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Arctic ice at record low

August 27th, 2012

As expected, several measures of Arctic ice cover have hit record lows already, and others are likely to do so soon. What’s unexpected is how early this has happened. Melting usually continues until mid-September, so it seems likely that this year’s minimum will be far below the previous record, set in 2007. Those who prefer observational evidence to models will doubtless be pleased to note that the rate of melting far exceeds that predicted by most models. Predictions of when the Arctic might be entirely ice-free at the summer minimum are being revised sharply.

One prediction that seems safe to make is that few if any “sceptics” will treat this unequivocal evidence of warming as a reason to apply scepticism towards the authorities on whom they rely, all of whom have got this wrong. At most they will temporarily shift their ground from “warming has stopped” to “we don’t know what causes it”. However, I’d be glad to be proved wrong on this, so if you see any examples, please let me know. As previously advised, I don’t plan to engage in polemics on this, so if you want to provide confirming evidence for my prediction, feel free, but don’t expect a response from me.

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  1. derrida derider
    August 27th, 2012 at 12:54 | #1

    Oh John, you’re so behind the times.

    The accepted progression for “sceptics” is;
    1) Global warming is not happening
    2) Its happening, but nothing to do with CO2
    3) Its due to CO2 but there’s nothing we can do about cutting it
    4) Yes, we could have cut CO2 but its much too late now
    3) It’s all the fault of the latte-sipping left that Bangladesh is underwater. Don’t they care about the poor?

    These days, virtually no-one is still at (1) – that’s so last century. A few are still at (2) but most have moved on to (3).

  2. August 27th, 2012 at 12:55 | #2

    Cut’n'Paste from my comment in the Sandpit:

    “There is a remarkable correspondence in attitude to truth between pragmatists and propagandists. Both justify the promotion of false beliefs wherever it is supposed that false beliefs have socially useful consequences. Indeed the principal difference between them consists perhaps in this: the ordinary propagandist may know that he is telling lies, but the pragmatist-propagandist, having redefined truth to make it indistinguishable from propaganda, is likely to become inescapably trapped in the supposedly ‘useful’ deceptions and illusions he approves as ‘warranted assertibilities’.”

    My money is that the pragmatist-propagandists will be consistent.

  3. August 27th, 2012 at 13:25 | #3

    Be practical John. Measures to prevent the melting of the poles would reduce the competitiveness of our mineral export sector.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/a-pity-prosperity-depends-on-mining/story-fn7078da-1226458438646

  4. BilB
    August 27th, 2012 at 13:45 | #4

    I am fully expecting next year to be another, though more modest minimum, perhaps even a short procession of them.

    The discussion must now move on to the risk points that we must come to terms with. I am now impressing upon people that we have no more than 20 years of economic stability and living standard as we have experienced over the last 50 years. And this is due to the combined impacts of Climate Change and Resource Depletion, particularly oil. The IEA has done a study which concluded that petrol will be at $3 per litre within 8 years based on current trends. To avoid the impacts of this there must be significant change in Western transport systems, and for that to happen there needs to be a massive change in other forms of energy infrastructure.

    The real question is can western economies cope with unprecedented hikes in energy costs, insurance cost increases, constant extreme climate driven property damage, and persistent agricultural disruption?

  5. Ikonoclast
    August 27th, 2012 at 14:00 | #5

    My rough prediction is that when large parts of Florida start going underwater, then the US deniers will start believing. Remember, for 90% of the US polity, if it doesn’t happen in the US it’s not real.

    “South Florida is less than 12 feet above sea level and home to over 5 million people. It’s one of the most vulnerable regions in the U.S. to rising sea levels” – earthsky.org

    “With a six-foot rise in sea level, it would mean there is only 44% of the developed area still above normal high tide. Of that 44% left, 73% is less than 2 feet above (the new) sea level. South Florida has become an incredibly risky place to live.” – Haraold Wanless.

    The way we are going now, a foot rise a decade looks likely. So it will still take 20 to 30 years to convince these denialists.

    Is it too much to hope that a hurricane surge traps the Republic Convention and gives them all a big scare without anyone getting hurt?

  6. John Quiggin
    August 27th, 2012 at 14:55 | #6

    @derrida derider

    I used to think that but in fact, most of them seem either to (a) slip up and down the ladder depending on how they see the debate going at the time; or (b) in a lawyerly fashion, maintain all of these views at once, “it isn’t happening, but if it is it’s not to do with CO2, but if it is happening and caused by CO2 ….”

  7. Oliver Townshend
    August 27th, 2012 at 15:19 | #7

    A sceptic friend piped in with “it just goes to show how bad the predictive models are”. No change in view at all.

  8. Troy Prideaux
    August 27th, 2012 at 15:25 | #8

    @John Quiggin
    Bolt is a prime example of that.

  9. Ikonoclast
    August 27th, 2012 at 16:11 | #9

    @Oliver Townshend

    The predictive models largely have been made as conservative and modest as possible in terms of input parameters and assumptions. This has been partly in response to actual or foreseen criticism for being exaggerated or alarmist. When some process runs ahead of (worse than) the predictive models this is certainly no licence to criticise the predictive models.

    Perhaps this is another case where progress has to happen one death at a time. That is, the denier generation has to die off (by natural causes hastened by climate change effects).

  10. BilB
    August 27th, 2012 at 16:29 | #10

    Grass roots Skeptics have the best defence against “unequivocal evidence”,….. they just don’t hear it. And those who do hear bits of the evidence chose not to understand it.

    Then there are the other kind who simply say “I OK with Global Warming,…another few degrees would be very nice”.

    Opinions are changing far slower than Climate change is advancing

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/story/2012/08/15/calgary-climate-change-web-poll.html

  11. BilB
    August 27th, 2012 at 16:46 | #11

    This might be old news….Koch Brothers funded Climate Skeptic Professor gets big shock discovers that Climate Change is due to human activity. Here is the story of his transformation in thinking…….reported by Fox Radio!!!!

    http://video.foxnews.com/v/1767365992001/former-climate-change-skeptic-blames-humans-for-warming/

  12. Freelander
    August 27th, 2012 at 18:04 | #12

    So, until this season, measured from 2007, the “trend” had been the other way. Just seeing if I could emulate denier logic. Would much prefer to having them the subject of my derisive laughter if I were situated on another planet, far far away… Edited – JQ

  13. BilB
    August 27th, 2012 at 19:02 | #13

    I believe, Freelander that the trend “bump” is an influence of the extended Southern Oscillation La Nina. Maybe something to do with wind direction over the US or pressure systems originating in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific influencing the Arctic High Pressure cell. The next few years may offer some support to that notion.

    Driver deniers trend towards being share market players. If the climate lobby were to change the terminology heating and cooling influences to Bulls and Bears, perhaps the other lot might understand. Or better change the share market terminology to hot and cold market influences and get the Bull out of it altogether.

  14. Luke
    August 27th, 2012 at 19:26 | #14

    “slip up and down the ladder”

    I’ve taken to calling it the mouse wheel of denial.

  15. August 27th, 2012 at 19:27 | #15

    Pr Q said:

    What’s unexpected is how early this has happened. Melting usually continues until mid-September, so it seems likely that this year’s minimum will be far below the previous record, set in 2007. Those who prefer observational evidence to models will doubtless be pleased to note that the rate of melting far exceeds that predicted by most models. Predictions of when the Arctic might be entirely ice-free at the summer minimum are being revised sharply.

    The models are obviously conservative. Its time to look at the prospects of adaptation over emission, given the imminent likelihood of hitting cascading tipping points.

    I’ve pretty much given up on the prospect of mitigating emissions by curbing sources (although creating sinks might be a way out.) The instrumental dependence and institutional logjams look too powerful to overcome in time to avoid tipping points.

    We’ve passed a tipping point in Arctic ice, given the albedo effect. Its also probable that this will push the Greenland Ice Sheet over a tipping point, given the recent massive summer melt.

    Over the past couple of years I have been looking at the evidence on tipping points, best summarised here by Lenton [http://www.physics.harvard.edu/~wilson/energypmp/Lenton%2520Tipping%2520points%2520in%2520the%2520Earth%2520system.doc] of dreaded East Anglia university (in)fame. I am not a climate scientist but my understanding is that if tipping points are hit, its a question of when, not if, the climate shifts to a more or less ice-free equilibrium. Of course timing is everything so it makes all the difference if Greenland takes 100 or 1000 years to completely melt.

    He nominates half a dozen key tipping point “dominos” that are standing in a row:

    – Greenland ice sheet (GIS)
    – West Antarctic ice sheet (WAIS)
    – Sahel and West African Monsoon: (WAM)
    – Indian summer monsoon: (ISM)
    – Atlantic thermohaline circulation: (THC)
    – El Niño–Southern Oscillation: (ENSO)

    Lenton insists that reliance on computer models is critical to managing the climate. He believes that GIS is pretty much a write-off but is only cautiously optimistic about human ability to avoid runaway climate change:

    Whatever we do to try and anticipate future tipping elements it will rely on some use of computer models in concert with available data, and will always carry uncertainty associated with both the model and the data. However, from our review, workshop and expert elicitation it appears that useful information is already available regarding the likely proximity of various tipping points. The existence of positive causal interactions between some of them sharpens the impetus to mitigate against tipping them in the first place.

    Based on current information all the other potential tipping elements might be avoided by limiting global warming to 2 °C above pre-industrial (although we cannot be sure).

    Our present warming commitment alone seems insufficient to tip any of the elements we have identified. However, it could get us close to the threshold for irreversible melt of the Greenland ice sheet. If that threshold is at the nearest end of its estimated error range (1 °C further global warming) then it will be nearly impossible to avoid by mitigation unless we are lucky and the climate sensitivity is at the bottom end of its uncertainty range (circa 1.6 °C warming for a doubling of pre-industrial CO2). If the threshold is further away (we estimate an upper limit of 2 °C global warming) then mitigation would still need to be extremely aggressive to avoid it.

    Given this, it seems prudent to design long-term adaptation strategies in anticipation of a progressive melt of the Greenland ice sheet. Critically there remains an argument for mitigation even when the threshold is passed because the rate of GIS melt and the corresponding contribution to sea level rise depends on how far the threshold is exceeded.

    FWIW, I am cautiously pessimistic. The models have been conservative and human mitigation efforts appear to have been thwarted or delayed by various ideological, institutional and instrumental barriers. Perhaps if the PRC were to insist that the RoW was to pay for converting all its coal power stations to renewable energy we might have a chance. But looking at the US political system at the moment one wouldn’t want to hold one’s breath.

  16. August 27th, 2012 at 19:58 | #16

    Ah, but this is sea ice. Therefore the accepted excuses are:

    1. It’s the wind.
    2. I used my phone to take a photo of a representation of some sea ice that was on my computer monitor. It looks more white on my phone, because my phone has some sort of gamma-correction software which sees the reality the alarmists are trying to hide (apparently, this was serious)
    3. It’s the wind!
    4. Look, Antarctica!
    5. It’s the wind, or something.
    6. Look, something else!
    7. Weren’t you listening? It’s the wind!

  17. August 27th, 2012 at 20:51 | #17

    Pr Q said:

    One prediction that seems safe to make is that few if any “sceptics” will treat this unequivocal evidence of warming as a reason to apply scepticism towards the authorities on whom they rely, all of whom have got this wrong. At most they will temporarily shift their ground from “warming has stopped” to “we don’t know what causes it”.

    Lets be honest and not kid ourselves, climate change deniers are not the reason that climate change action has stalled. The problem is myopic liberal elites and the more or less apathetic populus who rely on the elites for guidance in long-term guidance.

    Deniers are not that powerful, even so-called Greenhouse mafia. They are a convenient scapegoat for our own failure and timidity. The political toxicity of the carbon tax is solely the fault of elites who all more or less agree on the reality of climate change but could not agree on levying a simple bloody tax. Shades of the constitutional refferendum on the Republic.

    The main reason for our failure to mitigate is the procrastination of (climate change affirming) elites. Post-modern elites mostly lead from behind and are always looking for the golden parachute, to cash in on their position and move on to the next move up. Most elites do not deny climate change but they are not willing to make the sacrifice in status required to lead the way. Unlike the WASPs who understood the concept of noblesse oblige.

    The carbon tax is viewed by the electorate as a referendum, hence it requires bi-partisan support. Instead one party after another party backed of the scheme. First the GRNs (of course), then the L/NP and finally the ALP. No wonder the people turned off on the scheme, if elites couldn’t get their act together then there is no reason for the public to trust them.

    If liberal elites cannot execute decisions then they will be pushed out of their leadership habitat by non-liberal elites prepared to bit the bullet. That would be evolution.

  18. wilful
    August 27th, 2012 at 21:25 | #18

    “The problem is myopic liberal elites ”
    “The main reason for our failure to mitigate is the procrastination of (climate change affirming) elites. ”

    My jaw just hit the floor.

  19. August 27th, 2012 at 22:18 | #19

    wilful @ #18 said:

    My jaw just hit the floor.

    Virtually all elites are all aware of the science of climate change. They are just not that into acting on it. The problem is not intellectual ability, its political will.

    Unfortunately the populus must rely on elites in the case of climate change policy. The problem is just too far-away, long-term and complicated for routine grass-roots political populism to be effective.

    But elites are not up to the challenge. They no longer take ownership of their countries because they no longer really believe in countries or a Providence before they may be called to account. In their trust fund they trust.

    The whole point of being a post-modern elite is to insulate yourself from adverse environmental changes. Tom Wolfe’s crack about the lifestyle precautions taken by Masters of the Universe – “If you want to live in New York, you’ve got to insulate, insulate, insulate.” – has morphed from a metaphor to the literal truth.

    The most climate change aware elites are in the EU and yet the carbon trading system they set up has proved a major flop, rorted to the point of ineffectiveness. Pretty everyone in power knows the climate score, they just figure they can negotiate a way around it, move to higher ground or kick it down the road until something comes up.

    Nothing will change until elites start to feel real pain. Think Japanese zaibatsu in 1945.

    Climate change deniers are just a convenient scapegoat.

  20. BilB
    August 28th, 2012 at 00:23 | #20

    So, Jack S, would you be calling Toxic Tony Abbott’s megaphone climate change obstructionism and the unprecedented media coverage that he has been given, a convenient scapegoat for Labour’s tortured path to achieving a Carbon Price?

  21. August 28th, 2012 at 05:02 | #21

    BilB @ #21 said:

    So, Jack S, would you be calling Toxic Tony Abbott’s megaphone climate change obstructionism and the unprecedented media coverage that he has been given, a convenient scapegoat for Labour’s tortured path to achieving a Carbon Price?

    Every school boy knows that the MSM, and climate change deniers therein, are a dwindling force in society. So “Toxic Tony Abbott’s megaphone climate change obstructionism and the unprecedented media coverage” must perforce be on the wane.

    The public’s skepticism about climate change policies is primarily based on the several parties dodgy politics surrounding the issue, not “climate change denialism”. The “ALP’s tortured path to a climate price” was first beaten by Howard L/NP. It was the Brown-GRN who rejected Rudd-ALP climate policies first. Then Abbot-L/NP rejected Turnbull and finally Rudd-ALP put the whole thing on hold. Followed by outright rejection by Gillard-ALP and then a spectacular back-flip by Gillard-ALP at the behest of the GRNs who are on the nose big time with Joe Blow voter.

    SO no wonder the public are skeptical, not of climate change itself but of climate change partisanship. Which mostly comes from well-informed climate change believing parties.

    Most L/NP politicians affirm the reality of climate change, the richer and powerful ones especially, following Turnbull. They just don’t want to do anything about it since it harms their investments.

    Likewise most members of the public believe in the reality of climate change. They are just leery of carbon emission policies because they will probably cost some jobs or jack up the price of household energy.

    Climate change policy obstructionism is about economic greed, not epistemic ignorance.

  22. Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy
    August 28th, 2012 at 06:38 | #22

    I almost but don’t quite agree with Jack. Quite a lot of what he has written here is (regrettably) on the money, but it is a mistake to totally dismiss the role of the deniers. The existence of a loud and lavishly patronised denialist pole means that the inadequate actions promoted and adopted by the dithering/recalcitrant/self-interested elites in politics, the corporate world and the more timid environmental NGOs can be made to look more progressive and decisive than they really are.

  23. Ikonoclast
    August 28th, 2012 at 07:04 | #23

    Mostly, I am at a loss to explain the malaise which has enveloped Western society since about 1970. It has been much more pronounced since the 1990s. I guess one would have to analyse what constitutes the “malaise” before one could think about causes of it.

  24. Ikonoclast
    August 28th, 2012 at 09:34 | #24

    The best I can do is that “malaise” of the West consists of a kind of ideological sclerosis; a hardening of ideology and practices into an inflexible and maladaptive form. I’ll try to write my theories in the next sandpit or weekend long comment. Not that my opinions matter one ioata in this world.

  25. canberra boy
    August 28th, 2012 at 13:51 | #25

    @Jack Strocchi #15 – The link you provided to the Tim Lenton paper about tipping points didn’t work for me: I think that people can find it [a href="http://www.physics.harvard.edu/~wilson/energypmp/Lenton%20Tipping%20points%20in%20the%20Earth%20system.doc"]here[/a]. Worth a read.

  26. canberra boy
    August 28th, 2012 at 13:55 | #26

    Apologies – we can clearly not use html in WordPress any longer – here’s a clickable link: http://www.physics.harvard.edu/~wilson/energypmp/Lenton%20Tipping%20points%20in%20the%20Earth%20system.doc

  27. Freelander
    August 28th, 2012 at 14:28 | #27

    @hc

    Sounds like the argument one might useif the objective was to be the richer corpse in the morgue.

  28. BilB
    August 28th, 2012 at 14:52 | #28

    I don’t agree with the conclusions Mr Lenton I have to say. He happily whisks past the issue of the Arctic permafrost melt with a “these gasses will be well mixed and have no significant impact” comment. Not thorough enough. Last week I saw a Russian scientist claiming that the frozen peat bogs of the Russian Steppes contain 25% of the Earth’s atmospheric carbon. Now whether this is accurate or not there is a massive amount of carbonaceaous material that will release huge amounts of CO2 and CH3 once that thawed material decomposes, and the amount of methane in the clathrates (methyl hydrates) I recall was estimated to be 13 trillion tonnes. The fact is that this thaw is well underway and another factor may very well accelerate that process exponentially. That is that the heat of decomposition may very well accelerate that thaw well above that possible through climate factors alone.

    If that happens then that is indeed an irreversible tipping point. Which along with many others does not appear as a consideration in Mr Lenton’s study. I think that it is naive in the extreme to claim at this point that all is known and under control at this very early point in our runaway climate change experience.

  29. derrida derider
    August 28th, 2012 at 14:58 | #29

    I see Jack Strocchi has reached number 5 on my list (“It’s all the fault of the latte-sipping left”).

    It is, of course, the most reality-denyng stance of them all.

  30. August 28th, 2012 at 15:30 | #30

    Yes, like it’s my fault my bicycle got stolen. If I hadn’t used a half hearted bike lock the thieves would never have gotten away with it.

  31. Tony Lynch
    August 28th, 2012 at 15:33 | #31

    Two skeptical responses that I have heard:

    1) God is punishing us by making the world hotter because we insist on believing the world is getting hotter…

    2) [This time, true, from an 6 year old] If the world is getting hotter, then all we need is more cold mining…

  32. Watching the deniers
    August 28th, 2012 at 15:36 | #32

    FYI: the outright denial continues without pause for some.

    Marc Morano, Climate Depot outright denies: http://www.climatedepot.com/

    As does Anthony Watts of WUWT who states there is nothing to worry about, given people are “quibbling” over a mere 30 years of satellite images:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/08/27/sea-ice-news-volume-3-number-11-part-2-other-sources-show-no-record-low/

    The other high profile dissemblers silent so far:

    Steve McIntyre: silent on issue
    Jo Nova: silent so far…
    Bishop Hill: silent so far…
    Andrew Bolt: silent so far….

    Summary of responses: http://watchingthedeniers.wordpress.com/2012/08/28/deniers-hit-record-low-on-sea-ice-anthony-watts-lies-marc-morano-qualifies-as-the-iraqi-information-minister-of-climate-denial/

  33. Fran Barlow
    August 28th, 2012 at 16:25 | #33

    @derrida derider

    I see Jack Strocchi has reached number 5 on my list (“It’s all the fault of the latte-sipping left”).

    Of course if you redefine the term “latte-sipping left” to mean “privileged holders of assets that might be prejudiced by action on climate” — a group JS seems to acknowledge as key –then his claim becomes less objectionable. Greens didn’t block robust action on climate. We declined to support “action” that would have invoted ridicule on all future attempts at action. Ultimately, the ALP abandoned the idea of serious action on climate change as a policy priority in favour of non-serious action on climate change as an opportunity to wedge those to their right and to their left in an exercise in political posturing. Their CPRS was calculated to ensure that we Greens would not vote for it. We granted their wish. It wasn’t our fault that the Libs chose to dump their wedged leader and put in someone who could unite the party around the interests of the polluters and use our votes to sink the ALP ploy.

    That’s why this stupidity backfired when the people who were opposed to explicitly pricing emissions saw an opportunity to turn the tables. Since then the ALP-leaning folks have been trying to blame those to their left for failing to play the role of suicidal fall guys in their political manoeuvering.

    Of course, the ALP might even then have called a double dissolution and won in a canter. They didn’t. They might have said that they thought they should reconfirm the mandate in the 2010 election. They didn’t. Instead the leader hinted that he’d had enough of the idea and that he had a new big idea and then got rolled by his own party, who then equivocated some more and made it seem that it really was all too hard and that perhaps we neeeded a consensus on the matter. That very nearly killed it.

    Fast forward to February 2011 — did the party get back on message? Of course nopt. Instead they suffered others to pretend that the new pricing mechanism would not be what was described pre-election as a market-based mechanism, but “a carbon tax” — so that they could be trolled about covering up the fact — lying no less — that people would be paying the government every time someone opened the fridge door.

    Again, that has nothing to do with us. Craven? Yes. Inept? Absolutely. Green latte-sipping faithlessness? Get out of here!

  34. August 28th, 2012 at 17:03 | #34

    derrida derider @ #29

    I see Jack Strocchi has reached number 5 on my list (“It’s all the fault of the latte-sipping left”). It is, of course, the most reality-denyng stance of them all.

    Can you point to where I blamed the “latte-sipping Left” for the failure of climate change mitigation policies? I thought not. In controversy a reputation for honesty is earned by faithful quotation rather than fabricating out of whole cloth.

    I am not a climate change “denier” or “delayer”. It would be more accurate to call me a climate change “despairer”, of the evolutionary conservative kind. I don’t think mitigation will come in time to avoid climate change tipping point. Although, FWIW, I do favour a hefty carbon tax to finance solar power and possibly fusion.

    Evolutionary conservatism is a world-view built to last. Evolutionists generally look to adaptations to change. And conservatives have gotten used to living with chronic despair. So my intellectual conclusion on climate policy neatly fits my general ideological position.

    In fact for the failure of carbon mitigation I mostly blame climate-knowledgeable “elites”, specifically “greedy” economic elites and “partisan” political elites. For a change I did not blame cultural elites, who have done a fair and reasonable job in spreading the word, especially the nerds. (Although the dishonest and delusional views that most cultural elites have on anthropological matters – such as race, religion or gender – do not do much to enhance their credibility.)

    Elites are critical in framing and enforcing ecological policy, the general populus relies on them for consensus leadership mainly owing to the complexity and long-term nature of the problem. (Likewise in financial policy.) Although in the case of the US the populus are inclined to cultivate delusion for its own sake, at least going by the current fashion for “reality TV”.

    Liberal democratic elites are failing their states in the matter of long term survival threats, whether they be ecological or anthropological. It seems because of inherent flaws in the constitution of utilitarian liberal democracy, which tends to only respond reactively to the imminent or apparent pain of long-term survival threats. Also (post-)modern liberal elites are heavily invested in the fashion for a self-serving individual rights, rather than the tradition of self-sacrificing communal duties.

    Perhaps this is why philosophers have suggested that states should evolve “guardian” elders (the WASP patriarchs or Oriental sages) to pro-actively deal with such threats. More primitive societies simply rely on taboos. Of course we don’t have much time for the wisdom of elders these days. Indeed the problem with aging people is that they do not act their age.

    I hold out a slim hope that the CCP may emerge into world leadership with a plan to save the climate. Perhaps they can crack the climate change policy whip when they have the complete upper-hand over the US through the threat of bond vigilantism in the US debt market.

    Either that or we have to put our faith in the robots.

    “When philosophy paints its gloomy picture then a form of life has grown old. It cannot be rejuvenated by the gloomy picture, but only understood. Only when the dusk starts to fall does the owl of Minerva spread its wings and fly.”

    Hegel

  35. Freelander
    August 28th, 2012 at 17:54 | #35

    Latte sipping left, great phrase. Three crimes, drinking lattes, not manly enough, as beverages go; sipping, again not manly for any beverage, certainly not manly enough for that beverage; and ‘left’, well ’nuff said.

  36. Freelander
    August 28th, 2012 at 17:58 | #36

    Who needs fact or argument when there are “latte sipping lefties” to disparage?

  37. rog
    August 31st, 2012 at 05:18 | #37

    Insurance is one method of quantifying climate change and this Forbes piece by Ceres shows the way

    The U.S. insurance industry continues to be “surprised” by extreme weather losses. But the truth is that weather extremes are no longer surprising. Back-to-back summers of devastating droughts, record heat waves and raging wildfires are clear evidence of this. Last year’s crazy weather triggered near record underwriting losses and numerous credit rating downgrades among U.S. property and casualty insurers.

    And in the face of a changing climate, such events can be expected to increase in number, and severity.  It’s time for insurance companies to recognize this new normal, and incorporate it into their business planning—for the sake of their shareholders, their industry’s survival, and the stability of the U.S. economy.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/mindylubber/2012/08/30/wild-weather-a-new-normal-and-insurance-companies-must-act/

  38. Peter T
    September 1st, 2012 at 11:14 | #38

    I would appreciate JQ’s views on how much future GDP growth (as currently measured) is in fact going to be repair or replacement of assets as climate effects take hold. Heat and severe rain proofing roads, rail and buildings, raising flood defences, relocating infrastructure and so on. As in the addition to NZ GDP due to rebuilding Christchurch after the quake. Could we get to a stage where all “growth” is just running to stay still?

  39. Ikonoclast
    September 2nd, 2012 at 09:53 | #39

    @Peter T

    Very possibly, Peter T but then I am not JQ. I think increases in GDP during reconstruction after disasters do show a couple of things.

    One, it shows that GDP is not an entirely satisfactory measure. Perhaps a measure is required that equates by value formulas in some way and then totals existent fixed capital, liquid capital, natural capital, human capital and GDP. That way loss of national infrastructure, loss of life, loss of natural capital etc. would all be factored in.

    Two, it shows that economies are running below capacity and that the stimulus (via deficits) of reconstruction is beneficial to GDP. Which proves the Keynesian and Functional Finance or MMT point that deficit spending stimulates an economy with un-utilised capacity and does so without igniting inflation. QED I say to all the austerity nuts.

  40. Peter T
    September 3rd, 2012 at 10:15 | #40

    While Jack has a point, I don’t think it’s just elites who are in the frame. Increasing material prosperity has become the major social cause over the last 50 years – replacing The Nation, God, The Social Revolution and so on. Not a bad thing (fewer wars for a start). But the message of climate change and similar limits to growth issues (nitrogen, water, forests, topsoil. oil, fish…) is that increasing prosperity is not possible. In fact, we are in for less material prosperity (if we want to survive as a society). That’s a hard sell.

  41. Freelander
    September 3rd, 2012 at 11:06 | #41

    Although material prosperity has become an overarching goal the progress toward that goal has been exceptional poor. Keynes was right about where we should have been by now. Many post-Keynes innovations have ensured our failure.

    The failure has been a failure of government. Good government would have used heavy handed regulation to strangle or crush the undesirable innovation in its cradle.

    Keynes was simply too optimistic, underestimating humanity’s collective stupidity, a collective stupidity he battled against for most of his life.

  42. Troy Prideaux
    September 3rd, 2012 at 11:34 | #42

    Freelander :
    The failure has been a failure of government. Good government would have used heavy handed regulation to strangle or crush the undesirable innovation in its cradle.

    It could be argued that that ultimately implies a failure of democracy more than a failure of government given the way we know it all works in the modern capitalistic society.

  43. Freelander
    September 3rd, 2012 at 14:05 | #43

    Difficult to say it’s a failure of democracy when it’s the nature of the beast, or at least the western versions.

  44. Ken Fabian
    September 4th, 2012 at 10:47 | #44

    Jack I still put the support for climate science denial from mainstream political parties as top impediment to serious policies to reduce emission. It gives opposition to action as well as popular denial based on ignorance a level mainstream respectability and legitimacy that it shouldn’t have. It’s influence results in policy compromises all around – which are subsequently held up by the same professional persuaders as evidence that climate policy is compromised and should be abandoned rather than strengthened. It uses and exaggerates already potent fears of economic doom whilst assiduously avoiding consideration of the consequences and costs of failure to face the problem head on. Acceptance of reasonable sacrifices involved in decarbonising our economy, towards longer term future prosperity and security is prevented.

    In the presence of ongoing and apparently very successful efforts of LNP supported (and more crucially in the global context, US Republican supported) efforts to avoid face up to the climate problem, liberal elites barely rate as impediments.

    Even the acceptance of nuclear as a potential solution is far more impeded by the unwillingness of the Right to man up to the climate problem than it is by extreme anti-nuclear activism – a major mainstream party is choosing to accept and promote lies about climate for the sake of fossil fuels rather than use the truth about climate to promote the solution they claim is the only viable one and that has far more impact on actual policy than the strong views of a minority.

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