
     
    Can you list any proposal that suggests otherwise?  Where is it that you diverge from mainstream C&T proposals?

  44. NewYorkJ says:

    RPJ: “NewYorkJ-  Actually, I call for a carbon price in my new book.  I just think that the best way to get one is to start small. “

    The House/Senate bills started quite small.  That was the beef many had.  Perhaps you mean start negligible and rise to small and ineffective.

    RPJ: “I also support a RES in CO, and testified before a state gov’t committee saying so “¦ so please stop lying about my views.  Thanks!”

    But no doubt a “small” one.  They have a strong one, despite you arguing vehemently against it.

    http://www.denverpost.com/headlines/ci_14457009

    So big things are possible.  It requires political will.  In summary,

    “it ain’t gonna happen” not equal to “reality”

  45. Roger Pielke Jr. says:

    Marlowe (it is hard to keep up with your monikers these days;-)
     
    The political acceptability of increasing the costs of energy vary from place to place.  Many places in Europe have gasoline taxes 10 times those in the US.  Yes, BC has a modest (for BC) carbon price (so does Boulder where I live!), and yet BC is not going to much at all to reduce its CO2 emissions (neither is Boulder).  To reduce to 1990 levels Canada needs about 70 nuclear power plants equivalent by 2020 (displacing coal and gas and petroleum) or  about the same number of Site Cs.  BC has some unique circumstances that don’t travel, for fairly obvious reasons that are well understood.   Do you really think that the BC carbon price is leading to an accelerated decarbonization of the BC economy?  Or a decrease in energy consumption?
     
    I suggest that you calculate the carbon price equivalent of European gas taxes, and then explain why that hasn’t lead to a technological revolution in automobiles, just some changes at the margin.  Why would you expect a carbon price one tenth that size would lead to significant changes in the US?  (A carbon price that has proven politically impossible to implement, by the way).
     
    As far as this comment: “It assumes that investment in research rather than deployment will bring prices down”  — you have deviated rather severely from my recommendations.  I am a big fan of deployment, and in fact I think a DOD model is far better than an NSF model.  In any case, what do you think a carbon price is supposed to do if not stimulate innovation?
     
    Thanks

  46. Stu says:

    I lack quite a bit of knowledge to debate on whether a carbon tax is a good thing or not- it’s not an argument for me to pursue… but I do feel atleast intuitively that I would like to see an increase in R&D for energy alternatives. India for eg. seems that it is being serious in regards to LFTR (Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactor) technology-if India is successful here (?) they will likely have very clean and very efficient power and will be able to cut down drastically on their CO2 emissions. How many Western countries are taking this technology seriously? Solar is another one which really seems to be going places and I would be surprised if we were actually nearing any ends in terms of efficiency of solar.
     
    http://news.rutgers.edu/medrel/news-releases/2010/10/rutgers-discovery-pa-20101008
     
    Once again, I don’t want to take anything away from the benefits of a carbon tax here. I cannot debate this. Personally, I purchase the more expensive ‘green power’ at home and the slightly higher price does not bother me. Tbh, I actually don’t really understand where my money’s being directed towards (!), but I have assumed in the past that atleast some of it is going towards energy innovation for alternatives, which is what I would actually like to see. I think it’s pessimistic to assume that we’re already very close to maximum efficiencies here, there always seems to be something just over the hill that promises to change everything, so why not look for it?

  47. Roger Pielke Jr. says:

    NewYorkJ-   It is difficult to have an exchange when you repeatedly lie about my views (you can do better I am sure;-).  I have never argued against a RES policy.  I support one in CO and elsewhere.  I have said that even a strong RES policy will not come close to meeting the state’s emissions reduction targets.  That does not mean abandon the RES, but a need to do more.   That is exactly what that Denver Post column says that you link to.
     

  48. NewYorkJ says:

    RPJ:  Why would you expect a carbon price one tenth that size would lead to significant changes in the US?  (A carbon price that has proven politically impossible to implement, by the way).

    “Politically impossible”…there’s that “never” rhetoric again, this time to describe a small carbon price.

    RPJ: It is difficult to have an exchange when you repeatedly lie about my views (you can do better I am sure;-). 

    Actually, you appear to lie about your own views.  Case in point:

    RPJ:  I have never argued against a RES policy. 

    Quite clearly, you have:

    http://www.denverpost.com/headlines/ci_14457009

    RPJ:  I support one in CO and elsewhere. 

    My statement was ” He [Pielke] also doesn’t want his state to have a strong renewable energy standard”

    You removed the word “strong”, which is relevant to the false notion that aggressive policy is impossible, which is the theme you’re trying to push.

    RPJ:  I have said that even a strong RES policy will not come close to meeting the state’s emissions reduction targets.  That does not mean abandon the RES, but a need to do more.   That is exactly what that Denver Post column says that you link to.

    Here’s what the Post said:
    “If the Democratic candidate for governor is truly interested in polishing his moderate credentials on global warming, however, he should consider the bold step of stating the obvious about this state’s greenhouse gas emissions goals: They’re absurd, and they ought to be discarded.

    Your basic argument, as indicated in the Post, is that it’s impossible because it’s a lot of work, which I find absurd.  However, I’m interested in your “a need to do more” statement.  Care to elaborate?  Unlike what you appear to be, I’m interested in keeping debate open on policy and don’t care much for words like “impossible” to describe something that is clearly not.  I prefer considering a wide range of options, trying for big (within reason, as as in CO/CA), and settling for small when necessary.

  49. jakerman says:

    RPJ:

    “I suggest that you calculate the carbon price equivalent of European gas taxes, and then explain why that hasn’t lead to a technological revolution in automobiles”

    Pricing carbon has demonstrable mitigation consequences. The longstanding difference in fuel prices and environmental taxes in Europe and the US/Can/Au have shown the impact higher energy prices in driving efficiency. The price effect in Europe has lead to greater energy efficicny for comparable economic activity.

    Driving one mile in the United States currently requires 37 percent more fuel on average than in Europe, due to both the larger average size of vehicles and to less efficient engine technology. McKinsey Inst, 2007

  50. Marlowe Johnson says:

    Stu,
     
    IMO it always comes down to a question of priorities.  In the case of India, clean cooking stoves and distributed biogas (because they have lots of cows that…well you know…) seem to be the top 2 in terms of mitigation strategies.  Is anyone against this?   These are proven solutions that work.
     
    Why haven’t the millions-billions  of $$ flowed?  Again, these are among the universally accepted low cost solutions that address multiple problems including climate change.  Surely this is one of the most rational strategies to exploit in terms of mitigating AGW and poverty alleviation?
     
    Or is spending money on improving the lives of people that may or may not buy the stuff we make taboo 😛 ?
     
    Roger,
     
    You’re being the dodger as always.  Eventually I will manage to distract you long enough to get you to sit under the cliffs ledge long enough for the anvil to drop and pin you down — at which point you will be forced to answer my not unreasonable questions. 😀
     

  51. Tom Fuller says:

    Well, twenty-three Pigou. High mileage vehicles are available in the United States and have been for some time. They haven’t sold well, and undoubtedly one factor has been the price of gasoline.
     
    But there are other factors at play in Europe besides environmental taxes. Indeed, most fuel taxes in Europe are straightforward general revenue taxes that governments prize highly. Adding on environmental taxes (as some have done) just adds to the pain. But not enough to change behaviour, if it was calculated correctly.
     
    The age of cities in Europe favors parking configured for small vehicles, as does the width of the roads. The longer distances in America reinforced the desire for larger cars.
     
    Could we raise fuel prices enough to force Americans to buy smaller cars? Sure. It might be happening now without taxes–wait one year and we’ll know. The recession is bringing a desire to economize.
     
    There are several factors involved in this, some self-reinforcing of initial choices.
     
    I personally favor a small carbon tax with most money rebated to consumers and a little held out for research. Hypothecating taxes is anathema to many, but I would use some of the revenue for X prizes for utility level storage and other technologies needed to enable intermittent renewable sources.

  52. Roger Pielke Jr. says:

    NewYorkJ-  Do you really want to debate me as to what my views are?  Seriously, I am certain that I know them far better than you do;-)
     
    On the substance of carbon policy, since you’d like to debate, my evaluation of Colorado’s emissions reduction targets uses the same methodology that I employ in this paper that evaluates the targets in the UK:
    http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/4/2/024010
    Based on that analysis I will assert that it is practically impossible for the UK to meet its 2020 emissions reduction targets.  What I take from that is that a different approach is needed.  Not a different approach to meeting the targets, but a different approach to emissions reductions.
     
    So you tell me:
    Is my analysis wrong?
    Are the implications that I draw from my analysis wrong?
     
    (I suggest that we discuss the UK analysis rather than CO, because the UK one is written up and peer reviewed, but the CO one follows in similar fashion)

  53. Steve Reynolds says:

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    Michael Tobis: “We’ve been digging a trench with a handheld shovel, and that has clearly not been enough. Do you want to keep at this futile effort? Shouldn’t we try something new, like digging the trench with a goose feather?”
    I think a more apt analogy is that your trench has run into solid rock, so you might try going around the rock before you further damage your shovel.
     

  54. jakerman says:

    “Adding on environmental taxes (as some have done) just adds to the pain. ”

    Is that what is planned? Just adding carbon tax with no other adjustment mitigate the cumulative economic burden?

  55. NewYorkJ says:

    RPJ:  Based on that analysis I will assert that it is practically impossible for the UK to meet its 2020 emissions reduction targets.  What I take from that is that a different approach is needed.  Not a different approach to meeting the targets, but a different approach to emissions reductions.

    I’m not sure why your abstract is limited to nuclear plants, although perhaps that just an example of what’s needed.  I prefer the wedge approach, one of them being wind power.  I suppose some thought this was impossible at one point…
    LONDON (AP) – The world’s largest offshore wind farm opened off the southeast coast of England on Thursday, as part of the British government’s push to boost renewable energy.
    Swedish energy company Vattenfall, which constructed the wind farm, said the 100 turbines off the coast of Thanet could, at their peak, produce enough electricity a year to power the equivalent of more than 200,000 homes.
    The huge site on the North Sea, built seven miles (12 kilometers) off the coast, will boost the renewable energy now generated by the onshore and offshore wind turbines around the U.K.
    With the opening of the Thanet wind farm, Britain now has the capacity to produce 5 gigawatts of wind-powered energy — roughly the amount of energy needed to power all the homes in Scotland, Energy Secretary Chris Huhne said.
    Britain gets only 3 percent of its energy from renewable sources but is aiming for a target of 15 percent by 2020. The nation ranks 25th of 27 European Union countries on action on green power.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/23/thanet-wind-farm-uk-debut_n_736435.html

    Other strategies to replace coal include modern gas-fired plants, which give out much lower emissions, nuclear, solar, and energy efficiency.  I support a moratorium on new coal-fired plants, with old ones replaced with these alternative sources, and a strong renewable energy target.  Throw in a gradually increasing carbon price and some serious R&D as well.

    You didn’t elaborate on alternatives, though.  What’s your “but different approach to emissions reductions”?

  56. Roger Pielke Jr. says:

    NewYorkJ-  The nuclear plants are just a measuring stick.  we can use wind turbines if you’d like.  Expressing the challenge as wedges doesn’t alter the magnitude of the effort required, it just expresses it in different units. The article that you cite is neat … though if you do the math you will find that Britain need only increase its installed total wind capacity by a factor of 18 by 2020 to meet its emissions reduction target [(5GW * 0.33 efficiency * 18) = 30GW] (while shutting down equivalent coal and gas) …. not gonna happen.
     
    I just wrote a book on an alternative approach, your local library probably has it or will soon.  Check it out.

  57. kdk33 says:

    You’ll get my suburban when you pry it from my cold dead fingers. 

    Away with you carbon taxers.  Bring on the lobster.

    Lefties like taxes cause they like government.  Righties, not so much.  That the “science” is split along party lines pretty much says all you need to know:  the science just ain’t very convincing.

    A little melted butter please.

  58. kdk33 says:

    Just to put to bed the “republicans are anti-science” meme.  Survey your favorite college of liberal arts; survey your favorite college of engineering.  Where, on the political spectrum, would these groups be, relative to each other.

    I have no data, but I’m pretty confident I know the answer.

  59. thingsbreak says:

    Hey, looks like some defenders are here to tell us how we’re wrong for thinking that this proposal is neither new, nor a mitigation strategy.
     
    I said:
    Limiting emissions for the foreseeable future requires either a command and control economy or a price on carbon. Clean energy funding absent a price on carbon is not a mitigation policy, because it in no way ensures a reduction in emissions. If you don’t like me saying “anti-mitigation” I’ll happily revise my characterization as soon as you or anyone else can explain *how funding clean energy absent a price on emissions will lead to emissions abatement for the foreseeable future*.
     
    [I added at Dot Earth that there was of course the option of obscenely subsidizing whatever the “breakthrough” tech is claimed to be, but the minor subsidies for existing clean energy are already virulently opposed by conservative groups (e.g. Planet Gore). I didn’t believe someone would try to argue that such governmental intrusion in the energy market would be more politically acceptable than a carbon price. Someone might prove me wrong.]

  60. NewYorkJ says:

    RPJ: NewYorkJ-  The nuclear plants are just a measuring stick.  we can use wind turbines if you’d like.

    The problem with using a single measuring stick is it gives the false impression that the problem is more difficult than it is.  Going entirely with wind power, for example, would present supply chain problems that don’t represent a more real-world scenario of using multiple strategies.  Breaking the problem into wedges is therefore useful. 

  61. jakerman says:

    Just to put to bed the “republicans are anti-science” meme

    I think you just shook it  awake with this comment:

    I have no data, but I’m pretty confident I know the answer.”

  62. Roger Pielke Jr. says:

    NewYorkJ- Sure, use multiple measures — The UK Climate  Change Committee used about 1,000 in their report.  Still not gonna happen.

  63. Marlowe Johnson says:

    Roger if you stop talking about targets and more about measures I’ll start paying attention…..you keep shifting your rhetorical reference point…politicians talk about targets…the rest of us talk about…well….stuff that works…

  64. Tom K says:

    Yes, ignore those politicians and pay attention to anonymous blog commenters!

  65. kdk33 says:

    ahh, Jakerman.  Good one.  But, you are dodging the question.

    Do you, or do you not, think the college of engineering would lie a tad to the right of the college of liberal arts.

  66. kdk33 says:

    Or put another way.  Is it credible that all science minded people suddenly became progressive and all anti-science suddenly became conservative?

    That the divide seems (as claimed) to be along party lines suggests that the science isn’t influencing anyone – it’s virtually irrelevant.  People favor, or oppose, a carbon tax (and other economy planning schemes) based on their tendency to favor, or oppose, big government.

    Odd

  67. RP Jr “Do you really want to debate me as to what my views are?  Seriously, I am certain that I know them far better than you do;-)”
     
    Roger also has the advantage that he can change them ad lib and his opposition in such debates can’t.
     
    The amazing thing is how often Roger finds himself in such conversations. I’ve fallen in that hole a time or two myself. I know of nobody else who so frequently finds himself claiming to be misrepresented. The reasons for this, much like a lot of what Roger is saying, remain obscure.
     
    Let me provide an example.
     
    At present, my impression is he claims we can and should have a carbon tax, and it can start small, and it can grow, but it can never grow enough to change behaviors. In other words, it is about finding the revenue to invent the magic pixie dust that will save us because rational cost accounting is politically impossible. In other words, the tax is about raising revenue, not changing behavior. The revenue should come from carbon and not general revenue for unexplained reasons, since taxing carbon can not change behavior, because something about carbon makes the use of a price signal politically impossible.
     
    I expect Roger will object to this summary, as he ordinarily does. But I am not sure which part is wrong, except that he will prefer some other name to “magic pixie dust”. Nevertheless, in some circles the proposal at hand is called the magic pixie dust strategy, that is, the strategy to fail to account for externalities of carbon emissions and still somehow magically beat the price of primitive energy technologies with exotic high tech advanced manufacture ones.
     
    I await the correction of my attempted summary with curiosity.
     

  68. kdk33 raises an interesting point. I am hopeful that it will be possible to separate engineers and medical professionals from the current republican party, which is neither conservative in any legitimate historical sense nor respectful of science. (Compare the British Tories, e.g.)
     
    The democrats are not experienced at appealing to this group, and aren’t notably respectful of science themselves. But at least they haven’t committed themselves to delusional pseudoscience.
     
    I think it is reasonable to expect the alignment of engineers and medical professionals in the US to substantially shift away from the republicans in the relatively near future, as the new republicans’ dalliance with superstition and contempt for education and research becomes more clear.
     

  69. Keith: “I’m perfectly willing to engage in a good faith debate over the merits of the proposal put out yesterday. Can you say the same of Roberts and Romm?”
     
    Sure. Yes. Why not?
     
    While I’m not sure why it should be my responsibility to answer that question, I’m the one being flippant here.
     
    Both of them wrote long, thoughtful, substantive pieces, recognizing both the prospects and limitations of new technology. Whether you agree with those pieces or not, I honestly don’t see what is driving your indignant characterization of them as unreasonable.

  70. jakerman says:

    “Do you, or do you not, think the college of engineering would lie a tad to the right of the college of liberal arts.”

    My guess would be that engineers would be less liberal on one spectrum than those from liberal arts. But that’s a long round about way (and problematic way) of determinging to what degree the GOP has become or is more antagonistic to science.

    “Is it credible that all science minded people suddenly became progressive and all anti-science suddenly became conservative?”

    Depends on the policies that might have driven science minded people to become politcal.

  71. The Michael Levi article Keith links to succinctly expresses the problem.
     
    RP Jr’s responses in a comment are, I think, discouragingly wide of the mark. Levi politely calls him out on it. It’s worth a read.
     
    My opinion remains that of many others who have studied the problem. The only known alternatives to a price on carbon are 1) intrusive regulation and/or 2) absurdly incommensurate risk. There is no reason not to look for other alternatives but no strong reason to believe they will achieve anything without a price on carbon or intrusive regulation.
     

  72. Both innovation and implementation are needed, and both serve a different purpose (or at least, they are different, and complementary means towards the common goal of transforming our energy system towards a more sustainable one).
    Innovation doesn’t actually reduce emissions. Rather, it is expected to allow for deep, fast and/or cheap emission reductions in the long term. Its pay-off though is inherently uncertain.
    Implementation is needed to get started on emission reductions. It’s the cumulative emissions that are of concern, so earlier cuts in emissions are more useful to climate stabilization than similar cuts made later.
    Counting on innovation as the only mitigation strategy risks postponing doing anything until a silver bullet comes along that may never will (“magic pixie dust”).
    Counting on implementation as the only mitigation strategy risks high costs to achieve needed emission cuts (or an effective inability to reach needed emission cuts, if we don’t want to pay for it).

  73. Ian says:

    Here in Brisbane most of us prefer Moreton Bay Bugs over lobster. According to the site ‘Queensland Catch’:

    When cut down the centre lengthways, bugs will grill and barbecue beautifully over a high heat. They are superb served on their own, with the above-mentioned dressings or pesto, or as a warm salad with fresh asparagus and parmesan. To prevent discolouration of the flesh, sprinkle with a little lemon or lime.

    mmmm….seafood – but not prawns (shrimp) because apparently every kilo of prawns caught results in at least 5 kilo of by-catch.

  74. Keith Kloor says:

    Michael (69):

    I believe what I wrote in my post accurately characterized the responses by Romm and Roberts. Now, just to be clear, I thought the first post by Roberts was reasonable, which is why I wrote that he just sounded “perturbed.”

    Then he wrote a second post later that day, clearly annoyed that some people he admired were receptive to the white paper’s ideas. That seemed to set him off.

    As for Romm, Bryan Walsh characterized his response as “scathing” and “mocking,” which seems accurate to me. While I think it’s fine to be scathing, “mocking” does not suggest a good faith intention to have a debate.

    In contrast to Roberts and Romm, see the responses from Yglesias and Levi (here and here). These would constitute a good faith attempt at engagement.

  75. kdk33 says:

    “Depends on the policies that might have driven science minded people to become politcal.”

    Non responsive. 

    My thesis still stands.  If the climate change debate is fractured along party lines, then “science” isn’t influencing the debate.  We’re just arguing tax, don’t tax.

  76. Pascvaks says:

    Ref – Ian Says:
    October 15th, 2010 at 5:27 am

    Ian, how much of that 5 kilo of ‘by-catch’ is manmade global plastic?  We reall do need to do better at re-cycling that stuff don’t we?  Think plastic-credits would help?

  77. kdk33 says:

    And since we’re really arguing tax, don’t tax; democrats don’t get a science credit.  They’re simply supporting a tax that is coincidently, in this instance, aligned with “science”.

    (aside:  how many republican congress-persons have switched to save the planet, or democrats to stave off economic suicide)

    And if “scientists” have taken their best shots for lo these many years, and their sole accomplishment, on the political front, is to have provided the party of tax with another mechanism for taxing…

    Isn’t that a rather scorching indictment of the “science”?

  78. Roger Pielke Jr. says:

    NewYorkJ- I won’t be able to further  follow this thread, so if you do have a critique of my UK analysis (either the math or the conclusions I draw), just drop me an email or show up on my blog.
     
    Michael Tobis- Really?  You want to debate what my views are?  They are expressed in depth in a new book.  Have a look if you’d like, don’t if you’d prefer not to.  I am happy to engage you on specific questions that you have about papers that I have written or my latest book.  I sense you want to discuss generalities not specifics.  Of all things to debate, a high carbon price is not worth arguing about, as for the foreseeable future, it is not going to happen.  If you think otherwise, good luck to you, maybe you can find some magic pixie dust to make it happen;-)
     
    Thanks Keith for the forum and all for the exchange.

  79. thingsbreak says:

    kkloor
     
    Is there a reason why some of my posts aren’t appearing for hours after I’ve submitted them?
     
    I guess I will repost:
    Hey, looks like some defenders are here to tell us how we’re wrong for thinking that this proposal is neither new, nor a mitigation strategy.

    I said:
    Limiting emissions for the foreseeable future requires either a command and control economy or a price on carbon. Clean energy funding absent a price on carbon is not a mitigation policy, because it in no way ensures a reduction in emissions. If you don’t like me saying “anti-mitigation” I’ll happily revise my characterization as soon as you or anyone else can explain *how funding clean energy absent a price on emissions will lead to emissions abatement for the foreseeable future*.

    [I added at Dot Earth that there was of course the option of obscenely subsidizing whatever the “breakthrough” tech is claimed to be, but the minor subsidies for existing clean energy are already virulently opposed by conservative groups (e.g. Planet Gore). I didn’t believe someone would try to argue that such governmental intrusion in the energy market would be more politically acceptable than a carbon price. Someone might prove me wrong.]

  80. […] Comments Brandon Shollenberger on Skepticgate?thingsbreak on The Post Partisan Power PlayTom Fuller on When Politicians Check OutTom Fuller on When Politicians Check OutRoger Pielke Jr. on […]

  81. A good fraction of climate scientists agree with Hansen’s proposal of a revenue neutral carbon tax with rebate. I see no reason that it would be politically infeasible if both parties aligned behind it, and in principle it is a market-driven “economically conservative” strategy, and it requires effectively no expansion of government power.
     
    It does hurt existing “dirty” technologies and advance prospective “clean” ones, so it will garner opposition. But advancing clean technologies by making dirty ones pay their real costs is exactly the point. There is no opposition to this that is reasonable.
     
    Cap and trade was the fallback to buy off democratic senators from fossil fuel producing states, given the gross irresponsibility and confusion of the republican party at the hands of the propagandists for the dirty fuel interests. The actual Waxman bill was a mess and it’s probably a good thing it failed. But it was the failure of republicans to participate that made this a complex bureaucracy rather than a market-enhancing initiative.
     
    The problem could still be solved with modest net short term cost and huge long term benefit, except that the politics have been so garbled by disinformation and incompetence.
     

  82. RickA says:

    MT #81 says:
    I see no reason that it would be politically infeasible if both parties aligned behind it . . .

    Wouldn’t it be nice if everybody would agree!

    That “if” is what makes it unfeasible.

  83. JD Ohio says:

    #81  “A good fraction of climate scientists agree with Hansen’s proposal of a revenue neutral carbon tax with rebate.”
     
    Who cares what they think on this subject and why are they wasting their time on matters beyond their expertise.   That is a huge problem with climate science today.  It is agenda driven and you can’t trust their findings.
     
    JD

  84. Keith Kloor says:

    Meghan, thanks for that great link. I put it in an update in my post and also let Andy Revkin know about it at Dot Earth.

  85. Lewis says:

    I think people like ‘thingsbreak’ really show what is what: instead of attempting to discuss possible ways forwards they tell us the alternatives are ‘Limiting emissions for the foreseeable future requires either a command and control economy’! ‘or a price on carbon.’, not out of Romm’s play-book, though I’m sure he agrees, but rather Lenin s and all the Utopian fantasising that entails. To quote Michael Tobis and his ilk’s favourite expression: sigh.
    PS A small ‘price on carbon’ ring fenced for R&D is part of the plan, isn’t it?

  86. thingsbreak says:

    @Lewis #86:
    I think people like “˜thingsbreak’ really show what is what: instead of attempting to discuss possible ways forwards they tell us the alternatives are “˜Limiting emissions for the foreseeable future requires either a command and control economy’! “˜or a price on carbon.’, not out of Romm’s play-book, though I’m sure he agrees, but rather Lenin s and all the Utopian fantasising that entails.

     
    You’re mistaking my recitation of the only two as of yet articulated options to date with an endorsement of them, apparently.
    And I have to say that I find your characterization of correcting the market distortion caused by the unpriced negative extrernalities of GHG emissions as “Lenin”-esque and “Utopian” to be amusing.
    Market Fundamentalism has gone so far around the bend that market-based solutions to environmental problems are decried as Marxism.

  87. Lewis says:

    ‘Market Fundamentalism has gone so far around the bend that market-based solutions to environmental problems are decried as Marxism.’
    No. In this case it is not ‘market fundamentals’ – and, by the way, what developed ‘western’ economy follows  19c  ‘market fundamentals’ or has done so since the 1900s? –  but, it seems, ‘political fundamentals’ that you and we have a problem with. So, the idea is to find a way forward that is politically acceptable. Whether the ideas of Pielke etc are old or spanking brand new is beside the point. Let us say, we dismiss their ideas and, at the same time, those of ‘cap and trade’, which has clearly failed, what useful and pragmatic alternative do you have?
    You see, if I caricature your input, for which I apologise, I do so for a point – what useful and pragmatic alternative do you have?

  88. Lewis says:

    It is also strange that the massive government spending spree, in the ’40s and ’50s, on ‘alternative’ use of nuclear fissile properties, seems to be dismissed If people, like Romm, with all the influence they have, could get behind a modern version of this, then maybe ‘progress’ would happen sooner? Or are we to cynical for that?

  89. Lewis says:

    Don’t need to publish this:
     
    I don’t understand, Keith, you’ve let through comment ’89’ but not ’88’ – has it been caught by the spam filter?   The one follows the other and, in toto, is an attempted reply to ‘thingsbreak’?

  90. #85: #81  “A good fraction of climate scientists agree with Hansen’s proposal of a revenue neutral carbon tax with rebate.”

    Who cares what they think on this subject and why are they wasting their time on matters beyond their expertise.   That is a huge problem with climate science today.  It is agenda driven and you can’t trust their findings.

    So much wrong with this!
     
    First of all, we are not “spending our time” on policy. Policy experts spend their time on policy. But climate scientists are entitled to our opinions, are we not?
     
    Second, I do think it’s worth taking into account that climate scientists have a clearer idea of the relevant risks than other people do. This is especially since the communication with the public has been so fraught with other folks’ agendas and predispositions, never mind the active disinformation that is about. In this environment of broken communication, the people who think about the issues are the ones who are going to have the best grasp of the risk spectrum.
     
    Third, my whole point was and is that cap and trade is anathema to most climate scientists, who are actually conservative and conventional by inclination. After all, we think on very long time scales, and are aware of large catastrophes. This makes us old-school don’t-rock-the-boat conservatives. Also, the roots of the field are in the military, aviation, and agriculture, not really hotbeds of cultural foment.
     
    So the reason I pointed to our preference for revenue-neutral tax and rebate was specifically to refute the idea that we have any agenda besides protecting the climate. The revenue-neutral carbon tax is the least disruptive approach. Indeed, it respects the free market far better than today’s explicit and implicit subsidies for fossil fuels do.
     
    It’s amazing how to some people, no matter what else you say, you are some sort of a bad guy the minute you think humans are taking unnecessary risks with climate.
     
    The fact that Roger declares the sensible solution to be impossible does not make it so. The fact that there is an effort-to-make-no-serious-effort that is nonpartisan does not make it helpful. The fact that the debate has gone off the rails doesn’t mean there aren’t real facts to worry about.
     
    But JD Ohio’s response shows how successful people have been at twisting the conversation so that indeed, no progress is possible.
     

  91. TB: “Market Fundamentalism has gone so far around the bend that market-based solutions to environmental problems are decried as Marxism.”
     
    Better said than I said it. Exactly right, and thanks!
     

  92. Lewis says:

    And, I won’t conceed to you, ‘thingsbreak’, some kind of ‘return’ to cap and trade:
     
    For if the present exigency is so great, and we assume that, in the US, and China, and India, that for, at least, the next 5-10 years, no ‘cap and trade’ will happen ( forget Europe and it’s attempted immolation – it’s policy has proved how useless ‘cap and trade’ is, in practice), assuming all this, then you need an alternative – have you one?

  93. Lewis says:

    ‘forget Europe and it’s attempted immolation ““ it’s policy has proved how useless “˜cap and trade’ is, in practice’

    I meant unilateral ‘cap and trade’!

  94. Lewis says:

    Michael Tobis, see comment 88 passim.

  95. kdk33 says:

    BTW, the externality of CO2 emissions has not been conceeded.  In fact, that externality is THE issue.

  96. Lewis says:

    Michael Tobis, I don’t see where and towards what your going with this? If you concede that JD Ohio represents some kind of political reality, that the ‘people’ don’t get your expertise, then you may ‘sit in a room and draw up a plan’, to misquote Morrissey, but how is it going to be put into affect? How?

  97. Lewis says:

    kdk33, ‘externalities’ is a pretty well established economic principle, even if those externalities turn out to be ‘beneficial’. So I think what you mean is that the negative externalities of CO2 emissions has not been conceded? Just to be precise.

  98. #96, your lack of concession doesn’t make the question an open one. I will concede that precisely calibrating the externality is hard. Still, zero as a risk-weighted central estimate is realistically excluded.
     

  99. #88
     
    Step 1: Set a risk barrier for total accumulated anthropogenic carbon. Say 2 C global warming. Or 500 ppmv peak concentration.
     
    Step 2: Apply a small but predictably rising surtax to carbon at the mineral source, sufficient that if every country cooperated, would meet the criterion set in step 1.
     
    Step 3: Cooperating copuntries apply a similar surtax to imports of fuel, and an estimated surtax to imports of manufactures, from non-cooperating countries.
     
    Step 4: Each country rebates 100% of revenues on a per-capita basis, compensating average users of carbon, rewarding below average users, and incentivizing above average users. While this does constitute a shift of taxes from individuals to corporations, that is compensated by increasing prices. Corporations which reduce carbon use are rewarded with lower unit costs.
     
    Step 5: Adjust the tax rate schedule every five years or so to reflect a) success of incentives b) new information on the risk spectrum so as to meet the long term target
     
    Step 6: Provide credits for demonstrated sequestration efforts.
     
    Step 7: Get the rich countries on board. Never mind the poor ones as they will effectively be forced to participate.
     
    Stand back and watch the market respond to the undistorted signals you have set up. I really thought this would be clear by now.
     

  100. Lewis says:

    Michael, nice plan. My question was how are you going to get it enacted? Not by fiat. So how?

  101. Lewis, I have no hope of it getting enacted, because the republican party has just jumped on the stupid bandwagon. But it’s not as if this were my idea. This sort of a plan has made sense from the beginning.
     
    The Republicans could have gotten it done easily if they had valued the world more than they valued embarrassing Mr. Obama, they could have shared the credit, and Obama could have been the centrist, healing figure he wants to be.
     
    Similarly on health care.
     
    Short answer, I don’t think it will happen for a long time, and I think the consequences will be severe. That doesn’t move the Breakthrough idea out of the lottery ticket long shot territory.
     
     

  102. Lewis says:

    I’ll go further than that: This is not some kind of ‘protest’ against the Vietnam war or some other 60’s nonsense ( indeed, the closest parallel is the so called ‘revolution’ in Paris ’68 where, in the end, people just sat in a theatre discussing utopia, while the outside world decided such a performance wasn’t interesting!). There is no ‘mass movement’ to stop ‘consuming so much’ and most of this is down to the abject failure of your, and other people of your persuasion, to ‘persuade’. You don’t ask yourself why you have failed, so far, but just carry on ‘drawing up your plan’. Well good luck to you but I think the practical politics that Pielke speaks will be the future, not tired ‘plans’ that go nowhere. Sorry to say it straight but I think that’s practical.

  103. Tom Fuller says:

    Well, when all else fails you could try the marketplace.
     
    Picture a group of developed nations that have a strong commitment to curtailing emissions. Have them form a buyer’s cooperative–Buy Green gone big time. Have them set standards and certify the renewable nature of the commerce they engage in.
     
    Then it gets fun. Have them eliminate tariffs for certified products and services from developing countries. If they can afford it, have them place negative tariffs on them, or finance a path to certification. Meanwhile, have them raise tariffs on goods and services that don’t pass muster.
     
    If you achieved fairly good geographic representation (say, Canada, the serious parts of the EU, Australia or New Zealand, maybe Brazil, either China or India), then you would have the added advantage of having certified goods and services available (and partially subsidized) for non-participating countries.
     
    The beauty of it is that you wouldn’t really give a hoot about motives–it’s quite possible that China might enter into the alliance to gain protection for its domestic markets, but… who… cares?
     
    For products like Brazilian ethanol, which actually does what American ethanol mostly doesn’t, it could be a liberating force. For other agriculture it could be even bigger.
     
    And a lot of energy crosses borders.
     
    Critics might complain, but given the way tariff protection is used politically now, it would just be substituting one regime for another. You would need critical mass, but nothing like global adherence–and free riders would be those producing certified substances, not people avoiding it.
     
    Someone tell me why this wouldn’t work, please.

  104. Lewis says:

    So, Michael, your council is one of despair? Please, one can’t be defeated so easily. Let us except the reality we are in and try to think of ways out? I think, because of a kind of either/or mentality, you lose rationality when the going gets rough? Be a bit more positive!

  105. Lewis says:

    Tom, you have a ‘plan’, too and I like some of what you say but, unfortunately, I fall at the first hurdle: the WTO has been set up years and years ago to produce ‘fair trade’ – how are we going, now, to make it succeed?
     
    I’ll tell you my plan – it’s what the British call ‘beer and sandwiches’ and it’s what used to happen in so called ‘smoke filled rooms’, ie politics! It will be discovered, in our presumably floating houses in London, New York etc, a century from now, whether this politics worked and, it will have, if it was rational politics. If people like Romm, Michael Tobis etc and you present a rational, practical plan, it will work. But Utopian nonsense will get us nowhere!

  106. kdk33 says:

    #99  Your assertion that the issue is closed does not closure bring.  So there.

    The carbon reduction policy hurdle is not lack of a politically acceptable mechanism for costing the externality, it’s convincing people that there is an externality to cost!

    That said, I leave you gentlemen to your scheming.

  107. Lewis, I am not giving up, and wouldn’t recommend giving up until extinction is assured, which in spite of all the bad news we have just bought ourselves and the rest of the world, remains many decades of mistakes into the future.
     
    But I am sure we will achieve nothing even close to the tepid aims of Copenhagen for ten years, or possibly twenty. I have just given up on the next decade. I’ll be happy to be surprised, but there’s little point to it. We academics have been outmaneuvered and outgunned by talented sales professionals. This is what one might have expected, given that what we are selling is, after all, not that much fun and that we are the amateurs.
     
    Indeed, it always seemed likely that we would make little progress until serious consequences actually kicked in. Now it is as good as certain. So the sensible thing is to retreat and regroup.
     
    As I said on my blog, my sense of urgency is gone. We have missed the window of modest risk. Something very bad, much worse and more permanent than Pakistan or Russia this summer, is going to happen because of climate change. Time will tell exactly what and when.
     
    The best thing for those of us who anticipate it to do is to have a new set of proposals ready for when people wake up, and to keep trying to explain the nature of the risks. If the US doesn’t collapse for other reasons, I am thinking the election of 2024 is the world’s earliest chance of recovery from the climate politics disasters of 2009-2010. I don’t think ten years is enough time to reverse the damage.
     

  108. Lewis says:

    Michael, your implied prognosis is what really disturbs me and others and it’s implicit lack of faith in the future and humanity, as such. There are no dire events awaiting on the horizon, no ‘extinctions’ around the corner and you haven’t been ‘out gunned’ by anyone but good old humanities expectations of a prosperous future. Cry black tears if you wished to and decry those who take ‘filth’ out of the world but admire and stand back when humanity goes forward through, and despite, your veil of tears.

  109. Lewis, you’re asking me to have faith in humanity that the smartest and most decent people I’ve ever known, who are smarter and more decent and more diligent than many ever get to meet, have been stupidly wrong on the main subject of their and my expertise, and that a bunch of casually informed people collectively indulging in wishful thinking on the same subjects are right, because, well, because they’d better be?
     
    I have no such faith, and no access to such faith. I have to find a way to carry on regardless, and to me that includes finding a way to feel constructive. Please feel free to find that disturbing if you must.
     

  110. Lazar says:

    “keep trying to explain the nature of the risks”
     
    There’s potential in hammering home about CO2 dwell time, identified in the Yale report linked by Keith…
     
    “Q23. On average, how long does carbon dioxide stay in the atmosphere once it has been emitted?
    A few days 4
    A few years 13
    A hundred years (√) 13
    A thousand years (√) 6
    Don’t know 64

     
    Compare with…
     
    “Q13. Are each of the following statements definitely true, probably true, probably false, definitely
    false or you do not know? (order of items randomized)

    In the past, rising levels of carbon dioxide in
    the atmosphere have caused global
    temperatures to increase.
    Definitely true / Probably true 57%”

     
    … Americans’ Knowledge of Climate Change, Yale University

  111. Lewis says:

    Michael, I just don’t understand – no one, who one would wish to take cognisance of , would impugn those ‘decent, honourable people’ of whom you speak? No one. And I don’t say your not being constructive: if your plan is right, get a united front, persuade Pielke, Romm etc to adopt it, and put it forward? Just don’t despair – mankind has been through rocky patches in the past and come through them. Who knows, maybe your the Churchill of his ‘wilderness years’? True, the war came but he showed our way through it. Don’t despair!

  112. Lewis says:

    By the way, Michael, your ideas seem pretty brittle if their based on a supposed hierarchy of ‘decent’ brilliant people, more intelligent than you? When you’ve come down from speaking to the the Angels you’ll realise we’re talking about ‘people’ and dirty politics. A bit like the ‘filth’ that’s dug out of the earth. But not. Because you know why, they ain’t so stupid and it’s the stupid that thinks they are. I used to be that stupid. In my youth I read Marx (all of Das Kapital) and Nietzsche and I believed both and pretended their massive contempt for the ‘people’. But I grew up.

  113. Lewis says:

    Anyway, I am not asking you or anyone to have faith in anything? What meaning would that have. History will happen with us or without us. I just want you to see that history moves more positively. What is your worst case scenario? We will survive that. What is your ‘normal’ prediction? We will survive that. Historically speaking, are these really ‘the end of us’?

  114. Lewis says:

    Last comment, tonight (BST). You see ‘gloom and despair’ and then walk backwards. Why not see ‘hope and humanity’ and walk forwards? Nothing is set in stone, not the present, not possible climate disruptions, not politics? They used to say ‘be an American and be positive’. Then, be an American.

  115. Lewis, I’m not entirely sure what you are going on about.
     
    I don’t think we’ve yet been stupid enough to cause our extinction. I am not sure whether we have been stupid enough to cause a calamity big enough to cause a traumatic population drop. Probably not yet, and I hope not.
     
    On the other hand I am pretty sure we have been stupid enough to cause a lot of loss and ruin, and a century or two of decline and struggle. Most likely the threshold was crossed in the last year or so, and most likely history will blame it in large measure on exactly the American ‘positivity’ you so cherish.
     

  116. […] answers: Lewis, I have no hope of it getting enacted, because the republican party has just jumped on the […]

  117. Fred says:

    Such pure utopian idealism.
     
    Why don’t you just go for world peace and unilateral disarmament at the same time?
    Since you are so much smarter than us poor rubes and can see that the whole AGW thingy is actually science and not a ponzi scheme designed to make Al Gore a $Billionaire, it should be easy.
     
     
     

  118. JD Ohio says:

    #91 Partial Tobis response to my post stating who cares what climate scientists have to say about tax policy.

    “Third, my whole point was and is that cap and trade is anathema to most climate scientists, who are actually conservative and conventional by inclination. After all, we think on very long time scales, and are aware of large catastrophes. This makes us old-school don’t-rock-the-boat conservatives. Also, the roots of the field are in the military, aviation, and agriculture, not really hotbeds of cultural foment.”

    Without getting into a full-fledged debate about other matters, I will focus on your statement that climate scientists are “Conservative.” And select a couple of them.

    1.  Jim Hansen.  Believes he can predict 100 years into the future not only what the effects of CO2 will be but what society and the rest of science will be like 100 years into the future.  (This is a predicate of any policy designed to transform the economy and reduce the predicted bad effects of CO2 in 100 years.)  He also believes that energy executives should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity notwithstanding that such prosecutions would be a violation of the constitutional and human rights prohibition against the implementation of ex post facto laws.  Advocating the violation of the Consitution and International Law to me is not conservative and not indicative of a broad based sophistication that would give Hansen’s policy suggestions credibility.

    2. Raypierre Humbert (sp) was featured in a Revkin column speculating about ways to deny China coal from Australia and other places.  He exhibited no knowledge of the way China works other than gross figures for its energy consumption.  (My wife was Chinese, and I have visited it many times.)

    Policy planning way into the future in a huge way or in areas with few good successful historical analogies (unless you consider the central planning of communist countries to be successful) is a liberal not conservative methodology.  Conservatism at its best asks whether something has worked before and will it work in potentially changed circumstances and has a sense of caution.  A good analogy to the CAGW plans is prohibition.  The backers said that alcohol usage was bad  (it clearly did and does have many horrendous effects) and said that the solution to the problem was to almost completely ban alcohol sales.  The backers had no sense of the difficulty of implementing the law or the secondary effects of the ban, and its implementation was a disaster.  Another disaster caused by simple-minded and reckless liberalism was school busing. 

    Climate scientists have the same simplistic view with respect to CO2.  CO2 is bad, so let’s stop generating it, and they propose the crudest and most simplistic solutions to their perceived problem. (Over a comparatively short period of time mandate large decreases in its use and ultimately ban energy that produces it.)   For instance, it is clear that Hansen has made no effort to understand or confront the implications of Julian Simon’s work, or he could not possibly advocate the ex post facto jailing of energy company executives.  Humbert proposed an equally simplistic solution for China without having any sense of the way the Chinese live and think. 

    Thus, it is clear to me that climate scientists are far from conservative and that they are extremely reckless in proposing simplistic solutions without understanding or considering the collateral consequences in any meaningful way.

  119. Conservatism has to rise to an occasion now and again. Churchill considered himself a conservative, yet he, and not his opponent, rose to the occasion to preserve what he felt needed preserving.
     
    Hansen is a self-proclaimed conservative. The fact that you misunderstand what he said about irresponsible behavior among energy company executives makes the rest of it a straw man. As for what Ray Pierrehumbert said about China, you haven’t made it clear at all.
     
    It is conservative to avoid dramatic, risky changes to the only world we have. Let me quote Andrew Sullivan:
     
    “The earth is something none of us can own or control. It is something far older than our limited minds can even imagine. Our task is therefore a modest one: of stewardship, the quintessential conservative occupation.

     
    “Conservatives do not seek to remake the world anew. We do not hope to impose upon it some abstract ideological “truth” or bring about some new age for humanity. We seek as conservatives merely to live up to our generational responsibility and to care for the inheritance we have in turn been given.”
     

  120. JD Ohio says:

    Tobis #120 “Hansen is a self-proclaimed conservative. The fact that you misunderstand what he said about irresponsible behavior among energy company executives makes the rest of it a straw man.”
    From Hansen:
    “CEOs of fossil energy companies know what they are doing and are aware of the long-term consequences of continued business as usual. In my opinion, these CEOs should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature.”  See http://www.worldwatch.org/node/5798
     
    Mr. Tobis, I am a lawyer, and I understand perfectly well what Hansen is proposing and how it comes from his ignorance and insularity in matters outside of climate science.    Even though it is not against the law, he wants to jail and bully energy executives.  Other bullies and tyrants have previously used the same tactics, that is why there are protections against the imposition of ex post facto laws.
     
    If you are claiming that Hansen is arguing for something other than the jailing of energy executives, please tell me what he was advocating.
     
    If he understood the principles established by Julian Simon and that it is virtually certain,  with increased knowledge of science that will be acquired in the next 100 years, that humans will be able to geoengineer their way out of any problems caused by warming, he could not possibly argue for their imprisonment.  (At the very least, anyone familiar with Simon would have to acknowledge, that there is a reasonable chance of a geoengineering solution.)  He obviously has not done the work to understand Simon or confront Simon’s work.  So he advocates jailing his opponents on the incorrect assumption that it is very clear that the energy company executives will be responsible for mass suffering 100 years into the future, when a knowledgeable, well-rounded person would know that no rational person could claim to know with a high degree of certainty that mass devastation will occur in the future.
     
    JD
     
     

  121. JD Ohio says:

    my last sentence should say “a high degree of certainty that mass devastation will occur 100 years into the future.”
     

  122. grypo says:

    “So he advocates jailing his opponents on the incorrect assumption that it is very clear that the energy company executives will be responsible for mass suffering 100 years into the future, when a knowledgeable, well-rounded person would know that no rational person could claim to know with a high degree of certainty that mass devastation will occur in the future.”

    Actually, to be more direct, Hansen would like to them to be “tried” for knowingly lying about their pollution.  Here’s his direct quote:
    “Special interests have blocked transition to our renewable energy future. Instead of moving heavily into renewable energies, fossil companies choose to spread doubt about global warming, as tobacco companies discredited the smoking-cancer link. Methods are sophisticated, including funding to help shape school textbook discussions of global warming.

    CEOs of fossil energy companies know what they are doing and are aware of long-term consequences of continued business as usual. In my opinion, these CEOs should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature.
    Conviction of ExxonMobil and Peabody Coal CEOs will be no consolation, if we pass on a runaway climate to our children. Humanity would be impoverished by ravages of continually shifting shorelines and intensification of regional climate extremes. Loss of countless species would leave a more desolate planet.”

    Now, being a lawyer, you know that these would not be “ex post facto laws” because Knowing Endangerment is already a current law and wouldn’t be needed to legislate retroactively. The consequences do not have to happen to be tried for knowingly endangering people or the environment, especially if the effects cannot be felt immediately.  There is no way that the CEO’s could know, same with Simon, that technology will save anything from environmental disaster.  That’s libertarian Pollyanna talk.

  123. JD Ohio says:

    Grypo #123  please precisely cite the knowing endangerment law to which you refer and any authority that it can be used to prosecute people today for problems that may arise 100 years in the future.  If the law is as you say, our President and Past Presidents as well as Legislators are in a lot of trouble.
     
    JD

  124. grypo says:

    Congress has the authority to prosecute through the EPA. Knowing endangerment was included in the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act for unlawfully and knowingly disposing or emitting  dangerous pollutants.

     The main factor in prosecuting for this is the element that the defendant “knew” of possible endangerment.   But that’s not really my point.  I just thought the characterization of Hansen as a single-minded tyrant was over-the-top.  It would be an admittedly difficult crime to prosecute right now, but that does not mean it is impossible or even wrong.  Hansen would have better served to ask that CO2 be placed on the list of emissions that can be prosecuted using the  ‘knowing endangerment’ clause.

    And I’ll add, these environmental problems will arise before 100 years from now, the 100 years is merely a political time frame used by the IPCC where problems arise throughout the century.

  125. grypo #123 has it right about Hansen.
     
    Now you can argue about whether the behavior Hansen would like to see prosecuted is covered by the law. As you point out, Hansen is no expert on this matter. Certainly I am not, and grypo, whoever that may be, might not be an expert either.
     
    But it is not a matter of criminalizing free speech. Rather Hansen is advocating punishment for reckless endangerment and willful misrepresentation.
     
    Legally speaking, he is probably wrong, else many tobacco executives would be in jail now. If you are arguing the law, that is one thing, and I wouldn’t presume to argue against an attorney.
     
    But it’s not any evidence that Hansen is an extremist or an enemy of free speech. He argues against negligence, willful deceit, and massive misappropriation of wealth. It may not be possible to convict those ethically responsible. This would indicate that the legal protection of the public from such behavior is inadequate, not that Hansen is an extremist.
     
    You may argue that the executives in question “really believe” what they said. This of course is important to the question of intent, though the possibility of negligent disregard for evidence remains.
     
    In the tobacco case the duplicity of the executives was revealed, and even so they were not prosecuted as individuals. Perhaps today’s executives are better at covering their tracks.
     
    That doesn’t mean we should admire their ethics, does it?
     
    The fact that so many people show up here with such confused ideas about the issue shows that they have been very successful in creating a plague of red herrings in defense of an activity which in the long run is indefensible.
     
    Given that Hansen is a scientist first and an activist only of perceived necessity, he may have a better understanding of the actual situation than you do. Perhaps he has gone mad, but many others in comparable situations do not think so.
     
    Assuming that one had strong reasons to believe in an active campaign of misinformation on a matter of enormous importance, a campaign of horrifying ethics and substantial scale and talent, what words should one use to describe it?
     

  126. grypo says:

    MT:
    —. Certainly I am not, and grypo, whoever that may be, might not be an expert either.—
    No definitely not an expert, or anyone important to need to include my name here.  I am just pointing out the same thing as you, Hansen’s thoughts aren’t all that extreme a position considering that similar laws exist for known pollutants.  And since he and rest of the scientific community see the CEO’s as knowingly creating a misinformation campaign to mask their polluting, I don’t see any other way that Hansen could feel about them.

  127. JD Ohio says:

    Tobis # 127–
    “But it’s not any evidence that Hansen is an extremist or an enemy of free speech. He argues against negligence, willful deceit, and massive misappropriation of wealth. [He may argue against it, but there are many valid arguments against his position] It may not be possible to convict those ethically responsible. This would indicate that the legal protection of the public from such behavior is inadequate, not that Hansen is an extremist.”

    Virtually all lawyers (being people who are forced to think in depth about these issues) would say that prosecuting someone ex post facto is extremist.  Consider abortion.  Those opposing abortions feel just as strongly as Hansen.  Do they have the right to jail abortionists who perform legal abortions on the ground that the abortionists are murderers?  Our society has a built in protection against tyranny; to jail someone, there must first exist an identifiable law prohibiting the conduct.  If Hansen or Tobis or grypo really thought through this issue, I believe they would agree that it is not in society’s interest for all who feel passionately about the morality of their position to have the right to jail their opponents.  The imposition of ex post facto laws is not only unjust, it would lead to unbelievable chaos in practice.  

    Hansen’s advocacy of ex post facto prosecutions is indicative of the insularity of his thinking and is extremist.  He should stick to climate science.  His opinions on public policy matters add no more to the debate than those of janitors, doctors, teachers or any other group.  (I will agree of course, that he has the right to advocacy.  However, as an advocate, he lessens the persuasiveness of his scientific work.)  Also, getting back to the “conservative” issue, a true conservative would not advocate for the imposition of ex post facto laws.
     
    JD

  128. “The imposition of ex post facto laws is not only unjust, it would lead to unbelievable chaos in practice.”
     
    Sure.
     
    “Hansen’s advocacy of ex post facto prosecutions is indicative of the insularity of his thinking and is extremist.”
     
    Nope.
     
    It was not obvious to myself or grypo that there are no statutes under which the contemptible ethics of the order in question could be prosecuted. Likely it is not obvious to Hansen either. This, likely his meaning was that “there surely must be some applicable law, and it should be applied”.
     
    JD, if you are correct that no such law exists, would you advocate against creating a law or laws to cover an effort in furtherance of profiting from an inventory which has very substantial risks to wiillfully misrepresent those risks? It seems hard to enforce except in the most extreme cases, but it also seems in line with the sorts of things criminal law is supposed to protect us from.
     
    Meanwhile, would you consider the person acting within the law but in a deliberately misleading way as fulfilling conservative ethical principles, or not?
     

  129. grypo says:

    An ex post facto law is one where the law is legislated after the crime. This Hansen example is not that, if prosecuted under the ‘knowing endangerment’ clause of environmental law.  It has already been legislated that knowingly endangering someone through environmental pollution is criminal.  The abortion example is something different.  In that scenario, a law is legislated  after the crime.  Those are two very different legal concepts.  In the environmental scenario, the crime, knowing endangerment, is already on the books.  The effects are in the future, but the actual crime has already been committed.
    Let’s say a CEO leaks hazardous waste into an orphanage.  The CEO knows that this waste has been scientifically proven to cause cancer 30 years later, but then covers that up and continues to pollute.  That is knowingly endangerment and criminal, and cause for immediate prosecution.  What Hansen is asking is that energy company CEO’s be treated the same.

  130. The discussion about the extent to which unethical behavior is covered by the law reminds me of a similar discussion at RPJr’s, where attorney “lgcarey” hit the nail on its head. E.g. here, (s)he writes
    “”¦the key question here is about fraudulent conduct, not free speech. Free speech does not immunize me from liability for telling the guy who is interested in buying my house that the basement is dry as bone when I know that it leaks like a sieve every time it rains.” 

    Freedom can not exist without responsibility, and vice versa.

  131. JD Ohio says:

    #130 Tobis
     
    “It was not obvious to myself or grypo that there are no statutes under which the contemptible ethics of the order in question could be prosecuted. Likely it is not obvious to Hansen either. This, likely his meaning was that “there surely must be some applicable law, and it should be applied”.
     
    If that is the case, you need to identify a particular statute.  Just because you think there should be one or there is one, doesn’t mean there is one that would cover what you consider to be the energy executives wrongful conduct.  In particular, I would note the word “knowingly.”  No one knows what will happen in 100 years (under the reasonable doubt standard and for other reasons).  Also, Hansen undoubtedly knowing that there were no laws on the books in the U.S. said that the executives committed crimes against humanity and that is what the executives should be prosecuted for.  The knowing endangerment statutes are strawmen.  If there were statutes on the books that were violated, don’t you think that some prosecutor in some state (there are mostly individual county prosecutors in each of the 50 states in addition to the U.S. Attorneys who handle federal crimes–wildly guessing at least 3,000 individuals with the authority to initiate criminal charges) would have initiated a prosecution somewhere in the last 20 years.
    Additionally, criminal laws, because of their restrictions against liberty, are construed (interpreted) against the state, and in favor of the accused.  So the fact that you can find language which a layperson would think to be applicable, does not mean that it is if there are other potential interpretations.
     
    Again, please cite a crimes against humanity  statute or any other one that a real prosecutor could use against an energy executive.

  132. JD Ohio says:

    #131 grypo
     
    “Let’s say a CEO leaks hazardous waste into an orphanage.  The CEO knows that this waste has been scientifically proven to cause cancer 30 years later, but then covers that up and continues to pollute.  That is knowingly endangerment and criminal, and cause for immediate prosecution.  What Hansen is asking is that energy company CEO’s be treated the same.”
     
    Your example disproves your point because it is not comparable to the energy executives situation.  There is no replicable science to show that there will be mass deaths 100 years from now.  Certain types of cancer, in multiple studies that can be traced from beginning to end are known to result from chemicals.  So far there has not been one instance of proven mass deaths, that in the context of criminal law can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to have resulted from fossil fuel energy usage.
     
    Let’s consider a different hypothetical.  Suppose that the CEO is very sophisticated in science and medicine.  Suppose at the time of the exposure, he knows that there are scientific procedures that will cure the exposure to the waste in 10 years.  In that situation, under what you have proposed, he could not be prosecuted.  This situation is more relevant to Hansen’s situation because to anyone who thinks about the pace of the increase of scientific knowledge, (Julian Simon), it is virtually certain in 100 years that science will find a way to ameliorate any negative effects of CO2.  All that has to be done is to replicate the effects of one volcano per year.  Even if you don’t agree that it is certain that science will solve the problem, it is reasonable to believe that there is a reasonable chance that the problem will be scientifically solved.
     
    Getting back to the main point, so far in the U.S. we don’t prosecute people now for things that may happen 100 years from now, and there are no laws on the books to justify such prosecutions.  Hansen, in exercising his sense of moral superiority,  seeks to ignore the reasons why ex post facto laws are not permitted.  That is not conservative or prudent behavior.

  133. JD Ohio says:

    #130 Tobis
     
    “Meanwhile, would you consider the person acting within the law but in a deliberately misleading way as fulfilling conservative ethical principles, or not?”
     
    It is not unusual for lawful activities to be immoral.  In such situations, I refrain from acting immorally.  In acceding to the impracticality of jailing everyone who acts immorally at some time and the imperfection of humans , not all immorality is illegal under American laws.  I would also add that there are remedies other imprisonment to deal with immoral behavior.
     
    JD

  134. JD Ohio says:

    #132 Bart
     
    “”lgcarey” hit the nail on its head. E.g. here, (s)he writes
    “”¦the key question here is about fraudulent conduct, not free speech. Free speech does not immunize me from liability for telling the guy who is interested in buying my house that the basement is dry as bone when I know that it leaks like a sieve every time it rains.”
     
    I agree 100% with this statement.  I have never said that the ex post facto law issue is substantively a free speech issue.  Rather, the enforcement of ex post facto laws implicates a physical liberty issue and whether imprisonment of energy executives is appropriate.   I would add that you quoted the attorney out of context in regard to the basement.  The attorney is saying that the person committing fraud is liable for damages not that the person committing the fraud should be imprisoned.   Of course, to prove fraud, you must prove clear damage, which is the problem with Hansen’s effort to imprison energy executives.  He can’t prove what the world will be like 100 years from now.
     
    JD

  135. Pablo says:

    Punishing oil company CEO’s is much like punishing Pablo Escobar while actors, atheletes, and rich kids go free.

    BTW,  did Hansen walk to the hearings or did he… inhale (so to speak).

  136. grypo says:

    —-Your example disproves your point because it is not comparable to the energy executives situation.  There is no replicable science to show that there will be mass deaths 100 years from now.  Certain types of cancer, in multiple studies that can be traced from beginning to end are known to result from chemicals.  So far there has not been one instance of proven mass deaths, that in the context of criminal law can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to have resulted from fossil fuel energy usage.—-
    No, you don’t have to prove any linkage between the crime, “knowing endangerment”, and an actual case of death.  You only need to show that it can cause death.  And if science is the barometer in which we use to find future risk (I assume you do, since you point to “multiple studies”), the science overwhelmingly points to continuing CO2 causing pain and suffering.  In fact, just because you come in contact with certain chemicals, it does not mean that you will catch the cancer, it just means that the defendant has knowingly put you at risk.  That is the crime. This is what Hansen was saying.  This has nothing to do with ex post facto laws.
    http://books.google.com/books?id=M8w5yJbNTD0C&pg=PA579&lpg=PA579&dq=knowing+endangerment+environmental+law&source=bl&ots=u6cEPEjUy5&sig=iDETnb2uduzDnnFvKylMQtAcNOI&hl=en&ei=edW6TJzvG8T_lgf4g8T0DA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CCUQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=knowing%20endangerment%20environmental%20law&f=false
    Getting back to the main point, so far in the U.S. we don’t prosecute people now for things that may happen 100 years from now, and there are no laws on the books to justify such prosecutions.  Hansen, in exercising his sense of moral superiority,  seeks to ignore the reasons why ex post facto laws are not permitted.  That is not conservative or prudent behavior.—
    You are missing the overall point.  We don’t have to know what the world is going to look like 100 years from now.  We only have to know that the “defendant” is willfully endangering the public while profiting by cover up.  That, in and itself, can be considered a crime under statutes in the Clean Air Act.   It does mean the prosecution will win, but this is not a tyrannical, ex post facto law situation.

  137. grypo says:

    Oops,
    This:
    It does mean the prosecution will win, but this is not a tyrannical, ex post facto law situation.
    Should say:
    It does  NOT mean the prosecution will win, but this is not a tyrannical, ex post facto law situation.

  138. JD, first, I have stipulated your point on ex post facto criminalization. Second, let me agree with you that
     
    “It is not unusual for lawful activities to be immoral.  In such situations, I refrain from acting immorally.  In acceding to the impracticality of jailing everyone who acts immorally at some time and the imperfection of humans , not all immorality is illegal under American laws.  I would also add that there are remedies other imprisonment to deal with immoral behavior.”
     
    The question that we are discussing, as far as I am concerned, is whether one should take Hansen at his word that he is a conservative, or one should go with the radical-right construction that he is a radical-leftist.  It seems to me, like so much of what the radical right claims, that the latter position is ludicrously at odds with reality.
     
    The question at hand is which conservative principles Hansen violated by calling for the prosecution of individuals promoting the funding of willful mispresentation by fossil fuel interests which they influence or control.  To discuss this one must stipulate Hansen’s hypothesis that such individuals exist.
     
    Your assertion is that 1) no law covers this behavior, 2) implicitly because the impacts of the misrepresentation are speculative and far in the future and 3) Hansen must have known that no law covers the situation and therefore: is acting not in violation of the principle of free speech but in violation of a legal principle against ex post facto criminalization, which is fascist-authoritarian. Grypo and I have already argued that your argument depends on point 3, which is entirely dubious.
     
    Your claim that Hansen is part of a crypto-fascist conspiracy in that he wishes to punish behavior that he does not like in the absence of laws against it.
     
    So what is the behavior he dislikes? It is willful misrepresentation of the destructive material consequences of the product of one’s own corporation.
     
    It seems to me that our disagreement is not whether such behavior is illegal, but whether it occurred; whether there are massive fountains of bullshit emerging to (I am no lawyer but I suspecy libelously) tarnish the reputations of a small but serious group of scientists, or whether to the contrary there is a crypto-fascist movement based in flimsy evidence or none at all.  It’s difficult to see much middle ground on the question. If the scientists are serious, then there is massive and deliberate propaganda against them. If there is no such malicious and false propaganda, there must be a core of seriously guilty people as so many allege.
     
    Because Hansen has long been a leading figure in the community of scientists in question, he is in a position to know the answer to that question. As such, he either knows he is habitually lying, or else he knows that organized interests are lying about him and those of us who find ourselves broadly in support of him.
     
    If we hypothesize that it is the latter, his advocacy for prosecution of his tormentors is not ethically unreasonable, and his expectation that there are laws which apply is surely plausible.
     
    The question of whether there are laws which apply or not does not enter into the question of whether Hansen is, as he claims, a decent philosophically conservative person who has found himself with vicious enemies, or whether it is his enemies who are philosophically conservative. The question is whether it is Hansen or his enemies who are fundamentally dishonest. You try to bury this issue, but it keeps coming back up:
     
    “Getting back to the main point, so far in the U.S. we don’t prosecute people now for things that may happen 100 years from now, and there are no laws on the books to justify such prosecutions. ”
     
    But we are indeed talking about things that Hansen believes are happening now, things that allow burgeoning and bizarre conspiracy theories to target a well-intentioned group of scientists. That the purpose is specifically to ensure that their advice is ignored, at the long term peril of the whole world and the short term gain of a few private interests is stunningly vicious, presuming it is true.
     
    I for one do not chose to blame the whole fossil fuel industry, as I have friends who work within it and know this viciousness is not universal. I did not hear Hansen doing so either, though I have often enough heard it from others. That position would be objectionable, I think, but you should take it up with those who hold it.
     
     

  139. JD Ohio says:

    #140  Tobis   You conflate what you consider to be Hansen’s good intentions with misrepresentation by others.  Hansen can have in his mind good intentions, but that does not mean that those who disagree with him misrepresent the other side of the scientific equation.  .  Even if fossil fuel executives misreprsent the science of warming, it does not mean that it is vicious or horrendous as you assume.   For instance, those opposing the irradiation of food (scientifically proven to be harmless) may be acting in good faith or be acting deceitfully.  It doesn’t matter in terms of the criminalization of their conduct because there is no clear connection to a horrendous wrong.  No matter how you spin the conduct of the energy executives, there is no clear connection between what they are doing and a horrendous wrong.  It may or may not turn out to be that way in the future, but it can’t be proven now in a way necessary to criminalize their conduct today.
     
    Hansen has a right to argue that the activities of energy executives are horribly morally wrong, but just because that is the case, does not mean that he can reasonably argue for their imprisonment now before there is any law that criminalizes their behavior.
     
    I am going to China in about 36 hours, so this will be last post on this subject.
    JD

  140. JD Ohio says:

    Grypo #138
     
    “You are missing the overall point.  We don’t have to know what the world is going to look like 100 years from now.  We only have to know that the “defendant” is willfully endangering the public while profiting by cover up.  That, in and itself, can be considered a crime under statutes in the Clean Air Act.   It does mean the prosecution will not win, but this is not a tyrannical, ex post facto law situation.”
     
    1.  You keep ignoring my request for a specific statute.  For instance, Ohio Revised Code Sec. 2913.01 defines theft.  Let’s look at a specific statute or statutes and see if they apply.  Just because you have a definition of knowing endangerment doesn’t mean that the law as written complies with your instincts as to what is knowing endangerment. ”  People are going to jail all the time arguing that they don’t have to pay income taxes because of some perceived irregularity in the law.  That doesn’t mean they are right.
     
    2.  Even if there was a knowing endangerment law that is as you say it doesn’t matter.  Hansen specifically chose to seek to jail energy executives for crimes against humanity, which I believe was intentional on his part to assert his superior morality against energy executives and to intimidate them with threats of imprisonment on the basis of a non-existent law, which is the precise basis on which there is a prohibition against the imposition of ex post facto laws.
     
    As I said previously, I am going to China, and this is my last post on these matters.
     
    JD

  141. JD Ohio says:

    Tobis #140
     
    “It’s difficult to see much middle ground on the question. If the scientists are serious, then there is massive and deliberate propaganda against them. If there is no such malicious and false propaganda, there must be a core of seriously guilty people as so many allege.”
     
    Couldn’t resist a simple response.  There is a middle ground which I occupy.  It is possible that Hansen is correct about the CO2 induced warming.  However, it is irrelevant to me because: 1.  With increased scientific knowledge we can geoengineer our way out of any CO2 induced warming in 100 years.  2.  It is impossible to make plans now that will be effective 100 years from now.   the world changes too fast, and about the only certainty is that plans made now for 100 years from now will be wrong and ineffective.
     
    JD

  142. JD Ohio says:

    Tobis #140  Views on AGW from a very distinguished scientist, Gene Gordon  (A different type of middle ground)
     
    From Dot Earth Post 115  http://community.nytimes.com/comments/dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10/15/a-physicists-climate-complaints/?sort=newest&offset=2
     
    “How much fraud is required before something is truly a fraud? Is a little bit OK? Is it excusable that those who are committing fraud maybe are good fellows at heart. The point is that the Dr. Lewis resigned from an organization he supported for a long time. He felt that the APS had been compromised and he could no longer support what it says.

    What all including Andy Revkin do not get is that climate science is not yet able to describe anthropogenic global warming as a Theory. It is not even a robust hypothesis. It is easily challenged. Natural gobal warming is simply a historically documented characteristic of the Earth that is not well understood. The historical record is clear and unambiguous and the earth is currently in a warming phase. Additional anthropogenic global warming has a long way to go to achieve acceptability and a degree of certainty among legitimate scientists who understand the scientific method. Anyone who comments, and especially climate scientists who do not qualify what they say relative to the immature state of the science, are unprofessional boobs. And that is most of them as far as I can discern. Those who keep quite and take the money are simply human, but not on my favorite list. They damage legitimate science.

    Dr. Lewis is not better, but at least he votes with his feet.”
     
    Gene G at Dot Earth is Gene Gordon  “a world-renowned scientist and engineer. During his 26 years at AT&T Bell Labs he and his group discovered and developed several important laser systems, including the well-known, red, helium-neon laser. He invented and developed the powerful, continuous, blue- green argon ion laser. He also invented and developed acousto-optic light modulators and deflectors used currently in many opto-electronic systems. Similarly he and his group invented and developed the charge coupled device (CCD).  See #87  http://community.nytimes.com/comments/dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/22/with-no-obama-push-senate-punts-on-climate/?sort=newest
    If a distinguished scientist such as Gene Gordon, (A frequent commenter on Dotearth who believes in population controls and geoengineering) with no ties to the oil and gas industry, honestly disputes AGW theory, how do you show a link beyond a reasonable doubt to mass disaster 100 years from now.  Although not written in a middle ground tone, it is essentially a middle ground saying that AGW is neither proven nor disproven.
     
    Undisciplined (: JD
     

  143. Stu says:

    On JD’s second point in the post above… yes- 100 years is a long time, especially when living through it, I’d say. Therefore, putting in place ‘the plan’ that will take us all the way safely to the year 2100 and beyond is pretty far fetched, and I’d imagine people looking back from 2100 to our current time would probably agree.
     
    Count me in as an optimist here. The progression of energy technology has always been on the path towards decarbonisation and greater efficiency, and this was long before CO2 became a concern. It’s just something we’ve done. I don’t see any reason to be concerned that we’re going to jump off the path anytime soon.
     

  144. JD Ohio wrote: “there is no clear connection between what they [fossil fuel executives] are doing and a horrendous wrong. ”

    The existence of such a connection is closer the expertise of a climate scientist such as Hansen than of a laywer.

    Knowingly lying about matters of great importance and risk (on which climate science has provided knowledge) is morally wrong (a subjective judgement call).

    Whether it’s also against the law is in the realms of the laywer’s expertise.

  145. Stu says:

    “The existence of such a connection is closer the expertise of a climate scientist such as Hansen than of a laywer.”
     
    Alright then… Let’s assume that Hansen is actually able to predict the future to the point where what he says will happen is basically assured, and anyone who claims otherwise is deemed to be ‘lying’, ‘morally wrong’, a ‘criminal’, etc. Hansen’s predictive skill, his expertise and knowledge is so great that he is basically an oracle in other words, and what he says will happen, is going to happen. It seems that there may be atleast a few people here in this thread who actually take Hansen seriously enough- assigning to him such authority and confidence, that they may be willing to say- ‘sure, those that oppose such an expert are surely criminals and should stand trial. It is morally right that they do so. It is just’.  This is what I’m hearing from some people here.
     
    Ok, well, lets do a little test, because we have one. Over 20 years ago, James Hansen gave an interview where he outlined a prediction, and that prediction was what would happen to New York in 20 years time. So we actually have on record a prediction made by James Hansen 20 years ago about what New York would look like today. Here’s what he said in the interview-
     
     
    “While doing research 12 or 13 years ago, I met Jim Hansen, the scientist who in 1988 predicted the greenhouse effect before Congress. I went over to the window with him and looked out on Broadway in New York City and said, “If what you’re saying about the greenhouse effect is true, is anything going to look different down there in 20 years?” He looked for a while and was quiet and didn’t say anything for a couple seconds. Then he said, “Well, there will be more traffic.” I, of course, didn’t think he heard the question right. Then he explained, “The West Side Highway [which runs along the Hudson River] will be under water. And there will be tape across the windows across the street because of high winds. And the same birds won’t be there. The trees in the median strip will change.” Then he said, “There will be more police cars.” Why? “Well, you know what happens to crime when the heat goes up.”
     
     
    Remember, this is the foremost expert on climate change according to some, giving his prediction about the place he is most familiar with, over the extremely short period of 20 years. He is wrong. The Westside Highway is not under water. In fact, sea levels for the area are not increasing at all…
    http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/sea_level_off_nyc.png
     
    It stands to reason- if James Hansen can’t predict what New York will be like 20 years out (verified), how can he predict what it will be like in the year 2050? Or the year 2100? If his former prediction is anything to go by, he simply isn’t able to make that kind of a call. But here we actually are, having a debate where people are seriously suggesting legal action against others who doubt the accuracy of the expert opinion of James Hansen! It’s astonishing…  has the debate become so hysterical, that some of us are actually up for chucking others in jail(?) over a difference of opinion?
     
    Wow.
     
     
     
     
     

  146. Stu,

    You’re making a fool of yourself by trying to equate what I said (about a connection between unlimited GHG emissions and climate change) with someone being an “oracle”. If I drop my pencil I can predict that it will fall down, and even estimate the approximate time that it will take. That doesn’t make me an oracle, but rather someone who isn’t physically illerate.

    For those who’d want to take a look at some of Hansen’s verifiable projections of the future may I suggest this detailed look at Hansen’s 1988 projections (or a more generic version here).

  147. JD Ohio says:

    Bart #146
     
    “The existence of such a connection is closer the expertise of a climate scientist such as Hansen than of a laywer.”
     
    That is true.  However, what would happen is that a judge would determine if the factual claims could support a criminal charge.  Then if the matter went to trial (very unlikely), both sides would introduce their own expert testimony (Hansen & Mann for example vs. Lindzen & Gene Gordon).  Ultimately, it would be for a jury to believe whether the prosecution expert testimony proved a crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
     
    JD

  148. Bart, I could find you some reasonably verifiable predictions made by Nostradamus. All you need is a bit of liberal interpretation and a predisposition to believe Nostradamus had gnostic predictive capabilities.
     
    Hansen’s climate models do not work, and never did. If Hansen made a few predictions which became manifest, this was by good luck and not skill. And if you think otherwise, I may be able to interest you in a ouija board and some tarot cards.

  149. Stu says:

    Bart #148
    All I’m trying to point out is that anyone who would seriously consider prosecuting someone on the failure to abide by someone elses predictions, then they must really be treating these predictions as though they are true predictions, ie- as not really predictions at all, but simply as pronouncements about a future which is yet to be. You wouldn’t prosecute people over something which was uncertain, would you? Atleast, I would hope not.

  150. Stu says:

    Also Bart, I don’t want to say you’re ‘making a fool of yourself’, but equating the understanding that a falling pencil travels downwards, and having a clear picture about global climate in the year 2100, is stretching it somewhat, don’t you think?

  151. Stu says:

    PS, it’s certainly possible I’m just not understanding what you’re saying here. It’s late and I’m tired…

  152. […] dynamic was foreshadowed last week, when some critics wasted little time in shooting down a proposed paradigm shift floated in a bipartisan white paper. This week brings the WaPo’s […]

  153. […] consider an alternative approach to decarbonization. I base this in part on some of the negative reaction to a bipartisan proposal floated last week, and to the exchanges that emerged in this thread, which […]

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