Thursday, December 20, 2007

Myron slithers to Washington

Myron Ebell appeared before the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming yesterday with his seven page testimony that read like it had been written for his Exxon paymasters under the title: "Kyoto+10: How I helped f-ck it up, and delivered your Company added share value".

After documenting the long history of disappointments and his part to ensure it went that way, he claimed that the reasons for failure were due to three things:
  • (1) Central planning doesn't work.

  • (2) The alternatives to hydrocarbon fuels cost far too much.

  • (3) The necessary technology isn't available
Leaving aside the fact that (1) is a contradicted by the existence of war, and (2) and (3) are references to the economic costs to the oil businesses, not to us, he left out:
  • (4) Well-funded corporate secret disinformation campaigns

  • (5) Compliant corporate owned media disseminating the disinformation

  • (6) Petrochemical Ownership Of Presidency (POOP).
Then he cited the work of some economists. (It's notable that the agreed tactic among the dead-earthers is now to refer everything back to the Kyoto Protocol, which they ensured was a failure, so they can say that any future agreement will be like the Kyoto Protocol, which they also intend to break if someone pays them to.)

Richard Tol

Myron likes this dude not for his hair, but because he's picked holes in the quality of the of the Stern Review which gave an economic argument for immediate action on climate change. Tol's position in his stern reply to the reply to the review of the Stern Review says:
We continue to think that the Stern Review is right for the wrong reasons, and we would have more faith in a climate policy that is right for the right reasons. We think that there are ample bits of evidence offered in the academic literature and indeed the underlying documentation of the Stern Review to make such a case—one that is "bullet-proof" and incontrovertible.
The "ample bits of evidence" refer to Tol's own work, which one can guess he would have been happier had they been used.

Some of Tol's other writings are about economic discounting, which is a way to fudge the numbers (he gets a 40 fold change depending on the implementation) so that the future counts for less than the present. Remember that if you are young and a fifty-year-old economist argues that he can't change his lifestyle so that your life at fifty can be half as enjoyable. According to his numbers, the actual threshold is closer to a discount on your life to 25% of the value on his own life (3.5% over 40 years), and by the time we get to your grand-children, all significance has disappeared. As Tol comments:
In other words, conventional discounting drastically reduces the weight placed on consumption flows in 200 years time, meaning that impacts in the far future are essentially irrelevant to decisions made today. While this might be entirely accurate for individuals (who will no longer be alive), it is unlikely to be a satisfactory basis for public policy making. As Weitzman (1998) states, "to think about the distant future in terms of standard discounting is to have an uneasy intuitive feeling that something is wrong, somewhere". This is also contrary to the goal of sustainable development, which requires the welfare of far-distant future generations to be taken into account. One solution to the problem of long-term discounting is to employ a discount rate that declines with the time horizon.
This is a representation Keynes's:
In the long run we are all dead
but it doesn't acknowledge that:
Those in the future, who can do nothing to stop us now, will be quite alive.
Their interests have to be rounded down to Zero, otherwise how could we justify dumping Plutonium into the groundwaters for the sake of today's pointless nuclear weapons, when god knows how many will die over the next sixty thousand years when this sh-t gets out.

William Nordhaus

Myron explained, using the necessary simplification and misrepresentation, of the opinions stated in his recently published study an estimate that the damages to 2100 caused by a global warming of 3 degrees C will be $22 trillion, while "achieving the Stern Review’s emissions targets by 2050 would reduce the damages to $9 trillion, but the measures necessary would cost $27 trillion." What Nordhaus actually said in the conclusion on page 181 was:
Climate change is unlikely to be catastrophic in the near term, but it has the potential for serious damages in the long run. There are big economic stakes in designing efficient approaches. The total discounted economic damages with no abatement are in the order of $23 trillion. These damages can be significantly reduced with well-designed policies, but poorly designed ones, like the current Kyoto Protocol, are unlikely to make a dent in the damages, will have substantial costs, and may cool enthusiasms for more efficient approaches. Similarly, overly ambitious projects are likely to be full of exemptions, loopholes, and compromises, and may cause more economic damage than benefit.

In the author’s view, the best approach is one that gradually introduces restraints on carbon emissions. One particularly efficient approach is internationally harmonized carbon taxes – ones that quickly become global and universal in scope and harmonized in effect. A sure and steady increase in harmonized carbon taxes may not have the swashbuckling romance of a crash program, but it is also less likely to be smashed on the rocks of political opposition and compromise. Slow, steady, universal, predictable, and boring – those are probably the secrets to success for policies to combat global warming.
In the Climate's view, the temperature increases and trillion dollar amounts over tens of decades which he throws about are analogous to relativistic speeds close to the velocity of light in Physics. Your Newtonian Economics breaks down there, sunshine. It has to go Einsteinian. Future humans are going to look back at these papers and go: "What the hell were you thinking?" To them it'll read like those old economic justifications for slavery, rape, and genocide. Totally off the wall. Politics is not reasonable. It is infested by liars like Myron Ebell, who have to be confronted and publically humiliated. We don't have time to wait for them to die off.

If economists took more notice of how their arguments about life in a hundred years time will look to people in a hundred years' time, they'd make a lot more sense.

Partha Dasgupta

Myron selectively cited his his notes for a seminar, which in fact concluded:
Climate change has been taken very seriously by all economists who have studied the science since the late 1970s. To be critical of the Review isn't to understate the harm humanity is inflicting on itself by degrading the natural environment - not only in regard to the stock of carbon in the atmosphere, but also in regard to so many other environmental matters besides. But the cause isn't served when parameter values are so chosen that they yield desired answers.
The real problem is that the conventional economic framework is bunk over the long-term for this issue. Everyone -- especially those in future generations -- can see that it gives the wrong answers, and must be fudged to produce anything vaguely humane and consistent with reality. There are too many exponential functions buried within it that round values such as wealth towards infinity, and the value of life towards zero.

Myron ended with quotes from fellow disinformation professionals Indur M. Goklany and Marlo Lewis, before adding his own statement:
What do I think those policies would look like? Because access to energy is so important, I think the first emphasis should be on avoiding regulatory climate policies that would have high costs in the near term in order to avoid potential problems in the long term. These problems may turn out to be real, but future societies will be much better equipped to handle them than we are.

Battle of the generations

In summary, his argument has morphed over the years from there being no climate change, to there being climate change but it's not caused by carbon dioxide, to what we have now, which is: "It's not our problem. It only matters to the future generations, and they'll be better off because they'll be alive when we are all dead."

The cruelty and immorality of this case has been matched recently by war-apologist Thomas Friedman who said on behalf of the US military with its metaphorical gun in the mouths of the Iraqi people "Suck On This".

That, Myron, is what your life is about. Screwing our children's grandchildren on behalf of the oil aristocracy by lying and misrepresenting anything you can get your hands on, because you know you'll be dead by then, and you are the utterly selfish epitome of all the evil encompassed within our current political-economic system.

It's great to be alive, isn't it?


Post a Comment

<< Home