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« Motivated system 2 reasoning--experimental evidence & its significance for explaining political polarization | Main | Weekend update: The distracting, counterproductive "97% consensus" debate grinds on »
Sunday
Jul282013

Weekend update 2: Money talks, bullshit on scientific consensus (including lack thereof) walks

The comment thread following yesterday's "update" on the persistent, and persistently unenlightening, debate over the most recent "97% consensus" study has only renewed my conviction that anyone genuinely interested in helping confused and curious members of the public to assess the significance of the best available evidence on climate change would not be bothering with surveys of scientists but would instead be creating a market index in securities the value of which depends on global warming actually occurring.

I've explained previously how such an index would operate as a beacon of collective wisdom, beaming a signal of considered judgment through a filter of economic self-interest that removes the distorting influence of cultural cognition & like forms of bias.

I just instructed my broker to place an order for $153,252 worth of stocks in firms engaged in arctic shipping. I wonder how many of the people arguing against the validity of the Cook et al. study are shorting those same securities?

 

 

 

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You might also be interested in looking at Shell's Environmental Assessment for exploration in the Chukchi Sea, pages 24-26. They don't have any problem at all with the IPCC reports, which they quote approvingly. In fact, their business model, as for the Arctic shippers, seems to be predicated on an "alarmist" view of future sea-ice decline.

The Arctic sea ice is undergoing rapid changes. There are reported changes in sea-ice extent, thickness, distribution, age, and melt duration. In general the sea-ice extent is becoming much less in the Arctic summer and slightly less in winter; overall, the decline in sea-ice extent is increasing (NSIDC, 2011 a, b). The thickness of Arctic ice is decreasing (Hass et al. 2010), the distribution of ice is changing, and its age is decreasing (Comiso, 2011). Melt duration is increasing. These factors lead to a decreasing perennial Arctic ice pack.

As you implied above, stubborn cultural barriers to accepting climate change can crumble away quite quickly once real money is on the table...

July 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndy Skuce

"but would instead be creating a market index in securities the value of which depends on global warming actually occurring."

Good idea. But the success of the Northern sea route depends more on whether Russia grants permission than it does on the weather. It was doing a steady trade back in the 1930s.

"I wonder how many of the people arguing against the validity of the Cook et al. study are shorting those same securities?"

The invalidity of the Cook study has nothing to do with whether global warming is happening. It's invalid because it uses invalid methods, like asking the wrong question, assessing abstracts instead of surveying scientists, misclassifying those abstracts, and assuming that none of those scientists who took no position did so because they were genuinely neutral, holding a midpoint position in the debate.

The von Storch paper similarly assesses a majority (83%) believing AGW is or will be responsible for most of the warming, and 93% saying "global warming is happening" and I'm not making any criticisms of that. The method is not perfect, but it's much, much better. And I think the results look reasonable, and not unlikely to be true.

Of course, whether there's a consensus is a different question to whether the consensus is right, but that wasn't what either paper was about. Everyone on *both* sides of the debate think the majority of climate scientists are believers. Sceptics would say "So what?"

As for whether we would short those securities, if their price was being inflated by expectations of an Arctic melt, then that probably wouldn't be a bad idea. It depends how long it takes for investors to realise that their value depends more on politics than the weather. But I'd probably steer clear personally, given the levels of Russian government corruption, and the fact that their value depends primarily on that same government bureaucracy granting the permits. I imagine they'll be doing a bit of 'speculating' of their own, and I wouldn't want to be anywhere near it when they do.

July 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

@NiV:

If Russia is going to "block" the opportunity to exploit the opening of these shippig lanes, then all the *more* reason to short the stocks!


As for validity of Cook et al-- true that the validity of the study is logically unconnected to whether global warming is happening. But the preoccupation w/ its validity is very highly correlated w/ not "believeing" in consensus. You are wrong to say "everyone" believes there's consensus -- just look how many people in the comment thread deny that.

About what % of the people, would you say, who are posting dozens & dozens of comments & tweets crticizing Cook et al. dispute that the best available scientific evidence supports the conclusion that AGW will cause global warming to increase over the next decade, and then even more in the after that, and then even more in the one after that?

If they are right, there are *lots* of opportuniteis for them to bet against firms into which capital is flowing in anticipation of warming.

What % of them are actually putting $ down on their skepticism toward that? They sure are willing to invest time. Someone who spends hrs & hrs arguing about something he or she won't bet on is usually full of shit in my experience.

July 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdmk38

Sceptics would say "So what?"

Well, except when they are arguing that there is no such "consensus" of viewpoint, that there only is a high prevalence of viewpoint because Eco-Nazis share a desire to destroy capitalism or because academics want to ride the AGW gravy train, or that assessing whether there is a consensus is only evidence of a broken and corrupted concept of science among those who foolishly or invalidly think that the prevalence of view among "experts" is somehow meaningful. All of which together adds up to a significant % of reactions to claims of consensus. I read "skeptic" blogs a lot - and I don't think I've ever seen a "skeptic" respond to assessments of "consensus" with "so what."

But yeah, other than that, they join together in unison to say "so what."

I do love how "skeptics" as a group alternately argue how important it is that claims of "consensus" are inaccurate, bogus, or based in a fundamentally damaging view of science, and then arguing that whether there is a consensus is irrelevant.

But it would be refreshing to see "skeptics" saying "so what" - because it would be a display of consistency. Indeed, it seems to me that if "skeptics" really felt that whether there is a "consensus" is unimportant, as they often say, they wouldn't spend so much time arguing about whether there is a "consensus" or how pervasive it is. Sometimes actions speak louder than words.

July 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Well, Dan, you have my admiration for possibly the shortest duration on record of the sort of Dr. Doolittle act you attempted in the last thread. It's frustrating when the animals refuse to talk back in any meaningful way, isn't it?

Returning to my clearly evidenceless views of prospective Republican fortunes with regard to the climate change issue, I see that the eminently reasonable and incisive Coral Davenport... agrees with me! Go figure.

Now, back to that heavy oil.

July 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Bloom

"You are wrong to say "everyone" believes there's consensus -- just look how many people in the comment thread deny that."

Consensus about what?

For example, I heard a rumour that 'The right to bear arms' was controversial in the US. So I conducted a survey of 10,000 newspaper articles and found 97% spelt 'bear' with the 'e' in the middle rather than at the end. This proves that the States are United on the right to bear arms. We have a consensus!

And when people justify retaining the right to bear arms without debate on the basis that the surveys say 97% of Americans agree on it, you can sort of understand the people who don't being irritated by that. It's not necessarily the case that you think there *isn't* a majority in favour of it, but the survey doesn't tell you what that majority might be, and it doesn't mean they're right, It's just a way to generate an artificially strong statistic to beat down opposition and prevent discussion.

You have persistently ignored and avoided commenting on the survey I showed you that gives a different answer. Von Storch got an 83% 'consensus'. As I recall, Doran initially got around 85% until he whittled down the sample until it gave the answer he wanted. Anderegg got only 66% of his list of scientists being for the consensus, albeit with a sample method that didn't even pretend to be unbiased. So why are you so determined in your defence of 97%? Have you really looked?

"... believe that the best available scientific evidence supports the conclusion that AGW will cause global warming to increase over the next decade, and then even more in the after that, and then even more in the one after that?"

If you had asked that question 15 years ago, how many would have thought that AGW would cause global warming to increase over the next decade, and the one following it?

Turns out it didn't! And although they didn't mention this before, it turns out that the best scientific evidence does *not* support the conclusion that AGW will cause global warming to increase in each and every decade. It turns out that the up-and-down of natural variation is big enough to cancel it out for a decade or two.

It's like climate astrology. You predict the future with an air of confidence, and no matter what subsequently happens, you can twist what you said to match events and call it confirmation. When sceptics say you don't know what you're talking about, you invite them to bet their money in the opposite direction, if they're so confident you're wrong. But the astrology sceptics won't bet, because they say the future is random and unknowable. Do you think therefore that the astrology sceptics are full of it?!

Natural variation is strong, and nobody should be betting on events in the 10-20 year timescale. Even if temperatures started going down that wouldn't necessarily means anything. I can't tell you that they couldn't go up some more. On a 50-100 year timescale, then I think I could be confident about the predictions diverging. A 3+ C warming occurring in the next 100 years would be unmistakable. And yes, I'd bet money against it if there was any way for me to collect!
(I did suggest a way it could be done in an earlier thread, but nobody seemed much interested in discussing it.)

Regarding the Arctic ice, not even the best available science predicted that global warming would cause that! The calculation of the contribution global warming makes is shown in figure 10.13 of AR4 and shows both Arctic and Antarctic declining slowly at about the same rate, with the potential for loss of Arctic summer ice around 2070 (fig 10.13b). That's what the best scientific evidence says global warming should do. If anything else happens, it's probably just weather.

The best science is currently dropping the estimates of how much warming CO2 rises result in. There's even some speculation as to how the IPCC is going to deal with it, since all their projections (like that polar ice graph) are all based on 3 C/2xCO2, but the latest estimates are coming in around 1.5-2 C/2xCO2. (And warming is expected to be beneficial up to 2 C according to economic models, before the cost starts rising.) It will be difficult for them to reconcile.

Science is like that. It's a learning process. But it's going to be difficult to explain that to everyone who invested in Solyndra on their word. Do you really want to be in the position of handing out investment advice on this? :-)

July 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

Are you aware of Ross McKitrick's proposed T3 tax? Initially proposed back in 2009 I believe. It has a similar goal in actuating financial thinking in peoples response to climate

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/15/science/15tier.html

“The only people who lose will be those whose positions were disingenuous"

“The best results will accrue to firms incorporating the most accurate climate forecasts into their decision making, precisely the kind of forward-looking behavior environmentalists want to encourage”

July 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertlitb1

The best science is currently dropping the estimates of how much warming CO2 rises result in.

Really. The "best" science. Based on whose authority? Yours?

July 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

@NiV:

So bet.

July 29, 2013 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

There are some sceptics who put money on it. There's the case of former BBC science man David Whitehouse, who set up a bet with climate scientist James Annan about new temperature records over 4 years. Whitehouse won the bet in 2012.

July 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Matthews

@Paul:

That's very useful-- those sorts of things should be publicized far & wide.

But the market systematizes the probative value of such a mode of proof. It is a way of collecting evidence of what people understand the evidence to be when they reflect/act under conditions that are free of the partisanship that any rasonable person -- on either side or no side -- could worry are distorting assessments of the evidence (unconsciously, too, not just as a result of some diabolical conspiracy to impose an evil world order etc.)

I don't know what the index would reveal, either! I'm sure it would in fact go up & down. Up & down in response to things like new papers in scientific journals or published on the web etc, & in response to IPCC assessments & responses thereto.

My point is only that a reasonable person woudl find such information--what the market thinks about the accumulating evidence -- probative.

Much more probative, too, than surveys of scientists --not b/c the scientists are biased (necessarily) but b/c any technique for "surveying" them will depend on methods that people will say reflect bias. As this whole latest spectacle over the most recent "97%" study illustrates

July 29, 2013 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Who's betting against Munich Re and Swiss Re? Both companies are warning that some parts of the world may become uninsurable against weather events like floods.

What brave billionaire is going to offer "competitive" rates and take the insurance business away from the giants?

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-18/insurance-industry-republicans-split-on-climate-change.html

“The industry is at great financial peril if it does not understand global and regional climate impacts, variability and developing scientific assessment of a changing climate,” Franklin Nutter, president of the association, said in testimony to the Senate Environment and Public Works committee. “We are committed to work with you to address the exposure of citizens and their property to extreme weather risk.”

July 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterToby

@Toby:

Great example! The reinsurance firms essentially *are* the bilionaires; why would they being *getting out* of the reinsurance mkts (bascially making it impossible to buy private insurance for homes & other property in increasingly large part of east coast of US) if they didn't believe that climate change is going to create impacts the costs of which will far exceed the amount that they'll be able to collect from insurance? Boy, their "liberal bias" sure is costing them & their shareholders a lot of money. Obviously, too, they made that decision b/c of Obama's tweet in support of the Cook et al. paper.

July 29, 2013 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

"Both companies are warning that some parts of the world may become uninsurable against weather events like floods."

Well, at least the premiums will be a lot more expensive, anyway.

And if the doom happens not to happen...

:-)

July 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

What brave billionaire is going to offer "competitive" rates and take the insurance business away from the giants?

and

Well, at least the premiums will be a lot more expensive, anyway.

Certainly, it is only a matter of time before someone proves the overwhelming "wisdom of the market" to undercut those catastrophist insurance companies who are promoting unfounded alarmism to drive up premiums.

It is absolutely shocking that no insurance companies have done so yet. They could attract an enormous market share by offering cut rate insurance. My guess is that NiV is taking a hammer to his piggy-bank as I type to collect an investment stake in an insurance start-up.

July 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Joshua,

Some people are content with a smaller slice of a bigger pie.

I mean, really. Why would insurance salesmen who make their living selling disaster insurance to people worried about disaster have any stake in making people think disasters were going to be more likely than they actually were? Why would they want an excuse to refuse to insure properties that are actually likely to flood anyway, while getting huge new areas marked as flood-prone? It makes no sense! It's almost as if they are advertising the pervasive existence of the very problem they are paid to get rid of!

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

NiV,

If there is a gap in the insurance market, in theory it should be filled by enterprising capitalists. One can only wonder where they are, and why rival companies are not seizing opportunities left by the bigger ones.

In the UK, which has suffered (and is suffering) an inordinate amount of floods, the government brokered a deal with the insurance industry on behalf of its citizens, in return promising to invest nationally in flood defenses. Countries that do not take similar steps may find themselves in difficulties.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterToby

NiV -

You don't have to convince me that private marketeers corrupt the supposedly wise market w/o any involvement of the government.

But if it is as you say, and insurance companies are rigging the equilibrium point of the demand/supply curve, then why hasn't anyone stepped in to exploit that distortion? Isn't that why government regulation of the market isn't needed (and is only corrupting), because the market is self-correcting in such a fashion?

Someone get the Mises Instutute on the phone, STAT!

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

@NiV:

Here is the problem. You resist any test aside from your own personal assessment of things that might help to determine whether the weight of the best available evidence supports the view that AGW will result in serious adverse impacts w/i a foreseeable period of time. Every single one. You can't identify any that would falsify your confidence. The mkt test is fallible; all valid empirical tests are (as anyone who understands the logic of science knows). But it has a sound basis in practical logic. No one actually knows what it would show-- b/c the test hasn't been constructed. You, however, have constructed a dozen quite implausible (b/c they defy economic sense; honestly, your homespun account of the incentives of insurance companies strikes me as cartoonish) just-so stories to reject any conclusions adverse to your priors before the test has even been run. You can see why some people might think that your goal is the lawyerly one of defending a position & not the empirical one of figuring out what's true or the civic one of helping others who are unsure to identify evidence that could help them do the same.

July 30, 2013 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Toby, Joshua,

Yes, in a free market, other providers would step in with lower prices. Unfortunately, the insurance industry is heavily regulated, and it is very difficult for newcomers with no background in the area to enter the market.

But it doesn't even require any price-fixing to get an advantage from more public demand for the product you sell. There are lots of ways to profit from raised awareness.

Dan,

"You resist any test aside from your own personal assessment of things that might help to determine whether the weight of the best available evidence supports the view that AGW will result in serious adverse impacts w/i a foreseeable period of time. Every single one."

That's true. That's because there's no other scientific way of doing it.

For the vast majority of people - scientists included - belief in AGW catastrophe is founded on argument from authority and argument ad populam, which are logical fallacies. They're also often useful heuristics, but they come second best to seeing it for yourself.

Now, I can certainly understand people being lazy and using authority/majority arguments when they don't have the time or inclination to look for themselves, and some people have no alternative, not having the skills, but what I *cannot* understand is this belief that authority/majority is somehow preferable to judging for yourself, where you have the ability to do so.

You keep on trying to disguise the pill in various ways, but it doesn't matter how you do so because I'm not going to swallow it. If every expert and authority in the world told be that 2 + 2 = 5 and bet a billion dollars that it was so, I'd still count it out on my fingers and say 'that ain't so'.

At the very least, I'd demand an explanation.

" The mkt test is fallible; all valid empirical tests are (as anyone who understands the logic of science knows). But it has a sound basis in practical logic."

I agree. Not only that, I have previously expounded at considerable length on a market-based way of resolving the issue to everyone's satisfaction with "climate bonds" whose value would depend on future climate outcomes, and our honest assessment of them, in just this sort of way. I have indicated that I'd be happy to invest in them, be taxed in them, and for climate mitigation and adaptation to be funded using them. It would solve the problem without you even having to convince anybody.

You dismissed the idea with a brief "interesting, but they don't currently exist" line, and moved on.

And now you're complaining because you say I won't accept market-based solutions?!

" But it has a sound basis in practical logic. No one actually knows what it would show-- b/c the test hasn't been constructed."

It would probably show something like this or this or this or this.

"You, however, have constructed a dozen quite implausible (b/c they defy economic sense; honestly, your homespun account of the incentives of insurance companies strikes me as cartoonish) just-so stories to reject any conclusions adverse to your priors before the test has even been run."

I wasn't trying to give a detailed economic explanation, because
1) I thought it was perfectly obvious why a business selling disaster insurance would want everyone to be worried about disasters.
2) I thought it was perfectly obvious that the claims were nonsense. There's no risk of either sea level rise or increased precipitation posing anyone any problems. They're both long-established issues for which there standard and routinely-applied engineering solutions. We've *always* had flood-prone areas. We're a lot more capable of dealing with it today than has been the case throughout most of human history. And after adjusting for population/wealth increase, there is absolutely *no* evidence of any change in weather-related disasters.

It's entirely bogus, made-up, nonsense.

And I have no doubt the insurance companies know it. They'd go out of business if they were that incompetent.

In my view, the market has made its view clear that there is no money in climate change except to take advantage of subsidies and the gullibility of its followers. But I wouldn't take that as evidence on the science one way or the other, even if it supports my views.

"You can see why some people might think that your goal is the lawyerly one of defending a position & not the empirical one of figuring out what's true or the civic one of helping others who are unsure to identify evidence that could help them do the same."

Oh I can certainly see that. But as you'd expect, I see it a little differently.

I *am* trying to help people figure out what's true. The problem you have with what I say is that I'm not going along with your suggestions because I don't think they're good ways to figure out what is true, or to find helpful evidence. My advice to people is to *not* rely on authority/majority arguments. Don't follow the herd.

And I'm quite specific about what I think are *good* ways. Look at both sides of the debate. Ask for explanations. Look to see if independent checks and audits have been done. Look for evidence of carefulness and attention to detail. Look for documentation of the limits of a theory or model, for measured error bounds, assumptions and caveats. Looks to see if a theory is mature or still developing. Check those parts of an argument that you are able to, and consult multiple sources regarding those parts you can't. And if you see something that doesn't fit, chase it down until you understand it.

All of these are ways of looking at the argument itself. The person or people making the argument are not relevant, except to suggest that you might need to scrutinise the argument more carefully. Authority/majority arguments are unscientific, and you should regard anyone using or advocating them to be unscientific too, especially on an issue of intense political controversy with a lot of money/power/emotion at stake.

But yes, I can certainly see why people trying to persuade people to trust in authority/majority arguments would be annoyed with me. I do do my level best to get in the way! :-)

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

I'm guessing my last comment went in the spam bin.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

Here is another example of intelligent anticipation of climate change.

Several Champagne houses already are looking at land in Sussex and Kent in southern England as potential sites for new vineyards, because as climate warms the region, those areas are becoming more hospitable to quality grape growing. The soil type in the region (note the white cliffs of Dover) is similar to the chalky substrate of Champagne, and the cost of land is 30 times less than the premium to be paid per hectare in France.

http://www.livescience.com/38496-will-wineries-adapt-to-climate-change.html

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterToby

Dan, I would say that the biggest problem with the economic model is that it is already happening. However, current business and its model are about adapting not mitigation. I understand NiV and Joshua's point which are the same: Regulations have purpose and humans can game the system. That aspect won't change.

The problem, IMO, lies in the fact that those who want to mitigate will not be content with being undercut by those who want to adapt. In this respect the market is speaking and it says mitigation is too costly and the returns too far in the future. Unsurprising since this is basic economics of why the carbon schemes are preferred by those who conclude mitigation should be on the table, if not the major response going forward. The market has rejected that based on the cost of the EU carbon unit which is only above $0.05 due to regulatory mandates. That the number of carbon units was gamed only accentuates why persons such as myself see the system as inadequate and ineffectual at best. At worst the most probable scenario is that it will cause misery, hardship, and death among the poorest.

On the other hand the present business model may help the poorest, but could require costly adaptation and more draconian carbon restrictions. And I guess that highlights one of the real problems, we neither have an good economic solution, nor a good physical solution for our energy consumption.

The physical effective use of energy is one of the supports of our society and our progress. This has been acknowledged in environmental science since the Odum brothers did their groundbreaking work in ecology in the 1950's. It was part of the "Amazing Tales" magazines in the 1930's. I would encourage persons to read the future scenarios in these magazines and how far off they are in less than 100 years; and contemplate that we, now in our hubris, propose to be able to do what they so clearly showed humans are unable to do: predict future developments.

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn F. Pittman

Yes, in a free market, other providers would step in with lower prices. Unfortunately, the insurance industry is heavily regulated, and it is very difficult for newcomers with no background in the area to enter the market

Heh. Anything that doesn't fit with your contrived conceptualization can be blamed on government regulation, eh? It's a foolproof tautology: The market is perfect enough when it works in accordance with your politics and imperfect enough when it doesn't.

And of course, since there aren't any functional countries that don't have governments, there's always one around to find at fault for anything you don't like - such as inflated insurance premiums. As an aside, it is funny though, that the countries that are most functional in the history of the planet (by metrics such civil liberties, standards of living, political empowerment, social justice, access to nutrition, education and healthcare, judicial protections, etc.) also have large and "interventionist" governments that regulate industries. Must be coincidental, eh?

But back to the topic at hand. The only problem with your inevitable fault-finding with the government is that you left a logical hole large enough to drive an earth-mover through. Anyone already in the industry could just lower their premiums to gain enormous competitive advantage. After all - who better than someone already in the industry to know that the premiums are wildly inflated beyond any justification based on likely payouts? Somehow, methinks, government regulators won't prevent insurance companies from reducing their premiums as long as the don't have a track record of failing to meet contractual obligations.

So I offer a correction. You needn't come up with a stake in a startup, NiV - all you need to do is jump on board with one of the long line of insurance industry insiders who are lowering premiums to take advantage of this obvious price-rigging system. They better than anyone know that premiums are wildly inflated - which is why you see this overwhelming trend from insurance underwriters and reinsurers to offer coverage with lower premiums.

You see, NiV - "some people [in the insurance industry] are content a smaller slice [lowered premiums] of a bigger pie [increased market share]. Lowered premiums could easily be more than compensated for by an enormous gain in market share.

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

@NiV:

The evil "Hal 9001" series spam filter did try to prevent one of your comments from seeing light of day. Anotehr friendly robot spotted the problem & intervened. How long we'll be able to thwart "hal" is an open question, though; he has taken a big position in global-warming securities & is aggressively triyng to clear the site of any comments that might cause the value of the shares to decline

July 31, 2013 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

@JFP

I agree with what you say. Some thoughts:

1. "Already happening" doesn't mean, though, that a "market index" is not useful for augmenting the number of indicators of what best current evidence on climate change signifies. If we had the index, we could use it retrospectively to assess how evidence has developed, & what reactions to it suggest about what sorts of evidence are viewed as most probative; we can also use it going forward.

2. I agree that "adaptation" activity would be included in the index. Enterprises the value of which will benefit from need for adaptation activities will also be probative of the weight of the evidence -- so long as they are enterprises the value of which is tied to warming happening & not (or at least not predominantly) govt regulatory responses. Insurance industry is driver of adaptation, since the threat of insurance company exit (in places like Fla.) is a strong impetus to implement mesaures like storm surge reinforcement etc. Tricky but I imagine that one could come up w/ a justifiable methodology for determining when value of adaptation-related enterprises reflect genuine mkt response to anticipated climate effects & not responses to govt policies.

3. You put your finger on what I think is likely the main reason that the "mkt index" has not been developed as a science-communiation tool. Movement in the index related to increased value of stocks tied to "global warming is happening" actually convent mkt assessments of two kinds of evidence: (1) the scientific evidence that climate change is occurring; and and (2) the social science & related forms of evidence that suggest that govt action to mitigate, i.e., forestall or reverse global warming, will not occur, since obviously that would drive down the price of securities & like instrucments the values of which are tied to global warming actually happening. Any carbon-reduction-mitigation advocacy group that points to mkt assessment to show global warming is happening is also pointing to evidence that mkt expects advocacy group's own efforts to fail... Of course, both sorts of evidence are essential to rational planning activity, since since the value of investing in adaptation depends on both. The political economy dynamics are wicked here.

August 1, 2013 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Dan, I agree and would extend the remarks of wicked to the actual mkt as well. One of these aspects is that the mitigation market selling point is that it stabilizes the political arena providing a stable (static) national or international perception of costs and benefits. Yet the adaption market is about dynamic local responses. Your blog on Fla underscored this.

The point that persons are interested in spending billions on artic development perhaps should be the index. Oil, shipping, perhaps mining futures could be included. Perhaps include the loss of glaciers to mining. Or new trans alp transportation.

On #2, many of those standards become stricter as a result of the assets they protect which is interesting in that we can do economic assessments with little polarization for these. Yet, going stricter for the environment of the future is more difficult and critics of including the moral aspect for proper discounting abound. But if adaption is tricky, an environmental accounting for a decent discount must be truly wicked.

On #3, as I have stated before, one of the real problems with mitigation is the selling and accounting of a counter factual. The problem is not that warming is occurring or that mankind is causing some of it. The answer needed for a good assessment is how much warming, and how much is actually caused by mankind. This is for a short term cost/benefit assessment. For longer terms, it becomes an economic initial value problem as difficult as GCM's. That is even if we could agree to assumptions and values which we don't.

One thing we should agree on is that if we passed mitigation and we did not have warming problems, only the foolish would believe that it was scientific to claim the success due to the mitigation. Mitigation success is a counterfactual and science is factual. It is like inoculating against the lottery scam. You did not buy a ticket, you can't have won; it is a scam. We did not fill the air with CO2, we don't know; it is only an assumption.

I just wonder how many who support mitigation realize that at present it reflects belief on several levels of several relations that are not all well known. To me, it is like the number of persons who get upset when I point out that 1.7 C for a doubling of CO2 is mainline climate science. There is a misunderstanding of probabilities. The reason it is important is when one proposes mitigation over adaptation. With adaptation, whether it is 1.7C or 3.7C, adaption can be flexible to meet it, and the measurements straightforward. But that is not true with mitigation. At 1.7C we should be encouraging CO2 production as a vehicle for wealth. At 3.7C we should be limiting CO2 production as a potential disaster. Yet both are in the very likely range. If we engage in mitigation we will not know if we were geniuses or fools; and any claims one way or the other will be belief, not fact.

August 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn F Pittman

Dan, I wish you all the very best in your obviously-comfortable personal financial life, but to be totally honest this "bet" is only very remotely connected to the physical measures any of us here are disagreeing about or interested in. If the globe warms in the future it will hardly come as a scientific shock to me, nor, I think, to the average "denier." If I'm not mistaken, it has warmed once or twice in the past as well. If I'm not mistaken, the opening-up of new shipping routes has been among the countless benefits of past warmings and would logically be expected to happen when the world next warms. So what? This would hardly constitute a vindication of the belief system we're skeptical about: the doctrine that human emissions of CO2 are going to cause major net problems for the world. Problems we need to Do Something about ASAP.

The proposition I'd like to see you put your name to, if you actually believe it, is this: that the climate is going to turn sufficiently ugly at some point that the world will come to regret its CO2 profligacy, that the holdouts on the individualist/hierarchicalist "right" of society (not to mention all the leftist deniers, like me) will be embarrassed into admitting that the IPCC had it right all along, unrepentant "denialist" commentators will lose all popular trust/influence/relevance, and so on and so forth.

This is what you believe, right? (If not, then we're not arguing about anything. We're in complete agreement.)

But in my reading of the evidence, the above is not even remotely likely. The Book-of-Revelations narrative you guys call "The Science" will not come true, and therefore I will enthusiastically put money on the following falsifiable predictions:

1. Neither Michael Mann nor any member of the Hockey Team nor any RealClimate-contributing scientist will ever be awarded a Nobel Prize in Science for climate-related work.

2. None of them will ever (again) agree to publicly debate a skeptic. Non-scientists will continue to be the only volunteers foolish enough to do that.

3. Given that "the evidence" for CAGW is no longer capable of converting a trained scientist to the alarmist view, no trained scientist (without a financial/career interest in the debate) will ever report switching from skepticism to alarmism upon closer examination of "the evidence".

4. The climate-concerned demographic will not get any bigger. The climate-dismissive demographic will not get any smaller.

5. There will be no revival of popular support for the IPCC agenda; things have been downhill ever since the euphoria of Copenhagen, and that momentum will never be regained. Let's take any metric you like for the international relevance of the IPCC—it is declining irreversibly, and nothing nature does will rescue it.

6. Explorers will not find any of the Pacific island nations which, according to An Inconvenient Truth, were inundated and evacuated as a consequence of global warming. Nor will any trace of their inhabitants be found. Who were these people(s)? What did they look like? What did they care about and believe in? We will never know. The search will eventually be called off.

7. Since CAGW denial is 100% sincere and pro-science, there will never be a skeptical equivalent to the Climategate scandal. Nobody will ever produce a scrap of evidence (be it a stolen memo, a tapped phone conversation, secret chat room transcripts, or anything) indicating that public critics of "The Science" of CAGW are knowingly suppressing evidence for alarm, nor that they are working to limit public awareness of any aspect of climate science, nor that they are privately convinced, or semi-convinced, of the validity of "The Science" while publicly pretending otherwise. The myth that there is something disingenuous behind the skeptical "movement" will never be backed up by any empirical discovery.

Any takers?

September 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrad Keyes

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