It’s Been a Hot July

As noted by NBC News, but it’s absolutely, positively, definitely got nothing to do with global climate change (!!!).

Here is a longer term depiction of rising temperatures.
untitled.png

Source: NOAA

And that’s just data for May. Given the duration of the high temperatures, I’m guessing July average temperatures will be above norm.

 

For those unable to detect sarcasm, here’s a discussion of the scientific consensus regarding anthropogenic climate change. From
“Expert credibility in climate change,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2010):

… we use an extensive dataset of 1,372 climate
researchers and their publication and citation data to show that (i)
97-98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the
field support the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and
scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are
substantially below that of the convinced researchers.

 

 

Two key graphs (shown in this post highlight that fact that among published (in peer reviewed journals) climate scientist, the overwhelming consensus is on that anthropogenic climate change (ACC) is occurring.
qa_agw1.gif

qa_agw2.gif

Note that UE denotes unconvinced; CE denotes convinced (by the thesis of anthropogenic climate change).

 

So if your local power grid fails, I want you to remember all the individuals who said how easy it will be to “adjust” to warmer temperatures.

 

Update, 9:30PM Pacific: Bruce Carman’s mention of droughts reminded me of the collision between global climate change and spending cuts (this is for all of you who relish the reductions in nominal government spending). Even with small increments in temperatures, wildfires are worse, and colliding with development, even as fiscal pressures on USDA are increased.
yarnell-fire-ariz_wide-70ad3226bb85b305fc44a4ef19d46b200c0492dc-s40.jpg

Source: NPR.

From :

The deaths of 19 firefighters near Yarnell, Ariz., this summer have focused a lot of attention on just how bad wildfire has become in the West. And research predicts the situation is going to get worse.
Over the past decade, the region has seen some of the worst fire seasons on record. In addition to lives lost, the fires have cost billions in terms of lost property and in taxpayer money spent fighting the blazes.
Ray Rasker, an economist who lives in the fire country of southwestern Montana, tracks fire records the way other economists study business cycles or commodity prices. He’s seen a disturbing trend.
First, he says, “the fires are twice as large, they’re burning twice as long, and the season is starting earlier and ending later.” Second: More homes are being built right next to national forests, and when those forests burn, firefighters have to defend those homes.

Already, the firefighting portion of the Forest Service’s budget is higher than ever. “In 2012 [the share of budget] was over 47 percent,” says David Cleaves, the service’s climate and fire expert. That’s tripled over the past decade or so.
Cleaves says it’s not a crisis now, but “economically, and in a policy sense, you could call it a crisis in the future.” That’s because more money that goes to firefighting means there’s less money available for prevention.

Perhaps the invisible hand will solve this problem.

 

Update, 7/20, 1PM Pacific: More about frequency of heatwaves in the future of higher average temperatures, from LiveScience.

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61 thoughts on “It’s Been a Hot July

  1. tj

    Menzie
    The paper has been debunked.
    http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2010/06/scientists-convinced-of-climate.html
    I think most people agree man has an impact on climate. The folly is attributing all the change to man-made CO2.
    Can you present a robust analysis using historical data that shows how variation in man-made CO2 emissions explains variaiton in global surface temperatures?
    I’d be interested to see how you treat natural climate drivers in your anlysis.

  2. Steven Kopits

    If we look at the last 100,000 years, here’s what a typical day in Wisconsin might look like:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisconsin_glaciation
    And here’s what a typical day in Wisconsin will look like in the next 100,000 years:
    “The ice moved across Wisconsin for long ages. The continental glacier advanced not once, but several times. Each glacial epoch was probably of greater duration than the time since the last ice sheet melted away.”
    http://www.wisconline.com/wisconsin/geoprovinces/easternridges.html
    Much preferable to the heat!

  3. Menzie Chinn

    tj: Debunk, or merely criticized? I once forgot to put a screen for outliers on one of my regressions; then I reran it in a panic, to get…the same answer! Just one example — until we see the critics run a comparable experiment with the alleged biases corrected (and I do mean “corrected” as opposed to say re-weighting a la some polls in the last election). Well, I’m not going to say peer review is perfect, but it is preferable to “decision-by-how-many-comments-one-can-post-that-say-the-same-thing-over-and-over”.

    Steven Kopits: Hmm. Average Wisconsin over the last 4 billion years, and I bet it was a lot hotter than it is now, especially the ground (which was liquid for a good part of it). So the point is, the level in this case might not be quite as important as the first derivative.

  4. Steven Kopits

    The conditions which pertained 4 billion years ago are unlikely to be relevant.
    The conditions which have pertained for the last few hundred thousand years are likely to be repeated. It’s noteworthy that the last ice age in North America ended only 8,000 years ago, and it’s reasonable to conclude that we live in an inter-glacial period.
    Ceteris paribus, within another 10,000 years or so, Wisconsin will again be entombed in ice, and remain so for 100,000 years. To be under a mile of ice is what’s “normal” for Wisconsin.

  5. c thomson

    Nope – American snivel liberalism is a minor religion based upon unproven and unprovable assumptions about human nature.
    Human beings are either naturally good or readily improvable over short periods through the generous application of other people’s money.
    Bit like Christian Science or Mormonism but not as much fun and much more expensive for the rest of us.

  6. Rick Stryker

    At last, someone is sounding the warning. No one will listen because of articles like this one that recently appeared in Nature:
    http://www.nature.com/news/climate-change-the-forecast-for-2018-is-cloudy-with-record-heat-1.13344
    The article shows that climate models that try to predict temperature increases over the short term have dismal forecasting records.
    But we know the science is completely established and it’s getting hotter everyday. Menzie, any advice on how to get Kal-el off the planet before it’s too late?

  7. Bruce Carman

    http://www.epa.gov/hiri/
    http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/SolarCycle/
    The Gleissberg and Suess/de Vries cycle convergence suggests a cooling period over at least the next 20-30 years, i.e., a Dalton-like or “Landscheidt Minimum”, although because of the Hallstatt cycle a Maunder-like “Grand Minimum” is unlikely.
    http://www.cdejager.com/Sun-earth%20publications/
    http://www.schulphysik.de/klima/landscheidt/iceage.htm
    http://solarphysics.livingreviews.org/open?pubNo=lrsp-2010-6&page=articlesu9.html
    http://www.gao.spb.ru/english/personal/nag/nagyu/sph02b.pdf
    http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/nicola-scafetta-solar-and-planetary-oscillation-control-on-climate-change/
    http://cyclesresearchinstitute.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/sunspot-number-reconstruction-by-leif-svalgaard-and-proxy-cycles-of-104-and-208-years/
    http://www.express.co.uk/news/science-technology/387971/Scientist-predicts-earth-is-heading-for-another-Ice-Age
    Megadrought:
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-coming-mega-drought
    http://www.lanl.gov/science-innovation/science-features/megadroughts-hundred-years.php
    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/01/20/1474171/study-finds-warming-driven-megadroughts-jeopardizing-amazon-forest/
    A similar cycle convergence could be underway coinciding with the megadrought conditions that contributed to the collapse of the Anasazi and Mayan civilizations.
    Of course, the USGS, BLM, and Army Corps have known about this risk since the 1950s, but the real estate developers, bankers, politicians, and hotel/resort operators didn’t want to hear it or did not (do not) want the public to know for obvious reasons.
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/locke-political/
    @John Locke, your historical Enlightenment-era namesake was a “Liberal” but not possessed of any “mental illness” of which I am aware. :-D
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Locke_%28Lost%29
    John Locke of “Lost” fame found himself in spite of misfortune in a pitiless world, which compelled him to proclaim, “Don’t tell me what I can’t do!”
    The conservatism (protecting the power of the privileged, entrenched elites, their ministerial intellectual temple prostitutes, and the imperial status quo) of the the militarist-imperialist, rentier corporate-state, with its far-flung imperial military forces, drone strikes, and national security apparatus, NSA surveillance of US citizens, and “total information awareness” is hardly an exemplar of “Liberalism”. :-D
    You’re probably a “Liberal” (in the classical sense) and don’t know it. :-D
    “We are like chameleons, we take our hue and the color of our moral character, from those who are around us.”
    “All mankind… being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions.”
    “Our incomes are like our shoes; if too small, they gall and pinch us; but if too large, they cause us to stumble and to trip.”
    “The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all the states of created beings capable of law, where there is no law, there is no freedom.”
    “Every man has a property in his own person. This nobody has a right to, but himself.”
    “It is one thing to show a man that he is in an error, and another to put him in possession of the truth.”
    “All wealth is the product of labor.” (He and Marx would have agreed. :-))
    “To prejudge other men’s notions before we have looked into them is not to show their darkness but to put out our own eyes.”
    Come join us in the “natural state” of “Liberalism” beyond the far-flung frontiers of imperial corporate-state tyranny. ;-)

  8. c thomson

    Nope – American snivel liberalism is a minor religion based upon unproven and unprovable assumptions about human nature.
    Human beings are either naturally good or readily improvable over short periods through the generous application of other people’s money.
    Bit like Christian Science or Mormonism but not as much fun and much more expensive for the rest of us.

  9. Binky Bear

    @tj: denial whine is not debunking nor is it critique. It is just part of maintaining that sweet sweet Koch brothers money mainline.

  10. uber_snotling

    Menzie,
    You are banging your head against the wall (of skeptics and no-nothings) with these climate change posts. You won’t convince anybody. Even if you had won the Nobel Prize and published 100 papers, your expert judgment still would do little to convince your readers.

  11. tj

    Global atmospheric CO2 continues to increase at a slightly increasing rate.
    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/
    Contrary to what many of you have been led to believe -
    U.S. CO2 emissions are declining. Total CO2 emissions are near 1994 levels while CO2 emissions per capita are at 1964 levels.
    http://www.aei-ideas.org/2013/04/energy-fact-of-the-day-us-co2-emissions-per-capita-in-2012-were-the-lowest-since-1964-main-reason-shale-gas/
    The number of violent tornadoes have not increase in the last 30 years and remain at the 10 year average remains at the low end of the 1954 – 2012 period.
    http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/cmb/images/tornado/clim/EF3-EF5.png
    No increase in the rate of sea level rise despite alarmists predictions that sea level rise will increase at an increasing rate.
    1992 – present:
    http://sealevel.colorado.edu/content/2013rel5-global-mean-sea-level-time-series-seasonal-signals-removed
    1880-present
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0f/Recent_Sea_Level_Rise.png
    Downtrend in tropical cyclones and hurricanes 1970′s – present:
    http://policlimate.com/tropical/frequency_12months.png
    http://policlimate.com/tropical/global_major_freq.png
    Global surface temperatures are no longer increasing;
    http://bobtisdale.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/01-gistemp.png
    Is all this consistent with the alarmists predictions?

  12. AS

    Professor Chinn,
    Looking at data from the EIA, I notice that as of 2011 USA’s annual consumption of coal was about 12% of world consumption. From 2000 to 2011 USA’s consumption of coal decreased about 7.5% from 1,084,095 (thousand short tons) to 1,003,066 (thousand short tons), while the world minus USA’s consumption increased about 70% from 4,197,743 (thousand short tons) to 7,141,242 (short tons). It seems like the USA is doing some heavy lifting to control CO2 and other gas production.
    http://www.eia.gov/cfapps/ipdbproject/iedindex3.cfm?tid=1&pid=1&aid=2&cid=US,ww,&syid=1980&eyid=2011&unit=TST

  13. 2slugbaits

    From the mid-70s until 2000 global sulfur dioxide emissions were declining, which meant that the climate response to CO2 was relatively strong. Then between 2000 and 2005 global emissions steadily (and sharply) increased, which dampened the climate response to CO2. Since 2006 SO2 emissions started heading down again, but it has only just recently gotten back to where SO2 emissions were in 2000. So elevated SO2 levels throughout the 2000s relative to what they were in the 1990s almost certainly explains much of the slowdown in temperature increases.
    In any event, the concern is NOT about global warming in the lifetimes of anyone reading this blog today. The concern is that the CO2 we dump into the atmosphere today will still be there 100+ years from now. And so will the CO2 we dump into the atmosphere next year…and the year after that.

  14. John Locke

    Bruce–I am impressed by the size and scale of critque you were able to abstract from a single sentence comment.
    I didn’t, however, bother with reading it.

  15. 2slugbaits

    tj Global atmospheric CO2 continues to increase at a slightly increasing rate.
    What’s with the adverb “slightly”? CO2 concentrations are increasing at an increasing rate. Check the second derivative.
    Contrary to what many of you have been led to believe -
    U.S. CO2 emissions are declining.
    I think we all knew that, but thanks anyway.
    NOAA says sea levels are rising and rising at an increasing rate:
    http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/sealevel.html
    And even your own source from the Univ of Colorado shows that sea levels are rising at an increasing rate. The graph looks linear, but remember, it is measuring the change in the surface of a sphere. So a linear increase means the volume of sea water is increasing at an increasing rate.
    Global surface temperatures are no longer increasing
    Scroll to the top and look at Menzie’s graph from NOAA.
    As to flooding, this is a combination of both the amount of rainfall and the physical landscape’s ability to absorb or direct rainfall. It is not a measure of climate change. But one thing that is a measure of climate change is the probability of a 4 inch rainfall event within a 24 hour period. In the Midwest the probability was roughly once in ten years up until the 1990s. Since then it is now a little under 9 years out of 10.

  16. tj

    2slugs
    Since 2006 SO2 emissions started heading down again
    All the while, CO2 emissions were increasing yet temperatures are no higher today than 2006!
    2slugs, you realize that aerosols including sulphates are accounted for in the climate models yet they still can’t account for the recent lack of warming.
    Begin with aerosols, such as those from sulphates. These stop the atmosphere from warming by reflecting sunlight. Some heat it, too. But on balance aerosols offset the warming impact of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Most climate models reckon that aerosols cool the atmosphere by about 0.3-0.5°C. If that underestimated aerosols’ effects, perhaps it might explain the lack of recent warming.
    Yet it does not. In fact, it may actually be an overestimate. Over the past few years, measurements of aerosols have improved enormously. Detailed data from satellites and balloons suggest their cooling effect is lower (and their warming greater, where that occurs). The leaked assessment from the IPCC (which is still subject to review and revision) suggested that aerosols’ estimated radiative “forcing”—their warming or cooling effect—had changed from minus 1.2 watts per square metre of the Earth’s surface in the 2007 assessment to minus 0.7W/m ² now: ie, less cooling.

    http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21574461-climate-may-be-heating-up-less-response-greenhouse-gas-emissions?fsrc=rss|sct

  17. Bruce Carman

    @John Locke, LOL! Touché. :-D A dismissive “sharp” wit against an aging thick skin of this writer is not missed; and it is most appreciated. :-)
    Four more hits for you, mon ami. En garde! :-)

  18. c thomson

    Even if you accept – as I do – the broad case for humans causing global warming, there remains the far more intriguing question of what – if anything – the about-to-be ten billion humans will do about it.
    Ignore the liberal fuss about what should be done – leave that to the Sierra Club and the usual bloviators – and focus on the reality of what is likely to be done.
    My take is that we should expect stocking up on inflatables for the Maldives and making costal development here much more expensive to insure.
    Does anyone expect more useful actions than these sorts of gesture? While many of the proposed solutions play to long established liberal Democrat wish-fulfillment agendas in the US, I can’t see why the Chinese or Indians would pay more than lip service to these. The Australians have just trashed a carbon tax. The Russians will do what they please. And so forth…

  19. Rick Stryker

    Menzie,
    The globally averaged temperature anomaly, while highly uncertain, has risen on average about 0.7C over the last 150 years. It’s a disputable number, but a consensus figure. Basic physics also tells us that C02 will create a greenhouse effect and raise the temperature. Some C02 is man made and therefore at least some of the rise in the average temperature has been man made. People differ by how much, but the consensus is that a significant portion of the 0.7C increase is man made. The paper you cite is consistent with this consensus.
    By itself, a doubling of CO2 will raise the temperature about 1C. The controversy however is about claims that the temperature will go up much more than 1C (e.g. 4C) from a doubling of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses and that these much higher temperatures will lead to serious climate problems. The science on these alarmist claims is in no way settled. And the paper has nothing to say on these claims, which are really the heart of the controversy.
    In order to get a higher sensitivity to CO2, you need positive feedback in which higher temperatures cause water vapor and clouds to trap more radiation and thus raise the temperature more. These positive feedback effects are built into the climate models and are the source of the alarmist predictions. Certainly some climate scientists think there is evidence for substantial positive feedback–but not everyone. And these models don’t work. I cited the Nature article not to contrast long run vs. short run, but rather to point out that when you look at verifiable predictions of the climate models on temperature, they forecast poorly.
    Beyond the basic consensus I mentioned, there is really no agreement on the greater sensitivity of temperature to greenhouse gases and no agreement on whether higher temperatures would have a deleterious effect if they did occur. Thus, there is no basis for the greater government intervention, regulation, and higher taxes political activists hope to achieve by hyping global warming.
    When talking about the climate, we need to adjust our time scale. In the very short run, i.e., in our lifetimes, I seriously doubt we will see any real effects from global warming. Over the short term, i.e., several thousand years from now, another Ice Age is probably the more realistic worry.

  20. 2slugbaits

    Rick Stryker You and I may not be all that far apart. Not in agreement, but not all that far apart either. I think we agree that physics tells us why a specific range in the light spectrum excites CO2 molecules and why that heats up the atmosphere. So the greenhouse effect is firmly grounded in the laboratory. I also agree that there is a lot of uncertainty about the climate’s sensitivity to CO2. But the proper response to uncertainty (as opposed to variability) is to worry about the consequences of tail events. And there’s a lot of uncertainty about the economic consequences of global warming. For example, current temperatures are already at or very near the maximum for most of our staple crops (84F for corn, 86F for soybeans and 90F for cotton). Temperatures higher than those maximums results in sharp, nonlinear decreases in output. In theory we could re-engineer those crops, but agricultural economics says this probably won’t work because the variability in weather is greater than the variability due to climate change, and farmers respond to weather variability and not climate variability. So farmers who adopt heat tolerant crops are likely to go broke before those who don’t (see http://www.nber.org/papers/w16308). My sense is that the consensus view among economists is that our growth models can do a reasonably decent job of guesstimating the economic costs of global warming as long as we’re only talking about a few degrees centigrade. But all bets are off when we start getting into the 5 to 7 degree range. All we know is that it would be horrible, and especially horrible for sub-Saharan Africa and coastal Asia.
    We also agree that the climate models assume feedback effects, which they should. It would be a pretty bad model that didn’t include feedback effects. One of those feedback effects is the release of methane currently trapped in permafrost. Methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.
    Here’s where we disagree. You said there is no consensus on the deleterious effect of higher temperatures. This is true as long only if we’re talking about small increases in temperature, but temperature increases small enough for this to be true are highly unlikely. Rich countries can tolerate higher temperatures, but most of the world is not rich. For those countries even small temperature increases will be devastating.
    there is no basis for the greater government intervention, regulation, and higher taxes
    I don’t know how you came to this conclusion given that you seem to agree that CO2 emissions do result in a greenhouse effect. As best I can tell you are clinging to the hope that temperature increases will be contained to something on the order of 1 degree centigrade. But without government intervention, regulation and higher taxes there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that temperature increases will be held to 1 degree centigrade. You seem to be appealing to some magical thinking here. You agree that
    CO2 causes a greenhouse effect, but somehow warming will just magically halt at 1 degree regardless of how much CO2 we dump into the atmosphere.
    In the very short run, i.e., in our lifetimes, I seriously doubt we will see any real effects from global warming
    I would agree with this as long as the “we” that you’re talking about only refers to those of us living in the US. But for much of the world this is just nonsense.
    several thousand years from now, another Ice Age is probably the more realistic worry.
    This is unlikely, but more to the point it begs the real question. There is a lot of distance between the “short run” of our lifetimes and the longer run of “several thousand years.” Most of the concerns about global warming deal with the medium term; i.e., the 22nd and 23rd centuries, not several thousand years from now.
    Finally, we disagree about the right way to handle risk in the face of extreme uncertainty. Here I follow Marty Weitzman.

  21. Dr. Morbius

    Menzie:
    The irrational rants of the Climate Change Deniers will continue until sea levels rise another 12-16 inches. At that point the seaside villas, retreats, and compounds of the ultra-wealthy Plutocrats throughout Florida, the Gulf Coast, and along the Atlantic Seacoast will be threatened with repeated storm flooding and beach erosion. Then their sycophants, grifter-supporters, and various camp followers will be provided with funds to begin the Campaign to Save Our Coasts, in which we will be assured that the weighty sacrifices and enormous costs to be borne by all citizens, no matter how modest their means, will not be in vain when faced with the possibility of losing the gorgeously landscaped and razor-wire protected enclaves of the Ruling Class. Those in small homes in urban seacoast cities will, of course, need to pay for that themselves since they chose to live in that area.

  22. tj

    2slugs
    What’s with the adverb “slightly”? CO2 concentrations are increasing at an increasing rate.
    I used “slightly” because the series is almost linear. Inspections suggests that if you perturb the series around any point that the second derivative is probably 0 or near 0 over most portions of the curve.
    So a linear increase means the volume of sea water is increasing at an increasing rate.
    I realize that, but I didn’t make the prediciton 25 years ago that “sea level” would rise at an increasing rate, the climate gurus (Hansen et. al.) made that prediction.
    But one thing that is a measure of climate change is the probability of a 4 inch rainfall event within a 24 hour period.
    Global temperatures are no longer increasing.
    Scroll to the top and look at Menzie’s graph from NOAA.
    I did. Pick any of the global surface temperature series:
    For GISS, the slope is flat since January 2001 or 12 years, 2 months.
    For Hadcrut3, the slope is flat since April 1997 or 15 years, 11 months.
    For Hadcrut4, the slope is flat since November 2000 or 12 years, 4 months.
    For Hadsst2, the slope is flat from March 1, 1997 to March 31, 2013, or 16 years, 1 month.

  23. 2slugbaits

    tj I don’t think putting “sea levels” in quotes helps your case. The only reason you linked to the graph was because you hoped it would show that the oceans show no evidence of increasing global warming. Your own link shows that the volume of ocean water is increasing at an increasing rate. So if you want to try and wiggle out of the box you’ve gotten yourself into by blaming Jim Hansen’s wording then fine, but in doing so you lose the larger point about the volume of ocean water and glacial melt.
    As to the growth rate of CO2 concentrations, it is true that over the last few years that growth rate as measured by a moving average has flattened out, but then there was this thing called a global recession (the big drop was in 2008 & 2009). But even with the global recession the last 10 years have seen 5 years when global increases in CO2 were greater than 2.10ppm. There is no other 10 year period that comes even close. The previous 10 years only had 2 years with CO2 growth greater than 2.00ppm.

  24. tj

    2slugs
    Your conclusion regarding CO2 and recession cannot be correct. The U.S. has been in a robust Obama recovery since 2009, yet U.S. CO2 emissions continue to fall.

  25. Steven Kopits

    China has added a US worth of CO2 emissions in the last ten years or so. Its emissions are now 2/3 higher than US levels.
    The US most certainly has not been in a robust recovery. In fact, in terms of percentage GDP growth, it was one of the most anemic (if not the most anemic) on record. This is, of course, linked to CO2 emissions. Restrained economic activity implies restrained oil consumption growth. Indeed, I have argued that the causality is the reverse: a lack of oil is leading to weak GDP growth.
    Thus, you can pick your poison: decreasing CO2 emissions and a weak economy; or rising emissions and a strong economy. I don’t believe there are any other variants in the historical record.

  26. dilbert dogbert

    Lots of long comments and arguments.
    To me it boils down to considering what damage would be done by efforts to reduce the impact of humans on the climate, if climate science is in error, and considering the damage done if no efforts are made to reduce the impact of humans and climate scientists are correct. One impact we can recover from. I think the other impact can’t be recovered from. Doing nothing is a choice.

  27. Anonymous

    ” Even if you had won the Nobel Prize”
    Krugman and Obama won the Nobel and everyone trusts them!

  28. 2slugbaits

    tj As I’m sure you know, the main reason US CO2 emissions have fallen over the last few years is because power plants are switching away from coal and to natural gas. So there is nothing inconsistent about US emissions falling even though the US economy has been in recovery, although yours is probably the first time anyone has ever called that recovery “robust.” But the global recession was…well, it was global. And for much of Europe that global recession is ongoing.
    Steven Kopits Without carbon taxes the prices of oil and coal do not capture all of the economic costs, so the real choice is between greater economic growth today at the expense of less economic growth tomorrow. No matter what you may believe, at the end of the day we will have to leave 80% of carbon-based energy in the ground. With low interest rates and a large global output gap, now is when we should be investing in low tech and high tech alternatives to carbon-based energy. Jimmy Carter had it right. We need solar power, wind power and 4gen nuclear power. And we need a power grid that can handle all that. And end products that can consume it.

  29. CoRev

    Why do we forever see the argument: “man is causing climate change”????? That has never been a seriously questioned issue. Paving over natural/wild landscape is climate change. Man causes local climate change is accepted by nearly every thinking person. Claiming man-caused climate change is either disingenuous or a complete denial of reality. Man causes SOME LOCAL climate change.
    Now answer this question: how much of the .7C increase of average global temperature out of the Little Ice Age was caused by man and how much was caused by natural change?
    As has been well pointed out, the issue is: 1) how sensitive is climate to CO2, and 2) how much of the actual change is laid at the feet of man? The IPCC is climbing slightly down from its previous predictions of CO2 sensitivity in AR5. IPCC SREX says that there is almost no evidence linking weather events with climate change.
    What is extraordinary is the claim that the current warming is exceptional. Citing an NBC article of anecdotes as evidence is ludicrous.
    This chart shows what is the norm for this and the few previous inter-glacials: http://jonova.s3.amazonaws.com/graphs/lappi/gisp-last-10000-new.png

  30. equitval

    “Two key graphs (shown in this post highlight that fact that among published (in peer reviewed journals) climate scientist, the overwhelming consensus is on that anthropogenic climate change (ACC) is occurring.”
    Of course we now know from the IPCC email dump that there was a concerted effort to prevent dissenting opinions or data from being published in said journals, so the bias inherent in the sample is probably substantial.
    That is part of the problem when environmental topics (like fracking) become a religion/crusade. Credibility suffers.

  31. Binky Bear

    Debunking the Economist:
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/hausfather-economist-sense-of-sensitivity.html
    Heat goes into the ocean from the atmosphere and is sometimes “barfed up”
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013/04/the-answer-is-blowing-in-the-wind-the-warming-went-into-the-deep-end/#more-15062
    Sea levels:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013/04/ice-hockey/#more-15171
    Datasets for constructing the awesome climate skeptic models that will show all the dirty liberal hippies that conservatives can too do sciencey stuff in Jesus’ name amen hallelujah.
    NOAA National Climate Data Center: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/paleo.html
    PANGAEA: http://www.pangaea.de/
    Holocene Datasets: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/339/6124/1198/suppl/DC1

  32. benamery21

    slugs: A minor quibble. Although natural gas electricity has replaced about 2/3rds of the decline in coal electricity output, the same is not true of reductions in carbon emissions. Reduced usage (due to the economy) and increased windpower can explain 80% of reduced CO2 emissions from coal, while natural gas would explain only about 1/3rd (yes I know that’s more than 100%). The difference is that negawatts and wind effectively have zero carbon emissions, while combined cycle gas has about half the emissions of displaced coal power.

  33. benamery21

    Although China’s per capita GHG emissions are still a minor fraction of U.S. levels, these have been higher than the global average since 2006, are higher than several developed countries (France, Sweden, etc), and are nearing the EU average. However, this is primarily due to the fraction of energy obtained from coal, China is near peak coal, and plans to cap coal consumption at roughly 2011 levels by 2015 while focusing on nuclear, hydro, and other renewables construction. China has already demonstrated the ability to construct capacity in those sectors at rates unmatched elsewhere in the world, but it remains to be seen if they can increase the pace sufficiently to eliminate coal consumption’s hectic growth pace. If not, coal prices will increase and China’s growth will slow.

  34. Rick Stryker

    2slugbaits,
    It is you who are doing the magical thinking. You just assert without evidence that
    “But without government intervention, regulation and higher taxes there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that temperature increases will be held to 1 degree centigrade.”
    But that’s precisely the scientific issue. As I mentioned, without including negative or positive feedback effects, we know that a doubling of CO2 will produce about a 1C temperature increase. The debate is about how big the negative and positive feedback effects are. For example, if we assume that almost all of the 0.7C increase from the past 150 years resulted from anthroprogenic greenhouse forcing, then we have evidence that the effect of a doubling of CO2 is less than 1C in temperature increase.
    Weitzman struggles with the large uncertainties inherent in the global warming claims. He knows that the alarmist claims of large increases have small probabilities that can’t really be estimated and Weitzman isn’t really able to come to any conclusions based on his models. Ultimately, he settles for a moderate policy of gradual increases in carbon taxes coupled with a wait-and-see attitude to see which way the evidence goes.
    I don’t think this works. Weitzman tries to justify his policy prescription by talking about the need to insure against disasters that have small unknowable probabilities. But the problem with this is that life is full of these possibilities: avian flu pandemics, meteor strikes, Y2K disasters, hostile alien invasions, nuclear terrorism, etc. Should we have “moderate” policies of government interventions and raise taxes for all of these? Why stop with global warming?
    The only sensible thing to do is to base policy on hard evidence. So far, the evidence for a climate catastrophe is flimsy indeed.

  35. 2slugbaits

    benamery21 Thanks for the correction.
    Rick Stryker if we assume that almost all of the 0.7C increase from the past 150 years resulted from anthroprogenic greenhouse forcing, then we have evidence that the effect of a doubling of CO2 is less than 1C in temperature increase.
    Of course, over much of that 150 year period there were also strong cooling forces at work (both natural and manmade) that almost certainly held down temperatures. And as Hansen points out, much of the heat went into phase changes needed to melt ice. In any event, we are on track to more than double pre-industrial revolution CO2 levels, and this will occur within the lifetimes of many already alive today. As I said, the concern isn’t with warm temperatures overwhelming us with disaster over the short run. And I’m not concerned about “several thousand years” from now. But we do have an obligation to worry about how our actions today affect generations in the 22nd and 23rd centuries because the CO2 that we generate today will still be with them long after we’re gone and forgotten.
    Should we have “moderate” policies of government interventions and raise taxes for all of these? Why stop with global warming?
    Well, for many of the things you listed we should and do raise taxes in order to combat. Do you have a problem with tax dollars going towards avian flu vaccine research? Do you have a problem with tax dollars going to buy loose nuke materials from the old USSR? The reason we don’t worry about space alien invasions is because we can’t even imagine a plausible scenario in which it might happen and even if it did happen, we can’t imagine any plausible way to do anything about it. On the other hand, if we had evidence of a 0.02% chance of a giant meteor hitting Earth in 10 years, then I’m pretty sure there would be money thrown at a research project.
    The only sensible thing to do is to base policy on hard evidence. So far, the evidence for a climate catastrophe is flimsy indeed.
    There’s plenty of hard evidence that CO2 causes global warming. The hard evidence comes from the laboratory and quantum mechanics. I think what you meant to say is that there is not a highly reliable climate model that can accurately capture all of the complexity and all of feedback mechanisms involved. And that’s true. But we do know with a great deal of confidence that if we dump enough CO2 into the atmosphere, eventually that will have a catastrophic and irreversible effect. There is plenty of room to argue over what that critical threshold value is, but I don’t think there’s any denying that there is a threshold value. This wouldn’t be a big deal if the actionable time horizons weren’t so long, but CO2 persists for at least a century, and even with heroic efforts it will likely take us at least 50 years to get the global economy significantly off of carbon based energy.
    As to Weitzman, his view is pretty standard in risk management. In a world of Knightian uncertainty with potentially catastrophic consequences you should not focus on mean or modal outcomes, but the plausible tail. And what evidence we have tells us that we’re dealing with the tails of fat-tailed distributions.

  36. anon2

    Here are the alternatives that I see:
    1. The political process will fail. Witness this thread.
    2. We get lucky and find a breakthrough that will make non-carbon energy sources cheap and scalable and drive carbon based energy out of the market. This is the best case.
    3. The climate change opponents get lucky and climate change outcomes are relatively benign and we keep finding more cheap carbon based energy.
    4. Catastrophic climate change occurs and we no longer worry about anything except survival.
    I’m all for the party continuing as long as possible. But I think the case for getting off of carbon based fuels should be based on national security and economic issues rather than climate science based issues. We should get off of carbon to protect the future of this country. Carbon based energy will continue to get more expensive (See Kopits, et al) and will pose a security risk as this country can be held hostage by suppliers or we will go to war, again, to protect our energy supplies. Destruction all around.

  37. CoRev

    2slugs provides a non-answer top R Stryker’s question: “The only sensible thing to do is to base policy on hard evidence. So far, the evidence for a climate catastrophe is flimsy indeed.”
    2slugs answers with a non sequitur re: CO2. And that’s after admitting that: “Of course, over much of that 150 year period there were also strong cooling forces at work (both natural and manmade) that almost certainly held down temperatures….” (My bold.)
    2slugs, what has changed in nature that has eliminated the natural cooling you recognized previously existed? Also, what has changed to eliminate the natural warming?
    Sensitivity to CO2 and how much CO2 in the atmosphere is actually man made are tow questions still to be answered in the settled science. Until they can be defined the existence of any tail is actually in doubt, and we can not even project its size if it did exist. In this case size is important to consider economic actions.

  38. tj

    If you worked for the FED and produced 73 macro models of GDP, and each and every one of them came in on the high side of observed GDP, how long would it be before you would admit your models are missing something? If you refused to change your models you’d be laughed out of the building.
    All 73 global climate models produce too much warming. They overestimate the climate response to changes in CO2. You would think that at least 1 or 2 models would track their target by simple random chance. But no, not a single model of 73 is below the observed warming. Yet folks continue to insist that we base policy on these flawed models. This is ridiculous! It’s like the twilight zone. Everyone knows the models are wrong yet no one can take the necessary step and admit sensitivity to C02 is closer to 1C per century, i.e. the no feedback model.
    http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/CMIP5-73-models-vs-obs-20N-20S-MT-5-yr-means1.png
    We also know that the response of temperature to incremental increases in atmospheric CO2 concentration is logarithmic.
    Tucked within the IPCC TAR3 report, Chapter 6. Radiative Forcing of Climate Change: section 6.3.4 Total Well-Mixed Greenhouse Gas Forcing Estimate is the following information.
    100-200 ppmv: plants die below this level of CO2 +~0.29°C (so this 100 ppmv increment adds 0.29C without feedbacks)
    200-300 ppmv: noted as the preindustrial CO2 level +~0.14°C for the 100 ppmv increase.
    300-400 ppmv: current level IPCC attributes all as Man-made +~0.065°C for roughly the entire contribution of man made CO2 since 1880.
    400-500 ppmv: +~0.046°C
    500-600 ppmv: +~0.037°C
    600-700 ppmv: +~0.029°C
    700-800 ppmv: +~0.020°C
    Man contributed roughly 120 ppmv and 0.7°C 1880 – present.
    Given the logarithmic scale, and no feedbacks, man will be close to 700 ppmv in another 100 years man will have contributed another ~0.11°C to global temperature. Climate gurus claim that small change will turn into a 2°C to 6°C rise due to positive feedbacks.

  39. Steven Kopits

    Bena -
    You are correct. France’s CO2 emissions peaked in 1979, on the eve of the second oil shock. This shock was to undo much of the world economy, easing with the collapse of oil prices around 1984. France’s CO2 emissions began to rise again from 1988, falling again during the 1991, 1998, 2001 and 2008 recessions. These are all to my point. It is rare–almost unprecedented–to see falling CO2 emissions absent a recession.
    Of course, CO2 is derived from more than oil–coal being a key contributor. France’s decision to migrate its power overwhelmingly to nuclear has proved a prudent choice both in terms of emissions, production stability and decreased input price volatility. Indeed, from 1980 to 1992, France’s nuclear power generation increased five fold. (Germany is moving in just the opposite direction now.)
    To be clear: At any given level of energy consumption, GDP will grow. (This is what many in the peak oil crowd don’t understand.) Even without meaningful price pressure, oil usage will be 1.2% more efficient per year per unit of GDP on average, for example.
    However, the period of 1979-1983, which you and earlier Menzie had referenced, reflected a period of secular oil consumption decline driven by OPEC’s (and primarily Saudi Arabia’s) decision to defend high oil prices with production cuts. This was the period of stagflation which has left such a lasting mark on psyches of conservatives and prompted hand-wringing about a new inflationary cycle.
    Now, were it possible to hold OECD oil consumption (my area of focus) steady, then we could count on reasonably normal growth returning to the advanced economies. As it is, the oil supply is mature and the Chinese economy is not, with the result the China will continue to bid away OECD oil consumption on average through about 2030. Thus, the advanced economies will be on a long-term diet with respect to oil, and their economies will have to adjust to making do with less. Which they are, and they are making do with less by simply making less: virtually all the OECD economies have under-performed since 2007, and indeed, productivity numbers have been pretty weak since the mid-2000s.
    Thus, I stand by my point: It is very difficult to grow an economy and reduce CO2 emissions meaningfully at the same time, in as much as CO2 emissions are linked to fossil fuel consumption, and these are in turn contributors to rising GDP.

  40. Steven Kopits

    Anon2 -
    I’d like to make an important clarification about increasing energy prices, and specifically, oil.
    If you use a supply-constrained model, as we do, then oil prices rise rapidly as resource constraints are reached and a competitive market (P = MC) transforms into an involuntary cartel or monopoly, if you’ll have it (MR = MC). This transformation was what we witnessed in the 2004-2011 period, after the oil supply stalled (and allowing for the recession in between).
    As noted above, a monopoly will price at MR = MC. This will typically occur at a higher price and a lower volume than in a competitive setting. Thus, as a resource becomes supply constrained, price will rise and profits to suppliers will increase to monopoly levels, just as was the case with oil from 2003 to 2011.
    However, once MR = MC, the monopolist–in this case, the oil business as a whole–can no longer increase prices without a reduction in profits. And we can calculate this point by estimating carrying capacity, which is a relatively straight-forward exercise. That’s why the oil price has stalled out around $110 Brent.
    Now, if costs continue to rise beyond this point, the monopolist will have to reduce production and associated capital investment to maintain profits. And that’s where the industry is today, as exploration and production costs have continued to increase at an 11% pace even as Brent prices have declined. As a result, we are seeing a spate of project cancelations, and oil field equipment manufacturers are seeing gaps beginning to appear in their order book post-2014. Some are seeing sales to the deepwater oil sector falling off even now.
    And that’s why we’re proposing an extensive, joint industry study to examine the issue. At this point, the industry can no longer count on oil price increases in excess of E&P cost escalation. As a result, some projects will fall off the agenda, and the industry will become more dependent on innovation than it has ever been.

  41. Rick Stryker

    TJ,
    The situation might be even a little better. The models all have positive feedback built in (about 4C change for a doubling of CO2)but I understand that recent satellite measurements of outgoing versus incoming radiation indicate that the feedback is likely negative.
    I think your point that the effect of CO2 on temperature is non-linear is very important, although often overlooked or misunderstood. I’d just like to emphasize it. The nature of the non-linearity is that each additional unit of CO2 added to the atmosphere contributes less temperature increase than the previous unit. Since the pre-industrial age, we are already at about 75% of the equivalent greenhouse forcing of a doubling of CO2, yet we’ve only observed a change of 0.7C. Based on that,it’s going to take quite a lot of additional CO2 to move the temperature needle further.

  42. Rick Stryker

    Corev,
    Absolutely. Weitzman and others are pulling these probabilities of catastrophe out of that place where the sun don’t shine. To his credit, Weitzman admits that, which is one of the reasons I think he struggles about what to do. Unfortunately, many of the climate alarmists will not come clean on this. It seems fundamentally irrational to me base policy on speculation rather than evidence. And when we are talking about climate catastrophes, it’s speculation squared.

  43. benamery21

    Kopits: The key point about France is nuclear, which is why the country is dramatically wealthier than in 1979, with markedly lower GHG emissions (unlike most other developed countries). This was a state policy change which would not have happened solely via market forces. I agree with you about it being difficult to grow GDP (by more than a small amount, and I think you discount how much of that amount is due to policy rather than price pressure) without growing energy consumption, particularly in the absence of strong policy. Nuclear and renewables allow both to happen. In countries with very high energy consumption, state policy on efficiency and fuel switching is also critical. U.S. policy changes in the mid-80′s are a big part of why we have such a big problem today.

  44. Rick Stryker

    2slugbaits,
    By the way, I’m not against a policy of reducing dependence on carbon-based energy just because it’s a response to chimerical risks. The policy is fundamentally wrong all by itself.
    Given the Left’s immunity to reason and evidence, I wouldn’t be surprised if they asked the Supreme Court to declare the laws of physics unconstitutional. But these laws must be obeyed. Quantum mechanics implies that we will never get rid of carbon-based energy. The reason is that carbon-based fuels have the highest energy density and are relatively safe compared to alternatives such as nuclear power. Planes would never fly without carbon-based fuels and people hundreds of years from now will want to fly just like we do.
    In a few hundred years or so, we will have used up all the fossil fuels and burned all the coal.
    All the carbon will be in the atmosphere. At that point, the problem is most likely not going to be the temperature. Instead, the vexing problem will be how to get that carbon out of the atmosphere efficiently to make carbon-based fuels. People will still need and want to do that.
    Based on what we know today, these carbon fuels may be manufactured from plants. The advantage of that, of course, is that plants will take the carbon out of the atmosphere and put it back in, so that carbon on net won’t be growing in the atmosphere. So any temperature effects will be stable by that point.
    We can only hope that technology will be sufficiently advanced in a few hundred years that people will continue to enjoy the benefits of carbon-based fuels cheaply. The most important thing we can do today is to bequeath these future people hundreds of years of steady and robust economic growth. And the best way to do that is to support limited government, low taxes, a free world, and yes, government spending on the public good of basic scientific research.

  45. benamery21

    Kopits: The key point about France is nuclear, which is why the country is dramatically wealthier than in 1979, with markedly lower GHG emissions (unlike most other developed countries). This was a state policy change which would not have happened solely via market forces. I agree with you about it being difficult to grow GDP (by more than a small amount, and I think you discount how much of that amount is due to policy rather than price pressure) without growing energy consumption, particularly in the absence of strong policy. Nuclear and renewables allow both to happen. In countries with very high energy consumption, state policy on efficiency and fuel switching is also critical. U.S. policy changes in the mid-80′s are a big part of why we have such a big problem today.

  46. Steven Kopits

    At this point, Bena, we need an explanation of why the OECD countries have been growing so slowly, and indeed, why European has been in recession since just after the Arab Spring. It’s clear that a financial crisis could put you into recession; it’s not clear why it would recur two or three times and persist for six quarters at a time (indeed, in Europe some observers expect it to persist for years more).
    If you use a supply-constrained oil model, then it’s no surprise. I don’t know that there is a compelling alternative explanation.

  47. benamery21

    Kopits: it’s the euro.
    As you know, I allow for drag on the economy of oil importers due to oil prices, I do not feel this is the totality of the explanation.
    Where do Korea, Israel, Hong Kong, Iceland, New Zealand, and Taiwan fit into your model? Many of these countries import their entire oil supply.
    1)Balance sheet recessions are long
    2)Monetary policy is hampered at the zero lower bound
    3)The Euro is crushing the eurozone–currency adjustment impossible, fiscal transfer non-existent
    4)Fiscal austerity (government structural balance is at the lowest deficit level since inception of the eurozone, for instance, which seems like a bad idea in a recession)
    5)Spillover from trade partners (very open economies who were doing a lot of business with depressed economies will share pain)

  48. Steven Kopits

    As Japanese and European oil consumption is falling faster than that of the US, it is hard to make the case, Bena, that US policy in the 1980s was responsible.
    Rather, the more prosaic truth is that the oil system is mature and was historically scaled to the 1 billion or so consumers who mattered prior to 2000, that is, to the US, Japan and Western Europe.
    Today, another billion or so consumers are looking for their share of oil consumption, and the oil supply simply doesn’t have the capability to double–indeed, it’s struggling to hold par.
    As a result, the existing oil supply is being re-allocated from the incumbents, the OECD, to the emerging nations, China foremost (but not alone) among them. I have noted this many times.
    I am all for adapting–you’ll find no one more vocal than me about the need for CNG and for fast-tracking self-driving vehicles. But, as I noted to you before, you are greatly over-estimating the speed at which the US, or any advanced economy, can adapt. To lift oil consumption as a binding constraint, the US economy would have to increase oil efficiency as a share of GDP by 4.5% per year. There is absolutely no sign that the economy is capable of doing this.
    Indeed, I put the question directly to Maria van der Hoeven, the Executive Director of the IEA. “Could the OECD increase oil efficiency as a share of GDP as at 4.5% pace.” She replied categorically: “No.”
    And if that’s the case, then oil will limit OECD GDP growth. It’s as simple as that.

  49. Steven Kopits

    The model says that the non-OECD will bid away the OECD’s oil consumption, and that this will tend to slow growth.
    Hong Kong and Taiwan are tied to the Chinese economy. Having said that, Hong Kong has averaged 2.7% growth since 2007; Taiwan, 2.9%. Neither is a major oil user; they are fairly densely populated both.
    New Zealand has averaged 0.5% GDP growth since 2007. No reason to change my opinion there.
    Korea has averaged 3.0% growth in real terms, 1.3% in per capita terms in US dollars. Korea is a remarkable country. However, like Houston, Korea has benefited from some oil-related business. Notably, Korea is the leading, indeed dominant, manufacturer of offshore drilling rigs. Samsung has also done very well in smart phones and HDTV, for example. As a practical matter, Korea has eaten Japan’s lunch, as Korea has about half the per capita GDP of Japan. I think Korea will be challenged in the coming years, but the country is a testament to hard work.
    In dollar terms, per capita GDP in Iceland is 63% of its 2007 levels. I see nothing to change my opinion there.
    Israel has done pretty well. GDP has grown by 3.6% in real terms since 2007. It’s a very entrepreneurial culture in an oil rich region, and near some fast growing countries (like Turkey). Also, Israel is a physically small country in a warm climate, and without a lot of heavy industry. I’m not sure I would revise my thesis on Israel alone.
    If there’s an exception to the rule, it must surely be Korea. But it’s a rare exception.

  50. benamery21

    Kopits:
    As I have many times made clear, I view it as simple fact that oil supply is being reallocated from developed to developing economies via price, and that high prices create an economic drag. Where I differ is in believing that this is insufficient to explain the totality of world economic woes.
    1)It was not my contention that reactionary U.S. energy policy in the 80′s has caused present Japanese or eurozone economic woes. Your snark, although funny, is unwarranted.
    2)However, to the extent your premise is true, the rollback of U.S. policy in that time and the failure to increase gas taxes to bear the direct government costs of oil consumption HAVE (by increasing U.S. oil consumption)sharply limited the ability of the OECD to adjust and increased the remaining need to do so.
    3)As previously discussed here Japanese oil consumption is increasing (although not due to economic health). U.S. oil consumption is down markedly faster from 2008-2012.
    4)To the extent that oil is rationed by consumer price, as it largely is, world crude price increases have smaller effects on EU than U.S. consumers due to gas taxes. Faster reductions in consumption in some European locales have more to do with underlying economic weakness and less to do with oil itself.
    5)Given stronger underlying economics, oil prices would be higher, the drag from oil would be greater, and your contention would be closer to true. That isn’t where we are today.
    6)I do agree that without increasing oil efficiency, widespread economic improvements would run headlong into higher oil prices due to supply constraints, and thus, that demand side adjustments are necessary to keep from reaching that binding constraint. I disagree that policy is incapable of dramatically improving the laissez-faire rate of improvement in oil efficiency.

  51. benamery21

    Taiwan spends 6.3% of GDP on net oil imports, Hong Kong 6.7%, Israel 6.4%, Korea 8.6%. That’s a LOT more than the U.S.
    Iceland has strongly growing oil imports, despite its exchange rate, is growing, despite most of its business being with Europe, and despite a much larger economic shock than most other developed economies. Looking at GDP in dollar terms is inadvisable over the short term, especially with a known massive discontinuity. Iceland illustrates that one problem afflicting much of Europe’s economy is a lack of exchange rate flexibility.
    You seem to be buying into the positive side of the spillover argument for these few developed countries. Look at the flipside: How exactly are peripheral European economies supposed to be strong with the Eurozone dragging them down?
    My fix, kick Germany off the euro, let the euro depreciate, eurobonds for all, stimulative fiscal policy.

  52. Steven Kopits

    Bena -
    No snark was intended. My apologies if it appeared so.
    My comments below.
    “As I have many times made clear, I view it as simple fact that oil supply is being reallocated from developed to developing economies via price, and that high prices create an economic drag. Where I differ is in believing that this is insufficient to explain the totality of world economic woes.” I agree, but the continuing drag on the global economy is beginning to beg some questions as to the cause.
    “2)However, to the extent your premise is true, the rollback of U.S. policy in that time and the failure to increase gas taxes to bear the direct government costs of oil consumption HAVE (by increasing U.S. oil consumption)sharply limited the ability of the OECD to adjust and increased the remaining need to do so.”
    Had the US increased taxes, oil prices would have fallen, and consumption would have picked up somewhere. It’s a theoretical argument, maybe true, but hard to really demonstrate, I think.
    “3)As previously discussed here Japanese oil consumption is increasing (although not due to economic health). U.S. oil consumption is down markedly faster from 2008-2012.”
    Japanese oil consumption is down 2.5% in the three months ending June vs the same period last year. US oil consumption is up 0.5% for the same period. Compared to the same three months in 2005 (when the oil supply stalled), Japan is down 12%; the US, 10%. Compared to the same three months in 2008, Japan is down 8%; the US is down 6%. (EIA STEO)
    “4)To the extent that oil is rationed by consumer price, as it largely is, world crude price increases have smaller effects on EU than U.S. consumers due to gas taxes. Faster reductions in consumption in some European locales have more to do with underlying economic weakness and less to do with oil itself.”
    Not so. If you use less, then the marginal value of each barrel is high. Thus, a loss of an incremental barrel will have a higher impact in a low consumption country. In theory, European consumption should be falling slower than US consumption. Not true, though. Europe’s oil consumption is down an astounding 3.7% in the last three months to same period previous year. The excess fall relates to your Euro argument.
    “5)Given stronger underlying economics, oil prices would be higher, the drag from oil would be greater, and your contention would be closer to true. That isn’t where we are today.”
    Disagree. If you use a supply-constrained model, then once MR = MC, the adjustment will come through volume, not price. That’s the point. The oil business is going flat out. It has no material hidden reserves of production. Thus, even at a higher price, supply would not be much higher. Therefore, it’s a matter of allocating the existing supply. Stronger economies in Europe imply weaker economies elsewhere, by this model.
    “6)I do agree that without increasing oil efficiency, widespread economic improvements would run headlong into higher oil prices due to supply constraints, and thus, that demand side adjustments are necessary to keep from reaching that binding constraint. I disagree that policy is incapable of dramatically improving the laissez-faire rate of improvement in oil efficiency.”
    I believe you have zero evidence to support this assertion. But if you can find me a sustained 4.5% efficiency gain historically anywhere in the world in the absence of a recession, that would be important to know.

  53. Johannes

    This climate change fairy-tale was an Al Gore merry-go-round to keep him in the headlines, after GWB won the US presidency (with the help of dear brother Jeff).
    Menzie, forget this climate joke, better care about our real problems.

  54. aaron

    “We also agree that the climate models assume feedback effects, which they should. It would be a pretty bad model that didn’t include feedback effects. One of those feedback effects is the release of methane currently trapped in permafrost. Methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.”
    This has been shown not to be a plausible threat long ago. Recently re-affirmed here: http://www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge/library/methane-hydrates-and-contemporary-climate-change-24314790

  55. aaron

    (permafrost as well as cathrates, emissions from permafrost are also broken down by plants and bacteria etc.)

  56. Jeremy

    Cold war threat = military spending spree in order to save world from big bad Kruschev
    Too big to fail = bailout my investment banking friends at taxpayer expense in order to save world from financial destruction
    CatastrophicClimate change = no limit to government largesse/intervention/taxation in order to save world from ending in a fiery hell.
    Brainey Economists: Your assignment is to identify the underlying economic drivers of these widely promulgated global fears?
    Clue1: Saving the World is not the answer.
    Clue2: Follow the money.

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