Category Archives: Environment (Carbon Footprint)

On Externalities, Integrated Assessment Models, and UK climate policies


On Externalities, Integrated Assessment Models, and UK climate policies

By Neil Lock

This is a follow-up to my recent essay, “On Cambridge University, post-modernism, climate change, Oppenheimer’s Razor, and the Re-Enlightenment.” As I said there about the economic impacts of global warming: “I’d expect that some probing by independent experts into the economic calculations, and the assumptions on which they are built, might bear fruit.” But where are these calculations, and who are the unbiased experts who have quality controlled them? I couldn’t find any such calculations, or the names of any such experts. Perhaps, I thought, I’d better take a look at this myself.

So, I set out to learn as much as I could about the economic calculations which – so we’re supposed to believe – justify the extreme measures proposed, all the way up to total de-carbonization of the UK economy, to avoid alleged catastrophic damage from global warming. This essay is the result of that exercise. If it reads like a cross between a layman’s guide to the economics of global warming and a political rant, that’s because it’s both!

Summary

Here are the main points of what I found out:

  1. In 2009, the UK government ceased to value carbon dioxide emissions according to their social cost [1], in favour of using numbers based on political commitments they had previously made. In effect, they abandoned doing cost versus benefit assessments on policies that are expected to increase or decrease CO2 emissions.
  2. Recent empirical estimates of equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS), when run through assessment models like those used by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), suggest a considerably lower social cost of CO2 emissions than earlier estimates, such as the UK government’s Stern Review.
  3. When the beneficial side-effects of CO2 emissions, such as increased plant growth, are taken into account, it’s possible that the social cost of these emissions may even become negative. That is, CO2 emissions become a nett benefit not a nett cost.
  4. Calculations based on a 2017 paper by Dayaratna, McKitrick and Kreutzer suggest a social cost for all UK CO2 emissions as at 2020 of 0.05% of GDP (optimistic) or 0.31% of GDP (pessimistic). Using the social cost numbers for 2050 from the same paper, the figures are 0.08% and 0.52% respectively. All these numbers are substantially lower than the 1-2% of GDP put forward as the cost of “net zero” policies.
  5. There is a need for urgent action to prevent the imposition of costly, draconian and lifestyle-destroying policies on people in the UK in the name of a problem, which is far less serious (if it is a problem at all) than is claimed by the promoters of those policies.

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On Cambridge University, post-modernism, climate change, Oppenheimer’s Razor, and the Re-Enlightenment


On Cambridge University, post-modernism, climate change, Oppenheimer’s Razor, and the Re-Enlightenment

By Neil Lock

In the early 1970s, I studied mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge. I enjoyed it at the time, but was left with a feeling that something wasn’t quite right. Although I scraped a First, and was offered a place on Part III of the Tripos, I decided to go out into the real world instead. Never did I make a better life decision.

Over the intervening decades, I have come more and more to question the value of universities. I would have expected the remit of a university to be (1) to seek, (2) to develop, and (3) to pass on, ideas and practices to improve the human condition, both today and in the future. There should be no dishonesties in their processes, no imposed orthodoxies, and no restrictions on the freedom to seek, or to tell, the truth. Yet, universities – not just at Cambridge, but world-wide – seem to have become bastions of political correctness. Anyone in the faculty, who doesn’t toe the party line and parrot the narrative of the moment, will find difficulties in funding or in getting papers published, or may even be in danger of dismissal. Peter Ridd in Australia and Susan Crockford in Canada are topical examples.
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Eco-Fanaticism


Eco-Fanaticism

By Duncan Whitmore

The pervasive issue of human-induced climate change has been hotting up again lately. The recent birth of “Extinction Rebellion”, which pursues the strategy of civil disobedience and economic disruption in order to force governments to “act” on climate change, as well as the creation of a mascot in the form of teenage activist Greta Thunberg, has helped to drive the once fledgling issue back to the forefront of political attention. A “Global Climate Strike” held on September 20th saw children – many of whom have been terrified into the belief that their world is about incinerate – allowed to take the day off from school in order to participate (an unlikely occurrence had they wished to protest against, say, mass immigration). Although Britain has emerged from what has actually been a fairly standard summer in terms of temperature, a handful of record breaking days helped to push climate fear to a high of 85% of the UK population, according to a recent poll.

Fortunately, the latest antics of “Extinction Rebellion” – which have included targeting ordinary East London commuters on their way to work – betray one of the reasons why Murray Rothbard split from his alliance with the left in the early 1970s: that you don’t win any support by attacking, with violent disruption, the very people whose hearts and minds you are trying to convert.1 The fact that these incidents targeted the London Underground and Docklands Light Railway only added to their irredeemable stupidity given that most people accept electrified public transport as a sufficiently green alternative to cars. Nevertheless, the issue itself is a lingering one and government policies committed to tackling climate change remain prominent. Read more

The War on Cars – Video


Last month, I gave a talk to the Libertarian Alliance in London about the “war on cars” that successive UK governments have been conducting against us for decades now. The talk was very wide-ranging, covering:

  1. The green movement in general, and the involvement of the United Nations and the UK government in it.
  2. The “global warming” scare, and the (long and rather sordid) backstory to it.
  3. The “air pollution” scare that is now being used as an excuse to intensify the war on our cars, and the (just as long, and almost as sordid) backstory to it.

This is one of my very rare appearances on video (a good thing they’re rare! I hear some of you saying). The link is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUpOj7KabvM.

The talk is quite long (55 minutes) and rather detailed, but I think I got over many important points, and made people chuckle a few times on the way!

“Our Common Future” Revisited


Thirty years ago, in April 1987, a new United Nations report was published. It came from the recently established World Commission on Environment and Development, and its title was Our Common Future. It was 300 pages long; and its preparation, which took two and a half years, had involved 23 commissioners and 70 or so experts and support staff. In addition, they solicited inputs from people and organizations, in many different countries, who had concerns about environmental and development issues. You can find the full text of the report at [1].

Today, most people seem unaware of this report. That’s a pity. For this is the document, which set in motion the green political juggernaut that has had such a huge, adverse effect on the lives of all good people in the Western world. The 30th anniversary is, I think, a good time to look back at, and to re-evaluate, this report. Not only in its own terms, such as asking how significant the issues it raised have proven to be, and how well these issues have been dealt with in the meantime. But also from a broader perspective, asking how well the process, both scientific and political, has measured up to the reasonable expectations of the people who have been subjected to its consequences.

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Climate Change: A Summary of the Science


Defeat Climate Alarmism

The climate change science is settled, but not how the climate alarmists want you to think.

1. Carbon is one of the three basic elements, along with hydrogen and oxygen, necessary to all life on Earth. Organic chemistry is defined as the study of substances containing carbon, and most of the dry mass of the human body mass is carbon. Read more

Some thoughts about the meeting between Anthony Watts and Bill McKibben


Neil Lock
(Context: Anthony Watts, former weatherman and proprietor of wattsupwiththat.com, the biggest climate realist blog on the planet, met for a beer on Friday with Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, and – if one may trust Wikipedia – “the lead environmentalist against the proposed Canadian-U.S. Keystone XL pipeline project.” He reported the meeting at http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/06/06/my-one-on-one-meeting-with-bill-mckibben/.

This was my reaction a few hours later).

I find myself worrying that Anthony is being far too kind to Bill McKibben.

It’s all very well for people to make decisions based on feelings and intuitions rather than the facts, if that’s what they want. Even I have done that in the past. And I would never want to stop anyone else doing it, subject to one proviso. That is, that they themselves are the only ones harmed if the decision turns out to have been a bad one.

The issue here is that Bill McKibben is promoting policies that have already harmed many millions of people – including me. And yet, he doesn’t seem to be even interested in examining the possibility that those policies have been based on, at best, misinterpretations of the facts, and at worst, lies.

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