Matthew Ridley’s Sixth Test

This is my sixth post responding to writer (and new Lord) Matthew Ridley’s recent essay for the GWPF (found here: Ridley-Lukewarmer-Ten-Tests). His thesis is there are ten points that need to be answered before he will be convinced that current policy regarding climate change makes any sense at all. If you look below, you’ll see my responses to the first five of his tests.

His sixth test is this: “Given that we know that the warming so far has increased global vegetation cover, increased precipitation, lengthened growing seasons, cause minimal ecological change and had no impact on extreme weather events, I need persuading that future warming will be fast enough and large enough to do net harm rather than net good. Unless water-vapour-supercharged, the models suggest a high probability of temperatures changing less than 2C, which almost everybody agrees will do net good.”

Once again, as I also think temperature rises will be on the rough order of 2C, some might be surprised that I even bother responding to this point.

However, I believe that a temperature rise of 2C will cause net harm and I find very little evidence that many, let alone almost everybody, agree that such a rise would do net good.

Stay with me here. Global warming is of course an accounting fiction–what warming we are fighting about is an average increase, with some regions warming much more and some much less than the average 0.8C the world has experienced over the past century. Scientists believe that that variability will not change.

The IPCC has written that over the first two decades of this century continued warming will bring benefits to regions in the middle  (Update: non-tropical) latitudes and that those benefits may outweigh the losses experienced by other regions. So that there’s a net economic gain in the first two decades can reasonably be argued.

However, the regions experiencing the gains are richer than those experiencing the pain, so I would argue that the net benefit to humanity is not equivalent to the economic benefits which I do not dispute.

Moreover, although models cannot provide resolution enough to identify which regions will be most affected by future warming, some scientists have postulated that wet areas will get much wetter and dry areas much drier–this would again disproportionately impact the poorer parts of the planet.

We already see that the Arctic has warmed much faster than the rest of the world and the dramatic loss of summer ice cover over the Arctic Ocean worries me. It may have had an impact on the trajectory taken by the storm/hurricane Sandy, as the increased open water may have blocked its more normal path and steered it onto the Jersey shore. I’m not saying that that would become the norm, but it only has to become slightly more frequent to have real consequences.

A much warmer Arctic might have other consequences as well, changing wind patterns and weather across much of the Northern Hemisphere. Although these changes would probably not be crippling, they would require adaptation to the new regime.

My biggest concern, apart from the worsened immiseration of poor people on the receiving end of rainier rainy season and droughtier droughts (I’m not sure if droughtier is even a real word, let alone a technical term) is whether there would be an impact on large areas of peat. If they warm enough they will release their stored methane, which would contribute additional greenhouse gases.

Burning Peat

The IPCC believes that the net effects of warming will turn negative after two decades, long before we achieve 2C of warming. Of course, their assumption is that warming would continue to possibly 3C, and we part company there.

But 2C is enough to do real damage to poor regions and cause more than an inconvenience to other, richer areas. I think it is worth investigating and  preparing for. I think it is worth taking measures to prevent what we can and reducing the impact where we cannot prevent it.

This is the second half of the Lukewarm proposition–we believe that sensitivity is lower than activists have tried to proclaim by fiat, but we also believe that even lower sensitivity can bring about enough warming to cause real harm and to spur us to action now.

If Mr. Ridley claims the Lukewarmer badge of honour but doesn’t agree with the second half of the proposition, he might well be the first to do so. We don’t have club rules or a creed written anywhere, but even so, it would be remarkable for him to assert as he does that 2C will bring net benefits and still maintain he’s a Lukewarmer.

62 responses to “Matthew Ridley’s Sixth Test

  1. Hi Tom,

    You make assertions that 2 degrees will be a net negative, but I am having difficulty seeing where you get your evidence, other than the gook coming out of the IPCC.

    you also say, ” We already see that the Arctic has warmed much faster than the rest of the world and the dramatic loss of summer ice cover over the Arctic Ocean worries me. It may have had an impact on the trajectory taken by the storm/hurricane Sandy, as the increased open water may have blocked its more normal path and steered it onto the Jersey shore. I’m not saying that that would become the norm, but it only has to become slightly more frequent to have real consequences.” Tom, what do you attribute this to? The last 15 years are flat, no!. What ,specifically, would you recommend to halt Arctic warming?

    • Hi Bob,

      Rejecting all of the scientific papers the IPCC has referred to in their publications seems a bit extreme, don’t you think?

      Judith Curry discussed the blocking event with Sandy at her weblog but I can’t find the specific post–sorry.

      The last 15 years are flat on average for the globe, yes. The Arctic, not really. UAH shows 0.7C since 1980. GISS shows a lot more–looks like 2C almost.

      I don’t think we can localize our response any more than we can guess which localities are most likely to be affected. My crystal ball can get cloudy at times…

      • Tom, I was not rejecting all of the IPCC work, only the parts you must have referred to when you posted about the harm from a 2 degree warm.

      • Hi Bob–I know you’re not rejecting all of the IPCC work. But riddle me this–what if the Philippines happen to be in a region that gets 3C of warming while Kansas City only gets 1C. It averages out at 2C but it’s easy to see trouble arising from that. Stronger (not more frequent) tropical storms may not be what the Philippines needs this century. Do you see the principle involved?

      • Tom, ” Hi Bob–I know you’re not rejecting all of the IPCC work. But riddle me this–what if the Philippines happen to be in a region that gets 3C of warming while Kansas City only gets 1C. It averages out at 2C but it’s easy to see trouble arising from that. Stronger (not more frequent) tropical storms may not be what the Philippines needs this century. Do you see the principle involved?
        Tom, you may well be right about the Philippines, I dunno, but that is not relevant to your position. Your a lukewarmer on the pessimist side (you believe 2 degree harm), but you would institute mitigation policies, which are highly unlikely to work. Let me see if got your position right- you are a lukewarmer that believes the low side of sensitivity (2 degrees or less), but you would recommend mitigation policy changes from a menu-board (CO2 curtailment, land use, etc) because a 2 degree warm might result in uneven worldwide warming where some regions might benefit and some not. Do I have that right?

      • Hi Bob

        Here’s a partial list of what I advocate–characterize it as you wish…

        https://thelukewarmersway.wordpress.com/2012/12/24/what-this-lukewarmer-thinks-we-should-be-doing/

        And yes to your last sentence–I would advocate mitigating climate change even if some regions would benefit.

      • Tom, I think I beat this horse enough, but one more. You say, ” And yes to your last sentence–I would advocate mitigating climate change even if some regions would benefit.”

        I think that is remarkable, that you would advocate change without really knowing the net benefit or harm. Some, not me for sure, might call that a religious position.

      • Well, as a confirmed old agnostic I suppose I should be offended, but I’m not–I understand where you’re coming from. I would suggest the alternate description of ‘insurance.’

      • Tom, agnosticism, as you are well aware, is the disbelief in the existence or non-existence of a deity. Seems to me to be similar to- harm, no harm to a 2 degree warm. I read all of your background material on lukewarmerism, and the first thing you advocate is for a carbon tax. We all know that carbon means coal, oil, natural gas, etc., What I can’t gather from your background info is how you came to the conclusion that your policy advocations would not be detrimental to the vast majority of people in the world. When you tax something you are calling for less of that item. Less energy would be devastating to the poor, here in the US, but especially in the developing world.
        I can understand the policy prescriptions you call for if I was CAGwer, but I guess I will never understand how you reconcile them with being a lukewarmer. Tom, your (at least to me) position doesn’t seem logical.

      • Hiya Bob

        Well, first, a revenue neutral carbon tax should not cause harm. It should influence behavior by large carbon emitters in a direction that society (or at least a chunk of society) considers to its long term advantage. If you’re lowering taxes elsewhere (and I suggest employment taxes such as Social Security), the vast majority should benefit. So I’m saying impose more taxes on what we don’t want (CO2) and less on what we do want (employment).

        Obviously those who do not consider CO2 emissions any type of a burden would not see an advantage.

      • “But riddle me this–what if the Philippines happen to be in a region that gets 3C of warming while Kansas City only gets 1C. It averages out at 2C but it’s easy to see trouble arising from that. Stronger (not more frequent) tropical storms may not be what the Philippines needs this century.”

        All of these assumptions are unclear. There may be fewer storms but more precipitation, etc. The Philippines being near the equator probably won’t experience much temperature change at all. Also, what warming that does exist, will tend to manifest itself as warmer night time temperatures and so on. But let’s put all that aside, but focus on the *point* of your argument. Let’s say there are negative consequences to some nations *somewhere*.

        OK, but according to the IPCC, without CO2, the planet would be cooling right now. Have you considered the negative consequences of cooling as an offset to the negative consequences of warming?

      • Tom, I guess we are going to leave it as it is. I failed at convincing you your positions might be illogical. I feel somewhat vindicated when you refer to revenue neutral taxes. Your position is rather jingoistic, mine more catholic.

      • Well, it takes all kinds…

      • Hi Tom, I understand your position on a revenue neutral carbon tax. It is definitely better than carbon cap and trade. It does not guarantee that carbon will be reduced, depending upon elasticity and substitution effects and I think this is why regulators or politicians have gone for cap and trade (plus financial interest lobbying).
        One problem with revenue neutral is that governments really cant be trusted to re-cycle. Left or right. Even if they start out recycling they will struggle to stop themselves from increasing the tax when the outcomes are not what they “expected”. For example we know that the demand for fossil fuels is reasonably inelastic, so if a tax of “X” only resulted in a reduction of “Y” when they really thought the would get say 2 times”Y”, they will feel compelled to increase the tax. Plus they all worry about what is “fair”. Which is of course equally interesting when you consider the effect of FiT subsidies and their incidence ultimately on end users. As many places are now finding, lower income/fixed income suffer the greatest relative effect and have the least ability to substitute and so end up worse off.
        Neil

      • That’s why hypothecating the revenues to a highly visible and easily understood tax like Social Security is good–people wouldn’t let it be messed with.

      • “That’s why hypothecating the revenues to a highly visible and easily understood tax like Social Security”

        Thank you for making our point on you can’t trust the government with taxes. Have you checked on the SS trust fund lately? 100% raided by the government and filled with IOU’s. Scandalous. If they can’t keep their hands off our retirement coffers, why do you trust them with a carbon tax?

        One of the main differences between the left and right is the belief that government is an honest broker.

        And this is besides the point of this contorted view that a revenue neutral carbon tax will stop suffering in the Phillipines in 2050 and prevent another Sandy. It is an outright fantasy. Please flood the government with tax revenue and they not only won’t spend it, they will also control the weather for you by not spending it.

        The only thing this will resolve is the climate guilt of a few elitist liberals.

        I’m all for an effective answer to reducing carbon (e.g. nuclear power), but the policy prescriptions supported by the greens are mostly incredulous. When all you have is a hammer (tax), everything is a nail.

  2. Tom, you say, ” If Mr. Ridley claims the Lukewarmer badge of honour but doesn’t agree with the second half of the proposition, he might well be the first to do so. We don’t have club rules or a creed written anywhere, but even so, it would be remarkable for him to assert as he does that 2C will bring net benefits and still maintain he’s a Lukewarmer.”

    Since I doubt anyone, including you, can justify their beliefs with evidence, maybe it just comes down to the idea that Ridley is an optimist and the other Lukewarmers are generally pessimists. So what we have now:
    1. Lukewarmers
    2. CO2-Centric Lukewarmers
    3. Lukewrmer Optimists
    4. Lukewarmer Pessimists
    5. Obsessive CO2 Lukewarmers (Mosher only)

  3. “However, I believe that a temperature rise of 2C will cause net harm and I find very little evidence that many, let alone almost everybody, agree that such a rise would do net good.”

    My understanding is that economists who attempt a cost benefit analysis generally calculate benefits = 2C.

    Richard Tol’s research work is probably as good a place to start as any.

    • Wow. I’ve read a lot of Tol and corresponded with him. My take-away from his writing is different. What did I miss?

      • I’m using this link only because I’m lazy and it’s the first one that came up when I binged.🙂

        http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/02/04/new-paper-by-richard-tol-targets-for-global-climate-policy-an-overview/

        Pay particular attention to Figure 8.

        Also, when reading your discussions I am usually left wondering if your concern is about human impacts or environmental impacts or both, or if both, which you place emphasis on.

      • I don’t get it, Will–he says positive global impacts up to 2C then turning negative. I agree. One of his charts looks like it would be okay up to 2.5C, but that’s kind of a quibble. My position is that the net gains accrue to the developed world while the offsetting losses are pinned to the poor. What am I missing?

      • Do I interpret this response as a tacit admission that there are global economic benefits for less than 2C of warming but in your view the benefits are unequally distributed?

        Could you flesh this out? The main benefits are assumed to be CO2 fertilization and reductions in cold related deaths and reduced fuel costs for warming. Poorer nations tend to cluster in warmer zones, so they aren’t likely to see health benefits or gain much by way of fuel reduction savings. On the other hand, poorer nations tend to derive more of their income from agriculture, which may compensate for this. Other points to make are that there will be less warming in regions already warm (equatorial belt) and over the time frames we are talking about (approx. 100 years) those poor countries aren’t expected to be all that poor given historical trends. Finally, it’s unclear to me that poorer nations are adversely effected in any scenario under 2C anyway.

        Your thoughts?

      • I’m willing to be explicit–in fact I thought I was earlier… I (and the IPCC TAR, or was it AR2?) both think that the net economic effects of rising temperatures are likely to be positive on a global scale for the first two decades or so of this century.

        I personally believe those benefits will be unequally distributed. You’ve pointed out two factors yourself. Additional stressors on developing countries include heavier precipitation, more severe droughts and more severe storms. (Obviously none of those are guaranteed–but there are a number of papers out there predicting them.) I think developing countries are vulnerable to what I consider cataclysmic events–the death tolls there are higher for storms than equivalent storms cause in the developed world. I don’t think that’s too controversial. What I may be alone in thinking is that there is a knock-on effect of slower recovery and long term loss of productivity following such events that could quite easily alter the trajectory of economic development we are all hoping for in the developing world.

        That’s pretty much my story–and I’d say I’m sticking to it, but really so much of it is personal conjecture that I am open to discussion.

      • Well I thought the lukewarmer’s position was that < 2C rules out cataclysmic events… or they are so unlikely as to be something we can reasonably discount…

  4. I don’t know why my above post got reformatted to produce a different meaning so let me try again by rewording…

    economic benefits less than or equal to 2C
    economic negatives greater than 2C

  5. Hi Tom,

    You say, ” Obviously those who do not consider CO2 emissions any type of a burden would not see an advantage.” In addition to the post I recommended earlier, perhaps you would consider a post, in the same vane as Ridley, of 10 reasons why you consider CO2 to be the primary driver of global climate. Your reasons, not the Moshpits, nor the Team, nor the rest of the IPCC gurus. Unless, of course you believe the team.

    • Hi, Bob

      Well, first, I don’t think CO2 is the primary driver of either climate or climate changes. I think the ocean is the primary terrestrial driver and the sun might have something to do with it, too. We’ve seen recently that black carbon is also potent, and we’ve known for a while that deforestation and other land use changes may be almost as strong. And although all we ever talk about is CO2, I am strongly in favor of spending effort on each and prioritizing where we get the biggest bang for the buck.

      The least effort required is a simple imposition of a revenue neutral carbon tax. Stroke of a pen and it’s done. Then I’d worry next about deforestation. Then on to black carbon. Support for rural electrification programs–putting up solar panels where they would do the most good. Making sure next gen nukes are good to go–and then get going.

      See, I really am an agnostic…

      • Tom, I am losing whatever touch of persuasion I may have once had. Why would you have as your # 1 mitigating policy a carbon tax if CO2 was not your primary concern. I seriously don’t follow the logic. Admittedly, I am currently imbibing an ice cold cranberry martini.

      • Hiya Bob–maybe it’s my powers of persuasion that are slipping🙂

        I like a carbon tax first because it is the easiest thing to do. It really is! Addressing anything else on that list is an order of magnitude more difficult.

      • What do they call that? A Crantini or a Marberry?

      • I like a carbon tax first because it is the easiest thing to do.

        Since we don’t have a carbon tax but we do have an R&D program for Gen IV Nuclear reactors I would say a carbon tax is not the easiest thing to do.

        A tax doesn’t change how long it takes to validate various materials for use in Gen IV nuclear reactors at Idaho National Labs.

        It’s also arguable whether or not taxes are effective at spurring the desired innovation.

        European’s have had high motor fuel taxes for decades, when I look at supposedly ‘gas sipping’ European vehicles like the Smart Car or the Mini I am profoundly disappointed at the lack of fuel economy innovation.

        The Carbon Fibers for BMW’s next generation of ‘fuel sipping’ vehicles are being spun in Washington State. Carbon Taxes discourage the use of energy intensive light weight vehicle components as they impose a cost now for a marginal benefit over the life of the vehicle.

        This is what carbon taxes in Europe has produced
        http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/08/energy-europe-gas-coal-idUSL5E9C85US20130108

        Coal over $160 needed to make gas attractive – Deutsche Bank

        The average delivered price of coal in the US is around $50/ton. Natural gas is competitive.

        Or a tax could just result in various groups refusing to face ‘non-economic’ choices like here –
        http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2013/feb/08/nuclear-power-climate-change

        We don’t need nuclear power to meet climate goals and keep the lights on

        Once we accept that a ‘tax’ is all we need to do to address climate change then we can then just insist the tax isn’t high enough rather then have a rational discussion about social costs and social benefits.

      • Hiya Harry

        Governments can spin up 10 taxes in the time it takes a researcher to write a report. Instituting a carbon tax just takes agreement to do so.

        I’d love it if we also moved forward on other fronts simultaneously, but if someone asks me the quickest way to start, carbon tax is my answer.

        The European fleet gets much better mileage than the U.S. one, but as I’m sure you already know (seeing as I’ve learned more from you than vice-versa,) a lot of that predates concerns about the climate. Those streets (and parking spaces) are tiny.

      • Tom,
        That is a pretty good list.
        I would place the sun at the top- no sun, no climate.
        We are, if you look at honestly graphed data, dealing with what are actually tiny changes in climate. A few degrees at most in a system that regularly experiences dynamics on the order of ten’s of degrees daily and seasonally- and does just fine.
        The sun has been remarkably stable and so has our climate.
        Just like that latest bit of Mooney excrement where he alleges Greenland is melting dangerously by way of a graph with scary metrics, we find Greenland is actually muddling through just fine.
        The ocean is a close second- it is our vast heat sink, our source of water vapor, clouds, and an amazingly huge carbon sink.

      • Here’s the latest from Europe’s cap and trade system:

        Europe consuming more coal
        http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe-consuming-more-coal/2013/02/07/ec21026a-6bfe-11e2-bd36-c0fe61a205f6_story.html

        “Green-friendly Europe has a dirty secret: It is burning a lot more coal.

        Europe’s use of the fossil fuel spiked last year after a long decline, powered by a surge of cheap U.S. coal on global markets and by the unintended consequences of ambitious climate policies that capped emissions and reduced reliance on nuclear energy.”

      • I just find this “revenue neutral” carbon tax to be disingenuous.

        The goal is clearly to reduce carbon based energy usage by making it more expensive. The neutral part is just obfuscation to make it sound more politically palatable than an energy tax.

        As soon as the public finds out how much their energy bill will need to go up to make in a dent in climate change, this will be rejected out of hand.

        A bird in the hand is worth two in a bush. I’ll keep my money and wait and see if these droughtier droughts and floodier floods actually come to pass. The fact that there is no long term evidence suggesting this is true, except models that have proven to be unreliable, is not enough to submit to climate guilt taxes in my opinion.

        You can believe what you want with respect to attribution, I want the facts. Fix your models first. When they start showing some forecasting skill, then we’ll talk.

      • Tom–(sigh). Yes and no. The effect of a carbon tax is to make fossil fuel energy use more expensive. The purpose of it is to encourage large users to turn to other forms of energy production.

        The neutral part of it has several goals. The first is to not harm the natural workings of the economy any more than necessary by taking the money raised from the carbon tax and returning all of it to the people who paid it, by lowering their taxes elsewhere.

        I want the facts too. I don’t trust models for temperature predictions. At all. However, in terms of trends and highlighting individual events that have impacted the climate, they have shown considerable utility and efficacy. They are a tool. The tool has been misused in the past. That doesn’t make them useless.

    • Yeah–too funny, but glad to see good news.

      • Tom,
        The Amazon news is yet another item for the long and growing list of things that AGW extremists claimed incorrectly were evidence of climate catastrophe.
        And the punchline of the report- that CO2 increases lead to more bio-sphere life is yet another point in a very long list of things that skeptics have been correct about.
        Remember- many skeptics were claiming, long before cliamtegate, that AGW promoters were not playing an honest game.

      • And they were right, Hunter. But remember that there is (mostly) a difference between the scare promoters and the scientists. You’ve seen me in comment threads for the past three years ranting that the scientists let the promoters jump in front of them and get all the press and that this did not serve science well.

        Keep the science and the propaganda separate.

  6. Tom, hate to be a pest but I am in a proselytizing kind of mood. Might this be a possibility in the developing world if lukewarmers(of the CO2 -pessimistic kind) get their way.

    http://lewrockwell.com/deming/deming11.1.html

    • Been a long time since I read Atlas Shrugged–maybe 40 years. I think if Exxon Mobil went on strike a whole lotta people would jump up, eager to take their place. And they’d do it with advance knowledge of regulations, taxes, environmental considerations, etc. But they’d jump–because they’re just as entreprenurial as Hank Reardon, Francisco D’Anconia and all the rest of those guys–and as entreprenurial as the original founders of the fossil fuel industry, before their descendants got complacent.

      • Tom, maybe, but I think you forget the real reason Henry and crowd went on strike – not to dissimilar from what is happening now.

      • 🙂 Yes, I remember it well.

      • Tom, if you will indulge me I will make one final statement on your Lukewarmerism. Mind you now, this after 2 cranberry martinis, grilled ahi and roasted asparagus. After reading everything in your background on lukewamerism, as well as probing you with a series of inquiries, I am nonplussed as to why you refer to yourself as a lukewarmer – on the CO2=Bad side, other than it “feels right” to you. I simply can’t detect, from your writings and musings, a scientific reason for your position. It is what it is. All the best.

      • Of course I’ll indulge you, Bob. Well, hey. I ain’t a skeptic. I ain’t an activist. I have concrete reasons for thinking that humans cause temperature rises, and concrete reasons for thinking we should minimize them. But I don’t think these rises portend catastrophe. So I’m a Lukewarmer.

      • I hear ya, Tom. It is the “concrete” part I couldn’t figure out.

      • Probably what my head is made out of. If you believe folk like Connelly.

      • One thing I learnt from Climategate was not some unmasking of a shocking conspiracy, but that the Connelly’s of the world are groping in the dark like the rest of us. The only difference is they pretend otherwise, at least in public discourse.

      • It actually is surprising and a little saddening to see how petty and grubby it was. At the beginning of writing our book, we kinda suspected it would be like that, but there was always the chance it would be some…big…thing. But it was just cheap academic politics and pushing to the front of the line.

      • Tom,
        I disagree with you on your conclusions regarding the mendacity of cliamtegate.
        If the climategate leaks had been from an investment management company, heads would have rolled, civil suits would have been successfully filed and criminal sanctions and fines, if not outright indictments and convictions, would have followed.

      • Hiya Hunter

        Yeah, but to torture your analogy a bit, even if investment managing companies fraudulently extolled the virtues of CDOs and other shiny new investment toys, it doesn’t disprove Adam Smith or Karl Marx, for that matter.

  7. harrywr2, you say, ” European’s have had high motor fuel taxes for decades, when I look at supposedly ‘gas sipping’ European vehicles like the Smart Car or the Mini I am profoundly disappointed at the lack of fuel economy innovation.”
    I lived in England 15 years ago and was surprised when I learned it was customary to pay for employee’s car and fuel expenses. Of course they didn’t realize their salaries would have been higher without the largesse, but I suspect they didn’t feel the pinch of high petrol prices, so no innovation.

  8. There’s far far faaar more to this issue than Ridley has any idea of. Which is generally true of the entire set of issues. He’s just blowing things off frankly, panglossian, with no indication that he’s really immersed himself in the scientific literature. It’s just not worth paying much attention to.

    • I agree, Jim, which is why this essay is (through the first six issues at least) far more disappointing when compared to what Ridley has done in The Rational Optimist and usually on his blog of the same name. I don’t want to say he sleep-walked through this, but he consistently took the line of least resistance in choosing his approach.

      • Tom, I disagree. You may not have thought he brought his A-game, but your position would be more persuasive if you actually rebutted any of his first questions. No disrespect intended, but other then a cursory reference to the IPCC or other contemporary reference, I don’t see where you adequately answered any of his points. Lot of, I feel, I believe, arm-waving, etc., but concrete answers – Nah. Hope I am not coming off too critical.

      • HI Bob–critical, but not too critical. I’ll have another look at what I’ve written and see if I agree. The potential for you being right is quite good–I am choosing to write this in plain (but hopefully excellent!) English.

  9. I just see this whole carbon tax thing as the environmentalists suing the general public on the basis of non-proven future damages. The argument as presented has no merit. A much better case must be made. If this isn’t over-reach, then I don’t know what is.

    0.8C in the last 100 years caused no material damage. And an alleged 2.0C in the next 100 years will be so large that the general public must be punished now.

    • Hi Tom, I agree that 0.8C in the past century caused no material damage. Those linking Xtreme Weather to climate change are being absurd.

      I think that 2C warming in this century has the potential to cause enough physical damage and human misery to make it worth our while to do what we can to avoid the damage and alleviate the misery.

      • The physical damage you’re talking about, Tom, would be

        > Sea level rise
        > More frequent and more severe drought
        > More frequent and more severe flooding
        > More frequent and more severe storms
        > Species decline e.g. coral polyps, polar bears
        > Spread of disease
        > Large-scale population displacement

        Am I right?

        Some less credible items at this link:

        http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/sciencetech/5-deadliest-effects-of-global-warming/276?image=0

        I like thelukewarmersway blog because the comments forums are reasonably calm and rational and non-abusive. Perhaps this would be a good place to discuss the downside of warming, without hyperbole, relying only on the facts?

      • Hi Oldfossil

        Hmm. I’ve got another ‘Yes,but’ answer for you. Sea level rise? Not really–at the scale I think it’s going to happen our current expertise is probably enough, if we can afford to do what we know how to do.

        More drought and flooding? Yes, and I think this is probably the principal outcome of what warming we’re likely to see before, say, 2050.

        The scientists say more severe, but not necessarily more frequent storms. I can see how that would work, so I’m in.

        Species decline? More the polyps than the polar bears–I think that a lot of small species with small territories might be in trouble.

        Spread of disease–I think in Africa some diseases (not malaria) will increase their geographical range. Mostly affecting livestock.

        I could, I think if pressed, find sound literature for all of the above.

        Like I keep saying, though, my crystal ball is cloudy. Glad you find it congenial here.

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