The Climate Left Attacks Nobel Laureate William D. Nordhaus

From The GWPF

Date: 11/08/20

Benjamin Zycher, American Enterprise Institute

Having received the 2018 Nobel Prize in economics largely in recognition of his economic analysis of climate policy—in particular the development and application of the Dynamic Integrated Climate-Economy (DICE) model—William D. Nordhaus now is under attack from the environmental left.

This emerging criticism of Nordhaus’ analytic framework is curious at a minimum. After all, is it not more study and analysis—more “science”—that the proponents of the “crisis” view of climate policy seek? The short answer to that question: decidedly not. Nordhaus’ work is careful and detailed. Like any serious body of analysis, it raises more questions than it answers—there is good reason, for example, to question several of the underlying assumptions—and DICE can be criticized on several fronts. The same is true for Nordhaus’ policy argument in favor of a carbon tax or other such pricing policies, a policy prescription much more questionable than often asserted. But Nordhaus’ absolute honesty and rigorous approach to economic analysis are beyond reproach, which is one general reason that he now is under attack even though he favors such policies as the Paris agreement to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, with tariffs to be imposed on nations not participating.

For reasons summarized below, Nordhaus’ argument for an international “climate club” enforcing the Paris agreement is unlikely to prove workable. But that is not the central issue here. Instead, Nordhaus—by no stretch of the imagination a climate policy skeptic—is under attack more centrally because DICE has not provided answers consistent with the ideological demands of the climate alarmists, and Nordhaus has refused to bend to the political winds. In the DICE model under a wide range of reasonable assumptions, and even under many not plausible, climate policy cannot satisfy a benefit/cost test, and the same is true for the other two major integrated assessment models.

Full GWPF article here.

AEI complete document here.

48 thoughts on “The Climate Left Attacks Nobel Laureate William D. Nordhaus

    • When your position is based on feelings instead of logic, it’s quite natural to attack anyone who doesn’t agree with you 100%.
      After all, by failing to validate your feelings, they are attacking your very sense of worth.

      • Yep.
        I said here a day or so ago that what sh!ts me about alarmists calling me a “denier” is that they demand that you accept their whole climate “package”
        That is – CO2 is the control knob for the atmosphere (I’m ok with this research & discussion to continue as a purely academic exercise for as long as it takes);
        but also that wind & solar are viable replacement power generation solutions for grid-scale needs.
        This 2nd part is pure delusion and will bring civilisation to its knees if fully implemented.

        • Yeah, the first part is pure delusion too. That idea exists purely to attack and gain control of the means of powering modern societies.

          If you want to see the control knob of the atmosphere, go outside and look at those big puffy white things in the sky. They are almost entirely composed of the greenhouse gas that dominates the atmosphere. Some days you can even see it moving heat around as it happens, although time-lapse video makes it more obvious. Satellite footage is even better at demonstrating it on a global scale.

          • Yes indeed, the clouds/water are very much the control knob of the climate; but NOT because it is a greenhouse gas. The reason is that at phase change absorbed energy is converted to Latent Heat rather than to an increase in temperature. ( ie: The Planck sensitivity coefficient is zero). Added to this is that water vapor is lighter than dry air; so rises up through the atmosphere and beyond for dissipation.
            The greenhouse bit involves around 1 or 2 watts/sq.m whereas the Latent heat element is around 694 watts/sq,m; so there is not much competition there.
            When you are looking at those big fluffy clouds you only see about half of them as the vapor within them is invisible. and it is this invisible bit which is carrying the energy and rising to boot; so you won’t see much on a video. All you will see are the water droplets left behind in the race to the top.
            The cirrus clouds, up there nudging the tropopause are interesting as they comprise growing ice crystals and the fact they are growing means that they dissipating energy into space. Otherwise they would melt.
            So, all in all, the assumption that water, being a greenhouse gas, warms the planet is a total myth; for it does the complete opposite.👍

    • “Eric Worrall August 11, 2020 at 6:35 pm

      Left eating their own.”

      The Left eating their own sweetbreads. There fixed it for ya.

  1. We don’t need no stinkin’ Dynamic Integrated Climate Economy model mumbo-jumbo detailing whether our fond dreams are in the least sustainable. Instead we’ll rely on the charming dynamism of unrestrained mob rule that eventually culminates in a strict world tyranny to settle all the associated ‘science’. Then we’ll all be able to get down to our subsistence-level existence in the resulting bee hive that sustains the elites. Ah, the heights of global human civilization attained at last!

    • Later generations than mine have not watched enough cowboy movies to understand the badness of lynch mobs.

      • Please, commieBob, such judgmental assessments as ‘badness’ applied to our inevitable conduct can only inhibit our striving to ‘make a difference’ in some memorable fashion with our fleeting lives as we identify with some grand evolving historical odyssey, even while realizing that there can be no actual purpose in the transitions of a soulless material wilderness.

        • The essential problem is to avoid tipping into nihilism.

          As for the soulless material wilderness, does a rock not always behave according to its dao?

          Anyway, a lynch mob is the opposite of loving compassion.

        • “striving to ‘make a difference’ in some memorable fashion with our fleeting lives as we identify with some grand evolving historical odyssey”

          I think a lot of these people are just sociopaths/psychopaths and rioting gives them an opportunity to express the violence/anger/hate they feel inside themselves. In normal times, they would just attack some individual when the “devil” moved them, but now they can do it in an organized manner, and pretend there is a good reason for them perpetrating violence on others.

          All this mayhem would stop if government officials would crack down hard on these fools. If you allow rioters and criminals to run wild, you are just going to get more of it.

          I think if Trump gets elected, Washington State and Oregon are going to be in for some changes. Depending on what the good citizens of those States do. The people may be fed up enough with radical Leftist politicians that they end up voting the whole lot of them out of office. If not, Trump will have the People’s back.

          Wise up people. The Delusional, Radical Left is destroying your lives. And they are doing it on purpose. They are not fit to govern, as should be obvious to any clear-thinking person.

      • Classic book that once was required reading in school. “The Ox-Bow Incident” by Walter Van Tilburg Clark. Perhaps should be added back to the list.

      • Some judge in Seattle or Portland or some other glorified shithole should step up, be creative, and include mandatory watching of the Oxbow Incident as a part of the sentencing of the rioters … 5 times a day for 5-days straight.

  2. The best part of analysis of the attacks on Nordhaus is in the conclusion:

    “The environmental left displays no reluctance to increase economic and physical suffering among ordinary people to further its goals. Witness the happiness about the reduced emissions of GHG and conventional pollutants attendant upon the sharp decline in economic activity worldwide caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of a central hope that the economic suffering will end, we have instead the central left-wing fear that an economic revival will increase emissions. This celebration of suffering exposes the fundamental antihuman core of the climate movement, which views ordinary people—climate kulaks, as it were— as only mouths to feed wreaking environmental destruction, rather than as individuals with moral value and as the ultimate resource yielding ingenuity and inventiveness driving a dynamic process of finding solutions to problems.”

    For the Environmental Left, climate change is nothing but a Marxist Trojan horse. It has never been anything more than that since about the Second AR from the IPCC. The climate scam then is simply a vehicle to seize political power over Western democracies and bury them under the ruse of saving the planet (or whatever it is they are claiming today).

    • I would highly recommend reading Vladimir Bukovsky’s “Judgement in Moscow” to get an even better working understanding of how Marxism imposes its will on the world stage. He wrote it 20 years ago, but it was only published in English in the West last year, due to fear (on the publisher’s part) that involved parties still living would retaliate. Filled with correspondence and meeting notes from the Soviet Central Community of the Communist Party it illuminates so much of the language and tactics we deal with on a daily basis, especially in 2020. Then it was the threat of imminent nuclear annihilation that they so cunningly used to do as they wished. Today it’s the threat of impending room from human influenced climate change.

      • I strongly support your recommendation, having just read the book this summer. The inclusion of large numbers of the actual official meeting notes and decision documents makes the book very reliable. It documents the efforts by the Soviet Union to undermine free countries by recruiting people in them who would spread the USSR propaganda.

    • Antihuman? Transhumanist (i.e. a divergent state or process).

      Diversity dogma dictates a class-based taxonomy of people through systems, processes, and beliefs, not limited to racism, sexism, genderism?, affirmative discrimination, etc.

      A Pro-Choice quasi-religion (“ethics”). Demos literally die in darkness behind a wall. #WickedSolution

    • “This celebration of suffering exposes the fundamental antihuman core of the climate movement, which views ordinary people—climate kulaks, as it were— as only mouths to feed”

      Yes, Nordhaus probably didn’t make any friends in the “climate movement” with that statement. The truth hurts. Alarmists are not seeking the truth, they are seeking political power and the truth is an impediment to their goal. So they smear the truthteller, like they always do when someone becomes a threat to their leftwing agenda.

  3. From the linked complete article:

    It is quite another to argue that scientists’ views on policy questions should be given disproportionate weight. Scientists have no greater, or lesser, claim than anyone else to expertise on policy questions, with all the subjective trade-offs and value judgments that policy choices entail.

    Economists are wrong most of the time. That is a result of the fact that experts in general are wrong most of the time. In a basically chaotic world, it is impossible to make accurate predictions using facts and logic. The butterfly effect applies to human affairs just as it does to the climate, maybe more so.

    The result of their wrongness is that economists, as a group, are particularly rigorous and are particularly good at sniffing each other’s bs. I would say they are better than scientists at that.

    I have been impressed by the work of many other economists, Ross McKitrick among them. It seems to me that, short of being actual statisticians, economists are more likely to get statistics right than are practitioners of any other discipline.

    I would say that scientists have less claim to expertise on policy questions than do economists. If scientists claim they have greater expertise in the policy arena, they are just displaying their ignorance and arrogance. Economists are less likely to make bone headed analytical mistakes. (BTW, some of my best friends are scientists.)

    • Well I certainly agree with that. I knew many solid research “scientists” during my research study days in Massachusetts who were huge Elizabeth Warren fans in my final years there. It seemed very clear to me their intelligence stopped at the lab door threshold.

    • It is noticeable how several economists claim to be NOBEL PRIZE winners .
      The Nobel Prize is only awarded for Chemistry , Literature ,Physics ,Medicine & Peace .

      But it does seems that there has been a fake one invented for economists , [ usually left wing ones ] so that they can claim that their idea is the right way to go as they have a NOBEL ?????????.

      • The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awards the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, the Nobel Prize in Physics, and the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel; the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute awards the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine; the Swedish Academy grants the Nobel Prize in Literature; and the Norwegian Nobel Committee awards the Nobel Peace Prize. The Prize in Economic Sciences is awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden, according to the same principles as for the Nobel Prizes that have been awarded since 1901. However, as it is not one of the prizes that Alfred Nobel established in his will in 1895, it is NOT a Nobel Prize. May be a quibble but it’s not an ‘official’ Nobel prize. Just one awarded based on the same principles.

  4. The only way science can stop from being increasingly politicized is for institutions — universities, professional societies, and so on — to say no to these groups, and to explain freedom of inquiry trumps political correctness.

    But that would take more courage and foresight than I think our scientific leaders posses.

    • There is a river of funding linked directly to universities professing their adherence to left wing social justice goals.

      The pressure to align is very real and very strong. Even if you are willing to risk your own funding and livelihood to make a principled stand, you risk the funding and livelihoods of every one of your colleagues.

      It’s “institutional”, like the supposed ‘institutional racism’ that permeates society, except that this institutional bias is codified in clear rules and objectively factual policies.

  5. When economists make failed predictions their mistakes are usually because they assume human beings are rational actors with excellent knowledge of all the factors in their decisions. That ain’t me. Very little I do is rational, and my ignorance of quite a few things is not only extensive, but actually something I cultivate. I have noticed that many people I know are much like me.

  6. This is a very odd article. At best it seems to be saying only the right can criticise Prof. Nordhaus. In the introduction it states that:
    “Like any serious body of analysis, it raises more questions than it answers—there is good reason, for example, to question several of the underlying assumptions—and DICE can be criticized on several fronts”

    So if the author admits that DICE can be criticised on several fronts why then complain when people do so? Nor does the author of the essay provide any evidence that there is a campaign from the “climate left” to attack Prof. Nordhaus. There are a couple of criticisms listed but no evidence of a campaign.

    • The source of the claim would seem to be this article at phys.org: https://phys.org/news/2020-07-climate-economics-nobel-good.html I have read it and the problem isn’t that it is critical, it’s that the criticism is all ‘outcome based’ in the sense the don’t really critique the DICE model, just it’s conclusion. They couch the criticism in the discount rate applied, but offer no empirical reason to use some non-standard discount rate other than they don’t like the outcome it produces.

  7. I’d like to build an 850 foot wind turbine in this esteemed professor’s rear yard. DICE? Rolled them and renewables came up snake eyes. Somewhere on an oil rig or in a coal mine someone is doing real work so that the lights stay on and trucks deliver supplies to the supermarket… and it isn’t a climate modeller with a postgrad degree.

  8. Izaak: Oh there is a campaign alright and climate is only the window dressing for it. The elite leaders of it actually make no bones about it. The creator of the Rio Summit, Kyoto, UNFCC, IPCC and before it the Stockholm Conference(?) was a Canadian Communist high school dropout (nonetheless a brilliant, if somewhat diabolic individual). A quote

    “Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?”

    Do you know who this man is? I leave it for homework.

    C. Figueres, former head of UNFCC said that even if the science of climate turns out to have been completely wrong, we are doing the right thing by overturning the free enterprise economic model.

    Izaak the leaders of this global campaign need guys like you… for now.

    • Hi Gary,
      Any evidence that there is an actual campaign against Prof. Nordhaus as claimed in the
      article? Or is this just a nebulous global conspiracy?

      • Evidence? Only that it is predictable that dissent or even a moderate step back from the decided-upon position won’t be tolerated by the real players. Beloved folk who suddenly saw through the smoke like Michael Moore, Schellenberger, Lovelock
        … are instantly defamed and worse. Those already on the dissident side get defunded, blocked from publication, fired from universities, slandered… if they attract too much attention, Peter Ridd, Susan Crockford, etc.

        Also, there is nothing weird about a view that there are things to criticize a researcher’s work for and at the same time be shocked at the jack-boot reaction of those supposedly from the same camp that he supports.

        Evidence? There isn’t a lot of note-taking in famous historical analogues to climate consensus science like Lysenko’s plant biology embraced by Stalin and what happened to Soviet botanists who spoke out. I suppose massive crop failures were evidence that this kind of straightjacketing was a bad thing.

      • Mr. Walton: I have evidence. It’s a model I created, where I input a name and review articles on the name. The computer spits out a graph of left-wing conspiracy and (here’s the alarming part) it always looks like a hockey stick!! I thought you relied on such models?

    • Gary Pearse

      “Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?”

      Do you know who this man is? I leave it for homework.

      That quote is often criticized as taken out of context. Well, here’s the context:

      The Wizard of Baca Grande

      Go to the last page, (47), 2nd column; 2nd paragraph. Maurice Strong was being interviewed by free lance writer Daniel Wood. Strong was musing about a novel he’d like to write, and Wood realized he was talking about himself. A few lines later Strong says, “I probably shouldn’t be saying things like this”

    • Here’s a more recent link about Maurice Strong, the quote, and the legacy he has left in the world:

      COVID-19 The Answer To Maurice Strong’s Autobiographical
      Question, ‘Where on Earth Are We Going’?

      Canada Free Press

  9. Nordhaus has a long history as a fine researcher. That better serves to underline the the fundamental problem of bad assumptions in model building or using them, a la the Coase Theorem and others. Efficient tools in the wrong hands and with the wrong slants can make everyone mad. Is that really any different than the more common impact model claims of public investments in stadiums and other pitchmen ideas?

  10. If DICE shows a 3 point Global GDP range from misguided climate policies, what does it show from a global panic from a virus?

  11. In the left version of reality only things that agree with the cabal’s agenda (21) are sience.
    Klimate sience is a fraud and a farce and it is preposterous that people who have worked hard to get actual science degrees are succumbing to telling lies in the name of politics and money and greed for power over others.
    There are many voices out there speaking truth and this must continue louder and louder or we will be doing it with a boot in our faces forever!

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