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Andrew Dessler: Going Downstream with Climate Alarmism (economics, public policy ahead)

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“I realize lots of people don’t like government regulation, but the alternative is an out-of-control climate.” (A. Dessler: March 23, 2019)

Andrew Dessler, the climate alarmist’s alarmist, and Michael Mann cohort, is shifting from (highly uncertain, sorry) physical science to climate economics and public policy analysis.

Dessler’s web page states:

My work has shifted towards the intersection of climate change and human society, with the goal of helping us better cope with the impacts of climate change. This includes work quantifying climate extremes and how climate change can alter them, as well as analyzing how climate change will stress crucial energy, water, and other infrastructure and human systems. This is a new area for me, so my ideas are still evolving.

Mark my words: this professor is eager to model the most extreme scenarios in his scare campaign. And don’t expect Professor Andrew Alarmism to model the benefits of the human influence on climate (warmer nights, warmer winters, CO2 fertilization, etc.). It all costs, not benefits, from the human influence no climate.

The other news from Professor Dessler was that he was going to teach the economics side of the climate-change debate.

And he grows more and more frustrated as the world moves away from his authoritarian wishes for 190 governments to tax carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and regulated trade with carbon tariffs (border adjustments). And I’m sure he wants us all to have the thermostats at 76 degrees this summer and avoiding any flame for cooking or otherwise.

Dessler’s new interest and mission is to wake up the world to renewables and other cost-effective to solve the ‘climate crisis.”

Texas A&M Climate Scientist: ‘If Stabilizing Climate Is Important, We Need Government Regulation’ by Brendan Gibbons , Rivard Report, March 23, 2019.

If you go back to the ‘80s, there was this idea that people want freedom; we should get the government out of their lives. This idea that people should rule themselves, they shouldn’t be ruled by the government.

It turns out that while that’s a noble goal in a lot of respects, in some aspects of your life, you can’t rule yourself. You cannot determine what kind of atmosphere you have. You cannot determine what kind of climate you live in – the individual can’t. That’s a collective decision. And right now, if the government doesn’t do it, then essentially you’re saying that you’re going to leave it up to corporations to do it because the corporations are the major emitters. They have no interest in stabilizing the climate.

There’s a real need, if stabilizing the climate is important, that you realize that we need to have government regulation on this. I realize lots of people don’t like government regulation, but the alternative is an out-of-control climate. Those are your choices on this.

Well, it is climate adaptation time. The mitigation window shuts tighter every day. In fact, the world is in a tripartite fossil-fuel boom as I write–and COP26 is shaping up to be a nonstarter (although the optimists will cite this or that for imagined ‘momentum’).

Energy Density

Dessler’s Malthusian/Statism worldview utterly fails to confront what is arguably the most important climate statistic of all: the radical and continuing decline in human mortality from weather and climate (see here and here). Energy density explains both the great human progress in recent centuries and the promise and need for mineral energies in the future–think oil, natural gas, coal, and even uranium (the nuclear option).

Dessler deals with the problem of intermittency with solar and wind power. But this is only part of the problem. Energy density is a key concept that must be included in the 3rd edition to explain why renewables are site limited and infrastructure-intensive. And why it is simplistic to believe that “it is clear that we could build enough carbon-free energy if we chose to do so” (p. 240).

Historical Interpretation

Dismissing the positives of carbon dioxide allows Dessler to analogize CO2 to tobacco (pp. 11–12, 214–215, 221) and even terrorism ( pp. 232–233). This creates the narrative of bad/good with the likes of me and my colleagues being “deniers” and “anti-science” (to use Dessler’s Twitter terms).

Dessler’s “tobacco playbook” (p. 215) interpretation of climate skepticism is based on Oreskes and Conway’s Merchants of Doubt, a polemic rather than a real history of science-and-politics book. But if he chooses to simplify and homogenize his opponents this way, surely he must deal with Climategate and Michael Mann’s Hockey Stick trick, what Dessler labeled elsewhere “embarrassing and a public-relations disaster for science.”

The “tobacco strategy” (p. 220) certainly does not apply to me or many leading skeptics that I know and have worked with for decades. We are not faking it in the least. Dessler-qua-historian must explain why many of us sincerely believe that the climate issue is the latest (last?) verse of failed Malthusianism and, in fact, is a green road to serfdom. And Dessler’s historical review of the debate must surely comment on the litany of failed climate-doom projections that are a thorn in the case of alarmism.

Finally, if Big Bad Coal and ExxonKnew were the culprits of meaningful science understanding for climate action, why not examine Enron’s role in the climate debate in favor of the alarmist/statist view? (I was a bit of a whistleblower there–more to come. Chris Horner, another skeptic of climate alarmism/statism, was there too).

Why the global cooling scare of the late 1960s – 1970s by scientists such as Stephen Schneider and John Holdren? In 1988 (“The year that changed everything” p. 220), why did Richard Kerr in Science report the false-certainty opinion among many other climate scientists (“Hansen vs. The World on the Greenhouse Threat“) in 1989?

In short, Dessler engages in incomplete, biased history by universalizing one take and ignoring the rest of the story.

Air Pollution

Dessler states (p. 100): “But aerosols are not all good–they are also one of the main components of air pollution around the world, which kills millions of people every year.” This statistic should be parsed into industrial/power plant pollution and wood-and-dung pollution, the latter being a tragic consequence of not having electricity for as many as one billion people around the world.

Fossil-fuel plants are a large step up the health ladder in this regard, which again brings the primacy of energy density into play.

Government Failure Too

Dessler mentions the hard problem of getting the many nations of the world to agree given their self-interest (p. 241). “There is no world government,” he laments (p. 241).

But even if there were one world government, imagine the compliance problems. And more fundamentally, Dessler does not consider the entire field of Public Choice economics to bring in government failurealong side his well-described market failure.

Jumping from optimal policy (an ivory tower exercise) to real-world politics introduces a raft of distortions that must be factored in from the beginning. Perfect government addressing imperfect markets is a basic fallacy that Dessler does not seem to understand. (So is a third categorical failure, analytic failure, which accounts for expert mistakes in areas of unsettled, evolving knowledge.)

Public Policy: The Carbon Tax

Dessler describes a carbon levy on each fossil fuel as “reasonably easy to implement” (p. 201). But his discussion fails to mention how a domestic levy must be joined by a global tariff system (“border adjustments”) to prevent gaming by industry in nations not subject to a similar tax.

And what about equity adjustments given the regressive nature of the levy–a “fairness” issue that he brings up as an argument against adaptation (pp. 180, 238)? A carbon tax is very complicated, indeed.

“Climate Safe Energy”

Dessler uses the term “climate safe energy” (p. 235) for non-carbon-based fuels. But as the last century has proven, fossil fuels are climate protecting energies.

And the dual problem of low density/intermittency makes wind and solar weather unsafe energies because of reliability and affordability problems.

The post Andrew Dessler: Going Downstream with Climate Alarmism (economics, public policy ahead) appeared first on Master Resource.


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