Doomsday Climate Scenarios Are a Joke

Climate economic models refuse to consider how society will evolve and adapt. 

By Oren Cass

One study says world GDP will drop 20% by 2100, but Iceland and Mongolia will be rich beyond imagining.

This has nothing to do with the soundness of climate science. The games begin when economists get their hands on scientific projections and try to translate temperatures into human impacts.

They conduct statistical analyses of the effects that small year-to-year temperature variations have on things like mortality and economic growth, and try to extrapolate to the effect of very large, slow shifts in underlying climate.

This creates absurd estimates that ignore human society’s capacity for adaptation. This is the latest iteration of the same mistake environmental catastrophists seem insistent on making in every generation.

The best illustration lies deep in a 2015 paper published in Nature by professors from Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley.

They found that warm countries tended to experience lower economic growth in abnormally warm years, while cold countries experienced higher growth in such years.

Applying that relationship to a much warmer world of the future, they concluded that unmitigated climate change would likely reduce global GDP by more than 20% from what it otherwise would reach by century’s end.

That is roughly an order of magnitude higher than prior estimates, and it has received widespread media attention. But it is as preposterous as it is stunning.

While the world economy stagnates, the model projects, cold countries will achieve almost unimaginable wealth. Iceland supposedly will achieve annual per capita income of $1.5 million by 2100, more than double that of any other country except Finland ($860,000).

Mongolia, which currently ranks 118th in per capita income, is supposed to rise to seventh, at which point the average Mongolian will earn four times as much as the average American. Canada’s economy becomes seven times as large as China’s.

The technical term to describe this analysis is “silly.” Obviously, the relationship posited between temperature and growth has little to do with reality.

Sadly, this paper represents the norm. Last fall the U.S. Government Accountability Office released a summary of existing research on future climate costs for the United States.

As I show in a new report published by the Manhattan Institute, a small set of studies dominate this research. They reach their imposing dollar figures by refusing, like the Nature study, to consider how society will evolve and adapt.

Read rest at WSJ (subscription required)

64 thoughts on “Doomsday Climate Scenarios Are a Joke

  1. The question is: how do these people get to become professors at Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley? In the old days you had to be intelligent to get to become a professor. Now it seems that the more ridiculous or silly you are, the higher you get in academia.

    • These days being intelligent is a hinderance, the most reliable method for becoming a professor is by kissing the posteriors of those who are already professors.

    • To be a professor one must bellyfeel goodthink and duckspeak it. Crimethnk will result in being sent to the Ministry of Love.

    • Those who can, do, those who can’t, teach. That’s why so many successful people are college drop-outs. Did Bill Gates spend his time writing scholarly papers in academia? No, he hacked around with an Atari type computer in his garage. What about Tesla? Was he an enrobed professor? Is Warren Buffet teaching investing at Yale? What did Einstein do when his creative juices ran out? That’s right, he became a professor in a university. Get the picture?

  2. Easy way to determine if these “scientists” believe this drivel: are they moving to one of these countries? Are they investing in these countries?
    To determine if humanity in general believes this paper: are they moving from warmer climes (the Mediterranean, Florida, California, etc.) to these cold climes? Are they investing in these cold areas?

    • I very much doubt if they have looked at the output in a sense-check way. I see this sort of thing all the time from banks and consultancies where modellers produce garbage because they put far too much faith in their models.
      When you question them as to how a company is now producing 110% of the world’s wealth (or something equally dumb) it usually takes them quite some time to even grasp they might have done something that makes no sense – the model is always right!

    • No scientists seemed to be involved with this study, it is economists all the way down. If we must pretend that there is any science in economics, it is only the “dismal” kind. Since economic predictions are almost universally wrong, we can presume that the scenarios described fall into the category of highly unlikely.

      • You missed the statisticians that seem to migrate to the field like vermin because invent a stat is rife in the field.

  3. It’s more like they look at the impact of a summer heat wave that’s 10 degrees above average and try to compare that to a 2 degree rise over 100 years.

    • Linear no Threshold in action.
      If a 10 degree heat wave kills 10 people, then obviously a two degree heat wave will kill 2 people. Per year. Forever.

      • And if the temperature drops by 10degs, ten new people will be produced – no reproduction required.

  4. I agree…and no where is it more obvious than the swing in GDP from daylight to dark…………/SNARK

  5. The problem is not a couple of degrees of warming, that we can manage, and probably enjoy. The problem is what will happen if these scientifically ignorant posers gain the power to indirectly implement one world government.

  6. It is a good read. The article logically and completely destroys the Alarmist position of “we must act now to Save the Planet” lies. It is much of what most regular WUWT commenters already know, that is, the wealthier a nation or society is, the better it is able to adapt to and recover from any changing climate and natural disaster. Things that have always occurred throughout history of mankind and civilization.
    And GDP growth and national wealth are intimately tied to the economic activity dependent on the affordable reliable energy that fossil fuels provide, until technology can evolve to us to something better.

    • The red/green eco-loon posture is just the latest iteration of a power polay that has been with us for millenia. Every power craving nutjob from the earliest shamans to Hitler and Erdogan have played the same card trick. Define a ‘threat’, a looming existential threat, scare the crap out of enough people that the future is at grave risk and the ‘threat speakers’ become the natural ‘leadership’ choice. After that its all down hill like a roller coaster with the shamans in control….

  7. The frightening thing about this is that these academics, producing his sort of rubbish, are the ones teaching the next generation. It seems that these computers have addled their brains and this affliction will be passed on.

  8. It does seem to be the norm for “social cost of carbon” estimates. Almost all the input figures are extrapolations or based on arbitrary assumptions.Merely changing the discount rate on some “costs” changes them into benefits. For a short, rude acronym, the numbers are POOMA.

    • You cannot change costs (negative numbers) into benefits by changing the discount rate. For that to happen you have to have a mixture of positive and negative numbers – costs and benefits. The better models have near term benefits and longer term costs, and with those, the higher the discount rate the lower the present value of the net cost, and potentially the net cost becomes a net benefit.

  9. These guys are pushing two contradictory scenarios: scenario 1: we need to do X,Y, andZ because the end of the century will be X degrees higher: scenario 2: we are building renewable energy capacity and electric cars at great rates – things are looking better and better.

    • Write the authors of that journal paper and ask if you can have an advance on your 1.5 million krona.

  10. One must conclude that climate change causes an enhanced wealth effect via doomsday models and press releases. The feedback loop is still in operation.

  11. Mongolia probably will see good growth if China follows through with their Belt and Road Initiative through there, but growth due to climate is just a WAG.

    • Greenland might be another story however, as historically it has had great agricultural potential during warm epochs.

      • With the exception of food for those living there, I see no reason to farm Greenland. Lots of land available closer to where the people live.

    • Two degrees won’t do squat for Mongolia. It would need ten to fifteen degrees to make a meaningful impact on the growing season.

  12. Climate Change Science Fair Project; CO2 and Global Warming
    To understand CO2’s contribution to climate change, one has to understand a few basics. The first is that CO2 is evenly distributed throughout the atmosphere up to 80 km. CO2 is 400 ppm at the surface, and CO2 is 400 ppm up 80 km, CO2 is 400 ppm at the equator and the poles. Water vapor, by far … Continue reading

  13. Moreno’s site is carrying a piece from an Environmentalist urging the extremest’s to chill out.
    Perhaps, this will one day be regarded as the turning point in popular alarmisim.
    On another note: if x-degree of randomness can be ascribed to weather patterns, we needn’t seek atronomical causation to explain ice age events, as large scale late and early season snow cover would dramatically alter albedo, and hence, the energy budget.

  14. It’s fairly Monty Pythonesque but potentially all very serious.
    The series of events being:
    1. By some miracle, a baby is born. Lets call it Babba.
    2. Mother, by some means, is compelled to go (back) to work. Peer pressure, selfishness, money, equality…
    3. Babba is left in the care of a stranger – NOT its actual mother.
    4. Stranger cannot feed Babba properly with breast milk – formula milk is NOT a substitute. Just ask the makers of the stuff. Babba is nutritionally starved and does not properly build its brain
    5 Babba is also emotionally starved by its mother’s absence and is taught right from wrong by the use of sugar.
    6 Babba reaches age= 5 as a low intelligence, easily irritated & totally spoiled brat – quite addicted to a chemical agent with mind and body depressant properties.
    It all goes downhill from there.

  15. I get it. I understand now. In order to prevent industrialized society from destroying itself we have to destroy industrial society first.
    Of course, the idea that industrialized society will destroy itself is purely a half-assed, fantasized, theory. But, who cares?!

    • It’s the popular perversion of the Precautionary Principal, presented perfectly. Geez, I gotta p. Excuse me.

  16. I can see Iceland doing better, catching more profitable warm water fish, I suppose, and having the golf course open longer. Also Iceland is a relatively free market society. Mongolia however is still rather socialist. Their problems have little to do with climate and more to do with the economic/political/tribal system they have in place. I guess, the global warming will make them rich by forcing them to dig up all the gold – which is apparently caused by global warming according to a recent article.

      • I know that, they get better cold water fish – another sign that the article is silly. I suppose they could also grow more potatoes in the volcanic ash.

    • Mongolia does something quite interesting: of the money the government makes from mining: a portion is paid to each citizen in cash now and then. If the country, the people may all become wealthy too.

  17. And to make the most obvious point about the study, growth in any country but particularly small countries like Iceland, Finland and Mongolia (small population) is not independent of other countries.
    It is impossible to imagine what 334,000 Icelanders are going to do that will make them do rich if say the US is growing very slowly. What are they making and selling to each other?
    Growth in the long run is all about productivity, so if Iceland’s tiny population Can become so super-productive, then so can everyone else. And given that innovation drives productivity and innovation is largely a numbers game, it is far more likely that the US and China will find ways to innovate than Iceland. This stuff is produced by people who have literally no idea what they are modelling.

    • Iceland is trying to go all Internet – which has little to do with climate. Other than that they produce a lot of fish.

    • Iceland is the third largest producer of bananas in Europe. Maybe they will continue to use their free energy to grow insect- and disease-free food.

  18. Meanwhile, let’s watch for property prices to fall in the tropics, so old farts like myself can snatch up a beachfront villa to live out our (soon to be banned) retirements.

  19. Did I miss the part where they took into account that warming of the globe has manifested itself almost exclusively at the upper latitudes, and all that will effectively happen is an increase in area suitable for human comfort and agriculture?

    • OR, even more importantly, that almost the entirety of the increase in temperature “trend” is NOT daytime high temperatures increasing, but nighttime LOW temperatures not getting quite as low?! Which in turn underscores the benefits vs. detriments of “warming” – less killing frosts and longer growing seasons – NOT the “extreme heat wave” BS that they like to sell you.

  20. As per usual send us large amounts of Munnay in small unmarked research grants or the earth gets it ,and don’t call the perlice we will be watching you !

    • Your press releases shall be coded to PC standards of scare and debate-has-ended conformity. Your peer reviewers have been pre-selected for you. And your career also depends on us. Have a nice day…little cogs.

  21. Humans adapt? Slippery slope.
    Next you’ll be saying bussiness and economy adapts and that technology and energy markets and sources adapt and even evolve.
    Crazy stuff.

  22. “Applying that relationship to a much warmer world of the future, they concluded that unmitigated climate change would likely reduce global GDP by more than 20% from what it otherwise would reach by century’s end.”
    No, Twilight Zone warming (equivalent to RCP 8.5) would likely reduce global GDP by more than 20% from what is would otherwise be by 2100. *Realistic* warming (equivalent to RCP 4.5) would reduce global GDP by more like 6% compared to what it would otherwise be in 2100:

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