Polly on the Planet

Oh dear:

The Stern report warned the economic impact of climate change would be like world war and the Depression rolled into one.

Err, no it didn\’t. What it actually said was that if we followed the worst development path (A2), and everything went wrong (really, everything, he threw the kitchen sink at it) then GDP would be 20% below where it would have been absent the effects of climate change. GDP fell more than that in the Great Depression, let alone the effect of world war (in fact, UK GDP fell 25% between 1918 and 1921).

So we could, if we stretched matters, say, 20%, 25%, no difference really. But that\’s ignoring the most important point. Even using the A2 projections, we\’re not saying that it will be 20% lower than it is now. We\’ll still be vastly richer than we are now: just not as rich as we could be.

Of course, if that\’s what you actually worry about, the future wealth of our descendents, then you should be agitating that we follow the A1 pathway: that makes people in 2100 4 times richer than the A2.

Others, too, ask if he understands that a new dirigiste industrial strategy needs to match his high rhetoric about a "fourth technological revolution".

Mhhm, hmmm. A dirigiste industrial strategy? You mean picking winners? Like, say, increasing emissions by insisting upon recycling instead of landfill (as they are)? Like insisting upon biofuels, which increase emissions (as they are)? Like, say, refusing a tax variance on a carbon capture scheme (as they did, with BP)?

The thought that "a plan" might help is terribly attractive but out here in the real world we need to ask whose plan and what plan? Given that the muppets who rule us have made the wrong decision on those three (just about the only three they have actually made a decision on) what on earth makes you think that they\’ll get any of the others right?

Britain\’s share in all this, weaselling on the statistics. Why would they do that? Because, they say, the 20% renewable target was plucked out of the air by Angela Merkel, due to internal angst over nuclear power. Blair signed up to it in demob mode. Whitehall officials were bound to send up alarm signals: there had been no feasibility study, no cost benefit analysis, no one knows if it can be done. In January, each country will be told what their share of the target is – Britain must produce between 10% and 15% of its energy from renewables by 2020. If it doesn\’t sound much, that\’s up to a 7.5-fold increase in a short time. "Superhuman" effort will be required, said one adviser: it means 40% of our electricity must come from renewables.

That\’s all quite correct. What boggles is that having listed how he policy has been made (ie, made up, not actually the result of any policy at all) she then says we must go ahead with it!

These climate-change deniers and rightwing anarchists who resist even modest recyling plans will decry anything they see as "nanny state".

In Polly World I guess I qualify as one of those right wing anarchists. Thing is, m\’dear, at least some of my opposition to "modest recycling targets" is that they increase, not reduce, emissions. That is, that they\’re counter-productive.

17 comments on “Polly on the Planet

  1. then you should be agitating that we follow the A1 pathway: that makes people in 2100 4 times richer than the A2.

    Yes, why has no one thought of this? Let’s just follow the “A1 pathway” because it makes us four times as rich as A2. We know this because the growth rate was carefully modelled by assuming a world GDP of $550 trillion in 2100. Case closed, I say. Can’t imagine why there’s still any debate.

  2. Yeah, pretty stupid to make assumptions about GDP in 2100. Almost as stupid as making assumptions about climate in 2100.

  3. Yeah, pretty stupid to make assumptions about GDP in 2100. Almost as stupid as making assumptions about climate in 2100.

    Right… It’s a good thing, therefore, that the climate in 2100 has been modelled, unlike the GDP.

    Tim adds: And as you know, that climate modelling depends upon those SRES economic models of what the economy might be like in 2100. Where else do you think they get the CO2, methane etc numbers to plug into the climate models?

  4. Staurt A, You know that climate modelling further out than say 2 weeks is complete nonsense.

    even NewScientist admit the truth.

    Hopefully science will survive charlatans who repeat such obvious bunkum as “the climate in 2100 has been modelled”

  5. Recycling costs significantly more than landfilling in many cases (certainly in the UK at any rate).

    However to suggest that the current waste management practices in the UK (with higher recycling levels) lead to higher greenhouse gas emissions than an alternative scenario with higher landfill levels would is simply not true.

    According to government figures, landfill gas contributes around 3% of total UK ghg emissions, even with the introduction of modern landfilling methods. The emissions from modern landfills continue to swamp the emissions associated with any alternative waste management process. It is precisely through a move away from landfilling towards higher recycling and recovery of waste that UK waste management emissions are on a downward trajectory.

  6. Staurt A, You know that climate modelling further out than say 2 weeks is complete nonsense.

    even NewScientist admit the truth.

    So could you explain why the vast majority of climate scientists think otherwise? Do they not read New Scientist?

    Hopefully science will survive charlatans who repeat such obvious bunkum as “the climate in 2100 has been modelled”

    Oh, me too. Perhaps you could help science by finally explaining what you meant by this impressive-sounding statement:

    Computer Climate models are multi-variable recursive functions, which are subject to exponential error via their inherently chaotic behaviour.

  7. Dear God, chaps, read this.

    “The United Nations’ top Global Warming scientists plan to acknowledge this week that they have long overestimated both the size and the course of the problem, which they now believe has been slowing for nearly a decade, according to U.N. documents prepared for the announcement. … But the far-reaching revisions amount to at least a partial acknowledgment of criticisms long leveled by outside researchers who disputed the U.N. portrayal of an ever-expanding global …..”. How about that then?

  8. “Computer Climate models are multi-variable recursive functions, which are subject to exponential error via their inherently chaotic behaviour.”

    Why does that need explaining? Its a fairly straightforward statement, patently true (to anyone with /any/ knowledge of fractals and climate).

    I suggest some reading on your part would help your understanding – look for anything to do with chaos maths, fractals.

  9. Why does that need explaining? Its a fairly straightforward statement, patently true (to anyone with /any/ knowledge of fractals and climate).

    So presumably it’s “patently true” to all those climate scientists who use or construct climate models and have seen a Mandelbrot poster. Therefore they must be involved in a giant, unprecedented conspiracy to falsify evidence on a massive scale. Amazing.

    But anyway, since the meaning of ACO’s statement is so obvious to you, I’d like to beg your indulgence and ask again for an explanation. Specifically:

    Which climatic variables exhibit “exponential error”? Which initial conditions are chaotically vulnerable to perturbation? Presumably hindcasting has shown this exponential error, so you can point me to a paper showing numerical evidence of it. Alternatively, there must be some mathematical analysis showing its inevitability.

    Are you saying that “multi-variable recursive functions” always display “chaotic behaviour”? If so, on what evidence? If not, what peculiarity of climate-related functions causes this effect? Either way, this sounds like a mathematical statement for which you can presumably supply a proof.

  10. > So could you explain why the vast majority of climate scientists think otherwise?

    Because they have no training in computer modelling.

  11. Because they have no training in computer modelling.

    I think that’s unlikely. But supposing you’re right, what specific “computer modelling” training is it that would reveal the pointlessness of modelling the climate beyond two weeks? Maybe you could point me to where New Scientist revealed this fact?

    Seeing as you’re in a responsive mood, any chance of answers to the questions above?

  12. Ha ha, I was counting the seconds before Stuart A and Anticitizenone got at each other’s throats and the talk turned to arguments over “multi-variable recursive functions”.

    Personally I’d be more worried about the environment on a local scale rather than a global climate perspective. Deforestation, for example, is of more immediate concern to me than global warming. But then I guess it doesn’t have that great sense of a crusade about it.

  13. Tim adds: And as you know, that climate modelling depends upon those SRES economic models of what the economy might be like in 2100. Where else do you think they get the CO2, methane etc numbers to plug into the climate models?

    They have multiple economic scenarios, to cover a range of possibilities and provide inputs to the climate modelling. From this they get a range of climatic outcomes. But I’m afraid that doesn’t mean they have “models of what the economy might be like in 2100”. And it doesn’t mean the A1 scenario family magically tells us how to achieve $550 trillion world GDP in 2100.

    Tim adds: They don’t have models of what the economy will be like in 2100? Then the entire process is based on GIGO then isn’t it? Why do you find it so tough to accept that if the IPCC process is to be believed (which, by and large, I do) then you have to believe the economic modelling which precursors it? And who said anything about “magically”? It’s based upon reason and logic. If these things happen, these thing that we know make people richer, then these other things will also happen….like this amount of CO2, that amount of methane, this number of people. And if these things happen, things which we know do not grow the economy that fast, then these other things will….that amount of CO, that amount of methane and this other number of people.

    There’s a very strong connection in those economic models between several things. The size of the future economy, the number of future people and the amount of emissions. As, of course, there has to be, for emissions are determined by the number of people, their wealth, and the technology they’re using.

    Finally, it really isn’t some “magically” that shows increased globalisation leading to increased wealth and a smaller population. It’s a direct line correlation thing. We know that wealth is increased by market exchange. A very useful shorthand for globalisation is the extension of such market based exchange across international borders. Thus if it increases, there’ll be more wealth. QED.

  14. They don’t have models of what the economy will be like in 2100? Then the entire process is based on GIGO then isn’t it?

    I can only assume you are incapable of reading. They use several possible economic scenarios in order to predict a range (Do you see that word above? Do you?) of climatic outcomes. They do not, for the umpteenth time, model the economic situation in 2100.

    Why do you find it so tough to accept that if the IPCC process is to be believed (which, by and large, I do) then you have to believe the economic modelling which precursors it?

    What economic modelling? As I have pointed out, they assume a growth rate for each scenario in the SRES report; they don’t model them.

    If these things happen, these thing that we know make people richer, then these other things will also happen

    … except the report on which you habitually base this claim did not say this. If you want to base it on some other evidence then fine: discuss that evidence. But you are wrong to insist that this evidence is to be found in the SRES report.

    Tim adds: “As I have pointed out, they assume a growth rate for each scenario in the SRES report; they don’t model them. ”

    So your current statement is that the entire IPCC process is based on a set of “assumptions”, not any models then?

    Yes?

    It’s one or the other is my point. We believe the models, or we don’t. But if we do, we have to believe the economic models they come from.

  15. So your current statement is that the entire IPCC process is based on a set of “assumptions”, not any models then?

    No. That’s why I said that “the climate in 2100 has been modelled, unlike the GDP”. The climate was modelled with a range of economic scenarios as inputs, giving a range of climate model outcomes. Those economic scenarios were not themselves modelled. In particular, the GDPs associated with them, on which you base your entire argument, were not modelled.

    But if we do, we have to believe the economic models they come from.

    Which economic models? Where do they model the GDP in the SRES report?

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