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2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #5

Posted on 4 February 2018 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... El Niño/La Niña Update... Toon of the Week... Video of the Week... Reports of Note... Coming Soon on SkS... Poster of the Week... SkS Week in Review... 97 Hours of Consensus...

Story of the Week...

Why Climate Deniers Target Women

Katharine Hayhoe Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe has suffered sexist attacks from climate change deniers. Source: Katharine Hayhoe

Harassment is no stranger to the reporters, researchers and policymakers who work on climate change, but it is particularly severe for the women in those fields.

Canadian environment minister Catherine McKenna was labeled “climate Barbie” by the right-wing political blog The Rebel Media. Kait Parker of the Weather Channel suffered attacks from Breitbart News, which dismissed her forceful and lucid explanation of climate science as an “argument from a pretty girl.” Emily Atkin, who covers climate and energy for The New Republic, also has endured sexist barbs from Breitbart, which said she had “kitty claws,” and Rush Limbaugh, who called her an “infobabe.” In similar fashion, climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe earned the moniker “climate babe” from Limbaugh.

Certainly, sexist attacks are not unique to climate science, journalism or advocacy, but research into public understanding of climate change reveals an important link between sexism and climate denial — support for the existing social hierarchy. 

Why Climate Deniers Target Women by Jeremy Deaton, Climate Nexus, Feb 2, 2018 


El Niño/La Niña Update

More U.S. drought in a second-year La Niña? 

Currently, we are fully immersed in the second winter of a “double-dip” La Niña.   Although it will take some time before we can see how this event stacked up with past events, you might have noticed that it has been quite dry over much of the U.S. this winter, with drought expanding across several regions, particularly in the south.  Being the big ENSO fans that you are, you might have asked yourself, are these conditions typical in the second winter of a double-dip La Niña?  And are there any differences in how the atmosphere responds to La Niña in the second winter relative to the first?  Well if either of those questions ever crossed your mind, then you’re in luck! 

A recent study (1) led by Dr. Yuko Okumura of the University of Texas at Austin addressed how the impacts of La Niña may change from the first winter to the second for double-dip La Niñas like this one. Spoiler alert: Dr. Okumura and colleagues found evidence that U.S. drought and the North Pacific atmospheric circulation anomalies strengthen in the second winter of a double-dip La Niña.  With that out of the way, let’s take a closer look at what they found.

More U.S. drought in a second-year La Niña? by Nat Johnson, ENSO Blog, NOAA's Climate.gov, Feb 1, 2018 


Toon of the Week...

2018 Toon 5 


Video of the Week...

The superstorms and wildfires of 2017 cost a record-breaking $306 billion. As the Trump administration has sought to reverse environmental rules, is the federal government prepared to address even stronger storms?

Is the U.S. Ready for More Billion-Dollar Storms? by Deborah Acosta, Climate Change, New York Times, Jan 29, 2018


Coming Soon on SkS... 

  • In-depth: Scientists discuss how to improve climate models (Carbon Brief)
  • How to Change Your Mind About Climate Change (David Kirtley)
  • Impact of climate change on health is ‘the major threat of 21st century’ (Daisy Dunne)
  • Guest Post (John Abraham)
  • New research this week (Ari Jokimäki)
  • 2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #6 (John Hartz)
  • 2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #6 (John Hartz) 

Poster of the Week...

2018 Poster 5 


SkS Week in Review... 


97 Hours of Consensus...

97 Hours Peter Hildebrand 

 

Peter Hildebrand's bio page

Quote derived from:

"I think that the debate is happening around the world. It's not a debate, though, in the science community. There's no debate at all there. The scientists know that human influences are creating greenhouse gases and these are warming the earth. And other things are — other human impacts, such as changing the earth's surface, paving over things and the like is also having an effect on the earth. So there's no debate there in the science community." 

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Comments 51 to 100 out of 188:

  1. Bob Loblaw @ 50

    I am afraid I have to be in Calgary tomorrow on an oil and gas related venture so I cannot respond right now (light oil not heavy oil).  I think I have been very forthright about my business interests even if I am pretty well fully retired.

    But let us cut to the chase.  What per tonne carbon tax would you think would be reasonable to impose on the US at this time which would not have a significant economic impact?  You surely appreciate that a large carbon tax even if completely "refundable" would have massive economic impact on the US economy.

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  2. The issue is more complex than it is presented.

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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] In what way?

    [JH] Which "issue"?

  3. NorrisM@51,

    Let us cut to the core of the issue.

    Understanding that having to reduce the benefit obtained from the creation of GHG related to the burning of fossil fuels would 'negatively impact the USA economy' is actually admitting that the USA ecoomy is incorrectly, harmfully and unsustainably developed. Investigating the history of actions by the USA in this regard leads to an understanding of the deliberate efforts to maximize competitive advantage by behaving as unacceptably as can be gotten away with.

    The understanding of the 'unacceptability of activities that have no real future (like burning non-renewable resources) and create harm that others including future generations suffer regardless of their regional temporary popularity or profitability (negative side effects of fossil fuel burning or nuclear power)' was established long ago. That understanding can be seen to be expressed by different people throughout written history.

    The repeated damaging periods of Winning by people with Private Interests that are contrary to the Public Good of developing a sustainable better future for humanity are not 'fundamentally unavoidable' and did not have to become the massive damaging realities they became. However, once undeserving Winning is gotten away with the perceptions  developed among the undeserving winners definitely makes it challenging to 'correct them'.

    So the 'carbon price that would not negatively affect the USA economy' is irrelevant. What needs to happen is the correction of incorrect development to minimize the negative impacts on the future of humanity, not the protection of perceptions in a sub-set of humanity that developed by incorrect development.

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  4. "You surely appreciate that a large carbon tax even if completely "refundable" would have massive economic impact on the US economy"

    I agree that it would have economic impact - "massive" is merely rhetoric however. Ultimately it would result in closure in all FF industry which is certainly as "massive" and negative as it can get for that particular industry. That is the effect of introduction of automobiles had on livery stables, horse breeders and blacksmiths. On the other side, everyone wants energy so non-carbon energy industries are going to boom like say the auto makers, and oil producers did. Is that an overall negative to the economy?

    How do you figure that cost against the effects on the economy if you don't limit climate change? You seem to think doing nothing is free.

    As to size of carbon tax, well several ways to factor. To be effective it must be high enough to make FF more directly expensive to the consumer than the alternatives and that is highly country and even region specific. If you killed all the FF subsidies, then I would say you could introduce at say $10-15/tonne and let rise to say $60-$80/tonne over ten years. However, I dont have the number to hand for US both on effect of killing FF subsidies nor costs of alternatives to make a definitive statements. I am sure the numbers are out there.

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  5. NorrisM,

    Regarding your concerns about the effects of a carbon tax and dividend scheme on the wider economy.

    We can calculate some ideal carbon price ok. However modelling the economic effects of this 100% accurately on the economy looks difficult to me ( I do stand to be corrected) because you are dealing with human behaviour.

    The only workable approach is probably to do some modelling, but still choose a moderately low starting point for a carbon tax / price, and ramp it up over time. The effects on the economy from the initial tax / carbon price can then be analysed, and form a basis for futher increases. This has worked well for other consumption taxes.

    California put a $25 / tonne cost on carbon for its ets scheme, and has not had problems, and other countries have introduced modest carbon taxes without problems. Norris you need to acknowledge this, that we already have this information. Therefore $25 gives a safe starting point as a price on carbon, and it can be ramped up over time. However a fuller analysis might suggest another starting point, I'm just demonstrating the way to look at the issue.

    Regarding the effects of carbon taxes on the economy. It will be transformative as others have described, but that will ultimately be manageable and positive.

    Perhaps you are worried about possible negative effects and instability of a carbon tax. Imo, there will not be many. Please note a tax and dividend scheme as desribed previously above is shifting money around rather than pulling demand out of the economy. Its reduced demand that would be a problem but we are not reducing demand.

    There will also clearly be be an optimal rate and also a maximum that the economy can convert from fossil fuels to renewable energy and electric cars. If a carbon tax was too high, it would push demand ahead of supply and could be inflationary for the energy sector, but it would have to be an excessively high tax abruptly introduced to do this. Provided we start with a middle range carbon tax, we would see such inflationary effects evolving, and be able to adjust the tax or supply chain to suit.

    It's hard to see such inflation being unmanageable or significant, and its hard to see such inflation in one sector even if it occured undermining the economy. Economic crashes are caused mostly by by asset bubbles, credit and debt problems,  and business cycles as you would probably know.

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  6. NorrisM @ 51:

    For starters, I agree with nigelj @55 regarding how to implement a carbon tax. No specific number in mind. Start with something, observe the effects (good and bad), and increase it if benefits suggest so (but be prepared to back off if negative effects outweight the  benefits).

    But to respond to your "cut to the chase" challenge: you have used two terms

    1. "a significant economic impact"
    2. " massive economic impact... "

    You have not defined either "significant" or "massive" in the context of economic impact. I presume that massive>significant, but you haven't even specified whether you are talking about massive benefits or massive costs, or net benefits.

    Any proper "risk management" covers two areas:

    1. Dealing with bad $#!^ that might happen and you hope doesn't but need to have a plan for.
    2. Taking advantage of opportunities that open up, that you coudn't necessarily rely on happening.

    As such, a massive effect could be massively good. I doubt that you are using "significant" and "massive" as good things, though.

    Now, to help me calibrate your scale, could you please rate the following historical economic/societal changes and tell me where they fall on your scale: little to no effect, significant effect, or massive effect?

    • The development of the steam locomotive and expansion of railways in the 1800s.
    • Mass production of automobiles beginning in the early 1900s.
    • Expansion of national road networks in the mid-20th century.
    • Advances in airplane design and growth of the airline industry during the period 1930-1980 (picking 50 years as a nice round number).
    • Advent of the microprocessor and development of personal computing devices since 1980.
    • The 2008-2009 financial crisis.

    If any of the above are "significant" or "massive", you you also please tell me whether you think they were beneficial, or bad?

    If none of these fit your "significant" or "massive" definitions, please provide an historical example that does.

    Or, you could just stop with the rhetorical flourishes.

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  7. Bob Loblaw @ 56

    In another thread I had suggested a carbon tax of $30 because that is the level of the carbon tax in Canadian dollars that BC has had since 2012.  With the exception of you, I think the other contributors above have weighed in with a number.  All of these numbers make sense because governments have actually proposed them.  My experience is Canada.  Alberta has also recently raised its  rate to $30/tonne and the federal government has proposed a carbon tax on any province that does not introduce its own by the end of 2018, starting at $10/tonne and moving to $50/tonne by 2022.  Nigelj has indicated that the rate in California is around $20/tonne which ballpark matches $30/tonne in Canadian dollars.

    These governments have the resources in the way of economic advice to be satisfied that such "incremental' steps will not bring the economy down and they have to look over their shoulder to make sure their voters are behind them.  Whether we actually see $50 by 2022 in Canada remains to be seen but, once again, these are small steps that will not materially damage the economy.  If the carbon tax is affecting things too greatly then I am sure the governments will respond.  If they do not they will be thrown out of office. 

    But let us not kid ourselves, these rates of carbon tax have no ability whatsoever to get us to the Paris Agreement targets for 2100.

    But we still do not have a number from you.  If you, as well, are in this ballpark then what were you talking about when you proposed that all direct costs that could be reasonably related to fossil fuels have to be included in such a carbon tax?  Was that just "theory"? 

    If you as well are proposing a tax around the level of everyone else on this thread, then you are right back at my point that we have to take steps that will not put the economy into trouble.  Back to "incrementalism". 

    But I thought you were talking about $150/tonne or something like that.  I can name three industries that would immediately suffer greatly would be the airlines, tourism and transportation.   Your theory about it being "neutral" just does not make sense.  You well appreciate that there would be a massive transfer of wealth by any simple carbon refund.  I am sure the complexity of this issue is what times24by7 was referencing in part.  By the time you got the carbon refund to people they would be out of a job because their employer could not price in the carbon tax to his customers. 

    But this is all academic if you are in the same range as everyone else.

    Realistic carbon taxes are the real world way of dealing with weaning ourselves from fossil fuels.  

    I do not disagree with nigelj's comments regarding a mixed economy where there is some government support but I would much rather governments stick to building the necessary infrastructure rather than making decisions for private sector.  Perhaps there is a need in the US for a high voltage power transmission system in the US similar to the interstate project of the US government in the latter half of the 20th century.     

    But again, I hate to come back to reality, but reality in the US is Donald Trump.  So when it comes to the US I think we have to stick to talking about a refundable carbon tax probably imposed state by state unless the proposal supported by James Baker et al gains some traction with Republicans. 

    So back to my question that has not been answered, what number do you have in mind?  Is it $30-50/tonne or is it $150 to $200/tonne which would "capture" all those direct costs you allege.

    If you are starting at $30/tonne and then gradually increasing it over 20 years based upon what the market will bear then this is gradualism.

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  8. NorrisM,

    Your arguing only makes sense if you believe the sole weapon at the disposal of mankind to mitigate AGW is carbon tax and further that all today's industries (presumably not including the FF industries) will be allowed to continue their present-day operations without taking a hit.

    In a AGW-mitigated world, without a breakthrough in zero-carbon energy supply, we can expect the use of energy to be much constrained. So it is a simple consideration for any industry that uses vast quantities of energy to produce its deliverable. I was always amused by the grand efforts of the glass industry to make its bottles more environmentally friendly and their celebrations at achieving sub-400gm Scotch whisky bottles. This is a wonderful technological achievement. But really, unless their aim is to achieve sub-100gm, is their grand effort nought but an example of rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic? Unless the glass industry can reduce the energy required to make a whisky bottle to vestigial levels, there will come a day when whisky will no longer be sold in glass bottles. The same message should be understood by all other high-energy using industries.

    It is unfruitful to argue over the efficacy of a particular single level of carbon tax as though it were the sole solution to AGW and then engage in a lengthy debate on the impacts of such a policy, either on today's industries or on the resulting future path of AGW.

    So perhaps you should be re-visiting the answer you gave to the question asked by saddenp@33.

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  9. MA Rodger @ 58

    I agree that it is somewhat of an over-statement to suggest that a carbon tax is the only tool but with the exception of infrastructue projects I am leery of what governments might do in their zeal to meet certain voluntarily imposed limitations on the use of fossil fuels.  One of those actions is the banning of ICE in automobiles by a certain date when there is no viable alternative on the horizon (will not get into the problems I see with EVs on a massive scale).

    But here is where I strongly disagree with you as to the practicality of this statement by you:

    "In a AGW-mitigated world, without a breakthrough in zero-carbon energy supply, we can expect the use of energy to be much constrained."

    I think we have to plan for a future where the demand for energy increases not decreases.  That has been the history of the world to date and that would be a large ship to turn around.  I just do not see that it is practical to assume otherwise.

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  10. [JH] Recommended supplementary readings:

    Tomgram: Michael Klare, Militarizing America's Energy Policy, Introduction by Tom Engelhardt, Article by Michael Klare, TomDispatch, Feb 11, 2018

    11 takeaways from the draft UN report on a 1.5C global warming limit by Megan Darby, Climate Home News, Feb 13, 2018

    Expect more 'complete surprises' from climate change: NASA's Schmidt by Peter Hannam, Sydney Morning Herald, Feb 12, 2018

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  11. "So perhaps you should be re-visiting the answer you gave to the question asked by saddenp@33"

    I agree. Interested to know.

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  12. NorrisM,

    You have not answered the questions I have asked. But from your comments I have a clear understanding of your position/perspective.

    You are essentially arguing for only a minor reduction from a Business as Usual scenario. That would be like an RCP 7.0 or 8.0, which can only be argued for by someone who does not understand or accept the globally agreed need to 'limit total human impacts to 2.0C and an aspiration of reducing the impacts inflicted on future generations to 1.5C (significant rapid CO2 removal from the atmosphere)'.

    The understanding of the reason why Business Essentially as Usual approaches that inflict minimum negative consequences to aspects of economies that over-developed in the wrong direction can not be expected to produce the required chnages/corrections was well stated in the 1987 UN Report "Our Common Future" which included the following blunt assessment of the unreliability of pursuit of profit and popularity to develop the required changes/corrections.

    "25. Many present efforts to guard and maintain human progress, to meet human needs, and to realize human ambitions are simply unsustainable - in both the rich and poor nations. They draw too heavily, too quickly, on already overdrawn environmental resource accounts to be affordable far into the future without bankrupting those accounts. They may show profit on the balance sheets of our generation, but our children will inherit the losses. We borrow environmental capital from future generations with no intention or prospect of repaying. They may damn us for our spendthrift ways, but they can never collect on our debt to them. We act as we do because we can get away with it: future generations do not vote; they have no political or financial power; they cannot challenge our decisions.
    26. But the results of the present profligacy are rapidly closing the options for future generations. Most of today's decision makers will be dead before the planet feels; the heavier effects of acid precipitation, global warming, ozone depletion, or widespread desertification and species loss. Most of the young voters of today will still be alive. In the Commission's hearings it was the young, those who have the most to lose, who were the harshest critics of the planet's present management."

    When President Bush Jr announced that the USA would not participate in Kyoto he proudly declared that Americans did not need to change the way they lived. That attitude has developed an unsustainable economy that needs significant correction. The required responsible correction will be a negative result from current perceptions of prosperity. But that current perception is clearly a falsehood, a Fake Economy. The perceptions of prosperity in the USA are substantially built on getting away with deliberately behaving less acceptably.

    As a result, I agree that the USA leadership is unlikely to willingly choose to responsibly and fairly correct the incorrect economic over-developments. Something like carefully targeted international trade sanctions against specific USA activities are likely to need to be developed in order to get more responsible leadership behaviour from the USA (just like sanctions are required to try to get better behaviour from leadership in N. Korea and Russia).

    That a once great leader towards a better future for humanity should have so significantly devolved through the past several decades is a major tragedy.

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  13. scaddenp @ 61

    If you are asking for solutions from me beyond a reasonable level carbon tax and some infrastructure projects I have to admit that I do not have many solutions.  One of the big reasons our energy demand has increased is because the population of the world keeps on growing.   Birth control anyone? I think it was Prince Phillip who suggested he would like to come back in his next life as a virus and wipe out half the world.  Leaving aside drastic solutions such as this, I do not really have an answer for the continuing growth of the world population let alone cutting back on fossil fuel use by a static population. 

    Perhaps you can suggest some specific steps beyond a carbon tax (or a much less desirable cap and trade system) which would not throw the baby out with the bathwater.  

    Back to the comment by times24by7.  It is a very complex problem.

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  14. NorrisM @ 57:

    It seems you want to try to pin me down to a fixed number, even though you appear to be completely unwilling to tell me what you mean by such phrases as "a significant economic impact" and "massive economic impact... " That is unfortunate. It looks like yet another rhetorical trick, in which you think you gain advantage by trying to make it look as if I am unwilling to answer. I am too old to respect such debating tactics.

    I will attempt to give you an answer,, once more. I have (in previous discussions) pointed to evaluations that place the social cost of carbon considerably higher than $30/tonne. I am not an economist; I accept these higher estimates as reasonable, and I think that any carbon taxes need to start small and grow over time. $30/tonne will be insufficient, and a carbon tax alone will be insufficient.

    You have continued by using phrases such as "bring the economy down",  "materially damage the economy", "put the economy into trouble", "industries that would immediately suffer greatly ", "a massive transfer of wealth", "out of a job", "all those direct costs you allege", etc.

    If you do not realize that you are using vague, emotional triggers, then you should reflect on what you post. If you are aware of it, then shame on you.

    Having lived in Alberta for a number of years (not currently), I am familiar with the role that the gas and oil industry plays in the economy there. Either consciously or unconsciously, I thnk that your thoughts are dominated by the positive role that fossil fuels play in the wealth of that province, and downplay the hugely negative role that economists forecast for the future world. That is why I see your positions here as far closer to Trump et al than you want to or are able to see.

    You have also said to me "Your theory about it being "neutral" just does not make sense." Bluntly, all you seem to see is the job losses that will inevitably occur in the fossil fuel industries. Those jobs may be you (semi-retired), your friends, or loved ones. Get used to it - it will happen. I have seen three boom-bust cycles in Alberta in my adult life, and every time the general attitude in Alberta is "this boom will never end". It will, whether it is due to action on climate change or just the cycle of business, What you constantly ignore is the job opportunities and economic potential in alternative energy sources. You see costs, not benefits. You need to look more widely.

    You also say "I would much rather governments stick to building the necessary infrastructure rather than making decisions for private sector." This places you squarely in the group that reject climate science and action due to political ideology. I explicitly said that I favour a carbon tax and dividend that leaves money in the proivate sector. Your statement about the public vs. private sector reminds me only too much of the ...but communism..." response that was so common in the years that I lived in Alberta.

    In #56, I gave you list of historical events that I asked you to rate as "significant" or "massive" (your terms). In each of those events, people lost jobs, and parts of the economy suffered. To them, each was a bad event - most likely "significant", and quite possibly "massive". Each of those events also provided others with new opportunities and wealth. Whether you consider those events as overall good or bad depends, it seems, on whose ox gets gored.

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  15. Just to clarify I think $80 is a proper carbon price from what I have read, but $25 is a reasonable starting point. But it will need to be ramped up reasonably quickly to the proper price.

    Bob Loblow those are good examples of change, or "disruptions" on the wider scale, and our psychological tendency to ignore certain ones.

    Change and disruption is inevitable. I have a beautiful and expensive stereo cassette deck at home, completely superseeded by compact discs, now almost superseeded by internet services,  all in less than 50 years. 

    I think it's best to avoid generalised, vague ideological positions that act as roadblocks to change. Its better to look at specifics and ask what organisation is best practically placed to so something, so is it government, or private business, or something else? 

    For example I suggest the private sector is best placed to build and also choose specific types of renewable electricity and electric transport etcetera.The government should not rule any out, unless theres an awfully strong reason. 

    But sometimes governments can have a role in the lines network, especially in small countries. There are pretty obvious practical reasons for this.

    Personally I can see government organising a carbon tax, some subsidies for electric cars and renewable electricity etcetera (funded partly though the tax). Taxes are sometimes slow mechanisms, and a subsidy turbo charges the process, and can be funded from the tax, or cancelling fossil fuel subsidies. Put it this way taxes, and subsides work well together.

    Government potentially has a role making sure the electricity market has sensible market rules and deals properly with spot pricing issues. Electricity markets are not your usual market.

    Governments may also have a role in promoting forestry carbon sinks, especially because a carbon tax will not incentivise those, where emissions trading does.

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  16. No NorrisM, not what I am asking. You argued from Popper's incrementalism that we could only go off FF slowly. I showed the rate with which we increased, and asked were you comfortable with going down at the same rate. I didnt ask for a mechanism to bring us down by that rate.

    I am asserting that if it was safe (from a Popper incrementalism viewpoint) to increase FF at that rate, then it follows that it is safe to bring them down at the same rate. Do you agree?

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  17. But on mechanism, how do you feel about governments simply banning new generation that either not carbon-free or doesnt bury all of its emission (by forests or directly)? Still lets markets decide and largely free of administration costs?

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  18. NorrisM@63

    "One of the big reasons our energy demand has increased is because the population of the world keeps on growing"

    The growth of population is a concern. But the real problem is the continued growth of consumption of unsustainable and damaging energy by the more fortunate, the ones who can afford to get their energy more responsibly (admittedly more expensive, but everything else about their efforts to impress others is also - More Expensive) and can afford to reduce the energy they need to live decently (admittedly for no personal perception of increased grandeur relative to others).

    So the answer is actions that will get more responsible behaviour from the Winners of the games people play, not a claim that limiting population growth will meaningfully correct the damage done by the development of popular and profitable but irresponsible and incorrect behaviour that is obvious to anyone who cares to see it for what it really is rather than try to excuse it.

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  19. scaddenp @ 66

    If you were to reduce the rate to take into account population growth during this period, I would have to agree that that level of reduction should not put the economy in trouble.

    I am going to have to apologize that I am going to be out of pocket for a couple of days before we leave for an extended holiday in Mexico.  Once we get there (assuming the WiFi works) I will have more time to reply to Bob Loblaw and OPOF.

    All of us simply do not have the resources to analyze how seriously various steps will affect the economy.  So perhaps all we can do is look to jurisdictions like Canada, Germany and Sweden and others in the European Union to see what can and cannot work without jeopardizing the economy.  California should also be included in this mix.  It is a little like an federal jurisdiction which allows various components to try things and see what works.

    So rather than talk about theoretical percentage reductions in a vacuum I suggest that we would be better to see what these other jurisdictions have done, what has worked and what has not.  All of these jurisdictions have experts who can attempt to advise them on these issues but once again they have to look over their shoulder to see if their voters are going to come along.  None of us (I trust) are proposing steps ignoring the democratic polictical realities that exist at least in most of our Western civilization.  With the acknowledged exception of China (nigelj), we have to respect this process when we make proposals.  

    Having grown up in Calgary, lived in Toronto for three years (while attending law school at UofT), and then having spent my adult life in Vancouver, I think I have a "balanced" view of what is in the interests of Canadians generally and certainly not just Alberta.  My children do not live in Alberta.  

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  20. NorrisM,

    When considering how to respond keep the following in mind.

    The issue is 'Correcting incorrect over-development to minimize the damage done to future generations'. The current globally agreed understanding, based on all the currently developed understanding of climate science, is to limit the accumulated impacts of incorrect over-development to a level that has a good chance of limiting the increase of global average surface temperature to 2.0C.

    Such corrections will inevitably involve 'harming' the incorrectly over-developed aspects of the global economy. And since 1987, and actually earlier than that date, there has been no valid excuse for any leader, political or economic, to actually believe otherwise (their desire to get away with behaving less responsibly, more harmfully, and try to keep popular opinion on 'their side, excusing them' is understandable, but is not excusable).

    Another thing to keep in mind is that pursuing benefit from light crude is not necessarily better than trying to pursue benefit from bituminous sand deposits. In Alberta light crude extraction can involve tertiary recovery methods that involve high energy requirements, and may include 'permitted' chemical pollution, making such light crude as bad or worse than some bitumen (though totally legal because of the legal loopholes like 'permission' to pollute). And the end result of burning the final consumer products from either source is the same magnitude of problem, something that needs to be rapidly curtailed in spite of the losses that could/should be suffered by the people who gambled on benfiting that way.

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  21. NorrisM - how come it is okay to harm the environment but we mustnt on any account harm the economy? Which of these is more accurate representation of reality?

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  22. Regarding Scaddenp's nice graphic, the right hand set notation is clearly the more convincing. The economy is a subset of the environment. The environment is more important than the economy, because the economy can't exist without the environment.

    New Zealand had a proposal to change the resource management act environmental legislation, to make the economy equal to the environment, more like the left hand graphic. I think Scaddenp is from NZ, so may recall how this provision was fortunately defeated. While it sounded superficially appealing, and balanced, they cannot be considered equal as well demonstrated by your graphic. (I lobbied on this issue under the name of gandalf.)

    Although it is self evident that the economy is also important. Imo its always going to have to be a case of demonstrating that some economic activity does not significantly harm the environment, and the RMA has a good process for this. Although I think it could be made to operate more quickly I think in a practical sense, without qualitatively changing the process and rules. Lawyers slow it all down (sorry Norris).

    Here is a bit of a personal view on the forces behind all this. The environment is effectively a combination of our home in the galaxy, and the the raw materials of the economy. The environment is a limited and finite resource. While we may eventually be able to mine asteroids, we know this will have problems and limitations, even with the most optimistic assessment of the possibilities so we cannot possibly count on this sort of thing as a given.

    The environment is constantly changing for natural and man made reasons. It can be transformed in ways that are sustainable, and ways that aren't sustainable. Waste can turn the planet into a rubbish dump, or be disposed of more carefully, or we can use alternative materials. 

    All these things are interrelated of course.

    The goal should be to maximise the time humans can exist and flourish on this planet. The environment can be conserved with a combination of sustainable development goals and appropriate rules. It also requires a voluntary and enlightened change in both personal and corporate lifestyles and values. Ultimately, and sooner rather than later, population growth must slow radically. Economic growth must slow, or change its focus.

    If all this doesn't happen by design and evolution, planetary limits are likely to force things to change and population and growth to fall the hard way.

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  23. "the economy can't exist without the environment."

    I can't think of a more concise and accurate way to define the problem. We are on the way to discover the true cost of ecosystem services; it's not going to be pleasant. The other aspect is this: the immense majority of arguments that go the "harm the economy" route conflate "the economy" and corporate profits. 

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  24. nigelj,

    I agree that the graphics presented by scaddenp are a good representation of different potential 'worldviews'. I would add that the right presentation is the only one that can be supported by reason.

    Reality is the entire physical universe (or multi-verse if verifiable observation leads to that awareness and understanding). All of that physically understandable stuff is the Environment. Within that Environment there are Living things that have developed by 'fitting into the Environment'. Within Living Things there are Humans. Humans develop a variety of societies within the totality of Humanity. And each society of humans can have a variety of economies developed within it. But any part of developed life can only continue to exist if it is a sustainable part of the Environment.

    Societies are developed by the interaction of individual humans. And economic activities are a sub-set of those human interactions. Therefore, the economy is a diversity of possibilities that can develop regionally and be changed as needed.

    What is needed by Humanity is a sustainable future for humanity that is constantly getting better for all of humanity. That requires the interactions between humans to be constructive and helpful to the development of a sustainable better future for humanity. That requires all of the chosen to be developed interactions of the economy to be sustainable improvements for 'all of humanity including generations into the distant future'. Another way to say that is 'all human activity needs to fit in as a sustainable part of the environment'.

    That understanding leads to the need for restrictions on human activity to protect the sustaining of a robust diversity of life in the environment, things like healthy water, healthy air, healthy soil, healthy food.

    Those reasonably required restrictions contradict the preferred developed beliefs of the Economy-Centric types (the people who think the Economy Governs Reality and must be Protected, or at least be allowed to compromise Society or the Environment). Like a Religion, the Economy-Centric fans require Faith when the evidence (Reality) exposes that a developed profitable and popular Economic activity is harmful to the pursuit of sustainable development benefiting all of humanity, especially the future of humanity. But Economy-Centric belief is unlike spiritual religions because almost every spiritual religion includes teachings of the need for humans to honour, respect and protect the Environment and other life.

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  25. scaddenp @ 71

    The environment will always be here long after man has parted this world (after listening to a few of Sam Harris podcast interviews with people knowledgeable about Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) all of this talk about what the climate may be in 2100 may be a bit academic, for the human race at least).  

    But assuming we somehow figure out "the alignment of AGI" and we still are around, again, it comes back not to what we might think is right (the left side or the right side of the graphic), but rather as to what does the public think about this graphic?  My sense is that they would point to the representation on the left of the graphic. 

    What the public most thinks most about are jobs, education, health care, pensions, taxes, etc etc ie. the "economy". So "harming the economy" is very relevant. 

    From the above, I trust you will see Phillipe Chantreau that I believe the economy is much more than just "corporate profits".    

    It just seems to me to be irrelevant to talk about things in a vacuum.  Anything we do has to come back to convincing governments elected (in theory) by the public to take action.  That means convincing the public and if you make proposals that are not practical in relation to the economy then you are just whistling against the wind in my respectful view.

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  26. Norris M @75

    All you have said is that the public dont all understand the economy / environment relationship, and they worry about jobs. You are stating the obvious and reinforcing the general ignorance, so what is your point and purpose? 

    "That means convincing the public and if you make proposals that are not practical in relation to the economy then you are just whistling against the wind in my respectful view."

    What impractical proposals?

    You talk and talk and never really say anything. You go in circles like a merry go around like you are paid to waste time.

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  27. orrism,

    All the peer reviewed economic reports that I have seen from the Stern report on the Ecoomics of Climate Change up to the present show without question that it is much more economic to take strong action about AGW than to wait or go slowly as you suggest.  I.E. it is much more damaging to the economy to use fossil fuels than to take action about AGW.

    Your claims that reducing fossil fuel use might damage the economy are simply fake news and propaganda from oil companies.  Please provide a peer reviewed economic analysis that indicates there is danger of harming the economy from reducing fossil fuel use.  I doubt such an analysis exxists, it is all propaganda.  Everyone who actually looks at the data concludes it is more economic to change to renewables.

    You are simply spamming us here since you have provided zero peer reviewed studies to support your claims that taking action about AGW will damage the economy.

    I have provided you at least 8 peer reviewed analysis of renewable energy like the Smart Energy Europe: The technical and economic impact of one potential 100% renewable energy scenario for the European Union and the Jacobson papers.  All these analysis conclude it is cheaper to switch to renewable energy.  They conclude jobs will increase and the economy will expand using renewables.  You are simply voicing oil industry propagada.  Provide peer reviewed evidece to support your absurd claims.

    Moderators: Norrism has not provided any evidennce to support his repeated, wild claims.  That is the defination of sloganeering.  He should be required to provide citations to support his claims just like everyone else.

    Your claim above about "what the climate may be in 2100" is specious.  The climate will continue to change after 2100 even though the IPCC does not consider that time period.  Peer reviewed economic analysis like I have cited above show that if we do not rapidly reduce fossil fuel use there is a strong likelyhood that all of civiliation will collapse.  Farming in the world's breadbaskets will not be possible with 6C climate change.

    Since fossil fuels will run out in 100 years or so anyway, we will be forced to use renewables in the end no matter what.  Why destroy a living climate for those in the future when we can make the switch now?

    Provide peer reviewed papers to support your wild claims.

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  28. An economic reason for mitigating manamde climate change now, rather than later...

    Scientists are warning us that the winter is becoming shorter. First freezes are starting later. So when I look at my children, I am even more convinced that we must take immediate and aggressive action on climate if we want their generation to learn these sports and enjoy winters in the mountains. More important, we must act quickly to preserve the culture and economies that depend on winter and snow.

    A report to be released this month by the group Protect Our Winters, which I founded, shows that tens of thousands of jobs are at stake in mountain towns as our climate warms. In total, the 191,000 jobs supported by snow sports in the 2015-16 winter season generated $6.9 billion in wages, while adding $11.3 billion in economic value to the national economy.

    Saving Winter Is More Than About Snow. It’s About Jobs., Opinion by Jeremy Jones, New York Times, Feb 16, 2018

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  29. michael sweet@77 provides a comprehensive rational assessment of NorrisM's commenting to date.

    I would add that the issue neglected or deliberately ignored by NorrisM and many others is the proper consideration of the Future for humanity including the economies of the future.

    NorrisM has correctly observed the problem: The development of a focus on 'Trying to get the best personal Present (Private Interest) rather than living a Good life helping Others, especially helping to develop sustainable improvements for the future of humanity (Global Public Interest)'.

    However, NorrisM fails to understand/admit that is a problem to be corrected (and many others share that failing).

    The economic evaluations I have seen, including the evaluations by Stern, side-step the issue of the simple unacceptability of current day activities negatively affecting the future. They often pretend that perceived benefits today translate into eternal future benefits.

    One way they do that is by comparing the 'costs today, or lost opportunities for perceptions of prosperity today, of rapidly correcting the incorrectly over-developed activities' with 'an assessment of future costs created by those incorrectly over-developed popular and profitable activities'. And things are declared to be OK as long as the evaluation shows less future costs than the current day costs of correction. That is like declaring it is OK to do something you enjoy/benefit from because you have determined that the joy/benefit you get is more than the cost/distress/annoyance you consider you have created for your neighbour.

    In addition to that obviously fundamentally unfair method of evaluating acceptability:

    • current day costs often get exaggerated
    • future costs are limited to a few specifically identified future impacts.
    • reduction of non-renewable resources is ignored, no future costs assigned for that.
    • Future costs get reduced by discounting, basically saying the future is less important than the present. Note that Net-Present Value type discounting is a legitimate way to evaluate alternative investment opportunities as long as the future costs are experienced fully by the ones receiving the present day benefit. Activities that future generations do not benefit from, like the burning of non-renewable buried ancient hydrocarbons, can only be acceptable if there is no negative future consequence. And the simple reduction of access to buried ancient hydrocarbons is a negative impact on future generations.

    The bottom line is the developed popular concepts of 'pursuits of popularity and profitability economics' are in need of significant correction.

    That means significant corrective education of the general population, another item NorrisM should be able to appreciate, unless his motives are different from the Global Public Interest of ensuring that activity today minimizes the harm done to future generations of humanity and actually develops sustainable better ways of living.

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  30. The so called "harm the economy" issue is meaningless, and scaremongering, unless people are specific on what they mean. I haven't had time to read the links on the costs studies, but here are a couple of thoughts from a slightly different perspective, stripping it right back to first principles.

    Start with a basic normally accepted definition.The economy is the way 'society' chooses to organise the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services and money. This can be paraphrased as the best use of scarce recources.

    Reducing emissions doesn't really reorganise how the economy works in terms of basic decision making and systems. It might add a carbon tax, but taxes are nothing new, and its limited to one product essentially. Even Trump wants a petrol tax for road funding.

    Reducing emissions has some potential to have inflationary effects, but not significantly as I talked about above. It doesn't have to add debt. However the point is, its hard to see why it would cause stability problems, like economic bubbles do.

    Of course nobody thinks making the required changes comes for free. We need to cap industrial emissions and replace coal plant etcetera. But costs of all this are put at a couple % of gdp, which equates to a couple of % of our income each year, not some doubling of income tax, or massive drop in living standards. Renewable electricity is already cheaper than fossil fuels, and it creates jobs.

    The point on discounting of future costs is a good point and needs to be considered.

    And of course there are the costs of continuing to use fossil fuels. They harm the economy, and not just because of CO2, and they are not ultimately a sustainable resource in the way solar power is for example.

    Until its all broken down like this into the component issues, we will go around in circles.

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  31. "What the public most thinks most about are jobs, education, health care, pensions, taxes, etc etc ie. the "economy". So "harming the economy" is very relevant. "

    But the point is that harming the environment will hurt society and economy. I am continuing to harp on about the fact that you are concerned about "harm to economy" from decarbonizing (with little to support that contention), but unconcerned about damage climate change does the economy if you dont address it. Economic studies to date show better to mitigate than adapt. Where is your peer-reviewed reports to show the opposite.

    I agree that decarbonizing will disrupt the economy. (FF industries go to the wall). I am unconvinced it will harm the economy. Show me the studies that show more harm from decarbonizing than adaption.

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  32. michael sweet, nigelj, scaddenp & Bob Loblaw

    I have obviously hit a nerve with my comments regarding "harming the economy". 

    First of all, that comment was initially addressed at Bob Loblaw and then scaddenp regarding his graphic. But I was really only addressing the imposition of a carbon tax at a level that would have deleterious effects on the economy.  No I am not going to get involved in defining "harming the economy" because it is too complex an issue.   You do not need "peer reviewed articles" to know that a $150/tonne carbon tax would have serious repercussions on a number of industries, just a little common sense.  My understanding is that Bob Loblaw is not suggesting this level but I suspect that all his proposed direct costs would in fact result in a level at least this high. 

    My principal point was that governments have the resources to make those decisions on what will and will not harm the economy.  As part of that process they will have to convince their electorate.

    I am not also going to attempt to research "peer reviewed articles" that show what damage certain environmental policies would have on the economy for the very same reason.  This is a very complex matter that cannot be resolved on a climate website.  Let governments decide whether "peer reviewed articles" on the costs of conversion are realistic.  My understanding is that the Lord Stern report has been severely criticized by a number of his peers.

    So cutting to the quick, here is the question:  If the proposed steps have not yet been taken by any country in the world (other than promises to do so by 2030), then why has it not been done to date?

    Why  has not Germany, France or Sweden taken the required steps to date?

    My guess, is that politically it would be impossible for them to do so.  Politically they can sign the Paris Agreement but they cannot politically follow through.

    That is only a guess but here are three forward looking countries. Clearly all of them are taking steps but have they have not done what is required of them even to meet a 2C target.  My understanding is that Germany is having serious issues politically with the issue of coal.  But why is Sweden not there with their abundance of hydro to assist them?

    If this is so simple and does not pose any danger to the economy (Lord Stern notwithstanding), then why cannot we point to these countries as having "achieved the goal"?

    To me the answer is that the solutions would not be approved by their electorates.  So I am back to democracy and incrementalism.  Do what you can do.      

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  33. Lets suppose the you have 100% efficient carbon tax and no action to reduce carbon. Everyone gets the money they spent on carbon tax directly back. Its an odd and unnecessary circle but if money doesnt leak, then where is the harm?

    Of course it is massively disruptive if in fact consumers/generators react by switching to other energy forms. But again the question, does that harm the economy? Locally yes - collapse of coal mining in UK under Thatcher has communities still in recovery mode, but did it damage the economy of UK?

    I would say much of the resistance is fact due to FUD or worse from the FF industry. You point to Europe, but they took steps under Kyoto and brought in ETS (as did say NZ with its abundant hydro) instead. There are pro and cons to ETS versus carbon tax (especially when there is a big defector like the US), but it is incorrect to say other nations have done nothing. The US is the big non-actor and its failure to do anything ( or even exploiting others ETS) is the major problem.

    And back to incrementalism - it is pretty obvious that increasing carbon emissions at rate we have done has had a serious backfire that needs to be redressed very quickly. I strongly suspect the Popper would say that when untended consequences from failure of incrementalism occur, then reverse is a desirable option.

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  34. NorrisM:

    If you can't define "harming the economy" then it is pretty hard to have any sort of reasonable discussion about the issue.

    You now use the phrasing" You do not need "peer reviewed articles" to know that a $150/tonne carbon tax would have serious repercussions on a number of industries, just a little common sense." (Bolding mine.)

    Well, now you're really digging in deep. The economy is not "a number of industries", it's every industry, every person, every bit of economic activity.

    If your criterion for a carbon tax is that it not have any detrimental effect on even one industry, then you are setting impossible standards. If you are limiting your discussion of "the economy" to some fraction of the total economy, then you're going to need to clearly define what is in and what is out of your "number of industries". And you will need to justify why the rest of the economy doesn't matter to you.

    At #23, I had asked (and you have not yet answered)

    Do you want to be part of the group that pays for the damage costs of someone else's fossil fuel use, part of the group that is happy to let someone else pay for damage caused by your use of fossil fuels while you get the benefits, or some other group?

    It is looking more and more as if you want to be part of the group that is happy to let someone else pay for damage caused by your use of fossil fuels while you get the benefits. Your "number of industries" that you want to protect from damage are likely the ones that provide you with those benefits. And the part of the economy that you want to ignore is likely the part that makes others suffer from the costs of fossil fuel use.

    In comment #56 I gave a list of historical events. Every one covers changes that will have winners and losers. If you get to choose which parts of the economy to include in a cost-benefit analysis, then you can make any one of those look like a good change or a bad change.

    To choose which evidence you will consider on the basis of what you like leads you down the path of motivated reasoning.

    Up your game. Stop making vague assertions that mean nothing when examined closely.

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  35. Recommneded supplemental reading:

    OECD says energy taxes in developed economies too low to fight climate change by Nina Chestney, Reuters, Feb 14, 2018 

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  36. Norris,

    A carbon tax should be set at a moderate level and increased over time to full level, so the economy has time to adjust and doesnt experience significant inflationary effects. This is actually the main thing to worry about.

    Tens of thousands of businesses go backrupt In America each year, and new businesses start. Fossil fuel companies will be eventually replaced by alternative fuels. A carbon tax and dividend scheme can drive this process effectively.

    The industrial revolution was pretty disruptive, and seems wider in impacts than just energy use. You could argue it harmed the economy short term in a 'disruptive sense', but improved the economy long term. Almost nobody now looks back and says its a bad decision.

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  37. Nnorrism:

    If you are going to argue against a carbon fee and dividend you must choose an amount that is at least near a believable sum.  Find one person who has proposed a $150 carbon tax as a start.  The proposals I have seen start at about $20 and increase over time.  If there were economic issues the fee could be adjusted as needed.  This does not even rise to a straw man argument, it is just rediculous.

    Please find one economist who has studied the economic effects of climate change who has criticied the Stern report.  I have seen a lot of propaganda from fossil fuel interests and economists who have not looked at any data but I am not familiar with a single economist who has studied AGW who criticied the Stern Report.  

    If you want to engage in informed debate you must support your insane claims.  You are just spamming us here.  You will never convince anyone here with your strawmen and imaginary data points.

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  38. To follow up nigelj's comment @ 86, and return to my list of economic changes @ 56:

    • The changes that brought about the development of railways and personal automobiles had a devastating effect on the horse and buggy industry. If the horse and buggy industry was a major source of political financing at the time, would we have seen political action to block advances in steam locomotives and the mass production lines that brought us the automobile? Would we have seen a reluctance to spend public dollars on road networks?
    • If the typewriter industry had been a major source of political donations, would we have seen a stifling of the development of computers and word processing software? The typewriter isn't dead, but it's not the industry it used to be. You might even say that the repercussions were serious.
    • Was the financial crisis of 2008-2009 a good thing because a few people that managed to keep their jobs and had cash on hand (instead of in equity) suddenly found out that they could buy houses at 50% off? What a tremendous benefit!

    As I said before, it depends on who's ox gets gored.

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  39. Bob Loblaw @84

    I will answer your question if you answer mine.  My question to you is how you can reconcile a carbon tax at levels presently suggested by other commentators on this thread with a carbon tax levied on industrialized societies at a rate that will make those societies pay for all the direct damages these societies have or are about to wreak on lesser developed nations.   I assume your suggested solution is to then transfer a large portion of the proceeds from this high level of carbon tax to those societies in some sort of wealth transfer.  But are you not effectively proposing a carbon tax on developed nations at a level much higher than $30-$80?

    If you do not propose such a solution then what is all this talk implicit in your question at #23?

    So here is my answer to your  question posed at #23.  The answer is yes.  And the reason is that fossil fuel use throughout the world has transformed this world to the benefit of everyone in this world, not just the developed nations.  What has happened is just a cost of our industrialized society up until now. 

    Although I only heard this figure on a Sam Harris podcast on some topic entirely separate from any discussion of climate change, this commentator said that today only 10% of the world's population exists at a poverty level whereas 90% are above that poverty level (I know there are many measurements of poverty but we are talking generalities here).  However, 150 years ago, those figures were reversed.  90% of the world population lived in poverty. 

    I trust you get my point.  Our industrialized society has lifted 80% of the world's population out of poverty.  So I do not think we have anything to apologize for when it comes to past use of fossil fuels which has propelled us to where we are today.

    When it comes to pollution I am completely in the camp of charging those who have polluted.  As an example, I think the plastics in our ocean are a travesty.  If we could figure out where it came from proportionately, then I would be all in favour of some UN Convention to get nations to pay up based upon their contribution to clean up this mess.

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  40. The more that NorrisM presents, the more certain I am that his thoughts are personally motivated in the way I described in my recent post on the "How to Change Your Mind About Climate Science" OP.

    "Regional socio-economics can result in indoctrination/brainwashing of many people including people who have completed high levels of education. To change their minds, they would have to admit they have allowed themselves to desire unacceptable things, admit their developed desired ways to pursue benefit are harmful to others, and admit that their perceived success/superiority relative to others is not deserved. Those can be powerful motivations to not change their minds."

    NorrisM is still pursuing additional income from the burning of fossil fuels (unless his comment about going to Alberta for a light crude oil related business matter was Pro-Bono). It is also likely he desires the ability to obtain other benefits from the activity rather than dramatically reduce his personal benefit from the burning of fossil fuels.

    As observed by others, his arguments have to be selective. And they may not even be accurate presentations of the selective points he raises. His objective is to justify his position that a 'business as usual' approach to the 'required correction of the development of popularity and profitability of an understandably harmful and ultimately unsustainable activity' simply has to be accepted.

    His claims have to over-look the fact that business and political leaders have been well aware of the need to correct the way things were developing for over 30 years. His argument is that 'very little should be done now because very little has been done previously'. That is not how he presents it but that is what it is. It is almost comical when presented the way it really is. It is a claim that a lack of corrective action in the past justifies a lack of corrective action today, rather than admitting that the lack of responsible action by the most fortunate in the past has created the need for more dramatic correction today. And it side-steps the reality that the correction must be to the detriment of some of the most fortunate today, the ones who inconsiderately gambled on getting away with behaving less acceptably.

    His presented views are a good insight into the ways that 'made-up minds that are determined to continue to benefit any way they can get away with' will attempt to argue a case. Admittedly that is the way some lawyers (not all of them) learn to win, it is a developed skill. And with many lawyers Winning political leadership roles, the way NorrisM approaches this matter is likely similar to those elected representatives (so many Republicans still claiming to be, or acting as if they were, ignorant/dismissive regarding the corrections that climate science has indicated are required for the benefit of the future of humanity).

    NorrisM correctly identifies that understandably unacceptable pursuits can be popular and profitable. However, his claim that 'that just has to be the way it has to be' cannot be defended. Note hat he offers no suggestion of action that would correct the problem. The most obvious required corrective action is more correctly educating the population, which will require the creation of new measures that will effectively promote/reward Helpful Winners (educators) and penalize/discourage Harmful Winners (indoctrinators/misleaders - people who argue/fight against developing awareness and understanding that is contrary to their Private Interests).

    Harmful economic activities get shut down all the time. Popular opinion in support of understandably unacceptable activity that is artificially propped up to prolong the unacceptable activity just leads to a more dramatic required correction. The recent curtailing of viability of the town of Asbestos in Quebec is an example of what happens when unacceptable pursuits are regionally propped up and prolonged, people in the future eventually suffer the inevitable consequence. The unfortunate current reality faced by USA coal workers is another example.

    NorrisM appears to be OK with the unacceptable activity continuing to a more dramatic correction 'in the future, when it is less likely to affect him'. That way of thinking is understandable. And it is understandably unacceptable, in need of help to correct, challenged by motivations to resist change.

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  41. nigelj @ 80

    "The so called "harm the economy" issue is meaningless"

    If concerns about the effects of major impacts on the economy are meaningless, then please respond to my question as to why Germany, France and Sweden (I can probably add NZ) have not fully dealt with the issues of moving from fossil fuels to other sources of energy?

    Is that not the litmus test?

    The Moderator has provided a commentary from the OECD that supports my assumption that these nations are far away from what is needed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

    Perhaps part of the answer is that until the storage problem is solved there is no adequate solution. But surely Sweden does not have a storage issue with its abundant hydroelectric power.  I suspect it is making too much money selling it to Germany when the wind is not blowing.

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  42. It's a 10-day-old multiple-choice question and the troll still cannot aswer it.

    Question @23 - Do you want to belong to group A, group B or group C?

    Answer @89 - Yes!!

    While the industrialised society we belong to has pulled many from poverty creating a post-Malthusian world, to suggest that the poverty figure set by the World Bank (actually 'extreme poverty' figures with income levels $1:00-a-day in 1990, $1:90-a-day today, which shows the 1990 level of 35% in extreme poverty shrinking to 10% by 2013) is properly showing the achieving of the World Bank Group’s mission “Our Dream is a World Free of Poverty” is naive in the extreme. And then the follow-on suggestion that this give the industrialised world licence to pump CO2 into the atmosphere for ever-and-a-day is a rather distasteful one.

    Poverty levels

    Also the choice @91 of 'litmus test' countries France, Germany & Sweden appears designed to be annoying.

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  43. NorrisM:

    Please learn to be more specific. The question posed in #23 (repeated in #84) is not a "yes/no" question. Your answer of "yes" does not answer it, unless you are accepting my impression stated in #84 that "you want to be part of the group that is happy to let someone else pay for damage caused by your use of fossil fuels while you get the benefits." (That contradicts your closing statement that you want polluters to pay.)

    As to your request for me to "reconcile" what you see as contradictory statements: you are creating strawmen positions. I have told you that I want a higher carbon tax than $30, and I want it introduced incrementally, and that I want observations of its effects to dictate how high it goes. I have told you that "all costs" is not my position, I have also told you that a carbon tax is not enough - other actions will be needed.

    You talk again about wealth transfer. You have not, from what I remember, ever addressed the fact that I mention in #23 - that the externality of having costs of fossil fuels borne by people other than the consumers represents a transfer of wealth. You only seem concerned about transfers of wealth away from your small portion of the economy. As long as the poor people got a few crumbs, why apologize for eating most of the cake?

    Action on climate change is not about righting past wrongs. It is about preventing future wrongs. The primary benefit of a carbon tax and other actions would be to prevent much of the future fossil fuel use, and thus avoiding much of the future damage.

    Ideally, technology will allow us to use other sources of energy, without carbon, and in the long run a carbon tax would provide little revenue (whether it is held by governmnent or transferred to others). If we don't burn carbon, a carbon tax has little effect. I would be very happy if 50 years from now nobody is paying a significant carbon tax (although I won't live to see it).

    Any of the economic analyses you have been pointed to will indicate that past fossil fuel use has been a net benefit, but it will become a net loss as atmospheric CO2 and climate change become more severe. Ask someone in Houston if their fossil-fuel-based job will continue to be a benefit if it means getting flooded every ten years like they did last year.

    Those analyses also indicate that poor countries will bear much of those future costs, with benefits concentrated in rich counties. Ask someone in Houston how their rebuilding is going. Then ask someone in Puerto Rico. If there is a difference, think about why. And when asking someone in Houston, make sure it isn't someone who sells building materials or does construction work or mold remediation - I bet their businesses are booming (and at least a few aren't apologizing for it).

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  44. NorrisM @ 91:

    Now you are just engaging in "whataboutery".

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  45. NorrisM @91

    Thank's for the comments, however I didn't say "The so called "harm the economy" issue is meaningless". I said harm the economy is "meaningless and scarmongering until you define exactly what you mean". I defined the points that need consideration for you.

    Like Bob Loblow says, it "depends on whos axe gets gored". Fossil fuel producers will hurt, but as I pointed out thousands of companies go bankrup each year. Its part of the "creative destruction" of capitalism that the Republicans "say" they support (only when it suits of course, when their favourite oxe isn't being gored).

    I think the main risk is inflation, but this can be easily managed and contained to low levels. The risk is because obviously a very high carbon price abruptly introduced would push up fuel costs considerably and abruptly, and for example the supply of electic cars would not keep up. So you have a lower starting point for carbon and ramp it up, so the supply side of the economy has time to expand. On that basis do you have an objection to starting moderate at about $30 and ramping up to $80 over time of a decade? (To pick a middle ground example, for the sake of simplicity). This is your incrementalism, so I struggle to see why you would object.

    "If concerns about the effects of major impacts on the economy are meaningless, then please respond to my question as to why Germany, France and Sweden (I can probably add NZ) have not fully dealt with the issues of moving from fossil fuels to other sources of energy?"

    All these countries have made at least some some progress with renewable electricity. Germany has a unique problem where they took all their nuclear offline, after Fukushima, and went back to coal because it was just easier. However Germany is now back to building wind and solar farms.

    The UK has actually done much better with renewable electricity, particularly wind farms, because it has separated the decision making process from government , by creating an independent body, and it has a a reasonable sort of carbon tax as well. It's a good model of development.

    New Zealand has 80% renewable electricity already, mostly hydro and geothermal, and with some wind power. We have plans being consented to build more wind and geothermal power.

    Of course none of this is proceeding fast enough, and needs more incentives like a carbon tax and dividend scheme. People are perhaps understandably nervous, and politicians are scared of change, in case it upsets anyone including their campaign donors. And we have had a misleading , scaremongering campaign against climate science and renewable energy. But things like this inevitably change, for example the new government in New Zealand was elected with quite a strong climate policy platform, by facing down industry lobby groups.

    People will see through the climate denialist nonsense, and it will happen with a huge rush. Just a couple more years of record temperatures. It's just how human psychology works.

    Nobody in industries affected by a carbon tax will starve to death. Most industries will adjust fine, looking at other historical disruptions, and the renewable electricity industry by its nature tends to create a lot of jobs and with good salaries, so if anything its a bit of a "win win" situation for society as a whole. I'm not saying it won't hurt, but I haven't seen any compelling actual hard evidence of huge harm to the economy, just idle speculation on biased think tank websites, dressed up to sound superficially convincing. 

    "Perhaps part of the answer is that until the storage problem is solved there is no adequate solution. But surely Sweden does not have a storage issue with its abundant hydroelectric power. I suspect it is making too much money selling it to Germany when the wind is not blowing."

    The storage problem is largely solved in terms of technology. Look at the huge Tesla lithium battery complex in southern Australia, that is now saving them money. Sweden does indeed have planty of hydro storage, and the issue is rather obviosly slow implementation of wind power. Its reasonable to expect battery storage costs to fall over time. Again the issue is more politics getting in the way as mentioned above.

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  46. "why Germany, France and Sweden (I can probably add NZ) have not fully dealt with the issues of moving from fossil fuels to other sources of energy?"

    Seriously, you are trying to defend North America doing nothing about CO2 emissions, by saying the Sweden, Germany, NZ have not managed to completely go FF yet? That is absurb. Sweden is committed to by FF free by 2045, wants end of FF cars by 2030, is using ETS instead of carbon tax and thinks they are poster child for increasing economic growth while reducing emissions. Germany's emission reduction is more modest but chose to try and get off nuclear as well which masks the scale of their renewable investments. NZ is at 80% renewable and well on track to its targets for 100% generation. NZ problem is that 50% of its GHG emissions are from ruminants which is much tougher problem to tackle.

    Other countries might be far away but they are rapidly changing that. And by comparison, North America has made what steps????

    Your objection that carbon tax wont compensate other countries affected by climate change is ludicrous. No one suggested it should. The best way to help other countries is stop emitting so they arent adversely affected in the first place. Carbon tax is a mechanism, supposedly more acceptable to right-winger who dont like more direct measures, for encouraging an energy transition, nothing more.

    As has been pointed out to you before, noone is denying that FF have brought benefits in the past, but for the future they clearly bring problems. Claiming past benefits as reason for doing nothing is yet another piece of rhetoric, substituting for a logical reason.

    Are you trying to convince us that North American should do nothing (you are failing miserably) or trying to justify yourself?

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  47. And further clarity:

    A failure to end emissions ahead of your timeline is not evidence that you cannot achieve your timeline.

    A requirement that other countries reduce their emissions to zero before you will start to implement measures to reduce emissions is unreasonable.

    Attacking an $150/tonne carbon tax is tilting at windmills.

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  48. NorrisM@89,

    Poverty elimination that is sustainable, not just temporary perceptions of reduction, is just one of the set of comprehensive objectives in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

    What is understandable is the need for all of the SDGs to be achieved, not just some of them. And another one of the SDGs is Climate Action. So, the rapid curtailing of negative climate impacts created by the burning of fossil fuels is one of the required actions to 'sustainably reduce poverty'. That will mean the more fortunate changing their ways to sustainably improve conditions for the less fortunate and also changing their ways to stop personally benefiting from the creation of increased climate change challenges.

    The key is sustaining any perceived improvement. And what cannot be shown is how any fossil fuel burning activity has created a 'sustainable improvement for the least fortunate', an improvement that will continue after the unsustainable and harmful burning of fossil fuels is terminated (to put it a little absurdly but to make the point, I would want to see the proof of 'how people being able to enjoy burning fossil fuels to race around on water for pleasure' sustainably makes anything better for the less fortunate).

    Also, Poverty is a tricky thing to talk about. There is Extreme Poverty which is being reduced, but not because of the burning of fossil fuels. And there is also Poverty which may actually be increasing in spite of Extreme Poverty being reduced.

    In spite of those complications of discussing poverty, Global GDP has grown at rates greater than the global population increased (even in Africa the GDP has grown faster than the population), yet a significant portion of the population remains desperately poor, suffering horrible brief existences (never really living).

    So any claim of the improvement being a benefit for the poorest is challenged by the reality that the poorest, the most in need of improvement of living circumstances, have not actually been the dominant recipients of the increased perceptions of prosperity. And claims that the burning of fossil fuels are the reason for any actual reduced poverty are hard to substantiate. Poverty reduction is due to more equitable distribution of opportunity to benefit which is completely independent of the form of energy involved. In fact, it can be more successfully argued that the continued ability of more fortunate people to benefit from burning fossil fuels has delayed the development of sustainable improvements for the least fortunate, delayed the development of truly sustainable ways of living better.

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  49. Norris M made the claim that fossil fuels reduced poverty, and so on.

    They have in a broad sense over time, and nobody disputes that fossil fuels have  been a benefit in the past. Quite what this has to do with the issue at hand eludes me. Asbestos was a great benefit, until we discovered it had serious problems.

    Anyway, its also misleading to claim the reduction in third world poverty since the 1980's (related to the numbers in MA Rodgers comments) is somehow a miracle caused by using fossil fuels. Eonomists say its strongly related to free trade and more open investment. (Something else America seems determined to dismantle). 

    And progress is driven more by 'energy', and we have options.

    Ironically its arguably more practical to drive poverty reduction in Africa with solar power anyway.

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  50. I said "it depends on whos axe gets gored". I  meant of course whos "ox gets gored". I think I got confused with people having axes to grind.

    Anyway, on the subject of the ox,  have a break, have cup of tea, and read the parable of the ox and have a good laugh:

    www.johnkay.com/2012/07/25/the-parable-of-the-ox/

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