Adding balance to climate policy

WSJ Lomberg Cost of policy vs costs of change

Lomberg accepts the UN estimates of warming from CO2 emissions.

I don’t. For many reasons I believe the effect of CO2 is overstated by  double or more, but even using the UN numbers, the cure can be worse than the disease.

22 thoughts on “Adding balance to climate policy

  1. Interesting article. I know that projections out a few years are difficult at best. Economic projections are tough. Just look at the myriad of employment projections by both government and private economic policy firms. They are often way off, then corrected as empirical evidence rolls in months later.

    Same with climate numbers. One side stipulates we can’t predict the weather tomorrow so how can we predict climate decades from now. The other side worries that if we wait for real effects to show, we are too late.

    For the average person, the details of computer models, the physics of atmospheric behavior and abstract economic projections are abstruse to say the least.

    What isn’t complicated, however, is watching your home being exposed to rising waters or droughts wiping out crops and limiting groundwater supplies. Or tropical diseases migrating into extra-tropical regions.

    If climate projections are acceptable by the skeptics now, Lomberg for example, are we factoring in the human cost. 100’s of millions of refugees, probable wars and other conflicts, famines and pandemics are very real threats. We are already seeing some of this.

    True, humans can adapt better than most life on earth. But adaptation can’t be spotty or those in poor regions will do what they deem necessary to survive. Mitigation and adaption can’t wait until there are no choices left. And the reality is the only monies are from the wealthy nations and people.

    Simply put, do the industrial nations want to protect their “factories” (the Third World) or let them die on the vine.

    There really is no free lunch here, folks.


    Liked by 2 people

    1. There is indeed no free lunch. This is where the broken window fallacy comes in again.

      If we “spend” our future economic growth by increasing the cost of energy by prematurely abandoning fossil fuels, we won’t be able to afford the things we need to adapt.

      This applies both to us and the developing world. Bangladesh is a poor country with serious sea level problems. If they can become a prosperous country they will be able to afford the flood control measures they will, and already, need. But if we keep them poor by halting the economic development of the world, which is what COP26 seeks to do, then they will remain exposed.

      That is the point of the article.


          1. “There is no case in which wind and solar are even remotely comparable to dual cycle natural gas absent subsides and mandates.”

            Such categorical statements are – like this one – usually wrong. There are too many variables for it to even have a chance to be true.

            Besides, I was speaking of the trends in relative costs. I did not make the foolish claim that renewables would be less expensive in every situation.


            Gas is better than coal, for sure, but its days are also numbered if current economic and technological trends continue much longer.

            Liked by 1 person

      1. Why haven’t those Third World nations become prosperous over the last decades of global trade since they are the location of factories for the entire developed world.

        Will that road to prosperity suddenly take a turn for the better now?

        A decade or so back I read a comment that kind of cast doubt on that. If India were to gain immense broad based prosperity, meaning the majority would have cars, 3 bedroom ranches, A/C, appliances, etc. The rest of the world would choke on bad air.

        We are dependent to a certain degree on many nations to not industrialize. Brazil is destroying our biggest carbon sponge by industrial clear cutting the Amazon rain forest. The same is happening in Indonesia.

        If we want to raise the standards of living in such areas of the world, we should reconsider the value of paying them billions a year to leave the forest alone and help us clean up after the modern lifestyles.

        Not only can we afford it, we cannot afford to not do that.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. “Why haven’t those Third World nations become prosperous over the last decades of global trade since they are the location of factories for the entire developed world.”

          They have. Extreme poverty has largely been eliminated except for those places where religion or politics prevent free trade and free markets from doing their thing.


          1. There is always a human reason that blocks science.

            Extreme poverty is starvation. There are plenty of places in the world where this is going on.

            The reality of religion and politics is that they are both part of human society. And have been since the first man sold his grain to a neighboring tribe and saved some for the Shaman to sacrifice to the gods.

            Unless we can work around those obstacles, we have to work with them.

            If the progress is so slow that over decades extreme poverty has evolved to just great poverty, we should be at some kind of economic parity in a few centuries. Meanwhile we are not solving anything.

            Liked by 1 person

        2. RE: “Why haven’t those Third World nations become prosperous over the last decades of global trade since they are the location of factories for the entire developed world.”

          By some accounts they have:

          “The Princeton economist Angus Deaton, recently awarded the Nobel prize, has spent much of his career working on how we measure consumption, poverty, real standards of living, etc. It is thanks in part to his work that we can say that the global rate of ‘extreme poverty,’ currently defined as subsistence on less than the equivalent of $1.90 a day, is now the condition of less than 10 percent of the human race. In the 1980s, that number was 50 percent — half the species — and as late as the dawn of the 21st century, one-third of the human race lived in extreme poverty. The progress made against poverty in the past 30 years is arguably the most dramatic economic event since the Industrial Revolution. It did not happen by accident.”


  2. RE: “For many reasons I believe the effect of CO2 is overstated by double or more…”

    That sounds about right to me, if only intuitively. I don’t think the science of global warming is particularly reliable at present. But neither are the technologies being advanced to address global warming. It often seems like the blind are leading the blind on this whole issue.

    One observation, however, is absolutely certain. We all want abundant, affordable, reliable energy. If we choose to be fastidious in wanting carbon-free energy, then our main options are nuclear, hydroelectic and geothermal. Solar will never be viable, except in space. Wind will never be viable, period.


    1. “Wind will never be viable, period.”

      Except Scotland, I suppose.

      My guess is that among wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, tidal, etc., there is more than enough energy to power the world. The problems are in political will, economic power of the fossil fuel industry, infrastructure realignment, grid technology, etc.

      Yes, it will take some time, lots of political arm twisting, trust in the science, money, etc. And yes, we will have to maintain some gas and nuclear generation in some areas of extraordinary demand or scarcity of nearby alternative sources. But those will go by the wayside soon enough.

      For the long term, burning non-renewable resources that truly foul the atmosphere are not going to sustain us in a world we have to protect as our one and only place to live.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. RE: “My guess is that among wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, tidal, etc., there is more than enough energy to power the world.”

        Sure, if you focus only on total energy output. But you have to also address engineering factors such as reliability and load balancing. It is those factors that make wind and solar non-viable, as in Texas.

        The dream of a non-carbon producing world is so powerful that many people rationalize it into fantasy. But it remains only a dream.


        1. If I recall, the Texas debacle was self-inflicted. Gas was undelivered, frozen, and Texas did not belong to the grid.

          Plus they did not protect equipment from unusual cold weather as recommended a decade earlier.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Clever, but pointless rebuttal. Texas’ electrical system was loaded with stupidities and misfeasance if not outright corruption. That is self-inflicted.

            Liked by 2 people

          2. RE: “Clever, but pointless rebuttal.”

            Not at all. I made that very point before you denied it.

            The Texas grid went down during a storm for a number of reasons. A main one was allowing wind power on the grid. But wind power advocates keep the dream alive by promoting arbitrary explanations for the failure.


          3. “A main one was allowing wind power on the grid.”

            The usual climate change deniers go to. And so very inaccurate and proven so numerous times. Like other things, telling the same lie over and over does not make it true; it makes the liar appear idiotic for believing his own fantasies.


        1. “That remains to be seen”

          Uh, you can pretend that there is some doubt if that is easier than admitting your categorical statement about the viability of solar energy was . . . uh . . . let’s say a little TOO categorical.

          Liked by 1 person

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