Monday, January 29, 2007

More dumb climate change stuff

Realclimate has become too tedious to follow up on anymore and I'm getting a gist of what it is that bugs me. The climate scientists in general pin a great deal of importance obviously on science and the scientific method (at least that which specifically concerns climate per se). Firstly, I don't believe that the all the answers to important questions lay in the cup of reason, and secondly, I find the scope of the science limiting when they are only dealing with the science of the physical earth rather than the associated political science, economic science, biological feedbacks, game theory etc. For instance if one only argues about whether the science is factual in "an inconvenient truth", it misses the point that everything other than the science is "selling" to a certain point of view and way of thinking. Movies like "an inconvenient truth", "supersize me" and "farenheit 9/11" I do not consider to be documentaries, but "brainwashing" through subliminal messages embedded in otherwise factual footage. I must admit I have not found any sites which take a multi-denominational science analysis of it. "the Economist" comes close, by assuming that the world will act on climate change, whether for good or ill, and is analysing the most cost effective ways of going about it. It, like me, has left aside the question of whether we "should" do anything as a moot question, for the majority seems to have made up their mind, both individually and collectively as countries to act one way or another.

16 comments:

Dr. Clam said...

In the Devil Bunny City Herald yesterday there was a front page article about some moonbat scheme to combat global warming by reflecting sunlight in the upper atmosphere. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said it was 'speculative, uncosted and with potential unknown side effects'. That's a fair description. But it also applies perfectly well to those other moonbat schemes, Kyoto and son-of-Kyoto.

Marco said...

That is really a bit unfair. First of all you are not comparing apples to apples. You are comparing an untested technological "fix" proposal, against a protocol. A protocol is essentially a procedure, a structure upon which more procedure can be built. A structure which allows for potential deterrence/enforcement via at least the means of naming and shaming. I have discovered that there has been considerable simulation in a game theory way to come up with it, with other similar protocols (Montreal) used as verification. If there are future claims that AGW has been fixed, Kyoto could not in itself claim to be the fix, but just an enabling procedure for the fixes that would come.

Dr. Clam said...

Are you saying that a scheme that imposes emission targets, by whatever means, is *not* 'speculative, uncosted, and with potential unknown side effects'?

At least it is easy to draw the boundaries around a technological 'fix' to estimate its costs and side effects: with a social engineering 'protocol' you have a metastasising monster whose costs and side effects you are never going to be able to assess properly :P

Marco said...

First of all Kyoto is voluntary and not imposed. Secondly, the Montreal protocol is a reasonably similar precedent. Thirdly, in various simulations, this type of protocol has certain risks (Moral hazard, lack of a neutral enforcer etc.), but cost blow-out is not one of them. Economists have fairly accurately bounded the costs of actual reduction, and the risks are more that the countries won't reduce because they think it costs too much rather than it just becoming an unfair unbearable burden.

In conclusion, Kyoto is not speculative, is costed in a manner of speaking, and the potential unknown side effects of the protocol are much of a muchness with the unknown side effects of not having a Kyoto protocol.

I agree to a certain extent that treaties and protocols are red tape monsters, but that is why I am against bilateral treaties - more red tape and less potential benefits. Those are the treaties we should be attacking for their expensive side-effects.

Marco said...

You seem to have a "thing" against explicit social-engineering techniques, but seem to ignore implicit ones. Basically all laws in place do social-engineering jobs, whether or not that was what the laws were designed to do in the first place. Using regression analysis we see what the side-effects are. What is the real difference if the side-effect is provable enough and considered a good reason for the law to be put into place? If the side effect of prohibition is more crime does that mean we are social engineering for more crime inadvertently?

Dr. Clam said...

Yup, I'm basically against all of them law thingummies. The fewer of the blighters, the better.

Marco said...

I want more than that. I just don't get your attitude to social engineering still. It seems to me that for you, laws should match moral imperatives and unforeseen consequences be damned! Policing, trade law etc. etc. doesn't matter and the simple rule of thumb is the less rules the better? I agree with you to a point, but I think you haven't really clarified your boundaries.

Dr. Clam said...

Clamly Principles:

Carrots = good
Sticks = bad

General principles from which decisions on what to do in specific circumstances can be derived logically = good
Vast collections of ad hoc rules which no one can be expected to remember, making us all criminals = bad

Solutions that require us to change something outside of ourselves = the proper business of all well-informed persons
Solutions that require us to change something inside of ourselves = the proper business of prophets and great sages equal to heaven

If X then Y, where Y is bad, necessarily implies X needs to be managed carefully = yup
If X then Y, where Y is bad, necessarily implies not-X is preferable to X = nup

Marco said...

heh heh. So which of these principles does Kyoto cross? I don't see any sticks in Kyoto, there are few ad hoc rules and mainly broad principles. It in itself does not ask us to change something within ourselves. And if one takes X as Kyoto and Y as the bad consequences you talk about then managing X well is a better bet than rejecting X as a concept. Christians are coming round to stewardship of the planet being biblical, so what exactly is wrong with a concept that reduces possibility of the tragedy of the commons with little risk of the opposite tragedy?

Dr. Clam said...

So you are saying membership in Kyoto is voluntary and there are no penalties for no meeting goals? Okay, so there is no stick for 'nations'. Which are not people and have no feelings.
If a country is going to try to meet its obligations under the treaty, it will- you know it will, these entities can't help it- pass laws. There will be penalties for breaking these laws. Those are sticks. For real people. With feelings. And t-shirt.

But my grounds for complaint against the Kyoto Protocol and its mooted successors are chiefly these, which did not feature in my answer to your question about why I am down on social engineering solutions because they would apply to Kyoto even if it was a technical solution:

(1) They will not cut greenhouse gas emissions enough to be of any impact on anthropogenic global warming, and hence are a waste of time in terms of addressing the 'problem' they are meant to address.

(2) They will impose significant unnecessary additional costs on us all.

(3) They are very likely to be used as a weapon by the 'haves' against the 'have nots', viz. veiled threats by certain Europeans already regarding trade with non-signatories.

Marco said...

I think your objections to Kyoto are not Kyoto itself, but the presumed resultant regional sub-Kyotos.
1) Laws that countries will pass to meet Kyoto - That is an objection against the stupid government of the country. Few laws are required to meet targets, therefore it is not a particularly good objection of Kyoto per se (But more so with bilateral treaties that imply quotas etc. in their agreements which necessitate bad laws).
2)Again most of the costs will be only resultant if bad (ok there is reasonable likelihood of bad laws somewhere along the line) laws get passed where cost neutral remedies would work. Most countries will take the moral hazard direction if they foresee costs (eg. Canada)
3) Most of 3 is just Europe being stupid Europe. Where it really counts - ie developing countries and those willing to trade as much as possible with them, Kyoto encourages both investment and trade (carbon trade to start with, but it will look pretty silly if there are no tarriffs on emmissions trading and tarriffs on food etc.)

I guess our differences lie in how we think things are going to turn out. Basically, Europe will be big losers, and developing countries and cheating countries will be the winners.

I guess you believe that just as trade barriers makes everybody pay, barriers to emmitting carbon will too. I agree, but the barriers are trade friendly, paper thin, and biased against the haves.

Marco said...

Oh I didn't address 1) at all. I agree that Kyoto will not reduce CO2 enough to make a difference. It may well reduce CH4, NO2 etc. enough to make an as yet unknowable difference. But the tools will be there to avoid an exponential expansion of emmissions very cheaply. The price signals to carbon should match the fear signals we have of catastrophic warming.

Dr. Clam said...

I don't think the accident that there are tariffs on some forms of trade and none on others will go away just because people point out that such a situation is irrational and stupid- after all, that is what people have been doing for hundreds of years.
But okay, you've convinced me! We should clearly sign up to Kyoto and Offspring-of-Kyoto, and then cheerfully go on our way trying to be one of those 'cheater' countries that will prosper.

Marco said...

Yeah - Pretty much. Looking at what anglo-centric countries have done so far - Canada did sign up without questioning much, Australia (and the US) bargained convincingly then didn't sign up, Great Britain signed up also and seems to be caught up in what the Europeans are doing roughly. For Australia and the US, Kyoto seems to be passively active. Market signals and pressures seem to be there regardless of the non-signing. "bad" laws have been passed in the US anyway, and have been asked for by the public in Australia (Laws regarding standards, quotas and subsidies). Canada seems to have pretty much gone on business as usual but is claiming that their targets are completely unachievable now - I give Canada top game points. New governments there can blame the previous ones ad infinitum. Lets see how far it goes before Europe realises it would be nice to have a police country like the US around to enforce international laws they care about. Britain seems to have plenty of bad laws which are just EU baggage. In Australia we have avoided for the most part green subsidies and don't seem to be partial to restrictive regulation of carbon. Power plants are a little greener and cleaner if only for good PR reasons. I am not quite sure how we can be close to meeting nominal Kyoto targets with such a relaxed attitude, but I suspect it is part high energy prices, and part easier target. Energy intensive industries (toys?) may be moving to China also.
In conclusion, I like Kyoto partly because it is weak but flexible, not because it is of immediate effect.
I am not sure you are wrong about those tariff things, but the argument sounds stronger to me with those two particular items. I cannot think of anything which is freely traded worldwide. Can you?

Dr. Clam said...

I think we managed to score by land clearing (or not) in Central Queensland...

Marco said...

Yes, and that gets me thinking. How are they incorporating the Methane from the millions of flatulent cows in Australia for the tally? There could be a good impetus for vegetarianism (or better managed cows)