Tumblr Icon RSS Icon

Must-read Krugman piece: Building a Green Economy

Posted on  

"Must-read Krugman piece: Building a Green Economy"

Share:

google plus icon

“We know how to limit greenhouse-gas emissions. We have a good sense of the costs “” and they’re manageable. All we need now is the political will.”

Nobelist Paul Krugman has a long piece in the upcoming Sunday NY Times Magazine, basically climate economics 101.

It is nearly 8000 words, so while you should read the whole thing, I’ll post some of the highlights below.  I’ll also throw some links to the scientific and economic literature that the NYT, in its infinite wisdom/stupidity, refuses to include.

The essay isn’t primarily about the science, but this is what Krugman has to say on that, starting with the opening paragraph:

If you listen to climate scientists “” and despite the relentless campaign to discredit their work, you should “” it is long past time to do something about emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. If we continue with business as usual, they say, we are facing a rise in global temperatures that will be little short of apocalyptic. And to avoid that apocalypse, we have to wean our economy from the use of fossil fuels, coal above all….

This is an article on climate economics, not climate science. But before we get to the economics, it’s worth establishing three things about the state of the scientific debate.The first is that the planet is indeed warming. Weather fluctuates, and as a consequence it’s easy enough to point to an unusually warm year in the recent past, note that it’s cooler now and claim, “See, the planet is getting cooler, not warmer!” But if you look at the evidence the right way ­”” taking averages over periods long enough to smooth out the fluctuations “” the upward trend is unmistakable: each successive decade since the 1970s has been warmer than the one before.

Second, climate models predicted this well in advance, even getting the magnitude of the temperature rise roughly right. While it’s relatively easy to cook up an analysis that matches known data, it is much harder to create a model that accurately forecasts the future. So the fact that climate modelers more than 20 years ago successfully predicted the subsequent global warming gives them enormous credibility.

Yet that’s not the conclusion you might draw from the many media reports that have focused on matters like hacked e-mail and climate scientists’ talking about a “trick” to “hide” an anomalous decline in one data series or expressing their wish to see papers by climate skeptics kept out of research reviews. The truth, however, is that the supposed scandals evaporate on closer examination, revealing only that climate researchers are human beings, too. Yes, scientists try to make their results stand out, but no data were suppressed. Yes, scientists dislike it when work that they think deliberately obfuscates the issues gets published. What else is new? Nothing suggests that there should not continue to be strong support for climate research.

And this brings me to my third point: models based on this research indicate that if we continue adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere as we have, we will eventually face drastic changes in the climate. Let’s be clear. We’re not talking about a few more hot days in the summer and a bit less snow in the winter; we’re talking about massively disruptive events, like the transformation of the Southwestern United States into a permanent dust bowl over the next few decades.

Now, despite the high credibility of climate modelers, there is still tremendous uncertainty in their long-term forecasts. But as we will see shortly, uncertainty makes the case for action stronger, not weaker. So climate change demands action….

At this point, the projections of climate change, assuming we continue business as usual, cluster around an estimate that average temperatures will be about 9 degrees Fahrenheit higher in 2100 than they were in 2000. That’s a lot “” equivalent to the difference in average temperatures between New York and central Mississippi. Such a huge change would have to be highly disruptive. And the troubles would not stop there: temperatures would continue to rise.

Furthermore, changes in average temperature will by no means be the whole story. Precipitation patterns will change, with some regions getting much wetter and others much drier. Many modelers also predict more intense storms. Sea levels would rise, with the impact intensified by those storms: coastal flooding, already a major source of natural disasters, would become much more frequent and severe. And there might be drastic changes in the climate of some regions as ocean currents shift. It’s always worth bearing in mind that London is at the same latitude as Labrador; without the Gulf Stream, Western Europe would be barely habitable.

But there are at least two reasons to take sanguine assessments of the consequences of climate change with a grain of salt. One is that, as I have just pointed out, it’s not just a matter of having warmer weather “” many of the costs of climate change are likely to result from droughts, flooding and severe storms. The other is that while modern economies may be highly adaptable, the same may not be true of ecosystems. The last time the earth experienced warming at anything like the pace we now expect was during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, about 55 million years ago, when temperatures rose by about 11 degrees Fahrenheit over the course of around 20,000 years (which is a much slower rate than the current pace of warming). That increase was associated with mass extinctions, which, to put it mildly, probably would not be good for living standards….

For what the science says we risk if we stay anywhere near our current path of unrestricted emissions, see:

He has a discussion of the low cost of action:

Just as there is a rough consensus among climate modelers about the likely trajectory of temperatures if we do not act to cut the emissions of greenhouse gases, there is a rough consensus among economic modelers about the costs of action. That general opinion may be summed up as follows: Restricting emissions would slow economic growth “” but not by much. The Congressional Budget Office, relying on a survey of models, has concluded that Waxman-Markey “would reduce the projected average annual rate of growth of gross domestic product between 2010 and 2050 by 0.03 to 0.09 percentage points.” That is, it would trim average annual growth to 2.31 percent, at worst, from 2.4 percent. Over all, the Budget Office concludes, strong climate-change policy would leave the American economy between 1.1 percent and 3.4 percent smaller in 2050 than it would be otherwise.And what about the world economy? In general, modelers tend to find that climate-change policies would lower global output by a somewhat smaller percentage than the comparable figures for the United States. The main reason is that emerging economies like China currently use energy fairly inefficiently, partly as a result of national policies that have kept the prices of fossil fuels very low, and could thus achieve large energy savings at a modest cost. One recent review of the available estimates put the costs of a very strong climate policy “” substantially more aggressive than contemplated in current legislative proposals “” at between 1 and 3 percent of gross world product.

Such figures typically come from a model that combines all sorts of engineering and marketplace estimates. These will include, for instance, engineers’ best calculations of how much it costs to generate electricity in various ways, from coal, gas and nuclear and solar power at given resource prices. Then estimates will be made, based on historical experience, of how much consumers would cut back their electricity consumption if its price rises. The same process is followed for other kinds of energy, like motor fuel. And the model assumes that everyone makes the best choice given the economic environment “” that power generators choose the least expensive means of producing electricity, while consumers conserve energy as long as the money saved by buying less electricity exceeds the cost of using less power in the form either of other spending or loss of convenience. After all this analysis, it’s possible to predict how producers and consumers of energy will react to policies that put a price on emissions and how much those reactions will end up costing the economy as a whole.

There are, of course, a number of ways this kind of modeling could be wrong. Many of the underlying estimates are necessarily somewhat speculative; nobody really knows, for instance, what solar power will cost once it finally becomes a large-scale proposition. There is also reason to doubt the assumption that people actually make the right choices: many studies have found that consumers fail to take measures to conserve energy, like improving insulation, even when they could save money by doing so.

But while it’s unlikely that these models get everything right, it’s a good bet that they overstate rather than understate the economic costs of climate-change action. That is what the experience from the cap-and-trade program for acid rain suggests: costs came in well below initial predictions. And in general, what the models do not and cannot take into account is creativity; surely, faced with an economy in which there are big monetary payoffs for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, the private sector will come up with ways to limit emissions that are not yet in any model.

I have links to some of the key literature on this here:

And of course he discusses what scientific uncertainty means for economic modeling:

Finally and most important is the matter of uncertainty. We’re uncertain about the magnitude of climate change, which is inevitable, because we’re talking about reaching levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere not seen in millions of years. The recent doubling of many modelers’ predictions for 2100 is itself an illustration of the scope of that uncertainty; who knows what revisions may occur in the years ahead. Beyond that, nobody really knows how much damage would result from temperature rises of the kind now considered likely.

You might think that this uncertainty weakens the case for action, but it actually strengthens it. As Harvard‘s Martin Weitzman has argued in several influential papers, if there is a significant chance of utter catastrophe, that chance “” rather than what is most likely to happen “” should dominate cost-benefit calculations. And utter catastrophe does look like a realistic possibility, even if it is not the most likely outcome.

Weitzman argues “” and I agree “” that this risk of catastrophe, rather than the details of cost-benefit calculations, makes the most powerful case for strong climate policy. Current projections of global warming in the absence of action are just too close to the kinds of numbers associated with doomsday scenarios. It would be irresponsible “” it’s tempting to say criminally irresponsible “” not to step back from what could all too easily turn out to be the edge of a cliff.

For more on Weitzman, see

Krugman’s key conclusions are:

Stern’s moral argument for loving unborn generations as we love ourselves may be too strong, but there’s a compelling case to be made that public policy should take a much longer view than private markets. Even more important, the policy-ramp prescriptions seem far too much like conducting a very risky experiment with the whole planet. Nordhaus’s preferred policy, for example, would stabilize the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at a level about twice its preindustrial average. In his model, this would have only modest effects on global welfare; but how confident can we be of that? How sure are we that this kind of change in the environment would not lead to catastrophe? Not sure enough, I’d say, particularly because, as noted above, climate modelers have sharply raised their estimates of future warming in just the last couple of years.So what I end up with is basically Martin Weitzman’s argument: it’s the nonnegligible probability of utter disaster that should dominate our policy analysis. And that argues for aggressive moves to curb emissions, soon….

If it does, the economic analysis will be ready. We know how to limit greenhouse-gas emissions. We have a good sense of the costs “” and they’re manageable. All we need now is the political will.

Hear!   Hear!

Related Post:

« »

30 Responses to Must-read Krugman piece: Building a Green Economy

  1. Jeff Huggins says:

    Yes, But …

    I’m glad that Paul Krugman is writing about all this. Bravo! Super!!

    But …

    Although I realize that the post above only includes excerpts, the following phrase gives me goosebumps and concerns:

    ” … we have to wean our economy from the use of fossil fuels, coal above all….”

    I hope that this comment doesn’t suggest that Krugman is going soft on oil and our need to wean ourselves off of our oil addiction. And, given that he should understand the importance of numbers and of clear communication, I hope that his piece doesn’t even leave that issue ambiguous or leave a misimpression.

    If anyone can show me, analytically and rigorously, why addressing the oil issue is not ALSO vital, then please have him/her do so, here.

    Also, I think it’s worth reminding ourselves that The New York Times, i.e., the paper in which Paul Krugman writes, is itself doing an incredibly irresponsible job in covering (actually, not covering) the oil issue and the ExxonMobil problem. Too, ExxonMobil must be one of the Times’ largest advertisers, frequently running pieces on the front page, no less. And, Bill Keller (of The New York Times) is the son of the late George Keller, who was a longtime Chairman of Chevron. (George Keller was Chevron’s Chairman while I worked there in the early 1980s.

    It will be interesting to see how analytically rigorous, accurate, solid, and unambiguous Paul Krugman is when it comes to our need to wean ourselves (ASAP) off of oil. Coal is an important part of the problem. OIL IS TOO!

    Hoping that the article is clear and crisp on that issue and that it doesn’t leave room for misimpression.

    Jeff

  2. climate undergrad says:

    Joe -

    Comments/links on Big Bang vs. Ramp Up?

    Krugman highlights this as the largest debate between economists, but from your previous comments it seems ramp up is the only realistic political option.

  3. richardsequest@sbcglobal.net says:

    Bulletin…

    CLIMATE MODELERS’ PREDICTIONS PROVE CORRECT

    That’s a headline I would like to see in the New York Times. Paul Krugman’s point that climate modelers got it right twenty years ago in predicting today’s global temperature rise should get a lot more attention. This is big, very big news, at least to me.

  4. Doug Bostrom says:

    richardsequest@sbcglobal.net says: April 8, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    I doubt I need to remind you but for the silent readers it’s worth a reminder, most of the big features concerning this matter were done 20 years ago. The conversation’s been stuck at “quibble in desperation” ever since.

    Over at Skeptical Science a strange fellow made the claim that today we can find pools of liquid C02 filling depressions on the seafloor. Doubting this, I nonetheless scurried off to see for myself if anything in the literature mentioned such a remarkable phenomenon. No, nothing about naturally occurring pools of C02, but I did find a lot of material by respectable researchers discussing C02 sequestration in the ocean and elsewhere, some of it dating back to 1977, or 33 years ago.

    The basic physics of AGW was as obvious 30 years ago as it is now, but unfortunately following on the heels of cigarettes, HCFCs and other issues the fossil fuel industry was much better prepared to dig in their heels on C02.

  5. Jeff Huggins says:

    CNN Coal Confusion!!

    I just saw something on CNN: a newscaster was trying to convey some basics about coal and about “clean coal”.

    Although the newscaster was sincere and trying hard, his explanation was largely a total mess. It confused different matters, was entirely devoid of any sense of the relative sizes of the problems, mixed up discussions of conventional pollutants with the CO2 problem, and made the whole thing out as if “both sides are right”. It ended with the comment that coal is very important to us, so we should understand it.

    It was a mess. A well-intentioned mess, but nevertheless a confused mess. I could tell that the gentleman had very little understanding of what he was talking about, period. And, he didn’t even know that he didn’t know what he was talking about, which is usually the case when people don’t know what they’re talking about, of course.

    One thing is for sure: Scientists who understand these things had better connect with the key networks, and educate (deeply) whoever is going to present these matters to the public. Better yet, the networks should only have trained and knowledgeable scientists, who are genuinely familiar with these things, present the matters to the public. Getting most newscasters, who are untrained in science, to try to explain coal, CO2, and “clean coal” in any sort of informed and helpful way is probably a lost cause.

    WHY IS IT that these TV programs, that are constantly using experts and pundits (Republican strategists, Democrat strategists, pollsters, ex generals from the military, lion trainers, ex ice skaters, sex consultants, forensics experts, medical doctors, and every other kind of expert or “expert” under the sun), do not usually use an expert scientist when (trying to) inform the public about coal, “clean coal”, climate change, and so forth??? And one more ?

    CNN, please get your act together.

    Cheers,

    Jeff

  6. Daniel Ives says:

    We have a good idea of the costs. We have the technology to start solving this problem right now. We have an unquestionably strong scientific basis for understanding the problem and testing if our solutions are doing enough to solve it. We have a new generation of young people in this world who see this problem as a serious threat and as a responsibility to future generations. We have a clear understanding of all the positive side effects of taking action. All we need now is political will. We have all the pices of the solution puzzle except one!

    So how do we get the final missing element, political will? And not in five years or ten years, but right now?

  7. Leif says:

    Right on all of the above. I would like to emphasize that the economic impact does not and cannot factor the costs of disasters that surely accompany climatic disruption. For the very reason there is no way to model disasters. The closest method, IMO, might be to project out the curve of insurance disaster clams for the last 3 or 4 decades and see what that looks like. Then factor those numbers into the action/inaction equation. Of course FOX will not even allow facts to muck up their visions, they will surely go ballistic with pure predictions.

    And lest we forget, what is the cost to humanity of having the oceans of the world transposed by acidification to jelly fish production and void of most edible aquatic production.

  8. Steve Bloom says:

    Many thanks to PK for his continuing attachment to reality!

    Re #1: Jeff, probably Krugman is taking Hansen’s lead on the oil (and gas) vs. coal question. I’m pretty sure Joe has blogged on this point. Hansen’s view is that the remaining oil and gas are insufficient to send the planet into a dangerous state but that the coal (along with unconventional fossil fuel sources like shale) is, so it makes sense to terminate all coal use ASAP while utilizing the oil and gas as bridge fuels to non-fossil energy sources. It would be interesting to know how Hansen would modify his analysis given the recent added supply of gas available via fraccing.

  9. Eban Goodstein says:

    For analyses that go into more depth than Krugman. reaching similar conclusions, see the papers at the E3 network web site, in particular The Economics of 350, and the new white paper on the Social Cost of Carbon.
    http://www.e3network.org

  10. For another take on climate issues… there is the upcoming Climate Action Symposium at GWU next week – April 13th. Some key voices will be speaking, including Ron Lameman of Beaver Lake Cree Nation – this small band is taking on the mega-oil companies to stop the expansion of the tar sands through legal action.

    There’s more info about the symposium here:
    http://www.gwu.edu/explore/mediaroom/stayconnected/byrss/rssmain/rssevents/thegeorgewashingtonuniversitytohostclimateactionsymposiumapril13

    Space is limited so it’s a good idea to register asap.

  11. substanti8 says:

    Jeff, thanks for the recent history of oil influence on the Times.  What I continue to find amazing is the belief that continual growth is sustainable.  Krugman uses the maintenance of economic growth (with support from the CBO) as a selling point for his ideas, and Joe even highlights a portion, as if to agree.

    I searched this blog but found no comments from Joe about the problem of continual growth.  In contrast, Professor Albert Bartlett has repeatedly explained why he thinks that “the greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.”

    How about it, Joe?  You’ve created one of the best blogs on the internet, but you seem to be maintaining a dangerous taboo when you don’t confront society’s quasi-religious growth addiction.

    Rather than the capitalist views of Paul Krugman, I think the climate crisis demands an economy without growth.

  12. Jeff Huggins says:

    Regarding substanti8′s Comment 11 …

    Yes, humankind has to figure out a way (or ways) to achieve — sustainably! — such things as life, health, and happiness as well as those things that facilitate and protect them in positive ways, e.g., peace, fairness and justice, and so forth. All of these things are related, of course. And, we have to do that in the context of finite resources on a finite planet, in keeping with the fact that we are only a part of an interdependent biotic community.

    So, we SHOULD try to address our pressing problems in ways that move us much closer to that sort of situation. If we solve Big Problem X with “More Growth of Stuff”, we might be winning one battle in the process of losing the larger war, so to speak.

    It’s not at all clear to me how many economists really “get” this? Many economists are great at math, of course, but some of them haven’t figured out that you can’t fit infinite into the finite. Some others seem to be so entranced with math that they’ve forgotten the “real world”, its not-unlimited natural resources (another way of putting the earlier point), or other aspects of nature’s limits or of human behavior.

    Let’s put it this way: I think we need a lot of “help”, as in some good self-examination, some serious therapy, and some lessons in basic logic.

    Sigh,

    Jeff

  13. Dana says:

    I was reading this article earlier today. Very interesting stuff, and worth reading the whole thing. I liked his points on regulation vs. carbon tax vs. cap and trade.

  14. catman306 says:

    Thanks, Jeff, especially for your third paragraph. Why do you suppose that economists don’t understand the concepts of ‘finite’ and ‘infinite’?

  15. Joe1347 says:

    But is trusting the free market enough? Assuming that some sort of cap and trade bill is passed, will the USA end up buying most – if not all – green technology, such as solar cells, from China unless some extremely potent buy American measures are included in the bill. Maybe I’m missing something, but I thought that one of the main purposes of the cap and trade bill was to also create new (green) jobs in America. Krugman doesn’t seem to address this issue or did I miss it. Maybe it was just an oversight on Krugman’s part – or does the Senate’s Cap and Trade bill not include any measures to insure that whatever extra money Americans kick in to purchase green (CO2 reduction) technology doesn’t just go to buy more made in China wind turbines and solar cells, instead of creating (green) jobs in America.

  16. Doug Bostrom says:

    substanti8 says: April 8, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    Those of us with retirement funds, annuities, trust funds, dynastic pools of capital and the like all depend on unsustainable growth in order for these schemes to work.

    Subtanti8 reminds of the fundamental problem: How are we going to sit around loafing in our armchairs doing nothing productive when our growth is pressed tightly against the walls of the little terrarium we live in?

  17. To be fair, the problem of the “quasi-religious growth addiction” is addressed under the “Ponzi scheme” heading on the side bar.

    But to take this a bit further, Bismarck’s comment that “politics is the art of the possible” bears some consideration here. I am sure we would all live in a much lovelier world if everyone would just hold hands and go marching off into the sunset singing rousing choruses of L’Internationale, but I am too personally cynical to stay awake at nights waiting for that particular parade to pass by my door.

    For those who want to start pressing this theme, I would personally advocate applying pressure where the pressure is already to be found, amongst those economic thinkers (e.g., Amartya Sen, Joseph Stiglitz; Nobel Laureates both) who are arguing for a transition from a Utilitarian economic orthodoxy to an Aristotelian one. (I suspect that Krugman would feel comfortable amongst the previously noted fellow Laureates, but I am obviously in no position to speak for him.) This forum is a good place to mention such matters, but perhaps not the current focus of Dr. Romm’s writings.

  18. The following conclusions of Krugman seem also important to me:

    “Finally and most important is the matter of uncertainty. We’re uncertain about the magnitude of climate change, which is inevitable, because we’re talking about reaching levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere not seen in millions of years. The recent doubling of many modelers’ predictions for 2100 is itself an illustration of the scope of that uncertainty; who knows what revisions may occur in the years ahead. Beyond that, nobody really knows how much damage would result from temperature rises of the kind now considered likely.
    You might think that this uncertainty weakens the case for action, but it actually strengthens it. As Harvard’s Martin Weitzman has argued in several influential papers, if there is a significant chance of utter catastrophe, that chance — rather than what is most likely to happen — should dominate cost-benefit calculations. And utter catastrophe does look like a realistic possibility, even if it is not the most likely outcome.
    Weitzman argues — and I agree — that this risk of catastrophe, rather than the details of cost-benefit calculations, makes the most powerful case for strong climate policy. Current projections of global warming in the absence of action are just too close to the kinds of numbers associated with doomsday scenarios. It would be irresponsible — it’s tempting to say criminally irresponsible — not to step back from what could all too easily turn out to be the edge of a cliff.
    Krugman conclusions on GW actions:
    So what I end up with is basically Martin Weitzman’s argument: it’s the nonnegligible probability of utter disaster that should dominate our policy analysis. And that argues for aggressive moves to curb emissions, soon.”

  19. fj2 says:

    18. Matania Ginosar says:

    “it’s the nonnegligible probability of utter disaster that should dominate our policy analysis. And that argues for aggressive moves to curb emissions, soon.”

    Yes!

    It is not about the political will or the political reality as per Lester R. Brown. It is about the scientific reality. We must act at full force and more. We have to start seeing indications that we are having an effect.

    First, stop acceleration of emissions immediately.

    Then, reduce emissions as quickly as possible to as close as possible to zero — which may sound insane difficult but is what is required.

    Most likely there won’t be much if any perceptible difference in global weirdness — and, we most likely we are already in a state of runaway climate crisis — and we’ll have to start thinking about removing carbon from the systems at impossible scales . . .

  20. Doug Bostrom says:

    Andy Revkin recommends Krugman’s essay on DotEarth, but then drifts into confusion:

    I also encourage you to read Paul Krugman’s piece laying out his proposed way forward on climate policy. It’s a great primer on the history of trying to bring environmental costs into economic reckoning. I see some holes in his prescription for climate action, one being his view that if Europe and the United States acted in concert, they could deploy stiff carbon tariffs to prod China on emissions if it refuses to be bound by a new treaty.

    His reading of climate model projections also doesn’t mention the persistent uncertainty about how much warming a given rise in greenhouse gas concentrations could produce.

    Well, we presently spend some 6% of global GDP buying psychological and real protection against things that are far less likely to happen than what IPCC concludes about climate change. $4 trillion per year spent on insurance, and necessarily most of us don’t benefit from that expenditure hedging long odds against disaster. Stacked against our factual present spending choices, IPCC’s estimates make mitigation a lead pipe cinch, a no-brainer spending decision.

    [JR: The overwhelming uncertainty is on the high end, as Revkin knows. Also, Krugman does mention uncertainty. He explains why it is a cause for action.]

  21. Gestur says:

    If I may add to (# 20) Doug Bostrom’s good point vis-à-vis Andy Revkin’s comment, I think that Revkin needs to sit down with Martin Weitzman’s paper—the accessible one (i.e. “The Extreme Uncertainty of Extreme Climate Change: An Overview and Some Implications”, October 20, 2009) available at his webpage—and take the time to understand the basic points that Weitzman is making and that Paul Krugman appears to agree with completely: (i) uncertainty in each link in the long series of links that start with the unknown baseline GHG emissions; and include the climate sensitivity parameter of the scientific models; and regional impacts of climate change all leading to some future welfare damage estimates—all these sources of uncertainty add to—are fully transmitted into—a very fat “bad” tail for the distribution of possible expected-present-value global welfare changes; and (ii) that the fatter this “bad” tail of expected-present-value global welfare changes is, the MORE important it is to buy lots of insurance now by starting mitigation immediately and substantively. Revkin has not uncovered a flaw in Krugman’s argument, he has mentioned another reason to support Krugman’s position.

  22. Gary says:

    I concur with Doug Bostrom….”Revkin….then drifts into confusion:”
    this is Andrew Revkin! His DotEarth blog yesterday “Climate Crisis versus
    Energy Quest”…and in summary…. Revkin rather have a bumper sticker reading ENERGY QUEST…..WHAAAHOOO Andy.

  23. substanti8 says:

    Re #17:  Thanks for pointing me to the “Ponzi Scheme” category.  There do seem to be a few good posts about addiction to growth, such as this one.

    Regarding the Internationale and Bismarck, I think we need not limit ourselves to ideas from the 19th century.

  24. Doug Bostrom says:

    I should add, despite my complaint, Revkin is better than No Revkin.

  25. jorleh says:

    Krugman has read more of climatology and as a clever guy understands science.

    There are millions of clever guys who have not read much climatology and don´t understand the catastrophe which is coming (suicide of our species).

    How to get these millions to read even some climatology? I think this point is crucial as to our survival as a species.

  26. JeandeBegles says:

    Very interesting article from such a notorious economist and brilliant writer, confirming the importance of the case of global warming.
    The conclusion is probably the most remarkable part of the article: the risk of catastrophe is unacceptable, and is reason number 1 to act, without dealing with sophisticated economical calculations about cost and benefits. This choice of human reason instead of the vast fields of his economic knowledges is remarkable.
    I may look pretentious, but, on the rest of the article, I think that Krugman is a bit weak because he understates the project we are facing.
    Cutting by 80% our Carbon addiction is a much much bigger project than sulfur emissions.
    And for this huge project, we need to have a vast majority of people on board, not only the business. So personal virtue is an important asset, not the back seat. So the “sophisticated ” argument against cap and trade that virtue is not encouraged (this argument comes from Steven Stoft, not Hansen, give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar) is a very important one, and cannot be dismissed like this.
    For the same reason, the political feasability is not the alpha and omega argument. We can negociate with the political feasability. we cannot negociate with the physics of global warming.

  27. Wit's End says:

    Dr. Krugman said…

    “it’s not just a matter of having warmer weather — many of the costs of climate change are likely to result from droughts, flooding and severe storms. The other is that while modern economies may be highly adaptable, the same may not be true of ecosystems. The last time the earth experienced warming at anything like the pace we now expect was during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, about 55 million years ago, when temperatures rose by about 11 degrees Fahrenheit over the course of around 20,000 years (which is a much slower rate than the current pace of warming). That increase was associated with mass extinctions, which, to put it mildly, probably would not be good for living standards….”

    We are already having mass extinctions. Much life in the sea is doomed by acidification – new studies point out that it isn’t only calcium-based shellfish that are being dissolved – fish are dying off as well (a scroll through this blog guarantees excruciating enlightenment).

    This aquatic mass extinction is mirrored in terrestrial ecosystems. Trees are in a mass die-off, globally. Eventually CO2 emissions raising temperatures and disrupting precipitation will kill them. But for the rapid recent decline, although most blame it on insects, disease, or fungi – they are fundamentally being destroyed by the “other” toxic greenhouse gases which are the precursors of inexorably increasing levels of tropospheric ozone.

    Take a look around. Notice any trees losing branches, leaves, needles, bark? Any falling over? Ask yourself, is that normal for species that can live for centuries?

    Crop failure from the same source will become obvious this summer.

    Now for the economists, the question is, what is all that going to cost versus taxing carbon and transitioning to clean energy?

    hmmmmm…..

  28. Wit's End says:

    http://oceanacidification.wordpress.com/

    sorry, left out the link for the above comment!

  29. Anne says:

    See this excellent critique of Krugman’s piece in Daily Kos:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/4/11/856175/-Krugmans-significant-omission