Nobel prize-winning economics of climate change is misleading and dangerous – here’s why

John O’Nolan/Unsplash, FAL

Steve Keen, UCL

While climate scientists warn that climate change could be catastrophic, economists such as 2018 Nobel prize winner William Nordhaus assert that it will be nowhere near as damaging. In a 2018 paper published after he was awarded the prize, Nordhaus claimed that 3°C of warming would reduce global GDP by just 2.1%, compared to what it would be in the total absence of climate change. Even a 6°C increase in global temperature, he claimed, would reduce GDP by just 8.5%.

If you find reassurance in those mild estimates of damage, be warned. In a newly published paper, I have demonstrated that the data on which these estimates are based relies upon seriously flawed assumptions.

Nordhaus’s celebrated work, which, according to the Nobel committee, has “brought us considerably closer to answering the question of how we can achieve sustained and sustainable global economic growth”, gives governments a reason to give climate change a low priority.

His estimates imply that the costs of addressing climate change exceed the benefits until global warming reaches 4°C, and that a mild carbon tax will be sufficient to stabilise temperatures at this level at an overall cost of less than 4% of GDP in 120 year’s time. Unfortunately, these numbers are based on empirical estimates that are not merely wrong, but irrelevant.

Nordhaus (and about 20 like-minded economists) used two main methods to derive sanguine estimates of the economic consequences of climate change: the “enumerative method” and the “statistical method”. But my research shows neither stand up to scrutiny.

The ‘enumerative method’

In the enumerative method, to quote neoclassical climate change economist Richard Tol, “estimates of the ‘physical effects’ of climate change are obtained one by one from natural science papers … and added up”.

This sounds reasonable, until you realise that the way this method has been deployed ignores industries that account for 87% of GDP, on the assumption that they “are undertaken in carefully controlled environments that will not be directly affected by climate change”.

Nordhaus’s list of industries that he assumed would be unaffected includes all manufacturing, underground mining, transportation, communication, finance, insurance and non-coastal real estate, retail and wholesale trade, and government services. It is everything that is not directly exposed to the elements: effectively, everything that happens indoors or underground. Two decades after Nordhaus first made this assumption in 1991, the economics section of the IPCC Report repeated it:

Economic activities such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and mining are exposed to the weather and thus vulnerable to climate change. Other economic activities, such as manufacturing and services, largely take place in controlled environments and are not really exposed to climate change.

Truck driving along mountain road.
It’s surely obvious that industries such as transport will be affected by the climate crisis. Rodrigo Abreu/Unsplash

This is mistaking the weather for the climate. Climate change will affect all industries. It could turn fertile regions into deserts, force farms – and the cities they support – to move faster than topsoil can develop, create storms that can blow down those “carefully controlled environments”, and firestorms that burn them to the ground.

It could force us to eliminate the use of fossil fuels before we have sufficient renewable energy in place. The output of those “carefully controlled environments” will fall in concert with the decline in available energy. The assumption that anything done indoors will be unaffected by climate change is absurd. And if this is wrong, then so are the conclusions based upon it.

The same applies to the “statistical method”. As I explained in a previous article, this method assumes that the relationship between temperature and GDP today could be used to predict what will happen as the whole planet’s climate changes. But while temperature isn’t a particularly important factor in economic output today, climate change will do much more than simply raise individual countries’ temperature by a few degrees – the disruption it will cause is enormous.

The damage function

Nonetheless, these optimistic estimates were used to calibrate Nordhaus’s so-called “damage function”, a simple equation that predicts a small and smooth fall in GDP from a given rise in temperature. But climate change will not be a smooth process: there will be tipping points.

Nordhaus justified using a smooth equation by incorrectly claiming that climate scientists, including Tim Lenton from the University of Exeter, had concluded that there were “no critical tipping elements with a time horizon less than 300 years until global temperatures have increased by at least 3°C”. In fact, Lenton and his colleagues identified Arctic summer sea ice as a critical tipping point that was likely to be triggered in the next decade or two by changes of between 0.5°C and 2°C:

We conclude that the greatest (and clearest) threat is to the Arctic with summer sea-ice loss likely to occur long before (and potentially contribute to) GIS [Greenland ice sheet] melt.

The reason these mistakes are so significant is that, despite the flawed assumptions on which it is based, this work has been taken seriously by politicians, as Nordhaus’s Nobel prize recognises. To these policymakers, a prediction of future levels of GDP is far easier to understand than unfamiliar concepts like the viability of the ecosystem. They have been misled by comforting numbers that bear no relation to what climate change will, in fact, do to our economies.

Steve Keen, Honorary Professor of Economics, UCL

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

114 thoughts on “Nobel prize-winning economics of climate change is misleading and dangerous – here’s why

    • It is interesting that US economists, as a group, have never predicted a recession … and we are usually 3 to 6 months into a recession before a majority of US economists admit the nation is in a recession. I edited the newsletter ECONOMIC LOGIC for 43 years.

      • ECONOMIC LOGIC – is that a contradiction in terms? 🙂

        One observation about the “social sciences” – aka the “pseudo-sciences”: They rarely if ever issue a correct prediction. For example, global warming alarmist pseudo-scientists have made about 50 false very-scary predictions in the past ~35+ years – all scary and all false – nobody should believe them, about anything!.

        Here is our “deniers” predictive track record: 2/2 are certainly correct and #3 is looking good.
        I’d rather be wrong about #3 – I’m getting old and hate the cold.

        OUR THREE MAJOR STATEMENTS MADE IN 2002*
        Statements 1 and 2 below are by now accepted as true by competent scientists and engineers.
        Statement 3 is looking increasingly probable, as there is increasing evidence of the beginning of global cooling.

        In 2002 co-authors Dr Sallie Baliunas, Astrophysicist, Harvard-Smithsonian, Dr Tim Patterson, Paleoclimatologist, Carleton, Ottawa and Allan MacRae published the following which are correct to date:
        http://www.friendsofscience.org/assets/documents/KyotoAPEGA2002REV1.pdf

        1. “CLIMATE SCIENCE DOES NOT SUPPORT THE THEORY OF CATASTROPHIC HUMAN-MADE GLOBAL WARMING – THE ALLEGED WARMING CRISIS DOES NOT EXIST.”
        See Michael Shellenberger’s 2020 confession “On Behalf Of Environmentalists, I Apologize For The Climate Scare”. quillette.com/2020/06/30/on-behalf-of-environmentalists-i-apologize-for-the-climate-scare/

        THE CATASTROPHIC ANTHROPOGENIC GLOBAL WARMING (CAGW) AND THE HUMANMADE CLIMATE CHANGE CRISES ARE PROVED FALSE
        By Allan M.R. MacRae, B.A.Sc.(Eng.), M.Eng., January 10, 2020
        thsresearch.files.wordpress.com/2020/01/the-catastrophic-anthropogenic-global-warming-cagw-and-the-humanmade-climate-change-crises-are-proved-false.pdf

        2. “THE ULTIMATE AGENDA OF PRO-KYOTO ADVOCATES IS TO ELIMINATE FOSSIL FUELS, BUT THIS WOULD RESULT IN A CATASTROPHIC SHORTFALL IN GLOBAL ENERGY SUPPLY – THE WASTEFUL, INEFFICIENT ENERGY SOLUTIONS PROPOSED BY KYOTO ADVOCATES SIMPLY CANNOT REPLACE FOSSIL FUELS.”
        See Michael Moore’s 2020 film “Planet of the Humans”. youtube.com/watch?v=Zk11vI-7czE

        CO2, GLOBAL WARMING, CLIMATE AND ENERGY
        by Allan M.R. MacRae, B.A.Sc., M.Eng., June 15, 2019
        wattsupwiththat.com/2019/06/15/co2-global-warming-climate-and-energy-2/
        Excel: wattsupwiththat.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Rev_CO2-Global-Warming-Climate-and-Energy-June2019-FINAL.xlsx

        Allan MacRae published on September 1, 2002, based on a conversation with Dr. Tim Patterson:
        3. “IF [AS WE BELIEVE] SOLAR ACTIVITY IS THE MAIN DRIVER OF SURFACE TEMPERATURE RATHER THAN CO2, WE SHOULD BEGIN THE NEXT COOLING PERIOD BY 2020 TO 2030.”

        Allan MacRae modified his global cooling prediction in 2013:
        3A. “I SUGGEST GLOBAL COOLING STARTS BY 2020 OR SOONER. BUNDLE UP.”
        https://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/12/02/study-predicts-the-sun-is-headed-for-a-dalton-like-solar-minimum-around-2050/#comment-1147149

        THE REAL CLIMATE CRISIS IS NOT GLOBAL WARMING, IT IS COOLING, AND IT MAY HAVE ALREADY STARTED
        By Allan M.R. MacRae and Joseph D’Aleo, October 27, 2019
        https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/10/27/the-real-climate-crisis-is-not-global-warming-it-is-cooling-and-it-may-have-already-started/

        • Well Allan, we can relax! It’s all going to be sorted out soon, if we are entering a Grand Minimum of sunspots. If the temperature drops and there’s another little ice age, we’ll know AGW doesn’t exist. If the temperature keeps rising, then maybe there’s something in AGW. The drop in sunspots, if it continues, provides a useful test. So we can stop arguing about climate till we see what happens over the next few years and direct all our energy to arguing about Covid19.

          • Hi Tom,

            To be clear, I am not claiming a Grand Solar Minimum because I have not studied that subject in detail.

            I am saying that we had significant global cooling circa 2009+ at the end of SC 23 and the beginning of SC24, and SC 24 (and its end) was considerably weaker than SC23.

            Warmth in the Northern Hemisphere is holding up global temperatures for a while, but I expect them to crash before long.

            Also depends on SC25.

      • If there are to be survivors it will be those who were brought up to be selfish no one owes you a living types. What we know is that Ghalfrunt, Loydo and Griff wont have families there because they will still be playing brotherly love and singing kumbaya when the fighting begins.

    • Our current interglacial is now well over 10,000 years old. Based on the various ice core samples interglacials have ranged from roughly 10,000-20,000 years. One or two simply idled along at intermediate temperatures. If the temperature does drop 4-5°C the habitable land will shrink considerably. Every place north or south of 50-55° will get dicey. If it drops the more usual 9°C things will be tough.

      Of course, no one living now will live to see that. But reliable nuclear power could certainly make up for a lot of the lost power mankind would need to live.

  1. Steve Keen also makes assumptions that are just as invalid.
    “It could turn fertile regions into deserts, force farms – and the cities they support – to move faster than topsoil can develop, create storms that can blow down those “carefully controlled environments”, and firestorms that burn them to the ground.”
    But it could also turn deserts into forests. We could, instead of moving our farms into a different region, move them inside greenhouses where we could control everything. Storms and firestorms could be negated by technological improvements in building and by good management of forests.

    “It could force us to eliminate the use of fossil fuels before we have sufficient renewable energy in place.”
    Or, we could simply use more fossil fuels for us to adapt to the changing climate!

    • It could turn fertile regions into deserts …

      Actually, it’s the opposite. The Earth has greened up significantly due to the fertilisation effect of extra atmospheric CO2. link Even folks who are otherwise alarmist are honest enough to admit that. I seem to recall it being compared to getting an extra continent worth of vegetation.

      • In the over 300 years of intermittent warming since the Little Ice Age, no one was hurt and humans had the most growth of productivity, prosperity and better health than ever before. There had never been any bad news from past warming
        … except in the weak minds of leftists who “know” continued warming MUST be 00 petcent bad new’s … because they say so.

    • Pulsar, you are so right. This was an absurd fact-free article. At the most extreme predicted temperature increase, Canada and Russia would see an increase in food production that would easily outweigh all the “might”s and “maybe”s. For example, Edmonton has an average temperature 10 deg C below Nashville (timeanddate.com). Norilsk is another 7 deg C below Edmonton.

      • The greening argument would be great if the Earth had smaller mobile population and no country borders. Let’s say Russia and Canada have much milder weather and productive climate while US and China and the coasts have to deal with more and heavier storms, floods, heat, drought, and fire. and conditions in the South America and India, Australia, Africa, Middle East become less and less livable… We already have hundreds of people trying to move to milder climates, yes because of war, and poverty, but also because crops fail and people lose everything. And there are so many people!! I don’t see countries with “improved” climate prospects just opening up their arms to these waves of people now, there will be real conflicts because of this in the future. Changing climate forces people to move, it upsets the current world order, and it will lead to degeneration of society in the the short term, no meter how nice the weather will be in Siberia, Canadian Arctic and Greenland.

        • Can you name these places were crops are failing because of climate change? Or do they only exist in your imagination?

          BTW, to date there has not been a single documented climate change refugee, so your claims that there are a lot of them run counter to the UN’s data.

          • I don’t know how you can state that not a single person has moved due to catastrophic change in their environment, as this would be completely plausible without climate change. Drought comes kills crops, people get desperate, people with means escape. Remaining people compete for resources, anarchy and violence increases, more people are displaced.

            But here is a good article that has plenty of recent examples:
            https://www.brookings.edu/research/the-climate-crisis-migration-and-refugees/

            Numbers of people displaced by natural disasters have increased
            Because number of natural disasters a have increased, here is some data just for US, but its seen everywhere:
            https://www.climate.gov/sites/default/files/events_cumulative_by_month_1981-2019.png

          • “I don’t know how you can state that not a single person has moved due to catastrophic change in their environment”

            A catastrophic change in a local or even regional environment need not be due to “climate change”. I put that in quotes because we all know that means AGW/CAGW.

          • Mark,

            “Can you name these places were crops are failing because of climate change? Or do they only exist in your imagination?”

            Apparently not.

          • taras,

            “I don’t know how you can state that not a single person has moved due to catastrophic change in their environment” Catastrophic change in environment is WEATHER, not climate change.

            “Drought comes kills crops”

            Drought is WEATHER, not climate change.

            “natural disasters”

            Natural disasters are WEATHER, not climate change.

            “Large-scale human migration due to resource scarcity”

            What resource scarcity? Every year for the past decade has seen RECORD global harvests of food. If a specific location has a food problem that is caused by a LOCAL problem, not a global problem.

            “Tropical Cyclone Idai”

            Weather, not climate change.

            “increased frequency of extreme weather events”

            ROFL! Weather is not climate!

            “one-third of these (22.5 million[4] to 24 million[5] people) were forced to move by “sudden onset” weather events—flooding, forest fires after droughts, and intensified storms”

            WEATHER EVENTS? Flooding and drought are weather, not global climate. And “intensified storms”? Based on what metric?

          • I’d say most of the refugees we are seeing are from places that are greeningbdue to CO2 fertilization, like Africa
            They are leaving because they are being kept in poverty and susceptible to death from disease by westerners that withhold aid if they use ddt to eliminate malaria as us white folk did in Europe and N America and who will only finance useless wind and solar (which in turn is precisely why China is making such inroads with is Belt and Roads program, we are literally forcing the third world to become Chinese vassals in order to survive).

            How stupid is all of that
            Seriously?

  2. Another climate bedwetter trying to convince us either that the world is coming to an end or that the costs of fighting climate change will bankrupt us all. The argument of the bedwetters is basically we all go back to living in huts to fight climate change or else we all will drop dead from the heat.The UAH data show that the lower troposphere has had no net warming in last 22 yrs. Climate change/global warming is a farce beyond a farce.

    • “will bankrupt us”??
      name a country that is not bankrupt ,now…
      Russia went officially bankrupt , a few years ago..
      printing money is an clue…

  3. Climate change will affect all industries. It could turn fertile regions into deserts, force farms – and the cities they support – to move faster than topsoil can develop, create storms that can blow down those “carefully controlled environments”, and firestorms that burn them to the ground.

    Here is a fix to the above statement:

    Climate change can affect some industries. It could turn fertile regions into deserts and deserts into fertile regions, force farms – and the cities they support – to move faster than topsoil can develop unless mature farming methods are engaged, create storms that can blow down those “carefully controlled environments” and firestorms that burn them to the ground if excess fuel is not removed.

    • I have seen level scrubland in a semi-desert area in the sixties turn into desert with dunes because of severe drought but change back in the space of a year because of good rains. This was not climate change but simply a pattern that may be repeated over centuries because of the weather patterns.

      • Good point, it is like some parts of Australia where the ground looks like a Mars landscape after seven years of no rain and then, few hours after a welcome rainfall the ground reveals life all over. Soon after you have green plants and a climate activist group bathing in the new water pond telling each other how they saved the planet.

        • We have an area in western canada called the Palliser Triangle

          In the 70’s it was grasslands
          After the mid 80’s it was like being in the Sahara
          Today it’s grassland again and only the leading face of the dunes are open sand

          We slide down them on cardboard

          Palliser surveyed the area in the late 1850’s and reported it was unfarmable desert
          In later years settlers showed and figure he must have been smoking crack as it was great farmland

          So this back and forth has been going on for hundreds of years.
          Climate change for sure
          AGW? Not even a little

        • Certainly that happened where I lived in Australia; seven years of no to little rain, then welcome rainfall (though it took more than a few hours to really have an effect). But after a couple of years of good rain, we were back into drought, even more severe than before. Where I live, the 2019 rainfall was the lowest on record. So far this year we’re tracking towards average rainfall – 282mm or 11 inches, not exactly rainforest conditions.

          But when do increasing periods of drought relative to decreasing rainfall stop being just weather and become climate? After all, it used to be much wetter in inland Australia, with rainforests; then it got drier and deserts developed. (Yes, lots of factors, continental drift, solar cycles. Some long term, some short term. We humans live on the short term geologically, so short term factors affect us more directly than long term.)

    • “If you laid all the world’s economists end to end they still wouldn’t reach a conclusion.”
      George Bernard Shaw

    • Why do you say that? I know why – you simply do not understand science. You obviously think that things that cannot be predicted should be predicted. Economics is a science and explain why things are hard to predict. You don´t know that because you are a true science denier just like this Stephen Keern who cannot give a logical answer to anything. Just another troll who belivies in the so-called climate science.

  4. Will climate change turn Siberia, northern Canada, and northern Alaska into habitable/productive zones? Will the next glacial advance be a sufficient reality check for these doomsters? Will President Trump get the Nobel Peace Prize? Does Darwin discuss reverse evolution?

  5. Unlike actual science, the so-called soft sciences (like economics) often have no unique solution for supposed problems that offers repeatability between researchers looking for the same effect. One huge reason is everyone is using different assumptions that are themselves just biased guesswork. Economists can’t accurately model what world GDP will be in 10 years, so what makes anyone think they know anything about 80 years from now?
    20 years ago, i.e. Y2K, every economist was expecting peak oil bringing prices shocks to energy in transportation and agriculture by 2020 and would begin to curtail world GDP. And we think we know what 2040 has in store for us?

    The one thing we can be sure of is there is no current ‘climate crisis’ , despite the bleatings of alarmists that like to use that term as if it is happening somewhere the world right now.

    Now someone like griff may counter and say, “buh buh buh whadabout the fires in Oregon California and Australia last January?”
    All are due to short term dry spells where fuel loads were allowed to accumulate through active suppression. Just a year ago and for several years, I know Oregon and Cal both had above average winter-spring rainfalls, so no long term drought led up to these fires. Just a short-term weather of about a month of hot dry weather in the summer, when hot dry weather is expected some years.

    And even if the Arctic Ocean goes mostly ice-free in August-September in coming decades, so what? How would a brief month (or two) of little Arctic sea ice in August be a crisis to anyone or any ecosystem?

    • Joel, +10 for trying to talk some sense into naive alarmists. It is as laughable as those who are warning that billions will run out of water supplies in 2050. Sadly neither these people not the newspapers that publish this garbage will be held accountable. I say, let those who want to implement rubbish plans do so on their own dime and not from taxes. This will expose how really committed they are to their decarbonization cause. 🙂

    • Years ago, a meeting where gov evonomists were “brainstorming” an answer to a problem posed by the Minister of Mines: How much employment growth can we expect from the mining sector over the next decade if we draft such and such a favorable mineral policy.

      The exercise began with ranges of economic growth considered possible over a decade (we were in a recession at the time). Chaos ensued – wildly negative to wildly positive for one reason or another. My contribution was: expect zero added growth in mining employment for the first decade because it takes that long to find, investigate, develop, finance and put a deposit into production (it takes longer now making the Green New Deal a grade school project). A junior economist from the audience went to the flip-chart and drew a straight line of shallow up-slope and marked 3% on it. He said knowing basically nothing, this is the best estimate we could make for coming decades-it was the long term ec growth for the country.

      My impression was economists tend to be too self-contained and don’t do the self education step adequately to base their investigations on. Nordhaus was certainly better than Steve Keen above, who simply saw only negative, additive consequences from an unswerving (and unjustified) acceptance of all the alarmist nightmares. He should have at least done a monte-carlo analysis with all the positives and negatives he could find. It still wouldn’t mean anything, but would get something more middle of the road and be a little bit of work, uh, like Nordhaus.

    • As far as the fires in Oregon, everything indicates they’re being set – six people arrested for arson in southern Oregon – a couple reported putting out a fire being set by an SUV that fled the scene – at this point we’re dealing with open terrorism.

      I swear, I’ve been calling this out for years – and now that it’s metastasizing exactly as I thought it would, “I told you so, just doesn’t cut it.”

    • The fires in Australia weren’t just in January. They started early in the previous winter (June) and basically ran from June 2019 to March 2020. There was fire burning somewhere in NSW throughout the entire time from July to March. NSW also had bushfires in midwinter (July-August) 2018, though not as severe as those in 2019. This expansion of bushfires year round is a fairly new phenomenon.

      The fires followed two exceptionally dry years and burnt some areas that had never or rarely been burnt before, partly because these areas had not got so dry before. They might have been worse except that the drought had been so bad that much of inland NSW was just bare sand.

      There were a lot of allegations of arson but the recently released NSW Bushfire Enquiry Report found no evidence of this, and that most of the fires were started by lightning.

  6. All the imaginary economic costs that the “threatened” industries are facing is dwarfed by the current real costs associated with “combating” this phantasm.
    Higher energy costs, irregular power, regulation and grossly inefficient “deep state” interference in legitimate economic activity, oversight, reporting, red tape etc. etc. the list is endless.

    Carbon dioxide is saving the planet – try living without it – you die.

  7. Since the entire concept they call “climate change” is a lie, any field based on it is ludicrous. They may as well be arguing over the “economics of theskyisfalling”.

  8. If I wanted to have something I have carefully researched published on a reputable website I would most certainly not choose “The Conversation” but I must not generalize and rather assess each article on its own merits. Nordhaus and Keen cannot both be right but both may be wrong.

    Having grown up in a hot semi-desert area I can categorically state that heat is not the problem but a lack of water is. I have seen a desert blossom and people using strong sources of underground water growing the best of deciduous fruits and grapes. The same applies when a large river flows through a desert area and extensive irrigation is possible on both river banks.

    Warning about a 4°C increase does not match empirical observation and experience. Where I lived many summer days were above 40°C but we carried on with all our daily activities – and we managed without air conditioning. No shops or schools were closed because it was too hot. I do not remember ever hearing of a local dying because of the heat.

    • Very nice. I too grew up in a semi-arid desert with many summer days over 100degF. No air conditioning anywhere, not in most stores in town, certainly not in most homes, and not even in the elementary schools. Yet we prospered. This past year we had not one single day of summer even hit even 95defF. It’s been that way over the past decade, cooler and cooler summers.

      It’s why I put absolutely no stock in a global average temperature. It’s meaningless and useless. It only provides fodder for those predicting Earth is going to turn into a cinder. They have absolutely no understanding that an average simply can’t tell you what is happening with minimum and maximum temps. That data is totally lost when you take an average. It is the maximum and minimum temperature profile that determines climate, not the average temperature. Anyone with a sixth grade understanding of math can explain that easily.

      And that doesn’t even get into the meme of a “global climate”. There is local and regional climate but there is *not* a “global climate”.

      • Thanks Tim, models cannot trump real time observations.

        I have been watching the summer temperatures of the town where I grew up on Accuweather. For a number of years the maximum summer temperatures have not reached nearly as many days above 100°F. The data of the local weather station indicated how for three straight months we could have not a single day with a maximum below 90°F . During these months we often sat outside staring at the clear, dark, starry sky and not going to bed before 1am.

  9. This must be the most fracking moronic paragraph ever written by a human being…

    It could force us to eliminate the use of fossil fuels before we have sufficient renewable energy in place. The output of those “carefully controlled environments” will fall in concert with the decline in available energy. The assumption that anything done indoors will be unaffected by climate change is absurd. And if this is wrong, then so are the conclusions based upon it.

    Rant On/

    Did this idiot really write that climate change “could force us to eliminate the use of fossil fuels before we have” a functioning replacement? In that case, most of us would be dead in 3-4 months. WTF would it matter? The world can’t replace fossil fuels now. It won’t be able to replace them in 5, 10, 15, 20 or 25 years… WTF is the point in even speculating about what might happen, if there’s fracking well nothing we can do about it now?

    A fracking football field-size chunk of space rock could hit the Earth tomorrow or in 5, 10, 15, 20 or 25 years… WTF is the point in even speculating about what might happen, if there’s fracking well nothing we can do about it now?… And it won’t matter if it’s a real football field-size chunk of space rock or a soccer field-size chunk of space rock. Assuming that this will or will not happen is only slightly less pointless than Steve Keen’s blather.

    /Rant Off

  10. Steven Keen used to be at The University of Western Sydney and when there was always forecasting a property crash in Sydney, which never happened even now with COVID.

    AFAIR he made a bet on it with someone that he would walk to Mt Kosciuszko and he lost the bet and to his credit faced up to his debt.
    So i wouldn’t put much credibility on his prognostications.
    https://www.smh.com.au/business/keen-to-climb-kosciuszko-after-losing-bet-20100217-o978.html#:~:text=University%20of%20Western%20Sydney%20associate,to%20economics%20p

    • Nice. The story here then is a dude who can’t correctly forecast house prices takes on long term climate economics forecasting.

  11. I switched out of economics as an undergraduate 45 years ago. Expecting to study in depth the works of Hayek, Keynes and other major figures, I was disappointed to be handed a pack of punched cards for the University DEC PDP 11 or something to run a model. I couldn’t understand why this was more important than understanding the discipline itself, or indeed ensuring that the data was properly in. I believe economists are very similar to climate scientists in that the medium (models) has become the message, and models are a great and demonstrable way to build your career.

  12. Back in the 1970’s, economics professors such as Paul Samuelson of M.I.T. were predicting the Soviet Union would overtake the United States economically.

    When economics Ph.D’s are unable to get even the economics predictions right, why should we believe they would be any better with physical science?

  13. Until somebody starts collecting solid temperature data that can’t be fiddled with / constantly shifted for decades, nobody can make an accurate prediction of anything. All stuff and nonsense without a good, reliable, validated data set.

    • It’s a waste of time. There is no such thing as a “global average temperature”. Climate is local and regional, not global. Far better to have multiple models individually focused on regions, e.g. central US or southern Peru, which can actually tell us what is going on where we live. There is no “global location” where we all live. It is a phantom created in someone’s model.

  14. This guy is a frackin’ loon. By 2040 there will be viable recycling businesses that cut down bird chopping wind turbines to erase the visual blight they cause, and to recover the rare eatth metals used in their generators, but the copper wire laid to carry their electricity to the grid will be dug up by scavenging criminals long before the towers and concrete pads and foundations are seen as blight. And no one who ever took subsidy money to have those ugly bird choppers on their land will want to pay a dime to recover that space back to it’ pristine state of wilderness or it’ productive state as farm land or it’s combo productive / natural state as forest.

    The wind turbines at sea will be left to rot away in the harsh salt environment and hopefully some osprey or other sea birds can utilize a few of them as nesting platforms after they stop spinning and before they topple over.

    Best just to stop adding them to the system right now and don’t increase the burden of cleanup on future generations for our stupid virtue signalling.

  15. Has Steven Keen considered how wildly inaccurate are the IPCC predictions? Multiple groups testing the IPCC’s signature hotspot of anthropogenic tropical tropospheric warming against independent radiosonde and satellite data finds it 400% to 700% too hot. Why should we believe any of its other predictions of doom and gloom – or Steven Keen’s? See Ross McKitrick “New confirmation that climate models overstate atmospheric warming” https://judithcurry.com/2020/08/25/new-confirmation-that-climate-models-overstate-atmospheric-warming/

  16. Is the climate changing?
    What is the ”climate”?
    Average weather over 30 years?
    Says who?
    Some bloke
    Why not 120 years?
    Ahh….I don’t ..
    So is the climate changing?
    Yes of course. It’s not a painting.
    Does it stop changing?
    Only when someone takes a picture of a cloud.
    So what does climate change mean?
    It means that this planet is subject to an eternal massage and always has been.
    What about life?
    Life is massaged along with it.
    Will we survive it?
    As long as it stays warm. Humans are tropical..That’s why we wear clothing
    So what’s the proper temperature?
    About 27 degrees during the day and cool enough to sleep at night.
    So what’s all this about saving the planet?
    Ask Jane Fonda

    • ‘Humans are tropical…that’s why we wear clothing.’

      Having evolved in the tropics and warm temperate zones, humans originally didn’t need clothing. Clothes became useful when humans moved into colder latitudes. Once invented, humans realised that clothes could also be handy to mark status, or attract the opposite sex, so the practise spread more widely.

      There’s no ‘proper temperature’ – except for making beer.

  17. The real challenge Steven Keen overlooks is the “overwhelmingly strong” 0.997 correlation between energy use and GDP.

    “The only question is how much, and the answer, given our dependence on fossil fuels, is a lot. Unlike the trivial correlation between local temperature and local GDP used by Nordhaus and colleagues in the ‘statistical’ method, the correlation between global energy production and global GDP
    is overwhelmingly strong.
    A simple linear regression between energy production and GDP has a correlation coefficient of 0.997 – see Figure 6.7″

    Its far more important to use the abundant geologically stored solar energy (natural gas, oil, & coal aka “fossil fuels”) provided by our Creator, while we develop cheaper dispatchable sustainable energy to last for the next millenia.

  18. Such a system exists for the lower 48. Its NOAA’s Climate Reference System available at https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/crn/ It shows that the average, high and low temperature of the lower 48 has not changed since the system began working in 2005. Is seems presently to be “unadjusted” but I expect it will be as soon as people begin noticing it. Click on “more data” then “Visualizations” then “Temperature Comparisons.”

  19. Economists are notoriously poor at predicting. Otherwise they would all be billionaires from playing the markets based upon their successes.

  20. I do worry that William Nordhaus needs to tune and calibrate his models to account for woke companies and institutions kicking their “own” goals by ignoring good business practices and following the virtue-signalling advice of their marketing departments. After all, short term, marketing might be right but medium term, they are dead. Many CEOs making a climate change name today who will be judged tomorrow as a lethal poison for their company. Asymmetrical information being used with a heavy shroud of citizenship …

  21. Interesting that Nordhaus was the first to bring 2 degrees into the litany, back in 1975.

    CAN WE CONTROL CARBON DIOXIDE? William D. Nordhaus June 1975 – http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/365/1/WP-75-063.pdf

    “As a first approximation, it seems reasonable to argue that the climatic effects of carbon dioxide should be kept well within the normal range of long-term climatic variation. According to most sources the range of variation between climatic (sic) is in the order of ± 5 °C., and at the present time the global climate is at the high end of this range.

    If there were global temperatures more than 2 or 3°C. above the current average temperature, this would take the climate outside of the range of observations which have been made over the last several hundred thousand years. (That was current average temperature in 1975, not “pre-industrial”.)

    Within a stable climatic regime, the range of variation of ± l °C is the normal variation: thus in the last 100 years a range of mean temperature has been 0.7°C.

    In 1977, Nordhaus expanded on his theme in Discussion paper 443 for the Cowles Foundation at Yale:
    “Strategies for the Control of Carbon Dioxide” http://cowles.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/pub/d04/d0443.pdf

    In this paper he repeated a lot of his IIASA paper, including the seminal paragraph: “If there were global temperatures more than 2 or 3°C. above the current average temperature, this would take the climate outside of the range of observations which have been made over the last several hundred thousand years.”

    However, he changed his figure for the range of variation within a stable climatic regime “such as the current interglacial”, from l°C, to 2°C and said that in the last 100 years a range of mean temperature had been 0.6°C, rather than his earlier 0.7.

    In 1990, the UN AGGG (United Nations Advisory Group on Greenhouse Gases), was asking for no more than a 1 degree rise in global temperature. That in turn traces back to the Villach Conference of 1986, and the subsequent Bellagio Conference in 1987, when some of the main proponents of the AGW meme were present, and have been driving it ever since. That then morphed into 1.5 degrees and again into 2 degrees. After Paris, 1.5 degrees is the new mantra for the activists, who think CO2 is a thermostat for the planet, that you can turn up and down.

  22. “Let’s assume we have a can opener”?
    (Economist shipwrecked on a desert island trying to open a can of beans).

  23. I have been waiting 40 years for the English countryside to become dominated by prickly pears .but not seen one yet!

    However ferns and bracken dominate every damp corner, much the same as always.

  24. Nice. The story here then is a dude who can’t correctly forecast house prices takes on long term climate economics forecasting.

  25. Where in hell does this come from?

    “It could turn fertile regions into deserts, force farms – and the cities they support – to move faster than topsoil can develop, create storms that can blow down those “carefully controlled environments”, and firestorms that burn them to the ground.”

    That appears to be an assumption stated as incontrovertible truth, in other words, dogma.

  26. This economist is just another pseudo-religious nut. What would his opinion be of someone who made claims about the potential economic impacts of the Antichrist and Apocalypse? Obviously, one could imagine all kinds of problems.

    His paper is exactly the same.

  27. I got this far …

    This is mistaking the weather for the climate. Climate change will affect all industries. It could turn fertile regions into deserts, force farms – and the cities they support – to move faster than topsoil can develop, create storms that can blow down those “carefully controlled environments”, and firestorms that burn them to the ground.
     
    It could force us to eliminate the use of fossil fuels before we have sufficient renewable energy in place. The output of those “carefully controlled environments” will fall in concert with the decline in available energy. The assumption that anything done indoors will be unaffected by climate change is absurd. And if this is wrong, then so are the conclusions based upon it.

    At the end of that I was laughing so hard I had to stop reading. I particularly liked how some unspecified “climate change” was going to “force farms – and the cities they support – to move faster than topsoil can develop”.

    As a man who grew up in the country … I’d say that he is a man who did NOT grow up in the country.

    Then, once the cities are moving as fast as they can, this mystery “climate change” is going to create storms that blow all of our the buildings to the ground. Not just some. Enough to significantly influence our economy … now of course we’ve NEVER seen such a storm that destroyed an entire industry, but hey, it’s climate “science”, facts are optional …

    I can see the guy writing this and thinking “Moving cities, plus monster storms … nope, not alarming enough!”

    So to top it off, he claims that mystery “climate change” is going to create “firestorms that burn them to the ground”.

    So “climate change” is going to cause monster storms destroying entire industries, topsoil loss ruining farms & moving cities, followed by firestorms … yeah, that’s totally legit …

    The most bizarre claim in all of those is the idea that (for unknown reasons) farms will have to move “faster than topsoil can develop” … say what?

    I’ve known lots of farmers. But I’ve never heard a single one say “I’m moving my farm, but I have to wait for a few years for the topsoil to develop.” Why haven’t I heard that? From soilsmatter, I find the following:

    “We say that it takes 500 to thousands of years to create an inch of topsoil.”

    Next, they claim if the climate gets really bad it could “force us to eliminate the use of fossil fuels before we have sufficient renewable energy in place”.

    Say what? The imaginary farmers, forced to move to a new farm, will be “forced” to not use fossil fuels? Just who is going to “force” them?

    I’m sorry, but making economic estimates of the costs of imaginary threats doesn’t somehow make them real threats.

    Best to all, stay well and safe in these parlous times …

    w.

    • I’m still trying to figure out his quip about top soil developing.
      With the possible exception of extreme deserts where it’s just sand, everyplace I’ve ever been already has top soil.

  28. “Lenton and his colleagues identified Arctic summer sea ice as a critical tipping point that was likely to be triggered in the next decade or two by changes of between 0.5°C and 2°C”

    Why on earth is this a tipping point? Any summer sea ice melting would be compensated for by delayed winter sea ice freezing. True the summer sea ice melting would cause additional heat into the ocean. But the warming would delay the winter freezing increasing the outward radiative leakage. The arctic is not some magical place where there is never any negative feedbacks as climate scientists like to assume. Just as sea ice during the summer decreases the absorption of heat so sea ice in the winter or at night insulates the arctic.

    • This is just another instance of climate scientists believing their own propaganda. The reality is that for most of the arctic, even in the middle of summer, the sun is so close to the horizon that the amount of light reflected from ice is nearly identical to the amount that is reflected from water.

      Beyond that, ice insulates water. The less ice there is, the easier it is for heat from the water to go into the air, from the air move rapidly to space.

      Loss of ice in the arctic is a strong negative feedback, an ice free arctic becomes the planets radiator.

      • And yet every decade there is less and less average ice in the arctic. So according to this logic the more ice is lost the better the planet will become at cooling itself?

        According to the studies there is heat building 80-150m in higher salinity water in the arctic basin and, it’s insulated by fresher water and ice. If that layer is gone that heat will warm that entire region increasing local humidity and acceleration melting of the surrounding glaciers, arctic ocean will become more like the Atlantic, and you know weather is always much milder near a warmer body of water.

  29. Cold costs, warm doesnt. The high latitudes will benefit from warming, the tropics wont warm (too much water vapour). The high lattitudes go from near 0 – 10 C in winter to 18 C – 30 C in summer, a 20 c rise. Plants grow, we turn the heating off, deaths decline, road accidents decline. Where is the down side in this 10 C warming?

    CO2 has already given us an estimated 45% increase in crop yield since 1900, the GDP increase from this is large, across the globe.

    So where is the cost of 2 C, or 3 C warming? There is none, it is win win for everyone.

  30. Just remember what large-scale policy change can do in the wrong hands. It can dwarf climate changes. But of course they can’t really talk about the Cultural Revolution inside China.

  31. Sad to think that William Nordhaus would never have been awarded a Nobel Prize if he had published his paper before the award.

  32. From the article: “This is mistaking the weather for the climate.”

    Yes, alarmists have a bad habit of confusing the weather for the climate. It’s the only way they can generate any scaremongering.

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