AEI and low-value reputations

The fact that the American Enterprise Institute (currently funded by ExxonMobil, but not for much longer it seems) is offering $10K a pop to scientists and economists willing to attack the IPCC report is all over the press and the blogosphere (a PDF scan of one of the letters has been posted here. I was alerted by David Adamson, who pointed me to this Courier-Mail report citing the Guardian. It’s striking to think that when I started blogging in 2002, the AEI was still widely respected.

Meanwhile Brad DeLong has suggested that he and I should put our hands up for the cash. Since we are closely familiar with all the main denialist arguments, it would be money for jam after all. Sad to say, this appears to be an invitation-only offer and neither Brad nor I is on the list. In any case as radek points out in comments

10K seems like a pretty low amount to pay for a shredded reputation. Unless, I guess, you ain’t got much reputation to begin with. Even market forces, politics and ideology aside, predict that whatever comes out will be of extremely low quality. You get what you pay for.

Of course, this applies equally to anyone willing to hire AEI itself.

In related shenanigans, another recipient of the ExxonMobil cash spigot, the Fraser Institute (whose efforts on this point are headed by the egregious Ross McKitrick) is holding an event on Monday in London, aimed at discrediting the IPCC. The Fraser Institute report has already been leaked and dissected at DeSmogBlog, which suggests that Fraser may be fronting for AEI. Any readers who happen to be in London might want to roll up and join the Rent-a-crowd there. No guarantee that you’ll get paid for attendance only, though.

And on the lighter side, the search engine on the White House website has been rigged to return no results for searches on “global warming”

102 thoughts on “AEI and low-value reputations

  1. #99

    Richard, engineers will often make positive assumptions about their projects, which can lead to cost overruns etcetera, but I fail to see why this will be more so with efficiency measures than other engineering projects. It is a good point that a frozen scenario is different from a base scenario, one can check whether this is the case by looking at what energy efficiency assumptions are made. Many of these efficiencies will have negative costs (which is mostly why they are made in the first place); the question is whether policy measures to address market failures will lead to significantly more efficiency measures, and how many of these will also have negative costs.

    The proposition the one can can save money and carbon at the same time can be proved easily by example, the issue is how much it will impact on abatement costs. Examples include increased efficiency of refrigerators through efficiency labelling, and the US Energy Star labelling system, which is estimated to have saved $4.9 billion during 2002, and include savings which become considerably higher. The recent proposal to ban incandescent lightbulbs in Australia in a few years arose because consumers mostly buy these lightbulbs which have lower capital costs but higher overall costs. The Stern Review cites studies which estimate that households and firms apply average discount rates of 30% or more. It has been estimated that the introduction of real time electricity displays would reduce residential energy usage by 6.5% and cost households between 2-6 pounds per year (see page 47 of http://www.dti.gov.uk/files/file31890.pdf).

    Including the assumption that there will be negligible savings from efficiency measures (which you made with methane) could significantly alter predicted abatement costs. On the other side of the equation, making different assumptions about carbon fertilisation or including the impact of Agriculture on humam health (which I think your IAM FUND does not do) could lead to significantly different results. On the question of an optimal abatement levels, Nick Stern could be wrong, you could be wrong – maybe time will tell. Being simplified models, both FUND and PAGE2002 will probably both be wrong. Peoples assumptions may or may not be incorrect, but this does not justify your statement that 550 ppm can only be justified by cooking the books.

  2. I did not say that engineers do worse on energy efficiency than on other projects. I just said that engineers are not very good at estimating costs.

    The issue is not so much whether there are market inefficiencies, but rather whether climate policy would increase or decrease inefficiencies. The policies that are on the table in Europe increase inefficiencies, so that the potential benefits are not realised. Maybe politicians are smarter in other parts of the world.

    I’d be curious to see whether John Q will jump and claim that households use a discount rate of 3%.

    FUND does not include health impacts of malnutrition. Other models do, but I think they should have read Sen.

    I have not seen several cost-benefit analyses that justify 550 ppm, but none that pass the should-I-laugh-or-should-I-cry test. Stern is just the latest installment in this series.

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