Depending on the subject matter, benefit-cost analysis (bca) may come more or less close to the precision insinuated by its numeric results - like the benefit-cost ratio of 50 : 1 (or even higher) estimated in the below bca concerning CO2 emissions.
Irrespective of its numerical precision, the one great virtue of bca is that it forces you to look at the vital issues of a project and attempt to determine to what degree of precision and confidence benefits and costs are ascertainable. It requires one to make his assumptions explicit and gives others a chance to acquaint themselves with these assumptions and probe into them.
In a word, if properly done, bca is a commendable auxiliary for a realistic, comprehensive and fair look at a project. It can be the basis for a critical discourse. For that reason, I tend to think, it is an important means to ensure transparent government decisions. We should ask of government agencies to disclose the bca underlying their proposals or decisions.
Bezden and Driessen demonstrate what a critical look at government bca can bring to light.
The IWG process hypothesizes almost every conceivable carbon “cost” – including costs to agriculture, forestry, water resources, forced migration, human health and disease, coastal cities, ecosystems and wetlands. Yet it fails to estimate any carbon benefits. Even more incredibly, the agencies have done this in complete disregard of EO 12866 and a recent OMB declaration that careful consideration of both costs and benefits is important in determining whether a regulation is worth implementing at all.
Bezden and Driessen conclude:
Prodigious amounts of fossil fuels will be required to sustain future economic growth, especially in the non-OECD nations. If the world is serious about lessening the need for human, animal, wood and dung energy, maintaining and increasing economic growth, reducing energy deprivation and human poverty, improving human and civil rights, and increasing standards of living, health and longevity in the non-OECD nations – then massive fossil fuel utilization will be required, for decades to come.
Achieving these benefits for billions of poor people worldwide – while also maintaining them for American, European and other developed nation families – translates into a simple fact: the benefits of fossil fuels far outweigh any conceivable costs, and will continue to do so for decades to come.
Similarly, the benefits of carbon dioxide emitted in the process of producing this energy also overwhelmingly outweigh the claimed and estimated costs associated with that CO2 – no matter which SCC estimates or assumptions are used. In fact, compared to the benefits of carbon dioxide for forest, grassland and food crop growth, the SCC cost estimates are relatively so small as to be in the statistical noise of the estimated CO2 benefits.
In this context, there is also a critical need far more a balanced, broad-based and honest assessment of “dangerous manmade climate change” claims. Literally thousands of scientists do not agree that human carbon dioxide emissions are a primary cause of climate change, or that any changes in our weather or climate are bound to be harmful, dangerous or even catastrophic. However, their views have been deliberately and systematically ignored and taken out of the policy-making process, because the process has unfortunately become political and ideological, rather than science-based and analytical.
These facts must be used to inform energy, environmental, and regulatory policies. Otherwise, the regulations will continue to be far worse than the harms they supposedly redress. For the Interagency Working Group, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, Department of the Interior and other Federal agencies to continue ignoring the true costs and benefits, the requirements of law under EO 12866, and sixty years of informed benefit-cost protocols and practices, is illegal, unethical and contrary to the best interests of our nation, its citizens and all humans.
It's a mild, rainy, at times blustery, all in all pleasantly atmospheric Saturday over here. My home team have won. I'm having a lovely cup of tea. Birds chirping like in spring. Outside temperature is 10°C (50 °F). I'm working at my desk with the window open. It's almost impossible to imagine that my friends in America are freezing in a country more than two thirds of whose surface is covered in snow.
By contrast, we haven't really had a winter this year, in the western parts of Germany - it's been more like an extended autumn.
The global warming hype is a prime example of how bad politics is necessarily anti-ecological, and so is politicised science.
(I don't believe that the opposite of and the solutions to bad politics is no politics, but goodpolitics).
Ecological systems are complex, their intricate manner of functioning does not lend itself to sensational story telling with mass impact. Hence, demagogic politics will almost certainly reduce genuinely ecological issues to simple, improperly mechanistic formulae. Our social democratic age - based on a denial of the ecological nature of modern human civilization - is of a distinctly unecological spirit.
Having discovered "the visible hand", i.e. self-generating order, the philosophy of freedom is asking us to treat human society as an ecological order. Inconveniently, however, orders of the self-generatig kind are counter-intuitive, hard to understand and hard to "sell". This is the root cause why liberty is generally rather unpopular, often laughed at or even despised. People like simple stories. People like to think about society, the economy, in fact, everything the way they think about most matters that concern them in their daily lives: that is, they expect simple causal relations easily mapped by ordinary deductive reasoning.
Thus, the greens - communists who've forgotten their origins - will tell the ordinary propaganda consumer that CO2 emissions, temperatures, and industrialisation have increased in tandem, insinuating a simple story line: capitalism creates catastrophic warming.
By contrast, consider some of the key facts that strip the thesis of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming of its credibility:
CO2 is following global temperatures, now and consistently since several hundred of thousand years.
96% of CO2 emissions are of non anthropogenic origin (volcanoes, animals, rotting vegetation, and especially oceans). Why should the tiny contingent of CO2 generated by humans be the culprit?
Most of the warming occurred well before industrial emissions began to skyrocket in the 1940s, after which temperatures, in fact, fell for 4 consecutive decades, starting to climb again only when global recession set in in the 1970s.
Most CO2 emissions are registered in areas without human populations or industrial activities - especially the oceans.
In the past, world climate has been much hotter with substantially more CO2 in the atmosphere than today. These much higher levels have elicited no catastrophic results - polar bears had a good time as well as the vikings who at the time had good grounds to call a certain land mass Greenland.
We still live in an ice age that has been in decline, i.e. warming, since the 1800s. The present warming trend is part of a perfectly normal climate cycle.
Only 1% of all species live in the Arctic zones - creatures thrive under warmer conditions.
Higher temperatures and more CO2 are beneficial to life on earth, not only to human life.
Science changed dramatically in the 1970s, when the reward structure in the profession began to revolve around the acquisition of massive amounts of taxpayer funding that was external to the normal budgets of the universities and federal laboratories. In climate science, this meant portraying the issue in dire terms, often in alliance with environmental advocacy organizations. Predictably, scientists (and their institutions) became addicted to the wealth, fame, and travel in the front of the airplane (quoting Garth Paltridge, one of the world’s most respected atmospheric scientists):
“A new and rewarding research lifestyle emerged which involved the giving of advice to all types and levels of government, the broadcasting of unchallengeable opinion to the general public, and easy justification for attendance at international conferences—this last in some luxury by normal scientific experience, and at a frequency previously unheard of.”
Every incentive reinforced this behavior, as the self-selected community of climate boffins now began to speak for both science and in the service of drastic regulatory policies.
Beforehand, a brief and rather entertaining introduction to the broader issue:
Climate scientist Dr. Murry Salby [not the gentleman in the above video], Professor and Climate Chair at Macquarie University, Australia explains in a recent, highly-recommended lecture presented at Helmut Schmidt University, Hamburg, Germany, why man-made CO2 is not the driver of atmospheric CO2 or climate change. Dr. Salby demonstrates:
CO2 lags temperature on both short [~1-2 year] and long [~1000 year] time scales
The IPCC claim that "All of the increases [in CO2 concentrations since pre-industrial times] are caused by human activity" is impossible
"Man-made emissions of CO2 are clearly not the source of atmospheric CO2 levels"
Satellite observations show the highest levels of CO2 are present over non-industrialized regions, e.g. the Amazon, not over industrialized regions
96% of CO2 emissions are from natural sources, only 4% is man-made
Net global emissions from all sources correlate almost perfectly with short-term temperature changes [R2=.93] rather than man-made emissions
Methane levels are also controlled by temperature, not man-made emissions
Climate model predictions track only a single independent variable - CO2 - and disregard all the other, much more important independent variables including clouds and water vapor.
The 1% of the global energy budget controlled by CO2 cannot wag the other 99%
Climate models have been falsified by observations over the past 15+ years
Climate models have no predictive value
Feynman's quote "It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with the data, it’s wrong" applies to the theory of man-made global warming.
My brain is quite different than me: it is hard-working, incessantly industrious. In fact, it frequently asks me to take a leave so it can go on working undisturbed by me. This is what happens regularly: I have a problem that I can't come to grips with. I then take a walk, a nap, or some other break. When I'm back from the leave, my brain presents me with the solution. Of course, this works only when I have made a serious effort at acquainting myself with the problem beforehand. But the decisive breakthrough is often arrived at by my brain on its own.
Theodore Dalrymple spent a large part of his life in prison, as a doctor. He and his most charming wife were the first people I met when I arrived at Bodrum, Turkey, in September 2012. Norman Stone (the historian of the World Wars) and the three of us spent the most genial, warm summer evening together.
Below is the speech Dalrymple gave at the Bodrum conference, with me sitting invisibly in the front row.
In his concluding remarks on the "horrible existential trap," "this hopeless and fearless limbo" which the British welfare state has proved to be for many, Dalrymple, a psychiatrist, argues: "the abolition of the fear of want has disastrous psychological consequences."
"What then are the results of the abolition of fear and with it hope? The choices that are available to people in this situation are of little consequence, even to them. They don't care even what they eat or how they dress. And carelessness and lack of discrimination become general. For such as live in these circumstances there is no higher, no lower, no provident, no improvident, no wise and no foolish. Even curiosity is driven out. For why be curious in a world in which there are no consequences in what you do. So choice ... means little more than the fulfilment of the whim of the moment [...]
When Milton's satan says "all good to me is lost; evil, be thou my good," he expresses something that has actually come to pass. In a situation in which nothing makes much difference to one's material condition, the vacuum in meaning is filled by sensation and excitement, which is more easily procured by bad behaviour than by good. Social pathology then abounds, for it creates an interest in existence that would otherwise be lacking. At least their bad behaviour and social pathology create crises that lend a savour to existence... [without which bad behaviour] existence would be stale, flat, and unprofitable.
"... the abolition of raw want certainly does not lead to a civilized existence...On the contrary, it leads to a kind of fatalism without contentment; a fatalism without acceptance of one's fate...and a listless resentment...[Man] needs the spur of fear as well as of hope to make him flourish and behave well. For where fear is removed virtue does not flourish."