High but Surmountable Cost, Except for Pride

Very interesting rebuttal to the “high cost” arguments I endorsed recently in an article by Adam Stein on Grist.

I don’t buy the argument that responding to climate change is “an opportunity” for society at large. An atmosphere sensitive to CO2 is worse than an atmosphere not sensitive to CO2. The “cost” may be exaggerated, but that doesn’t make it cost-free or a small matter. [more]

Bill Clinton Accused of Violating Taboo

In a cogent if demoralizing screed, the World Climate Report quasi-blog (no comments allowed, please and thanks) argues (ignoring any contradiction with its other articles, but so what) that exceeding 2 C warming is unavoidable. You’ve heard it all before, of course, and in spite of everything I am afraid it’s basically more likely than not to be how things pan out. [more]

Taking Lomborg Seriously

The NYTimes is featuring an article today on Bjorn Lomborg’s take on climate change.

While the content won’t be unfamiliar to most people who follow the issue, let me quote the gist of it:

“Wealth is a more important factor than sea-level rise in protecting you from the sea. You can draw maps showing 100 million people flooded out of their homes from global warming, but look at what’s happened here in New York. [more]

Policy as a Problem in Engineering

I couldn’t resist attending this talk. It wasn’t especially well-attended, and I think the audience that appeared was not entirely receptive. I enjoyed it though.

Corey King
President, Energetics Research and Engineering

Design Synthesis of Multistable Equilibrium Systems and the World Development/Energy Path

Design synthesis can be thought of as picking a desired outcome and then figuring out how to achieve that outcome as well as determining if it is even possible. [more]

Is Economics a Science?

If the question “is climatology a real science?” is fair game, the question “is economics a real science?” cannot just be dismissed as subversive. What we really know, how valuable our conceptual models are and how reliable our computational embodiments of them are, are questions everyone offering expertise should be willing and able to answer. [more]

Rolling Stone Magazine on Climate Change

Rolling Stone is running some climate change stories.

Global Warming: A Real Solution by Robert F Kennedy Jr

Al Gore’s Fight Against The Climate Crisis by Eric Bates and Jeff Goodell

Al Gore Speaks: selected audio clips

The Secret Campaign of President Bush’s Administration To Deny Global Warming
by Tim Dickinson

Slide Show: Inside the Bush Administration’s Denial Campaign Against Climate Change

I’m not expressing unbounded enthusiasm for all of this but it’s all interesting. [more]

Economics and Global Change: The Bathub Analogy

I posted this to the globalchange list some time ago, but now that I have the attention of a couple of market conservatives, let me post it here. Apologies to those for whom it is a rerun. Note that the apparently rational strategy actually guarantees an eventual flood.

Imagine that you are an economist who enjoys playing Tetris on your computer, so while your bathtub is filling you decide to play a round in the TV room upstairs. [more]

Economists vs Engineers

For those wandering in here without context, I am advocating a rethinking of economics in the light of sustainability issues in general and climate change in particular.

Consider minutes 4 through 7 of this video of a Google Tech Talk by Van Jacobson.

“It’s not that the solution we have is a bad one, it’s that the problem has changed.”

I’d like to see this sort of breadth of vision coming from economic thinkers. [more]

Anonymous Contribution: In Defense of Growth

Inel passes along this anonymous contribution, in an effort to answer one of my perennial questions about the conventional wisdom in economics. It’s interesting and polite, but it still seems to see everything on a pretty narrow Marxism/capitalism axis with the limits set by sustainability as a sort of afterthought.

In short, I can’t agree but I think it’s worth reading. [more]

What I’m complaining about

This way of thinking seems literally insane to me.

These numbers mean pretty much nothing. There is no purpose to arguing whose numbers are right. The problem is what is at risk, and how much it is at risk. People. Places. Beauty. Culture. Safety. Stability. Sanity. Peace.

Quantifying it in GDP gained or lost is so thoroughly senseless that I am rendered speechless. [more]

It’s time to upgrade the OS

Economics isn’t the machine, it’s just the operating system. Consider the “great depression”.

The day before the 1929 stock market crash, the world was no wealthier than the day after in real terms. The operating system crashed.The actual poverty was a consequence of the failure of the operating system, not a failure of crops or industry. [more]

Communication and the Market for Lemons

“In a market where the seller has more information about the product than the buyer, bad products can drive the good ones out of the market.”

In an article on Wired, Bruce Schneier attributes this observation to economist George Akerloff. He discusses the implications for computer security products, which need not concern us here. [more]