catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

Deepak Lal on global warming

with 20 comments

I am in the process of reviewing Deepak Lal’s new book ‘Reviving the invisible hand’ for Policy. It will be done soon (or rather it has to to meet Andrew Norton’s deadline). But here’s an interesting tidbit – Lal seems to be running with the line that global warming may have net benefits which exceed the costs. I’m not sure what to make of this.  At pp. 217-218 he writes:

… the major economic effects of increading C02 … will be regional, with some regions being better off and others worse off, particularly from the effects on their agriculture. Moreover, industrialisaton and urbanisation … have made making a living in developed countries virtually cimate proof … The benefits from global warming and in particular of CO2 emissions are rarely cited. Increased CO2 emissions are already increasing global vegetation …

… the fear of rising sea levels with global warming concerns distributional effects. Even if the projected rise in sea levels – which along with so many of the scientific predictions is now estimated to be much less than originally predicted – leads to the erosion of many coastal areas, it will be no less than what is happening through sea erosion … The Green NGOs and the various international institutions currently trying to convince developing countries to reduce their carbon emissions to prevent climate change should instead organise a trust fund to be paid out to citizens threatened by sea level rises if the worst happens.

The last point raises the important question of whether. even if the most dire … predictions of global warming turn out to be true, it is bette to adapt to this global warming …

Fortunately there is a sophisticated cost-benefit study which quantifies the various alternative scenarios and uncertainties …Nordhaus generates seven alternative policies for dealing with climate change … Nordhaus’s results for the best guess case are: ‘Among these seven … the rank order from a purely economic viewpoint is geoengineering (i.e. doing what Lal suggests), economic optimum (GHG controls set to maximise the discounted value of utility of consumption), 10 year delay, no controls, stabilising emissions, cutting emissions by 20 per cent and stabilising climate. The advantage of geo-engineering over other policies is enormous’.

The reference cited by Lal is Wiliam Nordhaus’ 1994 book ‘Managing the global commons’.

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Written by Admin

October 18, 2006 at 4:51 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

20 Responses

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  1. My recollection is that Bjorn Lomborg adopted substantially this line in The Skeptical Environmentalist. I must re-read it to see how well it has dated since its 2001publication.

    whyisitso

    October 18, 2006 at 5:15 pm

  2. thank god most governments ignore environmentalists…otherwise we’d all be scratching round in the dirt

    c8to

    October 18, 2006 at 5:40 pm

  3. Try 50-year-delay.

    Thats how long it might be before we aren’t dependent on Oil.
    >>>>>>>>>>>
    There is always CLIMATE CHANGE. There is climate change no matter what the puny humans do. And so of course some land goes into production and other land goes out of production.

    This is because wind patterns change in unpredictable ways. Suddenly the Sahara dries out. But somewhere else is getting more rain.

    When we focus on NET BENEFITS AND COSTS we MUST NOT THEN define the problem in such a way as to presume that its:

    CLIMATE-CHANGE vs THE-STATUS-QUO.

    This is the height of intellectual error. And this IS!! the reason why people have been able to conjure net costs out of Uranus.

    Instead we must define it as net costs and benefits between:

    INUSTRIAL CO2 OUTPUT A

    versus

    INUSTRIAL CO2 OUTPUT B

    versus

    INDUSTRIAL CO2 OUTPUT C

    >>>>>>>>>

    I will not comment on what might happen 5 centuries from now. There could be a real problem.

    But there is no question that if we are talking about the next couple of centuries THE HIGHER THE CO2 OUTPUT THE BETTER.

    There is just MASSIVE net benefits to gain and almost nothing in the way of gross costs to deduct from these bountious benefits.

    Because the climate WILL change. And people have to wind up investments in some places, and reinvest in others.

    They will have to do this REGARDLESS of the level of industrial-CO2-output since CLIMATE-CHANGE is a given.

    We have to follow-the-game as it were. As we’ve always done.

    The answer in all cases is to maximise voluntary capital formation.

    And getting in the way of coal usage isn’t maximising voluntary capital formation.

    GMB

    October 18, 2006 at 5:55 pm

  4. Relying on a 1994 analysis seems a odd given how much effort has been poured into researching the likely outcomes of AGW in the last 10 years.

    steve edney

    October 18, 2006 at 5:57 pm

  5. A lot of effort and very little to show for it.

    Whats changed in the interim Steve?

    GMB

    October 18, 2006 at 6:15 pm

  6. A recent paper by Nordhaus on geography and global warming reads (in abstract):

    The linkage between economic activity and geography is obvious: Populations cluster mainly on coasts and rarely on ice sheets. Past studies of the relationships between economic activity and geography have been hampered by limited spatial data on economic activity. The present study introduces data on global economic activity, the G-Econ database, which measures economic activity for all large countries, measured at a 1° latitude by 1° longitude scale. The methodologies for the study are described. Three applications of the data are investigated. First, the puzzling “climate-output reversal” is detected, whereby the relationship between temperature and output is negative when measured on a per capita basis and strongly positive on a per area basis. Second, the database allows better resolution of the impact of geographic attributes on African poverty, finding geography is an important source of income differences relative to high-income regions. Finally, we use the G-Econ data to provide estimates of the economic impact of greenhouse warming, with larger estimates of warming damages than past studies.

    The full paper can be found here: http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/103/10/3510

    Ken Miles

    October 18, 2006 at 6:38 pm

  7. My recollection is that Bjorn Lomborg adopted substantially this line in The Skeptical Environmentalist. I must re-read it to see how well it has dated since its 2001publication.

    It dates badly. Lomborg uncritically jumps on every possible scientific reason for a low CO2 effect, subsquently, most (all maybe – its been a while since I read his stuff) has been found to be wrong.

    Ken Miles

    October 18, 2006 at 6:41 pm

  8. What we have found out I think is this:

    According to the Max Plank Institute the sun is giving us more heat now then anytime in the last 1,150 years.

    Also we have the North Atlantic oscillation which changed to a “NEGATIVE” phase around 1995. And it might stay that way for another 10 years or so.

    This phase is conducive to arctic melting.

    Also despite the undoubted CO2-based side to this warming and despite all this extra heat from the sun the Antarctic is not warming at all?

    In fact it may be getting a little cooler.

    So what happens when these cycles turn around on us?

    We would want to find this sort of thing out before panicing over what after all is a good thing.

    GMB

    October 18, 2006 at 6:46 pm

  9. thank god most governments ignore environmentalists…otherwise we’d all be scratching round in the dirt

    Time for a reality check here.

    Environmentalists are hardly ignored, they just don’t get want they want 100% of the time. Any check of environmental legisation will demonstrate this.

    I don’t know about you, but for me at least, there isn’t any scratching round in the dirt because of this legisation.

    Ken Miles

    October 18, 2006 at 6:47 pm

  10. “It dates badly. Lomborg uncritically jumps on every possible scientific reason for a low CO2 effect, subsquently, most (all maybe – its been a while since I read his stuff) has been found to be wrong.”

    No he has not.

    Back up what you are saying Miles. You are so consistently full of shit on this subject.

    GMB

    October 18, 2006 at 6:48 pm

  11. ” don’t know about you, but for me at least, there isn’t any scratching round in the dirt because of this legisation.”

    Whats THAT got to do with what C8to said dopey?

    Time for a reality check with YOU pal.

    Its about time you at least ATTEMPTED to act like a scientist and got a little bit of intellectual precision going on.

    GMB

    October 18, 2006 at 7:00 pm

  12. to the extent that environmental improvements increase general utility they are good.

    but what i’m saying is if even the relatively reasonable environmentalists were in power wed have negative gdp growth instantly…

    c8to

    October 18, 2006 at 7:06 pm

  13. They’ve given us the delayed super-duper-punch.

    In that everywhere we’ve seen them get in the way of coal and nuclear energy plants.

    These bastards have put us in LOT of trouble.

    Its been decades of obstruction and the costs of this obstruction have been bad enough. But they will spiral right out of control now that the oil market is beginning to tighten.

    These are a very guilty guilty bunch of frightened scare-mongering creeps.

    GMB

    October 18, 2006 at 7:18 pm

  14. Back up what you are saying Miles. You are so consistently full of shit on this subject.

    I’m not sure why I’m bothering to reply to you given that your brain is in total lockdown mode, but just in case there is somebody out there who thinks that Lomborg has something to offer and isn’t batshit crazy, here goes…

    Off the top of my head, Lomborg states that warming is likely to be overstated because of the Iris effect (which suggests that clouds will cause a strong negative feedback), sunspots (ie. the sun plays a greater role than expected) and the model errors in predicting the observed upper troposphere temperature change.

    Subsequently, the Iris effect was quantified and found to be a weak positive feedback, the sunspot data was so dodgy a more cynical person than me might suggest that it was fraudulent, and the observed troposphere temperature was found to be wrong and the models were right.

    Ken Miles

    October 18, 2006 at 8:14 pm

  15. but what i’m saying is if even the relatively reasonable environmentalists were in power wed have negative gdp growth instantly…

    C8to, you’ve missed my point. For all intents and purposes, the moderate environmentalists are in power. Massive amounts of environmental legislation have been passed over the last one hundred years. Proposed developments have been stopped, polluting activities curtailed, national parks created. Green ideas have been embraced by the population to a massive extent.

    And, guess what, no negative gdp growth either.

    Ken Miles

    October 19, 2006 at 3:48 pm

  16. actually you’re wrong miles.

    the harsh realists have been in power, and the people that care more about growth than the environment (correctly) and businesses.

    yes there is tweaking around the edges, but the environmentalists are not in control. otherwise we’d have no cars, no coal power plants and be scratching in the dirt while we generate a litte bit of wind power – wait wind power kills birds…

    furthermore you’re wrong that the population has embraced green policies. we consume more power, use up more resources than ever before…but also more efficiently, and these combined make us richer…

    c8to

    October 19, 2006 at 4:48 pm

  17. C8to, I never said that your ridiculous strawman environmentalists were in power. I said that moderate environmentalists have a massive influence on government.

    The so called “hard realists” know where the votes are and enact policy accordingly.

    What we have are regulations which govern most aspects of life. In subtle ways though. Want to drive your car? The fuel that you use has to pass the fuel quality legislation. Want to use some coal power? There are emissions regulations + the mandatory renewable energy target.

    The irony of the whole situation is that you can cite an example of a wind farm being banned for environmental reasons as evidence of environmentalists having no real power.

    Ken Miles

    October 19, 2006 at 5:35 pm

  18. Spot on Ken.

    That’s a fucking HOWLER c8to.

    And this:

    “we consume more power, use up more resources than ever before…but also more efficiently, and these combined make us richer”

    ummmm… not in resources dude.

    FDB

    October 19, 2006 at 5:44 pm

  19. “8to, you’ve missed my point. For all intents and purposes, the moderate environmentalists are in power. Massive amounts of environmental legislation have been passed over the last one hundred years. Proposed developments have been stopped, polluting activities curtailed, national parks created. Green ideas have been embraced by the population to a massive extent.
    And, guess what, no negative gdp growth either.”

    You idiot.

    I challenge anyone to read this and fail to see the intense idiocy of Miles.

    What a complete fuckwit.

    GMB

    October 19, 2006 at 5:47 pm

  20. “ummmm… not in resources dude.”

    What are you talking about you fucking moron.

    C8to just said it made you richer.

    AND HE’S RIGHT.

    And you are such a moron that you change the meaning of the word RICHER in mid-stream.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Now you guys know I always tell you just how moronic our latest generation of scientists are.

    But if you didn’t believe me check out Miles.

    FDB you a scientist too?

    Because you are certainly a moron
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Now lets go again. What fucking mistake has c8to made in his reasoning?

    In fact he hasn’t made any mistakes has he and you two are a couple of stupid twats.

    GMB

    October 19, 2006 at 5:53 pm


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