Thursday, December 13, 2007

Labor, capital, climate change, and The Gap

Commenting on a surprisingly utilitarian post by Eddie, a517d0gg writes

It seems to me that a lot of people (you, Soob, TDAXP) are contrarian on climate change for the sake of being contrarian.


I can't speak for Eddie or Soob, but Adrian's assessment of my motives is incorrect.

Essentially, the controversy on climate change boils down to one line:

Certain capital-producing activities are altering the nature of certain stocks of capital.

Hmm. A potential problem. What is then needed is a judgement of the productivity benefits of the capital-producing activities (very large, as they compound over time) and a judgement of the alteration of capital-stocks. For instance,

  • sea levels will rise (bad)

  • the cost of the rising sea levels is trivially low (good)

  • rainfall in certain parts of Africa will lessen (bad)

  • rainfall in Africa overall will increase (good)

  • there will be more deaths from heat (bad)

  • there will be many times less deaths from cold (good)


&c.

Climate change is thus a "problem" we are near the optimal solution for already. While certain technological adjustments can doubtless be made, there are more pressing matters.

One such more important issue is shrinking the Gap. Essentially, the problemof the Non-Integrating Gap is:

The opportunity cost of not shrinking the Gap is an alteration in the quality of the labor supply.

Another potential problem. IT can be analyzed by examining the opportunity cost of not shrinking the Gap and the nature of the alteration conducted on the labor supply.

tdaxps_new_map_md
A problem worth thinking about


Compared to shrinking the gap, labor loss in the present environment is very high. Apart from the "bottom billion" being almost completely unmonetized, biological plays a role, too. Unhygenic and primitive living conditiosn leads to an increase in exports of diseases from the Gap, while the co-evolution of genes and culture by natural selection continually optimizes the population of the Gap for a world less and less like the one everyone else lives in.

However, shrinking the Gap has its own opportunity costs. Certian things, which we may otherwise not want to spend:

  • billions, if not trillions, on defense (Leviathan and Systems Administration)

  • subversion of the constitutional order ("Ethan Allen" is right on this one)


and more

While climate change is a trivial problem with a trivial solution, the Gap is a complex problem with a complex solution. It's both more worthy of attention and more interesting to think about.

And that isn't "contrarian" at all.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Giuliani and Thompson Right on Climate Change

Eilperin, J. (Nov. 6, 2007). Climate is a risky issue for democrats: candidates back costly proposals. Washington Post, A1, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/05/AR2007110502106.html?hpid=topnews.

Of the major candidates, only Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson have it together on global climate change:

While Democrats are working to outdo each other on climate change -- New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, for example, supports a 90 percent greenhouse gas reduction by midcentury -- GOP presidential candidates remain more skeptical, to say the least. Former senator Fred D. Thompson (Tenn.) stands by his commentary on National Review Online that warming on other planets has led some people "to wonder if Mars and Jupiter, non signatories to the Kyoto Treaty, are actually inhabited by alien SUV-driving industrialists who run their air-conditioning at 60 degrees and refuse to recycle."

Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani said in the wake of Gore's Nobel Prize win that when it comes to global warming, "if we try to deal with it at too hysterical a pace, we could create problems."

Among Republicans, only Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) -- who began crusading against climate change after a heckler dressed as a penguin followed him around New Hampshire during his 2000 presidential bid -- backs a specific, 60 percent cut in greenhouse gases by 2050. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee endorsed a mandatory carbon cap last month but has not laid out specifics.


(In fairness, Mitt Romney is not mentioned in the article, but the LCV profile is informative.)

Human-caused ("anthropogenic") climate change may be happening. But if it is, nearly all "solutions" being talked about are worse than the problem. A better approach would be to fight HIV/AIDS, feed the hungry, and grow the economy -- if you are concerned about human welfare, and not merely the puritanism of global warming religion.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Global warming religion and the Peace Prize

Global warming religion is that form of public faith that is common among those too cool for Christianity but too human to have faith in nothing. Only superficially related to animsm, Global warming religion is closer to a search-and-replace on Protestant Christianity, focusing on

  • Sins - CO2 emitting activities

  • Tribulation - climate change, as a result of Sins

  • Salvation of Man - to occur after the Tribulation

  • Personal Salvation - to be done through turning the heart from Sins, even if Sins do not cease


The fetishism around Al Gore ads a messianic tone to the movement, as is the case for many cults.

Soob takes a pot shot at the Prophet by noting how Irene Sendler did more, but the real shame is that if the Nobel Peace Prize committee wanted to do name a former Clinton administration official, they couldn't have done better than: Bill Clinton.

NAFTA and the WTO were two of the three most important trade organizations formed in the 1990s, and both were created under Bill Clinton.

But Al's cool too. Who else will help me save myself while the costs of sins lead us to the tribulation? Oh, to hurry the day for the salvation of man!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Mainstream Media Climate Change Bias

What the AP reported:

Kerry Emanuel, an MIT professor who had feuded with Gray over global warming, said Gray has wrongly "dug (his) heels in" even though there is ample evidence that the world is getting hotter.


What a google search found within thirty seconds.:

Q: ... is global warming behind this increase in hurricanes?

Gray: I am very confident that it’s not. I mean we have had global warming. That’s not a question. The globe has warmed the last 30 years, and the last 10 years in particular.


Hat-tip to Power Line, courtesy of John Hawks.

Update: South Dakota Politics agrees.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Save the World

"What part of the European economy that is is irrelevant.," by "Aaron," tdaxp, http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2005/01/31/academic_honesty.html, 2 February 2005.

"The study utilized a SETI@home-style aggregation of computation...," by "Aaron," tdaxp, http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2005/01/31/academic_honesty.html, 2 February 2005.

In two comment so interesting they demands a post as a reply, Aaron writes

"Who would we hurt by forcing Ford & brothers to increase fuel efficiency and limit emissions?"


Ford's workers. Ford's retirees. Dependents of ford employees. Sick people who depend on Ford's health insurance. Any environmental trusts Ford gives too. Ford is not a healthy company (http://www.economist.com/displayStory.cfm?Story_ID=1842437 and http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=1845754). But more to the point...

The study utilized a SETI@home-style aggregation of computation to provide models for what will happen when CO2 levels double. This is not a question of "if" but "when". The history of CO2 levels is measurable by pulling up cores of Arctic ice. If you have Excel, here is that data. A linear regression model shows the rampup and the projected date of occurrance.


Using the data you provided with the Global Policy Forum's historic gross world product table, one gets this


medium_carbdiogrowth.jpg


But more interesting is this one

medium_carbdiogrowth1976.jpg


It helps one get a feel for the insignificant contribution of economic growth in atmospheric carbon dioxide pressure.

I think you're right to use linear regression to model CO2. Some quick calculations show the slope is about .41% of 1959 a year. Now this is somewhat exaggerated (the Mount Pinotubo explosion threw up so much carbon dioxide and other particles into the atmosphere that this climate forcing was more profound than from the opposite anthropogenic greenhouse gases and the Simultaneous El Nino event during 1991 to 1993), but it's about right. At the same time the World Economy has been growing at an average compounded rate of 3.33% (or "linearly regressed" to a slope of 6.13%). That's about a factor of ten -- an order of magnitude.

One of these trends is unique of all of human history. It has lifted billions out of poverty and gave billions a life that was not nasty, brutish, and short.

The other... well, it's not clear. It's not clear how reliable how historic CO2 measurements are. It's not clear what the real effect of an increase in CO2 production is. The CO2 picture's noise.

Projecting using those rates forward, from 2005 to 2100, we see CO2 pressure increasing 32.82% -- about the same percentage increase as from the Revolution until now. In the same time period gross world product increases two-thousand two-hundred fifty-four percent , a twenty-two (22.5456) fold increase. Think about that for a moment -- if in 2100 we spend the equivalent of twenty-one of our current global economies on a heroic carbon scrubbing expedition, or whatever, with no economic growth resulting, the world is half-again as well off as it is now and that's just a rounding error.

I do not think we will ever get to that point. The world is becoming increasingly energy-neutral. Energy increase increases negligably with GDP growth in advanced countries, and every country is getting more advanced. As our world moves from "atoms to bits" our energy usage will naturally decrease.

And now for the moral case...

"I get your side, Dan. People want to do better financially."


Virtually all wars occur between states where one has an annual income of less than $3,000/year. These people are desperate, and the mass death on both sides resulting from war is a good gamble for them, because otherwise they have nothing. If we can create a bountiful world, war will fade away.

We complain about the costs of medicines, but with a world twenty-two times as rich think what medicines will be created! Think of the catastrophe of famine that has never been visited upon an industrialized democracy. Think about how cost effective it will be for the rich world to mass vaccinate the needy of the world. Think of the scientific wonders we can invent with twenty-two times the investment.

It is not about "doing better financially." It about ending want. The worldwide capitalist revolution has destroyed hunger, misery, slavery, and war where it prevails, and is rapidly wiping out sickness. Let's end all of those things.

You say the sky is not falling. I agree. You say it is poverty that drives South American farmers to destroy the jungles. I agree. So knowing that the sky is not falling, let's end poverty and save the world.

17:30 Posted in Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: climate change

Monday, January 31, 2005

Academic Honesty

"Shrinking polar icecaps (and credibility)," by Gaijinbiker, Riding Sun, http://ridingsun.blogspot.com/2005/01/shrinking-polar-icecaps-and.html, 31 January 2005.

"You're exactly right," by Dan, Riding Sun, http://ridingsun.blogspot.com/2005/01/shrinking-polar-icecaps-and.html#110718078243455046, 31 January 2005.

A new report on global warming is out. I'm not a climate scientist, and people who I respect are on boths sides of the debate -- often in surprising way. But the article is a joke.

Gaijinbiker explains:

When you measure the same thing twice, you don't expect the second result to be double the first. If it is, that's a clue that your measurements are worthless. If the second try is 100% higher, perhaps a third try would yield results 100% lower -- that is, zero.


My response?

You're exactly right.

For my graduate degree (Computer Science) I had to build a model simulation large-scale systems. Results had to be consistent with itself and the real world. 100% variation is a failure -- or more academically, a field for future research -- not a conclusion.


But it doesn't end there. In the original post, Gaijinbiker points out another problem

Also notable is that the article mentions only the report's "worst-case" scenario. How likely is that scenario to occur? Ten percent? One percent? .00001 percent? And what are the other scenarios like? How likely are they? Are there any where the earth actually gets cooler?

It would be nice to know.

However, Mr. Connor apparently sees his purpose as terrifying Britons into immediate and unwarranted action, rather than skeptically assessing the most drastic outcome of a single new study.


Again, exactly right.

I'm not an expert on simulation design or criticism, but the guys on my committee where. If I would have presented, as my results, the most extreme outcome I'd be laughed out of the room, if not asked to leave the university.

The results of a simulation are taken. They are explained, and areas that seem particularly weak or interesting become "future research." I was lucky to complete my studies under very experienced and knowldgeable professors. They taught me the pitfalls of simulation building, and how a simulation can be perverted for personal or political gain (one had been contracted to simulate how to "win" a thermonuclear exchange using equipment from only one military contractor --- single-source the apocalypse!).

At best, the press coverage of this is biased and inaccurate. Alternatively, the scientists involved are shockingly unprofessional. At worst, they are academically dishonest.

15:00 Posted in Science | Permalink | Comments (4) | Tags: riding sun, climate change