Claim: Economists are Mistakenly Failing to Predict Climageddon


Guest essay by Eric Worrall

The Age, an Australian newspaper, complains that economists who try to model the impact of climate change, say by measuring the impact of heatwaves, and scaling it up a little for the predicted increase in extreme weather, are not producing a high enough hypothetical body count to contribute properly to public discussion.

Economists are out of touch with climate change

If economists are to help us deal with global warming, they need to start studying science.

In the debate over climate change, there is one group from whom you don’t hear much: economists. The failure of climate economics to make a difference in the public discussion about climate policy should be a concern for the profession.

Climate economists are just as worried as anyone about the prospect of global warming. A recent survey by the Institute for Policy Integrity found that most climate economists believe climate change is a grave threat. Most supported carbon taxes or cap-and-trade programs to limit emissions, even if these actions were taken unilaterally by the United States. The consensus view was that a catastrophic loss of global gross domestic product – a 25 per cent decline or more – is possible under a “business as usual” scenario.

But for all this concern, economic research has had little impact on the public debate. The problem, as far as I can tell, is that there is a disconnect between climate science and economics. This goes beyond the out-of-date forecasting models used by policy makers. Even within academia, research often uses bad science.

The first climate economics paper I ever read provides a nice illustration of this problem. In 2007, Michael Greenstone, of the University of Chicago, and Olivier Deschenes​, of the University of California-Santa Barbara, published a paper entitled “Climate Change, Mortality, and Adaptation: Evidence from Annual Fluctuations in Weather in the US“. The paper tried to estimate how many people would die as a result of global warming. To do this, the authors calculated how many people now die from random temperature fluctuations, due to things such as heat stroke. They then extrapolated this effect using the expected temperature increase from climate change, and found the probable increase in mortality is small.

Global warming will probably kill people in a lot more ways than days of extreme heat do now. If the climate changes a lot, floods will become more common in low-lying areas. Hurricane Katrina provided an example of how a large flood can cause a lot of deaths. This has nothing to do with the mechanism studied by Deschenes and Greenstone – the authors just leave it out. If they had paid more attention to science, they would have taken more sources of mortality into account.

Read more:

The economists aren’t the only people confused by how a few degrees of warming is supposed to kill lots of people. In tropical Queensland, the Australian state where I live, which in rainy season is subject to violent weather extremes, a funny thing happened. When the government built the storm drains, the drain pipes they used are a little larger than other places where I have lived. That way, instead of backing up and flooding, the unusually large but planned for volumes of water from sudden tropical deluges are safely transported away from inhabited areas.

The high capacity drainage system doesn’t always work – planning mistakes have sometimes occurred, and truly enormous storm systems can occasionally exceed the carrying capacity of even Queensland drainage systems. But surely if such storm systems became more common, the drainage system would simply be scaled up even further, to accommodate changed weather patterns.

Most of the time, violent weather extremes are an inconvenience rather than a disaster, for regions with well designed and properly maintained civic infrastructure.

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March 14, 2016 9:04 pm

Globally, there has been TREMENDOUS DECLINE in mortality associated with extreme events. I would say The Age has not read the science.

Reply to  Les Johnson
March 14, 2016 10:30 pm

Goklany’s figures are hard to believe. Apart from the huge jump after 1920, there is a lot else odd about his Table 1
Most of the early deaths are from drought – presumably famine. They have dropped by a factor of 1000. Now we are much better at dealing with that, but still, only 185 deaths per year in the entire world?
Windstorms have actually risen. But what about “extreme temperatures”? Increased by a factor of 50 after 1990?

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 15, 2016 3:10 am

Are you seriously suggesting anybody bothered properly counting deaths from extreme temperatures in the early 20thC, Nick?

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 15, 2016 4:42 am

My family lived in Tucson since 1880. No air conditioning. My grandparents lived to be 80+ years old. I had no air conditioning in my old Victorian home there in the late 1960’s to early 1970’s. I didn’t die of the heat, either.
The heat wave deaths we read about in the Victorian era like in New York City, for example, was due to brick and cement and asphalt retaining and reflecting heat in city canyons which heats up much more than grassy areas with trees.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 15, 2016 5:33 am

Had you bothered to really look at the report, it would have become obvious that the first part of the table should read “Deaths per period (1,000’s).” The tables breaking down each event type make that more than clear.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 15, 2016 8:31 am

Nick: Goklany gives the source data. Look it up.
Windstorm deaths have risen, but mortality RATES have fallen.
A recent meta-study on temperature extremes says COLD extremes outnumber warm extremes 20-1 in mortality.
This is a pretty poor effort on your part, racehorse.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 15, 2016 8:32 am

“Are you seriously suggesting anybody bothered properly counting deaths”
I don’t think any category were properly counted. They are presented as reliable estimates. And as such, they make no sense.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 15, 2016 1:33 pm

As far as counting deaths go. please refer to the Lancet article linked. They charted 74 million human deaths over a 30-year period, and attributed a primary cause to each. Turns out about 17 times more people died from extreme cold than from extreme heat.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 15, 2016 5:48 pm

“Extreme Temperatures”

Doesn’t say extra warm or deep cold…
Could be deaths from extreme cold, which is a lot more likely than “baby it’s hot out,”.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 15, 2016 5:54 pm

Thank you for delving into the data some!
Lots of interesting discussion followed.
Keep it up Nick!

Walt D.
Reply to  Les Johnson
March 15, 2016 3:24 am

Add in the deaths caused by environmental policy. How many people died from malaria since DDT was banned? These are actual deaths, not hypothetical deaths in the virtual reality of some broken computer model.

Reply to  Walt D.
March 15, 2016 4:45 am

What is more, all warm periods like the Minoan, Roman and Medieval periods also had huge rises in population and all cooling periods like the Dark Ages (well named indeed!) were periods known for things like the Black Death which came at the beginning of the aptly named ‘Little Ice Age’.
We are apes with no fur except on the top of the head and a few choice places. Why is that, pray tell? We can’t exist on much of the planet during Ice Ages except by killing animals and wearing their furry pelts, after all.

Reply to  Walt D.
March 15, 2016 8:26 am

emsnews: Well, some of you have hair on top.

Chip Javert
March 14, 2016 9:10 pm

What happened to the numbers for 1910-1919 (essentially, WWI)? Things got better because we were blowing ourselves up?

Reply to  Chip Javert
March 14, 2016 10:32 pm

When 500, 000 men die from bullets and 500, 000 women and children die from bombs and starvation then 1, 000, 000 are NOT available to die from other events…

Reply to  E.M.Smith
March 14, 2016 11:18 pm

Nearly 100% of those alive during WWI are now dead, soldier or civilian, which statistically concludes war is hell. And their parents have gone missing, too.

Reply to  E.M.Smith
March 15, 2016 2:03 am

I do not need to read to the end of the comments section to point out something everyone is missing……
And That is…………
No mention of a decline in oil rigs of well over 50% in a single year.
No mention of global economic crisis and the impact of lowering emissions of all kinds as a direct consequence, for instance, Greeks not being able to afford to use electricity and so forth. Austerity is a great CO2 emissions killer.
No mention of hundreds of petrochemical/coal companies going broke, from lack of demand and other factors.
A complete cognitive failure to put two and two together that many emission targets have been met by countries undergoing austerity measures and societal collapse.
Time for at least some to wake up.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  E.M.Smith
March 15, 2016 3:04 am

March 15, 2016 at 2:03 am”
There are people who believe the drop in emissions was not due to austerity measures but all due to a price on carbon, carbon taxes and/or emissions trading or a combination of taxes on energy. Energy costs, as well as labour costs, was what Holden and Ford cited as factors in their decision to leave Australia. IIRC, Toyota also cited similar reasons for the end of manufacturing in Australia. As a consequence, emissions in Aus did drop (According to “official” figures) and many attributed that to the price on carbon. I have yet to see any Govn’t official attribute reductions in CO2 emissions to economic slowdown rather than a tax on CO2 (Energy).
We will find out if Australia will head down the path to economic oblivion this year with the next federal election looming.
I hear it every day…”She’ll be right mate! My house is now worth AU$2mil!” And many here believe Australia does not need a strong economy, just ever increasing fuel, energy, food and house prices. It will end in tears, one day.

Reply to  E.M.Smith
March 15, 2016 9:13 am

“Patrick MJD March 15, 2016 at 3:04 am”
The latest Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory: June 2015 shows that total emissions in Australia started declining in 2009, well before the government’s Carbon Tax was introduced in December 2012. It also shows that the principal factor driving that decline was a decline in electricity generation, which makes up about 34% of total emissions.
The decline in electricity generation is even more significant, when considering electricity generation per capita. That chart shows that the decline actually began in 2006 (see “Why is electricity consumption decreasing in Australia?” at Reneweconomy’s web site). So the reality is that Australia’s declining emissions had absolutely nothing to do with government imposed taxes on carbon or the GFC.
Conversely, South Australia, the state where most of Australia’s car manufacturing takes place, has been leading the drive to renewable energy sources for electricity generation. It reached its target of 33% renewables in 2014, and has now set a new target of 50% by 2025. This has come with significant government investment (already$6.6B rising to $10B) but has also resulted in the highest energy costs of any state in Australia (see Australian Energy Regulator – Industry Statistics).
These statistics show the false economy of the renewables sector – high government subsidies and increased cost to generate electricity – which result in higher costs to consumers. Large investments in renewable energy is hardly an approach that will work for developing countries.
As to your claims of economic oblivion, Australia’s reality is that we have completed our 24th year of continuous economic growth, with growth in 2015 exceeding expectations and reaching a high of 3% (compared to a forecast 2.75%). 2016 has already been forecast to exceed that, with real GDP growth of 3.25% predicted.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  E.M.Smith
March 15, 2016 4:13 pm

March 15, 2016 at 9:13 am”
I did state that one of the reasons Ford and Holden cited for pulling out of car making in Australia was energy costs. Labour costs was another factor. Given the price of carbon INCREASED energy costs to an energy intensive industry and suppliers and given the cost of energy in South Australia (SA) is the most expensive in Australia, you think that wasn’t a factor they pulled out of Australia because SA is so into renewables? It’s exactly the same reason why in is pulling out of California in the USA and moving to states such as Texas?

Patrick MJD
Reply to  E.M.Smith
March 15, 2016 4:19 pm

March 15, 2016 at 9:13 am”
And you are right, along with MikeFromAU, Australian emissions started to decline from around 2006, in line with an economic slowdown.

Reply to  Chip Javert
March 14, 2016 11:31 pm

The numbers from WWI (1914-1918) were small (17 million deaths, including my Grandfather’s brother) compared to the 1918-1919 Flu Pandemic (50 to 100 million). BUT, BUT, BUT humans can cope with, forestall, and mitigate both of these types of historical tragedies with the wealth afforded by cheap, plentiful energy as supplied by hydrocarbons. The idea that we will make energy expensive to reduce its consumption (as promoted by both the President of the U.S.A. and the European Union) is simply the new Communist / Marxist claptrap (such as spouted by ‘Americans’ Paul Robeson, Pete Seger, Margaret Sanger, Tom Hayden, et al) which led to the suffering and death of tens of millions (not millions, but tens of millions). Uncle Joe would simply teach us that those kind of numbers are not a tragedy, merely a statistic. Shame on those blind, mindless supporters. We didn’t forget. Just as surely shame will haunt others who profess the dangers of CAGW,

Reply to  Robert
March 15, 2016 5:24 am

If you choose a long enough time span, everyone dies. I wonder how this can be coorrelated with global Temperatures?

Reply to  Robert
March 15, 2016 9:11 am

So you are saying (implicitly) that the flu pandemic isn’t related in any way with the war?
That’s an extraordinary statement. (And a very typical of Big Pharma/Big Medicine/Big Gov PR point).

Reply to  Chip Javert
March 15, 2016 7:44 pm

Don’t forget the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-20, which killed more people than WW1 soldiers/civilians combined.

March 14, 2016 9:20 pm

The Age is a rag for delusional left wing donkeys and they never worry about the science. The other Fairfax papers and THEIR ABC are ditto as well. The proper science comes from experts like Dr Indur Goklany as observed by Les Johnson’s first comment above.

Patrick MJD
March 14, 2016 9:37 pm

Climate economists? What is that? Sheesh! When the ALP/Green circus, errm I mean coalition, in Australia were talking about a “Proice ohn cahbon” we heard day after day from economists such as Ross Garnout. And this week, in the Sydney Morning Hearld (The New South Wales equivalent of the Victorian The Age) Mr. Hannam keeps publishing alarmist articles. Climate change alarmism is beyond stupid in the lucky country.

Reply to  Patrick MJD
March 15, 2016 2:06 am

A climate economist is one that will NoT observe under aNy circumstances that economic collapse directly equals a cut in CO2 emission. By default ,
Emissions of all kinds. Period.

Reply to  Patrick MJD
March 16, 2016 1:20 am

As an Economist, I can tell you in no uncertain terms that a “Climate Economist” is clearly defined as someone who is an Economist that gets a paycheck from the “Climate Industry”, just as a Government Economist is paid by the government and a Bank Economist is paid by the bank.

March 14, 2016 9:42 pm

Since the Oz press seems to have a number in mind for creating a proper discussion they should show their work – or just quit posting stupid articles like this. It removes all doubt about their weak qualifications for discussing climate.

Patrick MJD
March 14, 2016 9:46 pm

“When the government built the storm drains, the drain pipes they used are a little larger than other places where I have lived. That way, instead of backing up and flooding, the unusually large but planned for volumes of water from sudden tropical deluges are safely transported away from inhabited areas.”
Eric, I recall one of the smaller upstream towns in the recent floods the local council ignored advice on storm drain pipe diameters, 18″ recommended 6″ installed, the town flooded severely. I don’t recall the name of the town. Of course, the 1972 Brisbane flood was more severe, but flooded mostly industrial sites. Now those sites are residential without the typical “Queenslander” house (On stilts).

Reply to  Patrick MJD
March 14, 2016 10:01 pm

So many choices as to where to put the enema nozzle in Australia. After 8 months of being there I sold up again and moved back to China.

Reply to  Alex
March 15, 2016 1:50 am

Lucky bugger..

March 14, 2016 10:08 pm

It was always my impression that economists were better than scientists at statistics. Yes/no?

Reply to  commieBob
March 14, 2016 10:34 pm


Reply to  E.M.Smith
March 15, 2016 4:50 am

100 years ago, Carlyle wrote, ‘Economics is the dismal science’.

Reply to  E.M.Smith
March 15, 2016 4:51 am

And, by the way, this was due to the idea set forth by Malthus that we are all going to starve to death unless we cut the population. Then WWI and WWII came along and tried to fix this problem by violently removing whole populations.

Reply to  commieBob
March 15, 2016 2:08 am

They are the kind that do not notice that intense economic collapse and all kinds of austerity actually lower CO2 emissions in a big way.
Maybe they are paid to ignore this particularly interesting little connection.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  commieBob
March 15, 2016 2:45 am

Didn’t work in 2008 or many dates before that such as the Wall St crash of 1929.

Reply to  Patrick MJD
March 15, 2016 3:03 am

Economists are unable to predict the past, much like those in other modeled not-understood-equals-null-variable “sciences.”

Reply to  Patrick MJD
March 15, 2016 8:57 am

One major reason is that they don’t take into account corporate cheats as in the S&L defaults after dereg in the ’80’s, and later ENRON, WorldCom, 2008 banking fraud, etc, etc, etc.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Patrick MJD
March 16, 2016 11:46 pm

March 15, 2016 at 8:57 am
…2008 banking fraud, etc, etc, etc.”
Banking fraud has been happening since The Bank of England was formed over 300 years ago. A system of interest bearing debt that does not create wealth (Think Federal Reserve for our US cousins). A bank, originally set up, to fund a military force. War makes money for these systems. Sounds familiar these days aye?

Reply to  commieBob
March 15, 2016 2:55 am

“God invented economists to make weathermen look good.” Richard Lindzen

March 14, 2016 10:09 pm
Fig 10-10
Almost everything has a bigger impact economically than climate. Population, income, aging, lifestyle… So sayeth the economists of IPCC.AR5.

Reply to  davidmhoffer
March 15, 2016 2:11 am

A poor economic climate actually cuts CO2 emissions.
Just see the amazingness of austerity measures on ones ability to actually have enough money to buy petrol.

March 14, 2016 10:14 pm

‘The consensus view was that a catastrophic loss of global gross domestic product – a 25 per cent decline or more – is possible under a “business as usual” scenario.’
Strike 1: no link.
Strike 2: by when is this GDP loss supposed to take place? 2050? 2500?
Strike 3: who the hell thinks a change in the number of heatwaves and hurricanes is going to cut GDP by 25%?

March 14, 2016 10:18 pm

Weren’t the Aussy’s going to set Bjorn Lomborg up for extended Climate Economics research?

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Ron Voisin
March 14, 2016 10:29 pm
Reply to  Ron Voisin
March 14, 2016 10:31 pm

The institutee of higher learning (the term is used loosely), caved into a handful of activists who would have been offended by the truth. PC reigns supreme in Australia. The police are forbidden to mention the ethnicity of criminals. It could be construed as racial profiling. Australia is going nuts.

Reply to  Alex
March 14, 2016 10:53 pm

With Trudeau 1.2, that’s not an upgrade, in Canada, I’ll challenge you on which country will go completely bonkers first.

Reply to  Ron Voisin
March 14, 2016 10:36 pm

Lomborg is the wrong sort of economist for Australian academe. There was a tremendous outcry from the warmunists and the project was cancelled.

March 14, 2016 10:43 pm

The consensus view was that a catastrophic loss of global gross domestic product – a 25 per cent decline or more – is possible under a “business as usual” scenario.

Does anyone know where this comes from? Is there any actual science behind this so-called “consensus” estimate? And did they also estimate how much the global gross domestic product would decline if fossil fuels were banned?
Scientists, journalists, politicians, and doctors should all follow the ethical maxim: “first, do no harm.” If the cure is worse than the disease, what value is it? In the case of climate change, even the acts required to prevent the disease are worse than the disease. Too many who practice science and journalism allow politics to bias their reasoning.

March 14, 2016 10:59 pm

I am a trained Economist. That means you learn to argue both for and against things like regulating an industry (as a student doesn’t know if industry or government will be hiring them to argue which side…). One also gets to examine a lot of crap arguments and must be able to analyze all sorts of broken government statistics with decades of political crap layers accumulated.
The end result leans toward a certain natural cynicism and skepticism. After all, one must learn both capitalism (a couple of kinds) and communism as valid economic systems ( not to mention the dozen kinds of “often wrong” but valid socialisms and more…) When you must be fluent in a dozen mutually exclusive systems, it does something to your willingness to exude enthusiasm for Yet Another Crank Thesis…
So my economists view of the damage from global warming is this: AC use rises, offset
by reduced heating demand. Less crop grown in hot deserts, but more in cold climates, net a gain. Flooding or drought to increase (once they pick which one it will be) while the other decreases. No change in disease trajectory as it is driven by improving sanitation and medical access, not temperature. No change in economic productivity as we produce in any and all climates already. In short, nobody will notice. Oh, and as we’ve not noticed the last 5000 years of sea level change, that won’t matter either.
People will still mostly die from wars, famine caused by stupid political decisions and greed, accidents (cars mostly) and eating & drinking too much. Occasional murders and suicides from wanting a lover who finds you icky will continue too. Cosmetics and clothing sales will remain strong.
BTW, if Global Warming doesn’t happen, it will be about the same outcome, net net.

Reply to  E.M.Smith
March 15, 2016 12:12 am

As another trained Economist I can only facepalm at the stupidity and obvious desperation demonstrated in this article. At the end of the day, Economists SHOULD attempt to examine ‘reality’ based on as few assumptions as possible. Available data is king. Predictions/projections should stem from that approximation of reality. Not just ‘make sh1t up’!
And a great theory I picked up from studying economics is that of ‘revealed preferences’ – this transfers to observing what people DO, not what they SAY they’ll do…. Leo the Legend tops the bill of celebrity hypocrites on this environmental front.
What I read in the article above was another pathetic whine to the effect that, “Economists aren’t getting on board (enough) with our agenda! We’d like them to up the ante and predict more doom so that others will take our pathetic whining more seriously and do something about the bad, bad things we’re doing to Holy Mother Earth! Or pay us more money to hypocritically whinge about what everyone ELSE is doing…”
…or was I the only one who read that between the lines…?

Reply to  Zenreverend
March 15, 2016 2:22 am

Zenreverend, they cannot even make the connection that economic collapse actually cuts CO2 emissions.
They could go out and start spouting/RejOicInG that economic collapse has already cut CO2 emissions.
Talk about the bleedin obvious.

NW sage
Reply to  Zenreverend
March 15, 2016 5:18 pm

To answer your question – clearly not.
Perhaps the real issue is the fact that economists, like engineers, tend to base their analyses on facts that are reproducible, not hypotheses based on unvalidated assumptions.

Reply to  E.M.Smith
March 15, 2016 2:18 am

Mr Smith.
I think you need to look at the effects of an economic collapse and how it cuts emissions of all kinds, including CO2.
Perhaps you could find the time to look at the connection between a poorly performing economy/ies and the closely following dramatic collapse of emissions of all kinds.
The Baltic Dry Index is performing poorly => therefore lower emissions/pollution etc.
Collapse in oil-rig count. over 50% i a single year and still dropping.
Mass coal worker lay-offs in China.
and so on.

Reply to  MikeFromAu
March 15, 2016 4:29 pm

Baltic Dry’s decline is mostly due to excess ship supply, not so much to decreased demand.
Rig counts are declining (and, more important, Canadian oil sands production is dropping sharply), but US oil production is still high. The storage at Cushing, OK,s near the maximum
Chinese coal miners haven’t yet been laid off.

Reply to  MikeFromAu
March 16, 2016 1:33 am

Those are things I watch regularly. My blog is full of them.
BUT, they are not a consequence of Global Warming (which was the question), but of stupid government policies (often driven by stupid belief in Global Warming or stupid belief in Socialist policies)
So, yes, economic collapse is a necessary result of Global Warming Stupidity based policies. But not at all related to warming or cooling in the real world.

Reply to  E.M.Smith
March 15, 2016 2:43 am

“I am a trained Economist. That means you learn to argue both …”
Are you familiar with the Austrian School, Rothbard, Mises, Block, and so forth? Just curious.

Reply to  markstoval
March 16, 2016 1:38 am

Yes. I like to call myself “A recovering Keynesian” as I came to the Austrian School post graduation. (We did cover The Chicago School, but ony tangentially. . it was the 70s after all…)
FWIW, IMHO, The Ausrian School is closest to correct.

Chris Hanley
March 14, 2016 11:32 pm

It’s perfectly consistent with the general quality of the rag but this article was written by a US economics academic:

Reply to  Chris Hanley
March 15, 2016 4:24 am

Lots of Marxists in the Economics faculty at my Alma Mater University of Michigan. I had to drop this Econ 101 course this guy taught, as the professor at the time was a rank Communist, class discussions were the TA and 27 other students arguing against me. Teaching Assistant was a Club of Rome doom predictor, I contradicted him successfully in front of the class, he failed me on the first exam, I said Goodbye…

Reply to  Michael Moon
March 15, 2016 6:11 pm

Track the Maurice Strong influence into U.Mich. from Canada and in particular into the Business school.
Also somewhat into MSU.

March 14, 2016 11:59 pm

The “Age” in Melbourne is generally known as the “Spencer Street Soviet”. Not to be relied on.

March 15, 2016 12:02 am

Two comments:
1. The Queensland Road Drainage Manual, of which I have a copy, is thorough and sets a standard for such documents.
2. It is generally accepted that more excess deaths occur in winter due to cold weather than in summer due to heat. A detailed economic study would show that, as far as early death is concerned, climate change is beneficial.

March 15, 2016 12:06 am

How much to tamp down all of the modelable and big benefits of warmer higher latitudes? Production on the Taiga for example?

March 15, 2016 12:32 am

Economists are out of touch with reality, full stop.

Reply to  Srga
March 15, 2016 2:25 am

Basic principal #1 No money equals no petrol in the vehicle.
#2 Poorly performing economies and economic collapse is actually a great tool to lower CO2 emissions.

Reply to  MikeFromAu
March 15, 2016 6:11 am

..And starvation, and disease, and frozen people that can’t afford expensive energy, and ….etc…………

Thomas Englert
Reply to  MikeFromAu
March 15, 2016 4:17 pm

#3 Zero CO2 emissions is an even better tool to create economic collapse.

Reply to  Srga
March 16, 2016 1:56 am

Economist are rather fully in touch with reality. Mostly the reality of the need for a paycheck and delivering what the client requested…
“Will do research for money”. No. No smiley or sarc; tag. I’m a contractor for a living. (in the field of computers, not economics). Also known as a Computer Whore. I don’t care what the client wants, my job is just to deliver it and cash the check. I’ve even installed M.S. Windows based solutions (just to show how low my limits can go) when the client demanded it.
I’d love having an Econ gig, but one of the first things you learn as an economist is the law of supply and demand. Then you learn there is a very large supply of economists and almost no demand… so that computer minor starts to pay off…
Don’t confuse the client’s demands / goals / deliverable with the economist’s understanding of reality. The two are mostly only distantly related…
[Unless that economist gets a university/government-paid “teaching” position. Once securely “inside” the government safety net, the economist never needs to justify anything nor any decision nor any theory , as long as it justifies the needs of his government-master. .mod]

Reply to  E.M.Smith
March 16, 2016 10:10 am

Dear Mod: In that case the Client is the Government, and the economist was hired for that POV in the first place. That is why I have no teaching position despite holding a college level teaching credential. The interviewing committee tends to weed out non-“progressive” non-socialists (I enjoyed observing the questions and reactions, but found the process rather sad in being so obviously biased.)
So yes, you are right, but that is not in opposition to my point that the Client writes the sheet music to which the economist sings….

March 15, 2016 12:40 am

Economists should study science ?? Al Gore and Mann has so has our Flannery and it’s worked ok for them bankbalance wise !

Reply to  Robert
March 15, 2016 8:14 am

I have yet to find an economist that can accurately describe what money is. Somehow they have all been indoctrinated to believe that only currency is money. They also talk about “jobs” as if all we have to do is wash each other’s laundry and trade pieces of paper with big numbers on them. We will all be rich,,, sheeeesh.

Reply to  Bill McCarter
March 16, 2016 2:07 am

OK, I’m one.
Money is a medium of exchange AND a store of value.
Currency is only a medium of exchange.
As a necessary consequence of that, no paper currency is really money.
That for all practical purposes the word “money” is used to mean “currency” bothers me; but is a battle I quit fighting decades ago. Life is too short to waste it on that.
Not fighting losing battles ought not be confused with ignorance.

March 15, 2016 1:14 am

Climate change is like St Patricks Day.
Obama is more Irish than St Patrick was but its convenient for everyone including the church to portray him as Irish

Reply to  Owen
March 15, 2016 7:20 am

St Patrick was Welsh
He wasted a bit of time doing un-eco things like expelling snakes from Ireland [why???]
He’s also been the cause of great distress…like suffering the consequences of a creme de menthe hangover on March 18th

March 15, 2016 1:24 am

Hére I go again: their “business as usual” case is baloney…there isn’t enough fossil fuels to feed those rcp8.5 projections.

Filippo Turturici
March 15, 2016 1:59 am

E.g. if people stand still during a flooding, letting water bringing them away or simply submerging them, they will die for sure. Since flooding mitigation and escaping is something as mankind we have a bit of experince about (like four or five thousand years at least?) I bet than we can cope with such a problem even in future and even in harsher (if ever) conditions. Anyway, I don’t see any science in that article: maybe the journalist should go back to university, take at least a bachelor degree in engineering or phisycs, and after at least three years of studies get back and write again about science.

M Seward
March 15, 2016 2:24 am

Noah Smith is an assistant professor of finance at Stony Brook University and a freelance writer for finance and business publications
Gosh, it isn’t Peter Hannam the Age’s resident alarmist but an assistant professor of finance no less writing for a few extra bucks. The science really must be settled, mustn’t it?
utter disbelief/

March 15, 2016 3:18 am

While the profession of economics is not immune to fools and folly, the overall focus of economics as the understanding of rational behavior under constraints is going to keep most economists from swallowing the kool-aid that is AGW. Certainly, those who subscribe to the positivist economics of Milton Friedman will not be impressed by climate models. If those worried about “climate change” want to be taken more seriously by economics, they need to be more serious about science, and less focused on pushing a political or social agenda.

March 15, 2016 3:50 am
Retired Engineer Jim
Reply to  Geoff
March 15, 2016 8:06 am

The article doesn’t mention the PP&ACA. And I don’t see the linkage that you do.

March 15, 2016 4:07 am

Another consequence of climate change. The climate-profession prefix convention is making my head hurt. Climate-economists, climate-clergy, climate-farmers, climate-plumbers ….

Retired Engineer Jim
Reply to  Bernie
March 15, 2016 8:07 am

Climate justice.

Reply to  Bernie
March 15, 2016 1:50 pm

I think it is a good thing to add the “climate” prefix – It can be considered as a warning that the outcome is likely to be somewhat bizarre.

March 15, 2016 4:41 am

I thought the decline in deaths was directly related to improved communication and warning systems. Of course nowadays we build up shorelines and river flood zones, but that’s what economists get paid to estimate…. and we pay insurance for.

March 15, 2016 4:49 am

if such storm systems became more common, the drainage system would simply be scaled up even further, to accommodate changed weather patterns.
Ah but you forget the presumption of Climate Alarmism
“Everybody in future will be even more stupid than we are today”.

Reply to  Leo Smith
March 15, 2016 5:01 am

Is that possible? To infinity?

Reply to  emsnews
March 15, 2016 7:22 am

Yes, emsnews. As I write, the human race is evolving to function in fetal ball position and will soon lose the ability to walk upright. Chinese takeout will no longer be an option and delivery will be the only means of obtaining sustenance. You will have to leave the door unlocked so food can be delivered to you as you are curled up under the table in the corner. Tipping will go the way of the Dodo as humans will no longer be able to reach their wallets.
It’s grim, I tell ya.

Reply to  emsnews
March 15, 2016 4:26 pm

..BUT, we will all have ” Safe Spaces ” to curl up in !

Reply to  emsnews
March 16, 2016 2:13 am

Wallet? How 20th century…
The Chinese Takeout delivery will be by robot who will sense and debit your iPhone account…

March 15, 2016 5:11 am

Classic advocacy reach

March 15, 2016 5:47 am

Economy 101 prediction: When no one lives there, floods go on without harming a single person. People like to live in flood plains (face palm!). More and more people are living in flood plains (face palm!). Damage is increasing because more and more people are living in flood plains. Flood insurance is a choice you make when you live in a flood plain. Plains like that have been underwater for long periods of time in the past, and will so again. When that time comes again, I will have my great-great-great-etc-grandchildren repeat my prediction.

March 15, 2016 6:34 am

Oh look! The same number of casualties as thermodynamic laws obeyed by agw ”theory” – Theory? BWaH HaH HaH HaH!

Steve in SC
March 15, 2016 6:50 am

Leo Smith said on March 15, 2016 at 4:49 am
if such storm systems became more common, the drainage system would simply be scaled up even further, to accommodate changed weather patterns.
Ah but you forget the presumption of Climate Alarmism

“Everybody in future will be even more stupid than we are today”.

Of course they will be more stupid. Such is the outcome of leftist politically correct education systems.

Thomas Edwardson
March 15, 2016 7:22 am

This ThermaClimaEconoMegegdon nonsense has already been refuted in the historical record …
Warmer and wetter = flourishing civilizations (Minoan, Hittite, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Medieval, Renaissance) rising populations
Cooler and drier = Fall of empires, death, famine, disease, declining populations
All of the costs of changing temperature are on the cold side, while all of the benefits are on the warm side.
My favorite supporting illustration …
… although the “Beer” label in the above has been misplaced. “Beer” should be placed 2000 years earlier, with “Domestic Crops & Ceramics”, as we all know that beer is the fundamental basis of all of civilization by virtue of the fact that Barley is always the first domesticated cereal grain.

Reply to  Thomas Edwardson
March 16, 2016 9:42 am

The oldest known writing states how to make bread, but as an intermediary step in the making of beer… The purpose being to prove the yeast.
Beer is why civilization and agriculture developed. Egyptian records show pyramid workers paid in quarts of grain and beer. The higher skilled crafts got twice as much beer.
We could hunt and gather all the food we wanted, but a consistent supply of beer requires growing grains and standing by the fermentor for a long time…
Beer: the foundation of civilization.
Without it, chaos rules. See the Middle East for example…

Thomas Edwardson
Reply to  E.M.Smith
March 17, 2016 11:23 am

E.M.Smith … “The purpose being to prove the yeast.”

My understanding is that bread was invented to store the barley in a stable form.
The short version of the history of civilization goes something like this …
Hunter gathers were collecting wild grains as supplemental nutrition, and barley is a fairly common grain. However, barley’s bitter taste severely restricts what you can make from it … even today, basically just soup. The theory is that somebody made barley soup, but then decided it was too nasty to eat just then, and set it aside for later when they got really hungry. Naturally, the soup fermented and beer was discovered.
Now humans really get interested in barley as “supplemental nutrition”, so they domesticate the grain in order to make copious quantities of beer. Oktoberfest is born right after the barley harvest. (Note that barley is always domesticated first, with grains like wheat and oats following much later.) For obvious reasons, the locals want to extend Oktoberfest to be year-round. Since the ancients lacked refrigeration or pasteurization, the beer had to be consumed soon after it was made. No problem; they built warehouses and stored the grain for year-round brewing, only to discover that the barley kernels have such a high moisture content that the piles of grain rotted before it could be used.
Then they discovered that you can make the barley into an unpalatable bread and bake it to dry it out enough that it will store without rotting. Dehydrated beer! Add water, wait for fermentation, and presto … year round beer brewing is possible.
At this point you have a settlement with farmers growing barley, and craftsman baking breads, brewing beer and building ovens, and others building, staffing, and protecting warehouses. And we all know that warehousing require accountants to keep track of inventory, so you have to invent writing to keep track of it all (when to plant, recipe for brewing, what is in the warehouse, who owns it, etc.) As soon as you have accountants – bang!, you have met the requirements of a civilized society.
Of course, that is the story as I heard it, and the telling involved the consumption of beer, so your mileage may vary …
The full history of civilization involves what happened AFTER beer, as knowledge and technological advances fostered the progression from beer to wine, and how the cooling climate took away that wine and forced the advance into whiskeys, vodkas, and other hard liquors; and how the evidence for that historical climate cooling has been preserved in the alcohols the western world drinks today. But that is a tale worthy of its own post.

Reply to  E.M.Smith
March 18, 2016 11:57 pm

Nicely done. But I have a jar of whole barley from 2000 A.D. that has yet to rot. Dry grain keeps very well.
I’d add, though, that drying a wet harvest might well explain smoking grain and malted grains, found in early beers and later whiskies… One might well make the bread for both reasons, but in my experience, baked bread molds in days while dry grain keeps for decades. Damp grain in a sack probably needs baking…
Oldest brewery found on the Czech Bavarian border dated to the time it was also a Celtic border… Party at the border!! Something like 4000 B.C. while earliest Sumarian cuneiform tablet is said bread beer method. Egyptian pyramid builders paid in beer (we have the paymasters records of wage rates) so it was a world wide party in B.C….. party like it’s 1999 (B.C.)

March 15, 2016 7:23 am

Just what, pray tell, is a “climate economist”?

Reply to  TomB
March 15, 2016 8:02 am

They will let you know after crafting the research grant program specs.

March 15, 2016 7:25 am

They might consider tapping Krugman. He’s certifiable.

Reply to  Resourceguy
March 15, 2016 2:12 pm

Last time I read a comment by Paul Krugman:
“In the 11 first sentences I found 0 objective scientific statements and 20 logical fallacies – give or take a few.” – Ref.
I can´t imagine that I will waste my time reading anything by Paul Krugman again.

March 15, 2016 7:56 am

Has/would someone do a study to check the correlation between the increasing amount of grant monies for studying climate change and the number of scientists that are onboard with AGW. Is the money driving the results? I believe not even a congressman would be stupid enough to continue to fund studies the conclude all is well, no future threat. But a study that concludes there MIGHT be a real threat, and that more study is needed, it would just be irresponsible not to throw more grant money at it.

Reply to  chrisyu
March 15, 2016 8:40 am

That’s like the people who try to say ”we just don’t know” how much Green House Gas Effect there is. Yes they do, they’ve all seen people calculate the planetary temperature of Venus without any green house gas effect at all.
Ric Werme posted some links to two different threads here and also to some other websites where people were showing how easy it is to get the temperature of the earth, or Venus – with no green house gas effect built in at all.
This is never ending alarm and income generating traffic, through press release by a media with nothing to talk about, and political activists posing as science media.
The amount of sheer manipulation of the public without even a nod to propriety in any of it: the so called science, the way the various movement leaderships act…
it’s a shame such pure and obvious dishonesty can float standing on the heads of citizens simply because one side is – basically a bunch of professional talking heads: and real scientific people have to go to work; and have real reputations to protect.
It’s definitely been the place in the internet where the bottom simply fell out of any hope for an honest broker in the whole mess virtually anywhere. Environmentalists and alternative energy peddlers simply deluge the media with fantastic stories, agree the whole world agrees with them, then expect people to not even blink.
The scientific world needs associations of scientists who speak out against the false claims and who can help each other but scientists are by nature individualists and do not care for herd behavior; hence their complete disdain for generating mobs to get things done.
It appears for the lifetime of most of the people alive in the early 21st century, the con men, circus barkers, and psychologists and geologists have simply bulldozed natural sciences to the ground in the rush to manipulate the world through press releases about fake weather alarm.
In the early 20th century one of the biggest forms of con men referred to were men who claimed they could make the weather change.
It appears it was all actually predicting what would turn out happening today.
Scientific discourse has been reduced to Bill Nye. Real scientists state their stand on things climate on Youtube because the entire public media mediated arena, is a farce.
Hopefully somehow scientists will come back into the public discussion; and the Bill Nye/Al Gore class ”entertainer scientists” will become a gladly forgotten part,
of a very, very nasty, era in our civilization’s

March 15, 2016 8:16 am

So this writer’s position is that the scientific consensus of economists is wrong and should be scrutinized. Irony abounds.

March 15, 2016 8:53 am

Re. Economists & climate, 3/15/2016.
Prof. Smith (BS, physics; PhD economics) saying,
The problem, as far as I can tell, is that there is a disconnect between climate science and economics.
misses the great connection between the two: both share the many attributes of being, at best, academic, publish or perish, science (Post Modern Science). Climatology a la IPCC can predict naught. Economics as a science does exist, but expression of the total of economic theories (validated hypotheses of Modern Science) requires, I’d guess, maybe 2000 words, a folio.
For example, Pamela Gray at 5:47 am writes about the increase of people living in flood plains. Economic science predicts that very result, based on (1) government-induced decline in the standard of living (equality of outcome (for the proletariat-voters)), (2) the fact that land in flood plains is cheap, and (3) the consequences of freebie, government-paid flood insurance.
Smith doesn’t recognize that PMS made science ambiguous with MS, just as its daughter, climatology, did for global warming. It introduced GW, the PC abbreviation of AGW, which sounds just like gw, the certain, natural phenomenon occurring half the time.
Smith gives the British English version of an old saw, rubbish in, rubbish out. It’s worse than that. These pseudosciences take in good data, convert it to rubbish, then produce rubbish out. Just a few examples of that conversion are (1) Factor Analysis, the conversion of the objective to subjective, (2) differencing (differentiating) data, which removes the key first order relationships between data records, and (3) replacement of data with simulations, which can only reflect the subjectivity of the investigator. The process, good data in/garbage out, causes people to fill comment sections to overflowing with wide ranging discussions on the nature of the input data, which are both irrelevant and doomed to end up on the cutting room floor.
Smith says, climate economics tends to lag behind climate science. What does lag mean for purely political endeavors? These are directionless, dimensionless, measureless, irresponsible, unethical grabs for tenure, public moneys, and power, in that order.

March 15, 2016 8:59 am

It’s variances from the norm that kills people. Houston year in and year out, is a lot hotter than Boston, yet few people die during the course of a normal year.
However in both Houston and Boston, sudden heat waves can kill lots of people.
If the world gets a little warmer, people will adapt, normal weather will be dealt with and survived, and it will be the heat waves that kill people.

March 15, 2016 10:08 am

Preparedness can mitigate a lot of damage and save a lot of lives. California is prepared for moderate earthquakes, and seasonal wildfires. You can also prepare for floods, drought, tornadoes, and almost any other natural disaster you can anticipate: don’t build in flood plains, build storm cellars and water cisterns, stockpile non-perishable food, etc.

March 15, 2016 10:51 am

It really amazes me how often Warmist try to to tell experts in other sciences that they don’t know how to do their jobs, because the answers they get don’t match the Warmists dire and baseless predictions.
By the time the CAGW meme dies, will there be any branch of science that the Climate Faithful have not alienated?

March 15, 2016 11:04 am

Problem with economic models is they much like climate models. They do not project / predict anything with acceptable skill. Like climate models they are intended to help us understand what may change based on a limited number of variables. i.e. raise taxes and consumer spending will decline, raise business taxes and unemployment will increase. Using them to forecast Gross National Product is about as effective as using climate models to predict temperature change.
Both suffer from the same problems, there are more variables than can be modeled, more feedback responses than can be accommodated, and likely as many unknowns that can affect the outcome. In the end they will tend to produce the expected result due to endless tweaking affected by the users biases, not reality.
Figures don’t lie, but lairs can figure.

March 15, 2016 11:59 am

Where I live ( a suburb of Chicago) we get floods every couple of years, but the city is designed so it is an incovenience rather than disaster. The water floods parks along the river (no damage), fills up overflow ponds, and overtops some bridges, making it hard to get around for a day or two. End of story. No one freaks out.

Warren Latham
March 15, 2016 12:30 pm

Very entertaining responses here: some real belters from down under. You’ve really set the site on fire with this one. Good on ya. Makes my day. (Must get out more)
Seems to me that their very first sentence gives it away, that is, “If economists are to help us deal with global warming, … ” – quite simply, NO THEY ARE NOT and NO, it isn’t.

March 15, 2016 1:08 pm

‘The failure of climate economics to make a difference in the public discussion about climate policy should be a concern for the profession.’
It’s a profession ?!?!
What’s next, climate nursing? Climate software development? Climate criminal justice? Can we put “climate” before any discipline?

Reply to  Gamecock
March 15, 2016 4:45 pm

Is ‘con artist’ a discipline?

Bruce Cobb
March 15, 2016 2:42 pm

I guess “climate economics” would belong in the same category as say, Marxist economics, since it is based on the extremist ideology of Climatism. With Climatism, you get a completely whacko, upside down reality, and yes they have their own brand of everything including math, science, psychology, sociology, fashion, moral scruples (the ends justify the means), etc.

March 15, 2016 3:12 pm

“The tools that you design, the financial structures that you develop, the blends that you are able to put together … all of that, in the next five years, will decide the quality of certainly the energy and certainly the quality of the global economy for the next thirty-five years, and hence the quality of life for everyone else for hundreds of years.”
– Christina Figueres – Unelected megalomaniac UN bureaucrat – UN climate chief
Seventh Investor Summit on Climate Risk
United Nations is exerting influence on the finance industry for their desired transition of the society.
The 2016 investor Summit on Climate Risk – Press Conference

March 16, 2016 2:17 am

The failure of climate economics to make a difference in the public discussion about climate policy should be a concern for the profession.
Pointing out that renewables don’t feed the bulldog hasn’t made a difference?

Gary Pearse
March 16, 2016 1:20 pm

“most climate economists believe climate change is a grave threat.”
Well, duh! If you call yourself a climate economist, what else would you believe? We’ve always had a climate, but only recently climate economists. If you were a thunderstorm economist, you might see lightning as a grave threat. In this case, the worry wart concerned about economists not seeing glolal warming as a serious economic issue sees this as a gravy threat.

March 16, 2016 3:54 pm

All I know is this past warm winter has greatly reduced my power bill. Wonder how much money consumers have saved because of warmer winter?

March 17, 2016 4:21 am

The article in the Melbourne Age complaining about Economists not pulling their weight in climate change policy discussions, in particular by not predicting economic calamities from global warming, was written by Noah Smith, an associate professor in Finance from an obscure US University (I think it was Stoke?)
The very same day the article was published,only two pages earlier, the Age editorial came out in strong support of carbon taxes to lessen emissions of carbon dioxide from burning coal to produce electricity.
I pointed out the irony of this, given that carbon pricing derives from the theory of the economics of externalities first discussed in a 1920’s book “The Economics of Welfare ” ( no not the social welfare handout type but general economic well being of nations) by English Economist Arthur Pigou
Since then such taxes have been termed “Pigovian Taxes”
Either Smith or the editor, or probably both, are blissfully unaware of this contradiction within two articles in the newspaper on the same day -which either implicitly “showed” that economists were contributing to the public policy debate on climate change, or alternatively showed that they were not!!
This tells you a fair bit about the standards of the Age which these days panders almost exclusively to the inner city green left donkeys who go with their tribal feelings on most issues
Bashing economists can be expected to go down a treat with such greenies who tend to be both economically illiterate and innumerate.
Really that was the likely purpose of publishing this poor standard error -riddled second hand article from the USA.

March 18, 2016 9:44 am

Most economists are used to seeing advocacy-based impact studies and requests for studies. They know what to look for in taking them apart one bad assumption at a time. Only the ones being compensated are somehow forgetful of the shortcomings.

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