To the Guardian: You cannot make good public policy on mistaken premises

Guest post by Indur M. Goklany

Damian Carrington’s Environment Blog at the Guardian proclaims: Climate deal: A guarantee our children will be worse off than us. This myth —perhaps myth-take would be a better word—has been addressed previously at WUWT.

In the post—Are today’s poorer generations morally obliged to solve problems that may or may not confront tomorrow’s much wealthier generations?—it was shown that even after accounting for the worst case estimates of damages due to climate change under the warmest IPCC scenario, the average inhabitant of today’s developing countries will be at least twice as wealthy in 2100 as the average American today. By 2200, the former will be almost three times wealthier than the latter.

See the following figure.

goklany-guardian

Figure: Net GDP per capita, 1990-2200, after accounting for the 95th percentile estimate of damages from global warming per the Stern Review for four major IPCC emission and climate scenarios. The Stern Review estimate accounts for damages from market impacts, non-market (i.e., environment and public health) impacts and the risk of catastrophe. For 2100 and 2200, the scenarios are arranged from the warmest (A1FI) on the left to the coolest (B1) on the right. The average global temperature increase from 1990 to 2085 for the scenarios are as follows: 4°C for AIFI, 3.3°C for A2, 2.4°C for B2, and 2.1°C for B1. For context, in 2006, GDP per capita for industrialized countries was $19,300; the United States, $30,100; and developing countries, $1,500. Source: Indur M. Goklany,Discounting the Future.Regulation, Spring 2009, Vol. 32, pp. 36–40

There is simply no basis for the Damian Carrington’s claim. In fact, this figure indicates that higher economic growth will more than offset any damages from climate change.

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34 Responses to To the Guardian: You cannot make good public policy on mistaken premises

  1. Brian H says:

    Now lets see the projections after up-front pauperizing of the planet with mega-mitigations.

  2. mikelorrey says:

    See, this shows that if the native americans had sued Christopher Columbus in Spanish courts for the damage his descendants would do to their descendants, the new world would never have been colonized….

  3. Raving says:

    Sorry to dump this OT item here but it is intriguing and doesn’t seem to be getting much play(?) elsewhere. What doesn’t immediately make sense to me is how methane released from the bottom of cold Arctic waters could be directly or indirectly related to the current state of sea temperatures. Bubbles being released from holes or breaks in ice doesn’t count for much(?) given that the gas has already been released from the sea bed. The Earth is full of surprises, it would seem. (Feel free to move/cancel this posting)

    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/shock-as-retreat-of-arctic-sea-ice-releases-deadly-greenhouse-gas-6276134.html

  4. The whole system of ‘thought’ around climate matters has gone stark raving mad. Lopsided, disproportionate bafflegab sprinkled with hyperbole and childish outbursts, as a basis for policy? I’m with Brian H: pauperizing is a perfect term.

  5. Andrew30 says:

    Interesting that they use 1990 US Dollars and not 2013 Euros.
    I guess they expect the US Dollar will still exist in 2200.

    European Union, Soviet Union.
    Same, Same.

  6. pat says:

    the centre cannot hold:

    16 Dec: Adelaide Advertiser, Australia: Sarah Martin: Greenwash call on desalination
    A GOVERNMENT promise to make Cabinet and the Adelaide Desalination Plant “carbon-neutral” has been scrapped…
    (South Australia) Water chief executive John Ringham said it had abandoned the commitment to make the desalination plant carbon-neutral because there was “no clear, agreed definition of what carbon neutrality was”…
    http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/greenwash-call-on-desalination/story-e6frea83-1226223353066

  7. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Thanks for your usual clear and direct exposition, Indur. Much appreciated.

    w.

  8. Raving says:

    Update 16:17: Chris Huhne, the UK’s secretary of state for energy and climate change, just called me from the airport. He said having, for the first time, all the big emitters committed to a legal deal, by 2015, is significant. “That is why we went to the wire with the Indians,” he said.

    Yes it has always been up to the big (future) emitters. Without their agreement, there really isn’t anything to agree upon. There isn’t really any way that the (future) emitters can be coaxed or coerced into being agreeable either.

    Reality has struck home. It all comes down to wishful thinking and good intention. At least that much was accomplished at Durban.

  9. Unfortunately the brewing global financial debt crisis will inevitably make worrying about the cost of decarbonising the world economy as a quaint pipe dream in a few years from now. :-(

  10. Interstellar Bill says:

    It’s quite un-PC to mention economic growth,
    which all good lefties know is bad for the Earth.
    Climate catastrophe or whatever the latest lie,
    what they really want is poverty for all but themselves.

  11. Otter says:

    The people claiming ‘our children will be worse off than us’ are correct.

    When the AGW scam collapses, they won’t be collecting the big paychecks anymore. (If not going to jail instead). So of Course their kids will be worse off!

  12. A. C. Osborn says:

    But But Everyones going to die, the world will burn up, then the ice will melt, then the seas will rise.
    So anyone not burnt will be drowned. /Sarc off

  13. Willis,
    That’s high praise, from the Master of Clear Expression himself. Thanks very much!
    Goks

  14. Tom Jones says:

    Kudos to Indur for your usual factual presentation. As for the Guardian, what did you expect ? They long ago dropped any pretense of skeptical journalism and became an unquestioning propaganda arm for the AGW movement. They have dug a hole way too deep to do anything but keep digging.

  15. Vince Causey says:

    While I don’t have any confidence in the Stern report whatsoever, I do see your angle on this: using Beelzebub to cast out demons. If even Stern agrees that our descendents will be wealthier than us, then what’s the problem?

    A good argument that destroys the precautionary principle so crudely wielded by AGW supporters.

  16. Orson Olson says:

    Indur-

    Thank you for such a brief, lucid refutation of a common assertion. It deserves to be well-known.

  17. ferd berple says:

    Will Nitschke says:
    December 15, 2011 at 11:52 pm
    Unfortunately the brewing global financial debt crisis will inevitably make worrying about the cost of decarbonising the world economy as a quaint pipe dream in a few years from now.

    With Chinese real estate values now in free fall, reality is likely to bite sooner than later. Trillions of dollars were taken out of the banking system immediately ahead of Copenhagen. As much as we might like to think Climategate was the reason, in reality it was the banking crisis that defeated cap and trade in the US.

    Climategate simply provided politicians a face saving means to go along with a decision already forced upon them by the big players at the table. When Obama promised 100 billion at Copenhagen to buy agreement, the BRIC countries didn’t bother to invite him to their meeting. They knew he didn’t have the money to back his play.

  18. Galvanize says:

    Good luck trying to post this on Damian`s blog Indur. He will just moderate you out of existence. Still, his probably aren`t as bad as the Leo Hickman blogs.

  19. Richard S Courtney says:

    Indur:

    Thankyou. I suspect that most who read WUWT knew the fact so clearly explained in your article, but the clarity of your exposition makes it a useful tool for use when informing others.

    Again, thankyou.

    Richard

  20. JPeden says:

    In the post—Are today’s poorer generations morally obliged to solve problems that may or may not confront tomorrow’s much wealthier generations?—it was shown that even after accounting for the worst case estimates of damages due to climate change under the warmest IPCC scenario, the average inhabitant of today’s developing countries will be at least twice as wealthy in 2100 as the average American today. By 2200, the former will be almost three times wealthier than the latter.

    Yes, I’m sure glad George Washington, enc., thought it was their obligation to set us and potentially the rest of the World free, even though he couldn’t throw away his wooden teeth and dial up Philadelphia or the EU to see what Ben Franklin thought about all of this Constitutional Capitalism “stuff and nonsense”. Which King Barack Obama, Maiden Michelle, Sheriff Hitman Holder and the rest of their severely Depressed Band of Modern Day Robbinghoods still think can never work due to the Founders’ failure to add in His Highness’s own holy “positive liberties” to their “deficient” Document.

    And, therefore, is it any wonder that in recently placing himself as the ~ “greatest President evah!” with the possible exceptions of Lincoln, FDR, and LBJ, his Highness didn’t mention George Washington?

  21. A. C. Osborn says:
    But But Everyones going to die, the world will burn up, then the ice will melt, then the seas will rise. So anyone not burnt will be drowned. /Sarc off

    Reminds me of Tom Lehrer’s marvellous “We will all go together when we go”
    with such delicious lines as: (all together now!)

    We will all fry together when we fry.
    We’ll be french fried potatoes by and by.
    There will be no more misery
    When the world is our rotisserie,
    Yes, we’ll all fry together when we fry.

  22. Gail Combs says:

    Mike Bromley the Kurd says:
    December 15, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    The whole system of ‘thought’ around climate matters has gone stark raving mad. Lopsided, disproportionate bafflegab sprinkled with hyperbole and childish outbursts, as a basis for policy? I’m with Brian H: pauperizing is a perfect term.
    ____________________________________

    The “Official term” is “de-developing” it was coined way back in 1973 just before the time when the US government bureaucracy started to expand and wipe out business. It was when Holdren and the Ehrlichs in their Human Ecology (1973) were calling for a “MASSIVE CAMPAIGN … to de-develop the United States” Holdern is Obama’s Science Czar. So I agree DC “has gone stark raving mad.”

    “The need for de-development presents our economists with a major challenge. They must design a stable, low-consumption economy in which there is a much more equitable distribution of wealth than in the present one. Redistribution of wealth both within and among nations is absolutely essential if a decent life is to be provided for every human being.” ~ Human Ecology (1973)

    http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/individualProfile.asp?indid=2368

    In 1970, 24% of the US work force was employed in manufacturing. Today it is less then 9% and if I recall correctly the work force now paid by government or employed to deal with government regs was about 25% or more. This was from US Census for 2000 if I recall correctly.

    I do not see how a country can divert so much of her resources to government and continue to exist.

    TAXES
    The top 50% who earn $32,396 or more per year paid 97.75% of the federal income tax in 2009. (Does that make us the “Wealthy” that Occupy Wall Street hates???) http://ntu.org/tax-basics/who-pays-income-taxes.html

    What is really strange is how people have no idea of how much tax they actually pay to the government. If you ask most people will say 28% or 33% or whatever completely ignoring State tax. sales tax, SS tax, medicare tax, property tax, vehicle tax, gasoline tax…. Last time I added it up (1994) it was around 65% and that was only the taxes I could see.

    The “Socialists” are always yelling about TAX the rich but the USA taxes the rich more than other countries!!!

    No Country Leans on Upper-Income Households as Much as U.S.
    During my recent testimony before the Senate Budget Committee (found here), I cited an OECD statistic that the U.S. has the most progressive income tax system among industrialized nations….

    Interestingly, countries with top personal income tax rates that are higher than in the U.S., such as Germany, France, or Sweden, have ratios that are closer to 1 to 1. Meaning, the share of the tax burden paid by the richest decile in those countries is roughly equal to their share of the nation’s income. By contrast, we prefer to have the wealthiest households in this country pay a share of the tax burden that is one-third greater than their share of the nation’s income.

    http://www.taxfoundation.org/blog/show/27134.html

    One wonders where the heck all that money is going to….

  23. mwhite says:

    “Kenya’s Samburu tribe evicted from their land – in pictures”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/gallery/2011/dec/14/kenya-samburu-tribe-evicted-in-pictures#/?picture=383323010&index=4

    “Members of the group have been abused, beaten and raped by police after their land was sold to US wildlife charities”

    The Nature Conservancy and African Wildlife Foundation are the two charities.

  24. P. Solar says:

    Carrington is right but for all the wrong reasons.

    If the world goes ahead with what they agreed to start in Durban: setting up a $100bn per year green slush fund , then future generations certainly will be worse off.

    If the nations of the world accept that their energy policy and contributions to this fund be determined by an external , unelected and unaccountable body, they will not only loose money they will loose the right to self determination.

    Oddly none of these softy-lefty eco warriors at the Guardian have stopped long enough to work that one out yet.

  25. Olen says:

    This is a promotional for redistribution of wealth, otherwise known as plunder, from Western civilization to the third world based on a fraud.

  26. Gary Pearse says:

    Indur, excellent work. You are one of the few economists globally (McKittrick of course among these) that didn’t go with the CAGW flow. May I suggest, if it isn’t already factored into your chart, that the industrial countries will number several more – India and China are pretty much part of the club and Brazil and others also, so that this is also another factor in the better future for the world.

  27. manicbeancounter says:

    Thanks Indur for the clear exposition. When detailing the policy costs, the issue of economic growth is rarely dealt with either. There are two significant elements. In the long term the biggest impact is reducing the growth rate. In the short term more visible is higher unemployment and a less vibrant job market.

  28. Babsy says:

    A. C. Osborn says:
    December 16, 2011 at 2:36 am

    The sun will eventually become a red giant. What will they do about that?

  29. Thank you all for the positive comments.

    Gary Pearse — to set the record straight: I am not an economist. My degrees are all in Electrical Engg. [My thesis was more biophysics than EE. I also was a Biophysics post-doc, and instructed in the Physics Dept.] May be that’s my comparative advantage!

  30. johanna says:

    More to the point, projecting economic development over these timelines is pure fantasy. I wonder what a projection of countries’ economic development done in, say, 1950 would have looked like? Back then, Koreans were among the poorest people on Earth, the US seemed unstoppable, China and India were minnows, etc.

    Economic forecasts are, if possible, even more unreliable than climate forecasts. And the further out in time you go, the less reliable they are. After about 10-20 years, they are pretty much worthless. Who knew that rare earths would be valuable now 50 years ago? It’s nonsense.

    All the stuff about ‘our grandchildren’ is just emotional blackmail. All the evidence is that the best thing we can do for our grandchildren is to better the lot of ourselves and their parents – in concrete ways.

  31. Mr Green Genes says:

    P. Solar says:
    December 16, 2011 at 11:35 am

    If the nations of the world accept that their energy policy and contributions to this fund be determined by an external , unelected and unaccountable body, they will not only loose money they will loose the right to self determination.

    Oddly none of these softy-lefty eco warriors at the Guardian have stopped long enough to work that one out yet.

    I’m sure they have worked it out. The fact is that it fits in perfectly with their world view.

  32. Spector says:

    RE: Main Article
    “In the post—Are today’s poorer generations morally obliged to solve problems that may or may not confront tomorrow’s much wealthier generations?—it was shown that even after accounting for the worst case estimates of damages due to climate change under the warmest IPCC scenario, the average inhabitant of today’s developing countries will be at least twice as wealthy in 2100 as the average American today. By 2200, the former will be almost three times wealthier than the latter.”

    That increased wealth must be contingent on a bountiful, low-cost replacement for carbon power, which may be in a state of steep decline by that time. So far, solar-renewable energy does not appear to offer that promise.

  33. Brian H says:

    P. Solar says:
    December 16, 2011 at 11:35 am

    If the nations of the world accept that their energy policy and contributions to this fund be determined by an external , unelected and unaccountable body, they will not only loose money they will loose the right to self determination.

    P.S., P.S.: yore spellun is kinda loose. Rhymes with “goose”. Use ‘lose’. Rhymes with “news”.

    It’s not only who is forced to pay into the fund, it’s the recipients: shameless rent-seekers like the socialist loons in charge of the Maldives or Tuvalu, demanding billions even as their coral islands grow higher above the waves. Grrrr…

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