0.4 percent of a wrecking ball makes …

… a ball bearing perhaps?

0.4 percentage points is the estimate of the CPI impact of the carbon price, published in the Herald Sun (hardly likely to understate it). In the attempt to stop this catastrophe, the Australian political right has trashed its intellectual credibility, embraced lurid conspiracy theories, reduced its leading publications to laughing stocks, and promulgated a string of easily falsified talking points, each one more absurd than the last. So, now that their predictions of doom have come to this, what will be their response? My guess is that they will double down – Catallaxy and Andrew Bolt are already on the job.

Of course, a price of $23/tonne is just the thin end of the wedge. Most estimates suggest that we need a price somewhere in the range $50-100/tonne to produce a long run shift to a low-carbon economy. That might amount to a price increase of 2 or 3 per cent – about the same as the GST.

165 thoughts on “0.4 percent of a wrecking ball makes …

  1. The climate denier Princesses (Bolt, Abbott et al) can tell when their mattress has a pea under it however.

  2. The wrecking ball is not the cost added to everyones power bills just now, it’s the attempt to force the economy off a cheap and efficient power supply onto an expensive and inefficient power supply. If the “carbon tax”, as it’s ratcheted up, achieves what it’s suposed to, the elimination of CO2 emitting power supplies, its effects will be catastrophic; if it doesn’t it is a colosal waste.

  3. in that classic story about tragedy of the commons

    Labor is the guy who is making his family survive on just the one cow – insisting that the family has responsibility to save the commons

    others in the family is yelling and screaming because they can see that nobody else is going to limit themselves to one cow

    first they try and “prove” the commons is not at risk but as the evidence mounts they switch to focusing on the one thing that is true – that limiting a growing family to one cow is a recipe for family turmoil

    those in the family that know the commons are at risk are also completely ignorant of the absolute reality that none of the other families are going to limit themselves to one cow

    so they claim that limiting families to one cow does absolutely no harm to the family

    it’s a sorry state of affairs

    in the midst of all this the emergence of MMT is giving the vampire bureaucrats the opportunity to bleed as much as they can out of the dumb schmuck working and middle classes with yet another amazing new economics

    what a sorry world it is

    pop

  4. J S Mill said “sharpen my adversaries wits and never ever read the Herald Sun” and is turning over in his grave.

    I can make the case that a carbon tax is not in Australia’s interests (since I care equally about all of humanity please impose one). Carbon intensive industries are high wage industries. The wage differentials are rents not compensating differentials not returns on human capital or skill. A country which exports carbon intensive goods and imports non carbon intensive goods and services gets more than its share of those rents. So a carbon tax which is optimal for humanity as a whole is higher than optimal for the taxing country.

    Note also that this reasoning implies that a country can increase the welfare of its residents by imposing tariffs on imports of high wage industry products (provided other countries don’t retaliate).

    http://www.nber.org/papers/w2739

    (here note that Summers told Katz that “Strategic Trade Policy” was uh embargoed from the title until after the election (of Bush Sr it turned out) . This is not a new argument. There has not been the shred of a trace of a convincing counter argument. The paper is completely ignored by influential economists very much including Larry Summers.

    The general pattern of the general public believing things which economists generally agree are nonsense is generally explained by the fact that economists assume that labour markets clear, while the general public believes that high wage jobs are good jobs (in the sense of rents). As usual, the evidence overwhelmingly supports the idea that economists are especially confused about the economy.

  5. @John Dawson
    “The wrecking ball is not the cost added to everyones power bills just now, it’s the attempt to force the economy off a cheap and efficient power supply onto an expensive and inefficient power supply.”

    Just curious John if your meaning of ‘cheap’ means you dont believe there are such things as externalities like climate change and ocean acidification. If we were a few million cave men around a fire I wouldnt disagree that burning fossil fuels is efficient and cheap. But we are 7 billion souls well on the way to 10 billion with a long term projected demand of 13 kW per person (DELONG, J. P., BURGER, O. & HAMILTON, M. J. 2010. Current Demographics Suggest Future Energy Supplies Will Be Inadequate to Slow Human Population Growth. PLoS One, 5, e13206.) if the Australian dream is to be achieved by all – about 8 times higher than at present.

    This of course is not viable and such difficult truths are one of the reasons (your?) support for the exponential growth economy which underpins climate change denialism is so hilarious – its not credible outside of the stoned mind of a proponent of the General Equilibrium Theory and we will hit a brick wall one way or another in the next 10 to 20 years irrespective of what conventional economics says.

    As to whether the carbon tax will work now that is a more interesting question. If it doesnt it will indicate the market mechanisms are cobblers which I fear may be true once the financial speculators get into the act (I wonder what John thinks). That said to give the C tax its due I have yet to hear any alternative recently from the coalition which isnt vague and suggestive that they really deny there is a problem and their current comments are just a sop.

    So how do you suggest we respond if not through taxes and government legislation (which dont thrill me either but I cant see an alternative)?

  6. Trivial titbit – did you all know this is officially National Carbon Capture and Storage Week? At least thats what my email from the chemical engineering school says. And please note this is not April 1st.

  7. That “tragedy of the commons” was solved by enclosures that gave individuals responsibility for their own land, which led to an agricultural revolution and a boom in population and prosperity followed by the industrial revolution.

    Yes Newtowniar, that industrial revolution used fossil fuels to increase the carrying capacity of the earth from 1 to 7 billion, doubled the life expectancy, and give most of us opportunities pre fossi-fuel generations never dreamt of. Those who think that was a bad thing need to nominate which 6 billion+ should be dead.

    No I don’t believe that the CO2 I breath out and plants breath in is an externality that must be eliminated at the risk of 6 billion+ lives.

  8. A 0.4% CPI increase as a result of the carbon price? That’s not very much, is it? I wonder how much of that is due to an increase dry cleaning costs as a result of people pooping their pants over the issue?

  9. Of course, modern Tort Law developed alongside the industrial revolution. That was good because those whose activities caused damage to others could be held to some degree of account. Not much, and usually only the wealthiest sued each other, but it was something and it lead to a general level of accessibility to claim for damages suffered by the actions of others.

    Government also stepped in to regulate and police damaging activities for the good of the general public.

    That’s why neo-cons and fascists more generally despise the rule of law and government regulation. They even have a catchy name for it: Tort Reform.

  10. John Dawson :
    That “tragedy of the commons” was solved by enclosures that gave individuals responsibility for their own land, which led to an agricultural revolution and a boom in population and prosperity followed by the industrial revolution.
    Yes Newtowniar, that industrial revolution used fossil fuels to increase the carrying capacity of the earth from 1 to 7 billion, doubled the life expectancy, and give most of us opportunities pre fossi-fuel generations never dreamt of. Those who think that was a bad thing need to nominate which 6 billion+ should be dead.
    No I don’t believe that the CO2 I breath out and plants breath in is an externality that must be eliminated at the risk of 6 billion+ lives.

    OK, my BS and faulty logic meter just blew a fuse. The first paragraph was an overwhelmingly partisan analysis of a complex series of legislation and events. The remaining part was ridiculously hyperbolic strawman garbage. At no point was a coherent argument formulated and instead of arguing with hard numbers you used, among other techniques, emotion, an appeal to tradition and a false dichotomy (“either we severely pollute or everyone dies”). That’s an F, I’m afraid.

  11. Is John Dawson proselytising for the proposition that private ownership should be extended to the atmosphere? After all, that is the most important surviving commons.

  12. I realise MG42 that my first paragraph wasn’t fashionably incoherent, for that fault I’ll accept your F grade, just put it down to my lack of a phd.

    Which hard numbers did you want? Give me an example of a coherent argument!

    About 90% of the world’s power emits CO2, so what’s false about this alternative? Either the carbon tax will reduce CO2 in the atmosphere or it won’t, if it doesn’t it’s a colosal waste, if it does its effects will be catastrophic.

  13. Why is a tax necessarily inflationary? I don’t understand and I need an economist to explain it to me.

    While a new tax must add to the cost of the item(s) newly taxed, these consumer monies are now not available to buy other items. The net effect on the full basket of goods should be neutral if the tax is revenue neutral and the velocity of money does not change. If the government hoards the new tax as a surplus then the net effect should be deflationary. If the government spends the new tax and “fiats” even more money into existence by running a deficit then the net effect should be inflationary but not because of the tax in itself. Hence the tax alone is insufficient “cause” for inflation without some further factor like deficit spending. The credit accelerator (banks lending more money) or credit deccelerator (debtors paying down debt) will also affect the equation.

    Thus I reiterate my question in a slightly expanded form. Why assume a new tax is inflationary in the absence of a full assessment of all factors affecting money supply and goods supply in the economy? Isn’t it bad economics to makes such simplistic assumptions in a form abstracted and cut off from analysis of the full system?

  14. @John Dawson

    Let me reply to some of your statements on a point by point basis.

    “No I don’t believe that the CO2 I breath out and plants breath in is an externality that must be eliminated at the risk of 6 billion+ lives.” – John Dawson.

    The operative phrase here is “don’t believe”. Your beliefs are irrelevant. Belief or disbelief in the mind of any observer is irrelevant to the existent empirical facts. Scientists use repeatable verifiable quantitative measurements to assess material facts.

    “Which hard numbers did you want? Give me an example of a coherent argument!” – John Dawson.

    Since you have given no hard numbers (6 + billion is soft when the current number is more like 6.973 billion) and no coherent argument yourself, this fails as a riposte to your opponent’s argument.

    “About 90% of the world’s power emits CO2, so what’s false about this alternative? Either the carbon tax will reduce CO2 in the atmosphere or it won’t, if it doesn’t it’s a colosal waste, if it does its effects will be catastrophic.” – John Dawson.

    In 2006, 86.64% of the world’s energy consumption emitted CO2. I suspect the percentage is slightly less now. Saying “about 90%” is reasonable but saying “about 85%” might be more resaonable now. You say a carbon tax will either reduce CO2 or not. This is a truism. It does nothing to advance your argument or make any point.

    You say, if the carbon tax does not reduce (or slow the increase one reasonably assumes) carbon tax in the atmosphere then it is a waste. Taxes are not wasted. They are either spent on goods and services by the government or held back as a surplus. A surplus is not “wasted” if it is used as a counter-cyclical measure to moderate inflation. Also, are you as vehemently opposed to fuel excise as you are to a carbon tax? The effect is the same no matter what the tax is called. Or is it just the words “carbon tax” that fire you up?

    You assume outright catastrophe from a carbon tax reducing fossil fuel use yet assume no dangerous effect on climate change from increased atmospheric CO2. The latter assumption puts you at odds with the IPCC and about 99% of reputable climate scientists around the world. I don’t know about you but if some medically unqualfied person was offering me a remedy that 99% of qualified medical opinion said was dangerous, I would not be taking it.

    You are assuming that no alternative to fossil fuel is possible. In fact, there are now demonstrable alternatives (solar and wind power mainly) that can do the job. Eventually, an electrical economy supplemented by methane IC (internal combustion) can run our world. The methane can be generated from waste and by solar nanotubes now being researched to produce methane. This methane cycle will be a loop essentially (excluding accidental out-gassings). Energy conservation, efficient energy design and scrapping the private car fleet for public transport will all have to play their part along with capping the world’s populations somehow.

    I am not saying it will be easy. It will be more like a controlled rough landing on to a sustainable popuolation and production plateau. What you propose (endless growth and use of fossil fuels until exhaustion of same) will be more like a climb, followed by a stall, followed by a vertical plunge into the deck at great speed.

    I used to strongly doubt that renewables could provide sufficient power. Upon researching it, I found they could do so provided we became energy efficient and frugal and stabilised population.

    (From my admittedly biased observation I must be one of the few bloggers to change a view upon finding out the facts. J.Q.’s arguments played a role in that.)

  15. Just for everyone this is what CBA economics

    ‘The ABS has noted that it is not able to quantify the impact of carbon pricing. But one back?of?the?envelope calculation is to compare the contribution from higher utilities prices with the average or “normal” contribution. Over the past two years higher utilities prices contributed an average 0.27ppts to QIII CPI growth. The contribution in QIII 2012 was 0.48ppts. The gap of 0.2ppts should represent the bulk of the carbon tax impact on consumer prices. This outcome suggests that the price impact will fall short of earlier Treasury modelling work that put the CPI contribution in 2012/13 at 0.7ppts.’

    This makes a complete embarrassment f what Sinclair Davidson said at Catallaxy.

    This is undoubtedly due to the fact Davidson is quite unfamiliar with understnding CPI statistics.

    ( For a good understanding go read Ricardian Ambivalence, Why isn’t he on your sidebar John?)

    In more embarrassing news for Davidson he keeps on harping about Treasury’s forecast of 10%.

    This forecast is based on CONSTANT prices not current prices as Davidson asserts. He is either ignorant of this having never actually read the Treasury document or just lying as he makes things up.

    On this I just don’t know.

    Davidson’s decline , like the rest at Catallaxy is sad . He did at one stage write economically literate stuff.

  16. @rog General chat seems to be that core inflation due to carbon tax to be minimal and within RBA expectations. Certainly the hype generated by Hockey et al does not seem to be supported by any facts.

  17. rog,

    The headlines rate was the one to be affected.

    Large increases and decreases are automatically taken out of the RBA core inflation series.

    I should have added above Davidson not only compared a constant price forecast to a current price outcome he also compared electricity prices in the CPI to a rise generated just by the ETS.

    Yikes

  18. @Katz

    “Is John Dawson proselytising for the proposition that private ownership”

    Katz I just checked out his link. He is in fact clueless about these issues in that what he presents is vague rhetoric rather than considered objections based on some credible theory or other from the other side of politics. So engaging with him here is not only a waste of time but it clearly encourages him to recycle what appear to be bar conservation based assertions which he has already put on his web site like the 6 million bit above.

    Methinks perhaps he is revenging himself on the rest of us for the slights against his heroes who appear to include Andrew Bolt??!!! Need I say more.

  19. Thank you Ikonclast

    What “repeatable verifiable quantitative measurements to assess material facts” have you that the CO2 I breath out is pollution and that you have a right to penalise me for keeping warm, mobile and fed by emitting CO2?

    I don’t have to give “hard numbers” or prove anything because it’s not me claiming the right to restrict your ability to live and prosper. But by advocating measures such as a “carbon tax” you are doing that to me, so the onus of proof is on you.

    About 85% of the world’s energy supply emits CO2 – gotcha!

    The forced conversion from cheap and efficient power to expensive and inefficient power is such a colosal waste. The carbon tax is an instrument of that waste, not to mention bureaucratic administration, ineptitude, and corruption involved. And not to mention that when it is converted into an ETS much of the cost will be sent overseas for carbon credits to make green chatterers feel beter about continuing to “pollute” as they jet off to their next talkfest.

    99% of the world’s climate scientists do not agree that a carbon tax is a good idea, and if they did their opinion would be little better than yours or mine because science is only one of many factors involved in such a judgement. 99% of climate scientists probably agree that CO2 and temperatures rose during the 20th century and that humans have an effect on climate – but there is a long long way from there to a carbon tax or any government imposition.

    We have a lot of empirical evidence about the effectiveness of power supplies. Wind & water & firewood power, but mainly muscle power, kept less than a billion people (for most barely) alive. Fossil fuel power (with the help of about 15% of other types) keeps about 7 billion (for most abundantly) alive. You do the math.

  20. Thanks for your psychoanalyst Newtowniar. Let me know when you have some “considered objections” to what I’ve said, apart from it being “clueless” as far as the water mellon narrative goes.

  21. John Dawson, before I address any points you mention, I’d like to check if you agree with me on the following two points:

    1. Human activity has increased the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere by over a third.
    2. CO2 is a greenhouse gas.

  22. Thanks for the replay, John Dawson. I see you are wrong on the first point. Human activity alone is responsible for raising the level of CO2 in the atmosphere by over a third since the start of the industrial revolution. We know this because the amount of CO2 released from burning fossil fuels and land clearing is more than sufficient to account for the entire increase. It is the action of carbon sinks that has prevented CO2 levels from rising higher. We also know from the change in ratios of carbon isotopes in CO2 in the atmosphere. Carbon in fossil fuels lacks the C14 isotope and so its ratio to C12 and C13 has been reduced as CO2 from burning fossil fuels has been released into the atmosphere.

  23. John Dawson, do you think that not enough fossil fuel has been burned to release enough CO2 to more than equal a third of the CO2 currently in the atmosphere? If so, then you either disagree with the theory of combustion, that is, one atom of carbon burned in an excess of oxygen produces one molecule of CO2, or you believe there is some sort of vast conspirousy to make people think that much more fossil fuel has been burned than actually has been. Do you believe either of these things, John?

  24. @John Dawson

    John your shot at ‘watermelons’ got me wondering where you are coming from so I checked your website (one tick for transparency) – From your web site:

    “my fresh fruit exporting company, for which I developed an on-line marketing project. My passions include Objectivism the philosophy of Ayn Rand, and writing.”

    I suspect this lies at the heart of your perceptions and until this changes there isnt much point me raising objections to your specifics.

    Some comments .

    # You appear to like philosophy but where you are coming from has me very worried – specifically Rand’s deceptively named ‘Objectivism’ “that one can attain objective knowledge from perception through the process of concept formation and inductive logic” to quote Wiki (corrections welcome).

    Assuming this roughly describes your perspective I can see how you might conclude there isnt a climate problem. Marshall a collection of information and opinions from people and sources you respect because they align with your perceptions and philosophy – presumably neo-liberal let the market do what it pleases with no interference.

    But are you really being objective?

    This is exactly question that science, the most objective of our analysis systems, and itself based on induction or so it was thought, asked itself between 1940 and 1960. Or should I say some really smart people explored some crucial misapprehensions. The conclusion was induction is a useful tool but the pedestal of such anthropocentric reasoning of Rand’s kind was toppled.

    There are mountains of literature out there about the story but the following is a good introduction:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/aug/19/thomas-kuhn-structure-scientific-revolutions?INTCMP=SRCH and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Popper

    The fact is Randian thought has been obsolete for decades and only in the powerful culdesac of economics and managerialism is this approach still taken seriously – though maybe this now also is changing slowly following the economic disasters of 2007/2008, the oil crisis and that many businessmen and economics have been mulling over the puzzle posed. Turnbull is one useful example from the right.

    The critical point here is you dont reject inconvenient science (findings and model predictions) because it doesnt comply with your personal reasoning, ad hoc commentary from peers or ‘balancing’ the arguments you are aware of. Science is not as as Stephen Schneider put it ‘A Contact Sport’. But that is how you are treating climate science in your arguments.

    # How can you move forward as they say. My suggestion is this – forget about the now or the next ten or 20 years but have a look what the longer term holds given business as usual like:
    – Have a look at how much additional CO2 is going into the atmosphere now.
    – Estimate how much more will be added when you add the increases from those 7 or 10 billions say 50 to 100 years down the track given unconstrained business as unusual.
    – Have a look at the basic energy balance equations and the rising role of CO2.
    – This basic stuff is back of the envelope calculation stuff and was possible to do and was done by the great chemist Arrhenius 100 years ago.
    – Finally read a bit about Venus.

    Or if you feel inclined do a science course and go into the literature in detail with near first hand knowledge to refine you position rather than trying to reason it out.

    # Your business is probably being killed as much by the free market economics that Ayn Rand espoused as by any future carbon tax impacts – whether the latter will cripple Australian and NZ exports is another matter. While the cost of transport will go up climate change impacts + rising population seems likely to lead to food shortages so I wouldnt panic yet if you can hold out.

    # Finally your previous comments suggested you dont quite understand ‘externalities’ in the form that concerns social democrats (the nominal audience of this blog). I suggest if you are interested in remedying this, reading Fred Pearce’s ‘Where my Stuff comes from’ – it should give you pause for thought.

  25. John Dawson,

    My electricity bill has gone up by 70%. Less than a third of that increase is due to the Carbon Price. And your electricty bill will have done much the same if you are connected to the town supply.

    What I want to know from you is………where is your outrage at the 70% rorting of the electricty consumer?

    You have not said boo about that!

    Does this mean that when McDonalds put up the price of the ice cream cone from 30 cents to 40 cents you are going to howl the house down,……. while happily paying an extra $2 for your Angus Burger???? Are you for real? or is your ire purely determined by the weather?

  26. Ronald – it’s not simply a matter of the amount of CO2 released by man, it’s far more complex than that, but if our fossil fuel were responsible for all of the CO2 rise, so what?

    BilB – If you want cheaper electricity: get rid of the “carbon tax”, and all the green energy schemes, then deregulate the industry. That’s the way you got cheap potatoes, hamburgers, iphones, air-flights, entertainment etc.

  27. Well, no John D. It’s not complex. Not on the simple question of whether or not enough CO2 has been released from burning fossil fuels to increase its concentration in the atmosphere by over a third. If you don’t know the answer to that then you aren’t in possession of very basic information about our atmosphere and I’ll have to teach you some basics before you’ll understand the points I want to make. So, I’ll ask you, have humans burned enough fossil fuel to release enough CO2 to increase its concentration in the atmosphere by over a third? If you don’t know, that’s okay. I can show you how to find out.

  28. If you like cheap consumer goods and being able to buy cheap consumer goods is your only ambition, the John Dawson is absolutely correct.

    If you like driving very fast and all you want to do is to drive very fast, then you would reduce the weight of your car as much as possible. One way to do that is to remove the brake system, which is a heavy component.

    No sensible person would do this, course, because even the dumbest hoon knows that he must slow the car down occasionally.

  29. @John Dawson

    Many scientists disagree Ronald,

    No. As far as I can tell, hardly anyone (perhaps nobody) with relevant qualifications in climate science and actively publishing in this field disagrees with the conclusion that human activity is responsible for all of the post-1750 increase in atmospheric CO2. Some who were leery of attribution of all climate change to CO2 increases have now embraced this conclusion — most recently in the BEST study. There is no serious dispute about this in science.

    The wrecking ball is not the cost added to everyone’s power bills just now, it’s the attempt to force the economy off a cheap and efficient power supply onto an expensive and inefficient power supply.

    The terms “cheap” and “efficient” in this context lack the specification needed to make this claim useful. Efficiency is neither a good thing nor a bad thing. It merely describes the relationship between one input in a system (here it could be money, chemical energy) and outputs (work, useable power, dispatchable power or something else). Cost to end users is misleading if the externalities associated with harvest of the chemical energy go uncounted, or undercounted. A highly inefficient process of extracting energy that supplied abundant power on demand at low cost (including externalities) would still be very good.

    Forcing the internalisation of externalities is not “forcing everyone onto an expensive and inefficient” source of power. It’s simply an example of the principle of “not living in a fool’s paradise” or, following Hockey/Abbott “lving within our means” and avoiding the passing of debt onto our descendants. If the Liberals saw these phrases as more than hollow slogans for to beguile the gullible, they’d support cost internalisation too.

    99% of the world’s climate scientists do not agree that a carbon tax is a good idea,

    Making stuff up is a bad idea. It’s a recurrent problem with those favouring inaction on mitigation. There’s simply no clear evidence on what 99% of climate scientists would prefer public policy to look like in detail. One suspects though, that most of them would agree that some public policy aimed at decarbonising energy supply and minimising destruction of carbon sinks would be a good idea. Indirectly and/or directly, this would mean putting a price on CO2-derived energy harvest. Whether one regulates or direct invests or levies the usage or forces a cost on dumping of effluent from the carbon fuel cycle, it all amounts to the same thing. Some methods may be more effective and cost-efficient at decarbonising than others, or some mix of all of these may be required, but that is a quite separate argument.

    and if they did their opinion would be little better than yours or mine because science is only one of many factors involved in such a judgement.

  30. Ikonoclast, the GST reduced tax on money we earn and stuck it on stuff we buy, so the price of stuff went up. The carbon price has a similar effect, just much, much smaller.

  31. But, John Dawson,

    if we deregulate industry (if you deregulate one then you will have to deregulate them all) then the waste collection business up the road will dispose of their sludge down the gutters into the storm water drains, the coffee business in the next row will not replace their odour filters and the whole area will reak of burnt coffee all day, the tyre business around the corner will dump their tyres in the nearby bushland, some of the hardup businesses in the area will hookup to the power lines with with uncontrolled connections and we will start to get brown outs at various times in the day, The lead and tin foundry a block away won’t bother controlling the lead oxide spewing out of their chimney stack, nearby housing developments will all use open fires in winter to save on energy costs and start hacking trees out of the world heritage national park here. We will start to resemble US industry of the 19th century and large parts of China today. And all of that just to save a few desperate dollars? Desperate dollars as incomes would be considerably lower leading to the building of several shanty communities on the edge of the industrial area leading into the park land.

    I really don’t think that you have thought this through. I’ve looked at your blog. You’re just picking on silly things that seem to make some sort of point to support your lopsided arguments. Isn’t that right?

  32. To repeat, it’s not as simple as adding up the man made CO2 and assuming it accounts for all of the increased CO2 in the atmosphere (which has been fluctuating for millions of years). But while I’m happy to be educated Robert, let’s assume for the sake of this argument it were as simple as that so we can get to my question: so what?

    As I’m sure you know Fran, fossil fuels provide the cheapest power in most places in the world and in many places they’re many times as cheap as alternatives, why else would about 85 per cent of the world’s power be supplied in that way? In some places the difference between cheap and expensive power means the difference between overseas or stay-at-home holidays, in other places its the difference between life and death. Inefficient power supplies include those that stop when the wind stops blowing or when the sun goes down.

  33. You seem to confuse deregulation with anarchy Bilb If someone dumps his sewage on my front lawn etc etc he has violated my property rights and should be prosecuted.

  34. @BilB

    Though BilB is perhaps a little harsh on our friend John Dawson the Ayn Rand connection does explain a lot about where his arguments come from. One item I found from a quick google of Ayn Rand and Air Pollution was:
    http://capitalism.aynrand.org/capitalist-secrets-capitalism-improves-our-environment/

    Here are some vignette’s

    “Undeveloped nature is a brutal, filthy, dangerous place for human beings. It’s filled with dirt, disease, uncooperative weather, unfriendly creatures, and occasional natural disasters…..What were the results? Population exploded, life-expectancy more than doubled, and for the first time in history each generation lived better than the generation that came before.”

    “Laissez-faire Capitalism is concerned with the constant improvement of the human environment. It is not, however, concerned with the non-human environment—it is not concerned with preserving untouched wilderness at the expense of human beings. If, under capitalism, someone wants to protect a given patch of land or a given animal, he is free to do so using his own property.”

    These seem pretty representative and other items seem to correspond to John’s comment and in turn seem to be mostly reworded versions of the various ‘Thoughts of Ayn’.

    Instructively like their precursors in history like the Vatican, they are also remarkably blind to inconvenient sciences (no John not just mad watermelons) that show we evolved from said brutish nature, are completely dependent on it for our survival, water food, timber, inert natural resources via biogeochemistry (coal iron ore phosphorus probably oil) and if we trash our environment like the Easter Islanders are believed to – we will pay dearly.

    Curiously in all this while they also say capitalism should be totally free, while also saying pollution noise etc. must be regulated by laws and litigation – they are also excellent at saying laws have no effect but that environmental improvements were inspired by a sort of capitalist altruism. This disconnect and the doublethink involved is nicely summed in Matt Taibbi’s book Griftopia.

    Its got me wondering how much of this strange anthropocentrism underpins other climate change deniers.

  35. John D, so are you saying that you don’t know if enough CO2 has been released from the burning of to raise its concentration in the atmosphere by over a third?

  36. @Ikonoclast

    Reducing tax on incomes and increasing it on prices is not inflationary. It does not result in more money chasing the same output.

    However, when these changes occur, people play games and there is a period of adjustment when individual profit maximisers hike prices to counter a new tax.

    Capitalism is such a bodgey economic system, that any change in either taxes or subsidies always tends to inflation – ie credit expansion. This has nothing to do with basic economic theory. It is political economy.

    Of course, by far the worse tax is capitalist profit. It is absolutely inflationary – exponentially so.

  37. Not the same output, as the particular goods and services may change – the same value (although a different basket).

  38. It’s not a matter of how much is released by humans Ronald but about how much CO2 stays in the atmosphere for how long. There’s about 780 Gt C in the atmosphere of which about 90 Gt is exchanged with oceans pa and 120 Gt is exchanged with plants, so about a quarter of the CO2 is circulated each year. As part of that circulation humans add about 7 Gt pa and about half of it stays long enough to raise the total. So a simple calculation leads to the conclusion that 3.5 Gt is added by humans to the 780 Gt, (i.e. 0.45%) pa which is more than enough to account for the total rise in CO2 observed in recent decades. But it is not that simple. The IPCC work on a long half life of CO2 in the atmosphere whereas many scientists theorise that it is less than ten years, which alters the calculations and lowers the significance of human emissions. Then there is conflicting empirical evidence, e.g. CO2 was rising before emissions were, the amount of CO2 released by subterraneous volcanoes is problematic, CO2 levels fluctuated long before human emissions were a factor, etcetera.

    Now, can we get to my question, IF humans are causing the entire rise in CO2, so what?

  39. @John Dawson
    JD, you raise a smokescreen by citing a minor dispute at one end of the science spectrum. I suspect this is your intention, but assuming your bona fides, you would of course acknowledge that other related sciences give a much worse prognosis of the climate than is contemplated in the dispute you mention. For example, there is a germane debate in paleontological circles about the cause of the devastating Permian/Triassic extinction event. Some scientists believe it was caused by combustion of the Carboniferous peats, that is, an experiment in CO2 enhancement that we appear to be repeating.

    In reality, as opposed to what passes for debate in denier circles, the significant scientific debate is between the pessimists and the apocalyptic pessimists. That is, if we continue on the present emissions trajectory.

  40. Don’t know what it is with these neo luddites hanging on by the skin of their teeth to what essentially amounts to 19th century technology.

    “The real price of everything, what everything really costs to the man who wants to acquire it, is the toil and trouble of acquiring it.”

    Not sure if Adam Smith consideres retrospective trouble to be valid, but there lies the fundamental argument for a substantial ‘upgrade’ to renewables.

    There is a simple solution to not pay the carbon tax, reduce your carbon foot print. And if renewable industries could have a access to a equitable proportion of those subsidies and incentives the fossile fuel industry enjoys, it would be game over.

    John Dawson, I say to you Pig poo!

  41. “We have a lot of empirical evidence about the effectiveness of power supplies. Wind & water & firewood power, but mainly muscle power, kept less than a billion people (for most barely) alive. Fossil fuel power (with the help of about 15% of other types) keeps about 7 billion (for most abundantly) alive. You do the math.”

    Clearly it is completely impossible for us to ever invent anything better than what we have. Solar, geothermal, fusion all cannot possibly exist.

  42. So many non sequiturs, so little time.

    I don’t want to debate minor scientific disputes Hal9000, but was told that my arguments lacked hard numbers and despite three tries at moving on Ronald insisted I addressing the science of CO2. I’m aware what passes for debate amongst warmists, there’s the apocalyptic alarmists to whip up unthinking hysteria and the pessimistic alarmists to try and cloak their AGW king in the robes of science.

    After the nuclear holocaust and you have achieved your utopia I’ll be glad for the pig poo power at barter town Ootz, but in the mean time you have no right to penalize me for using fossil fuel power.

    There is every possibility of inventing something new to replace coal and oil Stephen, provided the heavy hand of government is lifted off the economy and it is free to use the best available power to fuel it.

  43. It is good, John Dawson, that you finally see unregulated CO2 polution as emissions anarchy which infringes on your property rights. There quite a few other odourless, colourless, trace gasses emitted into the atmosphere which over time put your personal health and welbeing at risk. Lead oxide from petrol was one that has been regulated away, CFC’s the ozone hole gas is another. Carbon monoxide, mercury, vinyl chloride, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and many other industrial gasses, all endanger your life while infringing your property rights.

    When you get into your 2 litre car and drive for two and a quarter hours your car uses more oxygen than you, or I, will consume in a year. So by owning and casually driving a medium sized car for a lifetime you will consume 200 times your natural share of oxygen, and emit 200 times your natural share of CO2. And that is before all of the other CO2 emitted to support your living standard is taken into account.

    Yes, you rightly point out that there is atmospheric emission anarchy, and it must be regulated. Hence the Carbon Price.

  44. “….. no right to penalize me for using fossil fuel power.”
    In case you have not noticed, you are actually compensated for the ‘penalty’ at the moment. Now if you reduce your carbon foot print you save even, you’ll be way ahead 🙂

    …. provided the heavy hand of government is lifted off the economy…”
    <a href="Agreed

    “….. the best available power to fuel it.”
    You are displaying a classic luddite argument as in

    “Climate sceptics are on the wrong side of this transition. Like the original Luddites and their countless descendants through history, they resist technological progress because it makes them feel scared and insecure, clinging to any theory, no matter how crackpot, that helps to justify their position.
    Ultimately, the green economy is about nothing so much as it is about modernity. Businesses understand this. That is why many of the world’s biggest firms want to invest in this low carbon transition, partly because they want to mitigate climate risks that could do them untold harm, but mostly because they want to do what progressive businesses have always tried to do: make the world a better place, by innovating and creating new markets, all the while making money in the process.” How to argue with “climate sceptics”

  45. So John Dawson, you are saying that you agree with me that more than enough CO2 has been released from the burning of fossil fuels to increase its concentration in the atmosphere by over a third. And do you also agree that there is a completely clear correlation between increases in CO2 concentration in the atmosphere and CO2 released by humans burning fossil fuels and land clearning? In other words, that there is a clear relationship between the net amount of CO2 released by human activity and its concentration in the atmosphere?

  46. You [and many more] really think you’ve found the holy grail with this one don’t you BilB, the rational to tax and command every human for the original sin of living on the planet, especially all those neo fascist luddite racist sexist misogynist bodgy capitalists who do all those things and give you all that stuff only to expect payment for it when the government should take it and give them to you free; you can finally bring the commanding heights of the world’s industry and agriculture and lifestyle under the infallible control of an inter government body and everyone who is permitted will be in his permitted place doing his permitted thing and all will be as it should be and the planet will be safe for the polar bears and the spirogyra.

    Or maybe your just befuddled by postmodern professors and political propagandists, so let me state for the record: no matter how many people say how often that white is black and slavery is freedom and 4 is 5 and CO2 is pollution, it just aint so.

  47. @Chris Warren

    Thank you Chris. Yours is the only answer I got to my question. Your answer boils down to (1) people game the system and (2) general profiteering (in capitalism) can both be causes of inflation following a revenue neutral tax change. I tend to agree with you. I cannot think of any other causes. However, bourgeois economists are probably not going to admit this except in carefully coded statements.

  48. My god, where have you people been for the last 50 years, it’s like listening to Marxist students of the 1960s.

    No doubt climate science organisations are concerned about human induced CO2 Ootz, that doesn’t make CO2 pollution. If you fill your room with H2O you’ll drown, but H2O is not pollution either.

  49. @Ikonoclast

    While not defending the criticism on “passing on the cost” behavior, this by itself have its merits on the objective the carbon pricing is trying to achieve. While the overall CPI increase is relatively low because electricity is only a portion of operating cost for businesses; the majority of this “passing on the cost” price rise is in the electricity industry. Thus for consumers and businesses, this rise in electricity cost may change their electricity usage or source, e.g. switching to energy efficient electricity appliances and/or installing solar etc.

    From this perspective, perhaps (I can’t speak on behalf of policy makers) one of carbon pricing’s main implication is to use the “passing on the cost” behavior of businesses to achieve the objective. Whether if the target reduction can be achieved or not is a different story.

  50. @John Dawson

    by your definition there is no such thing as pollution – or maybe it is synonymous with toxin

    all “pollutants” are combinations of one or more elements – and (almost) all elements are natural

    most compounds are natural though some are less likely to occur than others

    you play with the word pollution and redefine it

    but then according to your definition any substance that can grow as a proportion of your environment until it becomes dangerous (eg water) can kill you (though you will not curse “pollution” in your dying breath)

    playing with words and claiming thereby that everybody else is wrong is quite dishonest

    fact is that if CO2 grows to the point that it kills us all then along the way we might think we have a problem – wherever it came from

    arguing as we die whether or not the water filling the room we are in came from a river or a desalination plant or a sewerage recycling plant is of little use to us if there is only a few inches of air left in the room – you seem to think it’s important

    the facts are simple – the room is filling with water or it is not?

    if it is then can we do anything about it or not?

    if we can then what should that be and who should pay for it?

    according to your very flawed view of the world (a very childish version of a very demented Ayn Rand)

    the “superior” ones in the room should invent their way of the predicament and charge the rest of the people in the room for a way out

    now in almost everybody’s book but yours that makes you someone nobody could possibly like

    i’m not saying that laws to charge people for carbon use are the right or wrong way to go

    i’m just dealing with an aspect of your dishonesty – or maybe it’s your fear based self delusion (denial) – or maybe it’s that you are demented – or maybe a schill i do not know

    p

  51. I’ve been following John Dawson’s contributions (if that’s the right word) with some bemusement.

    He’s just another cornucopian, it’s not worth the effort of engaging with him.

  52. @The Peak Oil Poet
    Except in this case the family that you claim is limiting themselves to one cow, is also the family who has the largest apetite for beef among the commons.

    To follow the analogy one step further; the head of this family is just trying to introduce some vegies into their childrens’ diet.
    Like most children, they kick and scream, throw a tantrum and make a global scene but never the less, the head of this family understands that children don’t always know what is best for themselves.

    One day when the children have grown up, they will thank their parents for having the foresight to do what was best for them so many years ago despite the fact it would have been much easier just to let the kids have their way.

  53. Thats right DI(nr), as he has history as a defender of what senior liberals call ”fruit loops” and “f…wits” from way back.

    Besides where is the handwringing by the free-marketeers and the so called opposition, about all the price gouging and gold-plating associated price hikes that went on in the power industries over recent times?

  54. Since my previous comment is still stuck in moderation, presumably because of two links, I’ll split it in two and repost. JQ please delete the moderation awaiting post.

    “….. no right to penalize me for using fossil fuel power.”
    In case you have not noticed, you are actually compensated for the ‘penalty’ at the moment.

    …. provided the heavy hand of government is lifted off the economy…”
    Agreed

  55. @The Peak Oil Poet

    Pollution is a matter of perspective. If the anaerobic bacteria that inhabited the planet for all but the last 600million years or so had had a perspective, they would have called oxygen pollution. Life on Earth got an enormous kickalong from the appearance of oxygen, and we humans, who need it to live, think it marvellous stuff. Not only is it essential to life, but it makes it possible to light fires, which single ecosystem service gave us advantages over all other life on the planet.

    On the other hand, if oxygen were to be 35% of the atmosphere, wet peat moss would spontaneously combust, which wouldn’t suit us at all. Iron would rust far more quickly. If the free radical theory of cancer is right, we’d have a lot more cancer. We humans would age a lot faster and we’d have probably been far different beings, if we’d existed at all.

    If some process of ours threatened to raise atmospheric oxygen above 20%, we would see this too as a source of pollution. It turns out that you can have too much of a good thing.

    Pollution amounts to negative disruption to our taken for granted level of ecosystem service as a result of some agent consequent upon human activity.

  56. “….. the best available power to fuel it.”
    You are displaying a classic luddite argument as in

    “Climate sceptics are on the wrong side of this transition. Like the original Luddites and their countless descendants through history, they resist technological progress because it makes them feel scared and insecure, clinging to any theory, no matter how crackpot, that helps to justify their position.
    Ultimately, the green economy is about nothing so much as it is about modernity. Businesses understand this. That is why many of the world’s biggest firms want to invest in this low carbon transition, partly because they want to mitigate climate risks that could do them untold harm, but mostly because they want to do what progressive businesses have always tried to do: make the world a better place, by innovating and creating new markets, all the while making money in the process.
    via ”How to argue with “climate sceptics”

  57. @John Dawson

    John, Ayn Rand was not a lexicographer or an environmental specialist and is not a valid source for a definition of what a pollutant is.

    So what is a pollutant? Here is the Oxford dictionary definition of pollutant “oxforddictionaries.com/ definition/english/pollution”

    “Definition of pollution: noun [mass noun] the presence in or introduction into the environment of a substance which has harmful or poisonous effects”

    Please note the word ‘harmful’. In your interpretation of the concept so far you seem to discount this concept of ‘harmful’ and equate pollutants with what we generally think of as toxins. To be sure some toxins are seen as pollutants to like cyanide in gold mine holding pond when it leaches in large volumes into the groundwater.

    But pollution also covers hundreds of chemicals which are fine or even beneficial at low levels but which if released in large quantities or in problematic circumstances cause “harm” – like phosphorus (grows your veges but also leads to toxic cyanobacterial blooms which kill cattle), nitrogen (grows crops kills many native species of plants and promotes weed growth costing farmers), copper (used as an oxygen carrier by gastropods but in high concentrations kills the life in sediments which feed fish), hormones like oestrogen (essential for regulating bodies but in high concentrations confuse reproductive cycles especially with marine life) or maybe molasses from a sugar mill (good for rum but when dumped into east coast estuaries used to cause oxygen sag in estuaries leading to massive fish kills). These problems we controlled to a degree through legislation which forced companies to look for solutions via such means as paying for discharge license -essentially taxes – following which technical entrepreneurs came in with various solutions utilising research findings generally funded at government expense (studies of nutrient and contaminant cycles and impacts).

    This isnt marxist dogma – its environmental science 101. Science and technology have provided many benefits but to keep this going sustainably with requires developing a dynamic balance with the natural world that does not give absolute primacy to human values and lives. This contrasts with the traditional “we can do what we like with it as long as it doesnt harm a neighbour because god gave it to us (an outdated but still powerful idea embedded in property rights concepts).

    CO2 is just the same – in current concentrations it is critical to regulating atmospheric temperature and stopping us from freezing like on the Moon and Mars but when present in too high a concentration it will cook us (Venus).

    While we are probably some distance from inducing a Venus event (though there are some biogeochemists who think this is possible) the evidence is still that with the “let the market rule” approach, CO2 will continue to accumulate in the and eventually set off even worse positive feedback cycles than this years Arctic ice melt – methane and CO2 release from the tundra soils, destabilisation of methane hydrates, increased albedo in both the Arctic and Antarctic. You might argue that then the market will respond. But by then all the people who understand what’s happening know it will be too late. And that is why the scientific consensus on this matter from those in the know is near 100% and we are trying this carbon tax approach for all its limitations.

    The injustice in it all which I appeal to you to think about is that if we cant solve this mess we who are causing this change, or not changing our behaviour enough, will not suffer – it will be our descendants. And its this I would guess which is driving progressive coalition members like Turnbull to fly in the face of pressure to do otherwise.

  58. @latebowl

    ick – i work in government – if you think than i would trust ANY of the people i know to make decisions for me you are completely crazy – the senior decision makers are almost exclusively self serving slime who have become millionaires on the back of tax payers – by implementing (and very badly in most cases) think big projects they do not understand, do not take responsibility for but take any credit if things turn out well

    in fact my general view is this – if a bureaucrat or a politician wants to do it then whatever it is i don’t want it

    bottom line is that i detest government and pretty much everyone employed directly or indirectly by it

    but that does not mean i love idiots who are just as self serving or are sycophants for another variety of thieves

    i like that line from Black Adder “kill everybody”

    🙂

    p

  59. @Ootz
    Exactly. The most bizarre aspect of the arguments of Climate Skeptics (as well as the more strident pro-nuclear advocates) is their constant insistence that renewable energy technology can never, ever, provide an economic source of large-scale power. This claim is essentially identical to Lord Kelvin’s statement that ‘heavier than air flying machines are impossible’ (eight years before the Wright Brothers), or Richard Woolley’s remark that ‘space travel is utter bilge’ (one year before Sputnik). These people think they believe in progress, but in fact they have no faith in it at all.

  60. @Fran Barlow

    being a scientist i hardly need the lecture – but thanks anyway

    🙂

    fact is that change is a natural thing for old mother earth

    so whatever the cause of change i believe we should accept it and live with it (or die with it)

    trying to fight change is exactly like the old adage of pushing excrement uphill

    i do not believe government should be involved in fighting carbon

    unless it does so totally honestly – which it can’t for various reasons including defence – ie by banning all exports of carbon products

    i don’t trust government – it is always a bad system – because you only need to corrupt a few to harm the many – and corruption comes in many flavours

    the best world is one were we all carry guns and can shoot anyone who upsets us – be they ideologues, idealists, idiots or just innocents in the way

    in the end that’s the world we are in but everyone wants to pretend otherwise and it’s in that delusion we allow ourselves to be made slaves

    p

  61. @Newtownian

    An excellent answer Newtonian. You have completely dubunked the nonsense that CO2 cannot be a pollutant. Of course it can be. It can also be a toxin as well as an asphyixiant gas. From memory, chronic CO2 at 5% concentration in an otherwise nearly normal air mix will lead eventually to respiratory acidosis (blood acidosis) and death.

  62. @The Peak Oil Poet

    being a scientist i hardly need the lecture – but thanks anyway

    It wasn’t specifically aimed at you — indeed, I had no idea what training you’ve had — but was intended as a more general observation.

  63. Thank you for mounting the AGW case civilly Newtowner, I think you precis it well.

    “As to whether the carbon tax will work now that is a more interesting question.” It won’t work at all well. The “free market” doesn’t work because it’s a market but because it’s free (of government manipulation.)

    The Oxford definition of pollution does not denote H2O or N etc or CO2 just because under certain circumstances they can be harmful. The categorisation of CO2 as pollution is nothing more than cynical Orwellian spin-doctoring.

    I agree that “this isn’t marxist dogma”. He expected everyone to sacrifice their interests to achieve a future utopia for people, he wasn’t depraved enough to expect everyone to sacrifice their interests to achieve a utopia “that does not give absolute primacy to human values and lives”.

    Us humans certainly do have the right to “do what we like with it as long as it doesnt harm a neighbour”, not because god gave it to us, but because, as living entities, we must selfishly activate our means of survival (as do all living entities).

    CO2 will not cook us. A doubling of the CO2 from pre industrial levels will increase global temperatures by about 1.2 C. The allarms about much higher rises assume feedback effects from that rise, but these feedbacks work both ways, some warming some cooling, and the net effect is speculative.

    The grossest injustice would be to deny present generations the benefits of fossil fuels and future generations the progress that flows from that prosperity.

  64. @Ikonoclast

    Thanks for the support Ikonoclast. Unfortunately our friend John will not be convinced by anything other than a full blown melt down I think. His response just now is still selective e.g. a claim the rise will be only 1.2 C without explaining why it should stop there or accounting for feedback cycles and thermal inertia or the fact that all models have us on course for 3 C or more by 2100.

    Even then analysis approach would allow readjustment. Consider the remarkable Arctic Ocean melt this year which demonstrates how conservative the science has been to date on balance and should have closed down arguments such as the one we are having here. It hasnt and like the Greenland plateau melt it is just spawning another rash of cherry-picking chatter. Still I am hopeful that maybe our various efforts will set a seed in the minds of unpersuaded people and eventually flower into an existential epiphany.

    And I did elicit this beauty from him “Us humans certainly do have the right do what we like with (the natural world)……because, as living entities, we must selfishly activate our means of survival”.

  65. The models have not successfully projected temperatures decades ahead, to disempower the world’s economies on the assumption they’ve got it right centuries out is insane.

    As for cheery-picking and all the fuss about the Arctic’s record low, at the same time the Antarctic reached a record high.

  66. The grossest injustice of all would be to deny future generations a time share of fossil fuels with which to undo the horrific mess that previous generations have dumped them with and progress their own development in their own way.

    Imagine how future generations are going to feel having been dumped with the responsibility to maintain the safety of mountains of toxic nuclear waste throughtout their time and onto other future generations, a toxic mess that does nothing for them economically while increasing their vulnerability to many forms of cancer. And do this with the most difficult to extract scant remnants of squandered fossil fuels.

    The present time is known as the Anthropozoic era. It could equally be thought of as the “Selfindulgentozoic” era.

  67. John D:

    1) Why is it a given that human values and life take precedence over non-human values and life? (‘Because we can’ is not good enough.)

    2) Why the assumption that increased non-renewable/slow-cycle throughput now would increase rather than decrease the quality of life of our descendents? Note that Georgescu-Roegen and other thermoeconomists would argue that not only is this hopeful, it is physically impossible.

  68. Dan

    1. There are no intrinsic values, values pertain to valuers. As a human my values are pro-human-life. A spider values webs and flys because they keep it alive. I value reason and production because it keeps me alive. The spider has no intention of sacrificing its values. Neither do I.

    2. If fossil fuel power is to becomes physically impossible or will run out you don’t need a carbon tax to stop it, do you!

  69. @John Dawson
    Hi John,

    I’m wondering which of “the models” (should I assume from this you’re well versed in the field of climate modelling?) made all these wrong temperature predictions. It’s especially curious since several of the most prominent climate models (the IPCC 2001 report or Hansens effort all the way back in 1988 for example) have been shown to be in such good agreement with the observed temperature record.

    Perhaps you are referring to the fact that although the IPCC numbers are within expected variability the all UNDERestimate the temperature. Given even larger underestimations in sea level rise and Arctic ice disappearance I assume you’re point is that climate scientists have been overly cautious about the dangers of global warming.

  70. John Dawson :
    CO2 will not cook us. A doubling of the CO2 from pre industrial levels will increase global temperatures by about 1.2 C. The allarms about much higher rises assume feedback effects from that rise, but these feedbacks work both ways, some warming some cooling, and the net effect is speculative.

    Is there no reason to be concerned about the effects of a 1.2 degree global temperature rise?
    And is there any reason to assume that the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration won’t go beyond a doubling of pre-industrial levels?

  71. J-D. About half of the 1.2 warming has probably occurred already. If CO2 were to double a second time the warming effect would be much less than the first time. There is not a lot to be worried about with this direct warming effect of CO2, the worry is any net feedback warming; but it’s not sufficient to warent a precautionary disempowerment of the world. It’s much more sensible to deal with climate changes, be they natural or man made, as they arise, with our ever increasing knowledge, improving technology and increasing resources. Imagine what folly it would have been 100 years ago to try and project the problems of our time and act to solve them with the knowledge technology and resources available then.

  72. An honest skeptic would outline the minimum conditions that would cause him to change his mind about the benign consequences of AGW.

    I’ve asked skeptics and denialists of different ilks several times to outline those conditions. Thus far, none have accepted the invitation.

    Is John Dawson more intellectually honest than his forerunners?

  73. @Katz

    i do not think you need to qualify which of his dishonesties he needs to address

    he’s a shill – sure as G-d made little green apples

    he thinks his honest just as (wait for it) Hitler, Stalin et al believed themselves to be honest

    🙂

    p

  74. I find it telling that someone who accuses those who use the word “pollution” to describe excess atmospheric CO2 of being “Orwellian” can also describe proposals for what is a form of “user-pays” in fossil fuel usage as “like listening to Marxist students of the 1960s. ” It tells me that at least one of the following is true:

    Dawson never listened to Marxist students of the 1960s
    He did but he didn’t understand them
    He did understand them but is verballing them because he thinks nobody reading this blog listened to them and understood.
    He is clueless on the concept of “the tragedy of the commons” and “collective action problems”
    He is simply doing rhetoric as part of a general cultural preference for existing patterns of conusmption.

  75. @John Dawson

    Oh goodeee, we’re discussing meee.

    As you have brought no substance to the commentary, the closest thing to real data you have brough is … your own sentiment. I’d sooner discuss that, because that drives your utterances. I find culture interesting.

    Since you have no science or even, as far as can be told, any capacity to weigh public policy, why not explain why you make the claims that you do? That could be interesting.

  76. @John Dawson

    A doubling of the CO2 from pre industrial levels will increase global temperatures by about 1.2 C.

    The CO2 has not quite half-doubled and already the temperature is up 0.8 C. Inertia only works one way so you’re wrong already.

  77. @John Dawson

    About half of the 1.2 warming has probably occurred already. If CO2 were to double a second time the warming effect would be much less than the first time.

    I’d hate to burst your bubble but the warming force from the second doubling is the same as the warming force from the first doubling. That’s what “logarithmic dependence” means. But don’t let me spoil your delusions. You’re obviously enjoying them immensely.

  78. @John Dawson

    here’s the problem with you

    you hold two positions – one of which is defensible and one is not

    the one that is not is that all the worlds scientists are wrong – only a complete idiot or a deluded fool or a liar or a shill would hold that position – to pretend that CO2 is not a problem and that it is not a human created one is just being dishonest in every possible way

    the position that is valid is that government should not be doing anything about it – (or it should – remember it is a political issue not a scientific one)

    the slimyness of your type is this – by holding both positions immutably – both the defensible and the indefensible you leave open a path to something that i detest above all things – gross government control of our lives

    see it will play out like this

    your lot will all of a sudden discover that your indefensible position must be abandoned and that oh my gosh things are so very very bad we have to impose martial law like control of the working and middle class

    you pretend to be fighting for the liberty of the “free man” but you are not – you are a George Bush and a Geoffrey Sachs just waiting for your big opportunity to use catastrophe to rip us all off – we have all seen you do it time and time again

    i suggest you go slime away somewhere and feed on your own flesh – you are worse than these commie lot that infest this place – i detest their high and mighty “we superior elite can save us all” view of things but your lot are far far worse – because you are out and out thieves and murderers just waiting for your chance to start your pogroms

    if it were in my power i’d gun you all down

    p

  79. John Dawson :
    J-D. About half of the 1.2 warming has probably occurred already. If CO2 were to double a second time the warming effect would be much less than the first time. There is not a lot to be worried about with this direct warming effect of CO2, the worry is any net feedback warming; but it’s not sufficient to warent a precautionary disempowerment of the world. It’s much more sensible to deal with climate changes, be they natural or man made, as they arise, with our ever increasing knowledge, improving technology and increasing resources. Imagine what folly it would have been 100 years ago to try and project the problems of our time and act to solve them with the knowledge technology and resources available then.

    Even if it’s true that there’s already been a 0.6 degree increase in global temperature as a direct effect of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, how does that in any way affect whether it’s reasonable to be concerned about further increases in global temperature as a result of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration (or, for that matter, for any other reason)?

    If you consider that a total rise of 1.2 degrees is not a cause for concern, how are you deciding the level of rise which would legitimately be a cause for concern?

    If you don’t think it makes sense to plan one hundred years ahead, how far ahead do you think it does make sense to plan, and why?

  80. The $50 carbon price may be right. In Australia it should make the RET superfluous and make gas an economic replacement for brown coal. I would like to see what would happen under a cap and trade system in which all permits were auctioned and offsets disallowed. The EU claims to be heading that way under Phase 3 of their ETS.

    However politicians can’t seem to help themselves from wangling freebies for rent seeking constituents. Here Andrew Wilkie praised the carbon tax but made sure a business constituent, a zinc smelter, was 94.5% exempted. Thus carbon pricing schemes end up as a mish mash of exemptions, deductions and other escape clauses.

    In the EU the glut of free permits and questionable credits has seen their permit price slip to $10 and below. Supposedly after 2015 (should Gillard survive) these EU offsets can be used in Australia but restricted to 12.5% as opposed to 50% in Europe. It’s hard to see a CO2 spot market price ever exceeding $30 in Australia nor the freebies eliminated. If the aim is really big emissions cuts (eg 50%) it is set up to fail. I also believe we must slap a carbon tariff on goods made in China until they come on board.

  81. @John Dawson

    Imagine what folly it would have been 100 years ago to try and project the problems of our time and act to solve them with the knowledge technology and resources available then.

    The same argument can be used against those that deride renewable energy generation, to continue with the +100 year old technology of digging up coal and boiling water by definition must be a folly.

  82. @Hermit I take the view that these are anomalies and are symptomatic of a disruptive technology, the nett result appears to be a reduction in emmissions with a goal of a zero emission energy industry.

  83. It is rather dismal for an opposition to focus on a ‘tax which will roon O-straya’ given that their alternative policy to similar CO2 emissions reduction commitments has even got less legs to stand on. Take the experience of the EU, if anything will roon a nations economy, it will not be a carbon scheme, for there are far bigger financial black holes in the inflating economic universe. Rather, the proof in the pudding will be whether, however mangled, any carbon ‘tax’ scheme will actually be effective in reducing CO2 emissions.

    Further, the EU approach has invariable been portrait as corrupt and mangled, given the ‘tweaking’ and phased approach they have taken. Given the complexity of the intervention and it’s lack of precedents are there alternatives? In the US, despite their rhetoric, they also have embarked on various levels and scale to reduce their emissions, and indeed there is China with its delicate balancing act. Ultimately, are there any indications of the different approaches success in CO2 reduction?

  84. the small CPI increase is a good thing too if the shape of things to come is http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/07/19/report-generation-x-doesnt-care-about-climate-change

    Just two percent of those aged 37 to 40 said they follow climate change “very closely,” a 50 percent drop from 2009. More than half said they follow climate change “not closely.”
    Why the drop?

    Study author Jon Miller says that climate change is a complex issue that requires a lot of time to fully understand. It also is not likely to start meaningfully affecting people’s lives for many years, when Generation X will have died out!

  85. A tax question for Prof J.Q. or any other economist. If a carbon tax of x dollars per ton is levied and all the revenue raised is given back to consumers by way of rebates how is this inflationary overall? The policy is revenue neutral so no inflation push or deflation push comes from government spending. Assume for each person, the carbon tax component of the new coal electricity price would be exactly covered by the rebate. Assume no tax and rebate costs as the government already has tax and rebate mechanisms in place. (Yes, I know this assmuption is dodgy as there will still be a churn cost, but let the assumption stand for the moment.) If consumers so wished they could spend the rebate on coal fired power and effectively pay the same rate for power, hence no inflation.

    However, if another form of power now became more attractive as it carried no carbon tax, the consumer could switch to that form.

    The only inflation push would seem to be from higher administrative and compliance costs in government and business. The economic cost of the changeover would be borne by the coal mining and generation interests as they progressively faced a problem of stranded assets. This assumes no compensation for such interests.

    It seems to me inflation is zero to minimal if you do not compensate fossil fuel interests against stranded assets. Stranded assets are a legitimate risk of business in a changing world and there should be no compensation for them.

    Where unemployment occurs (and where it already exists) a separate program named the Job Guarantee could be run. All the future fund monies could be devoted to the Job Guarantee and would pay for all those jobs for about 10 years IIRC. The boost to the economy from full employment would greatly improve the economy and the initiative would pay for itself after 10 years. The Job Guarantee idea is currently recommended by Bill Mitchell though I am sure he is not the only advocator of the idea.

  86. @Jim Rose “It also is not likely to start meaningfully affecting people’s lives for many years, when Generation X will have died out!”

    As we speak ‘Frankenstorm’ Hurricane Sandy, after killing 41 people and causing considerable damage in the Caribbean heading for the US. Last year highly unusual Hurricane Irene devastated large parts of the US eastern seaboard with estimated damage of $15.6 billion. Pile that on top of the damage done by the extreme weather damage done throughout US summer, as in crop failures wildfires etc. No wonder reports are appearing that state “74% of Americans now say that shows climate change is making the weather worse”.

    We are not sheltered from the consequences of direct and indirect climate change impacts here in Oi- Oi- Oi-straya. We live in an society which heavily relies on sophisticated and complex infrastructure. We live in a globalised world where insurance risks are hedged by reinsurance. We rely on heavily industralised food production in climate critical areas to feed global population, which doubled the last 25 years (iirc) and continues to grow unprecedented. Given the current wealth distribution, what will they do to feed themselves, where will displaced people go. How many Naurus have we got?

    I am with The P O Poet, current politicians are corrupt criminals and not a genuine Leader within sight. The contemporary citizenry are a bunch of autoerotic bogans living in msm fairyland semi detached to shopville. The band is playing a gay tune on the Titanic as it enters iceberg waters, it is a matter of time and it is going to be ugly. The sad thing is, it does not have to be that way.

  87. From here:

    http://articles.marketwatch.com/2011-09-09/commentary/30750008_1_climate-change-climate-research-community-global-warming

    “AIG was the first U.S.-based insurance company to adopt a public statement on the environment and climate change, recognizing the scientific consensus that climate change is a reality and is in large part the result of human activities that have led to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere.” — Chartis, a subsidiary of American International Group Inc.

    “The earth’s climate appears to be changing in ways inconsistent with the historical record upon which catastrophe models draw data.” — ACE USA

    “Climate change could cause reduced loss predictability.” — RiverSource Life Insurance Co. of New York

    “Commercial, residential, and marine property classes may be at risk because of climate change.” — General Reinsurance, a Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

    “Swiss Re’s climate experts remain in close contact with the climate research community. Recent initiatives have looked at the effects of climate change on coastal flood damage and storm damage in Europe as well as the economics of climate adaptation…around the world, including Florida.” — Swiss Re AG

    The above are statements from the biggest insurers/reinsurers in the world.

    Looks like Jim Rose’s incredibly perspicacious GenXers [I bet that’s the first time that phrase has ever been used] will be expected to pay higher insurance premia.

    Of course, said GenX sages may opt to insure with companies that refuse to believe that the world’s risk profile has deteriorated. But if those companies do that, they should not expect to buy reinsurance from the world’s biggest reinsurers.

    JR’s GenX know-alls may not care about that and hope that when it comes time to pay up on their claims, their insurance companies will still be in business.

    Good luck with that Oh Wise Ones.

  88. @Katz The survey drew responses from 88 insurance companies and found that while there’s a broad consensus that climate change will result in more severe weather and more insurance losses, only 11 of the companies surveyed have implemented climate-change policies.

    2011 is rather late in the game to sign-up to global warming?

  89. Why do you think it is “rather late”?

    As businesses with a well established business model, I’m surprised at how quickly some of the biggest and longest established of these companies have embraced the possibility of AGW.

    I think that your statement about surprise at the alleged long interval between knowledge of AGW and acting on it is self-serving. After all, you have stated that a much smaller percentage of GenXers accepted the identical reality. In comparison, therefore, you have acknowledged tacitly that insurance companies are much more accepting of these new ideas than GenXers.

  90. globale warming was not mentioned in the recent presidential debates including the townhall. It is a close election, so every vote winner would have been mentioned?

  91. JR,

    Do you acknowledge that GenXers (and everyone else) will pay a higher risk premium on their insurance policies because of AGW?

    If so, then contrary to your assertion, GenXers are already suffering financial costs “affecting people’s lives” long BEFORE they die out!

    You need to adjust your views on this important topic. And this adjustment compels you to change your views on a wide range of related topics.

  92. @John Dawson
    No down side to enclosure? Just happy days eh? I think you need to have a bit of a loom at the effects of the industrial revolution on some of the … less well off members of society. I must say though, your blind faith is breathtaking in it’s dept.

  93. No JR.

    You made an assertion about the absence of effect of global warming on the lives of GenXers.

    Do you now resile from that assertion?

  94. John Dawson agrees that CO2 levels in the atmosphere have increased by over a third since the start of the industrial revolution and that burning fossil fuels has emitted more than enough CO2 to cause the increase, but says humans have only been responsible for part of the increases. He says we have contributed to it. So, if you think that through, then for that to be true, in a period in which atmospheric CO2 levels have risen in proportion to human emissions, something else would also have had to be emitting large amounts of CO2 while at the exact same time that we are completely unaware of, and much more strangely, something we don’t know about would have to be removing large amounts of CO2, otherwise we would have higher atmospheric levels of CO2 than we currently do. Not only would these two process have to somehow match human emissions, but they would also have to result in the carbon isotope ratios we currently observe. The mind boggles thinking about how this could come about naturally. Now perhaps this could happen on a small scale and escape our noticed, but then John Dawson would have said humans are mostly responsible for the increase in CO2 levels, not that we just contribute. So my question is, does John Dawson believe aliens are interferring with the composition of the earth’s atmosphere?

  95. @Ronald Brak

    what a quaint 70’s idea – you must be a baby boomer

    silly fool

    it’s not aliens

    it’s a number of us-es in parallel universes sequestrating carbon from their universes to ours

    and John Dawson is actually an agent of those universes – he is in fact the one and only CEO and sales manager of the “inter-dimensional refuse company inc”

    for a price he will skive off our CO2 as well to some other dumb schmuck universe earth

    Aliens? how quaint.

    p

  96. Jim Rose :
    @Katz have any insurance companies put up premiums?

    A simple Google search will reveal an unwelcome answer for you.

    Do you still assert that GenXers are unaffected by the consequences of climate change?

    Of course, GenXers can claim that their lives are not affected by climate change. Denial can persist for as long as its victim can afford to pay for the consequences of that denial.

  97. JD: That was a ‘because we can’. Let me ask a different question: is there any level of environmental despoiling which is unsustainable?

    As for JR and co’s political debate: I’d vote for any candidate with a strong, coherent stance on climate change, because frankly at this point everything else is window dressing. Happily it does seem to be the case that candidates with credibility on climate change are often sensible and compassionate on other matters as well. (Unhappily, they do not seem to be in many major parties worldwide.)

  98. JD: your response to (2) misunderstood the question. My point is not that we can’t keep burning fossil fuels (unfirtunately there’s plenty), but rather that it is an entropy-creating process – there’s no way this sort of activity is somehow offset by solar energy (which, you’ll recall, is the only difference between us and an chaos-prone closed system). That you imagine it is sustainable is fanciful, like believing in perpetual motion.

  99. @Dan good to see that you are in touch with your inner republican.

    The 2008 Republican Party presidential nominee supported cap-and-trade. See http://www.cfr.org/climate-change/candidates-climate-change/p14765 which says that ‘McCain has been one of the most outspoken members of Congress on the issue of climate change’ and he “managed to force the first real Senate vote on actually doing something about the largest environmental peril our species has yet faced.”

    In 2007, McCain he reintroduced his bill, with bipartisan co-sponsorship. In a March 2008 speech, McCain called for a “successor to the Kyoto Treaty” and a cap-and-trade system” that delivers the necessary environmental impact in an economically responsible manner.”

    mccain has since changed his mind because of the loss of voter interest in global warming.

  100. @Dan good to see that you are in touch with your inner republican.

    The 2008 Republican Party presidential nominee supported cap-and-trade. one source said that ‘McCain has been one of the most outspoken members of Congress on the issue of climate change’ and that he “managed to force the first real Senate vote on actually doing something about the largest environmental peril our species has yet faced.”

    In 2007, McCain he reintroduced his bill, with bipartisan co-sponsorship. In a March 2008 speech, McCain called for a “successor to the Kyoto Treaty” and a cap-and-trade system” that delivers the necessary environmental impact in an economically responsible manner.”

    McCain has since changed his mind in line with the loss of voter interest in global warming.

  101. Good for him! I do have some concerns about the capacity of cap and trade to deliver what needs to be delivered, and I also don’t understand how a ‘loss of voter interest’ should mean jack about something as important as this. Political leaders (I use the term in a relative sense) should be saying: this is the big issue, this is what we’ve got to figure out asap.

  102. @Dan In a democracy, political leaders need to win elections. the last Australian leader to take an unpopular big but this is good for you policy to the electorate was Howard and his GST. Hewson was the one before that who gambled on a great big new tax

    Climate change policies are not doing well at the ballot box in many countries.

    The reason for that unpopularity is the voters decide in a democracy. Democracy is not a faculty workshop that demands a high level of knowledge and analytical sophistication and a severe curtailment of self-interest as the price of admission.

    Elections are not going away. The environmental movement will have to learn to sell its messages to voters through thick and thin, and not just be the good times party.

    Schumpeter’s theory of democratic participation is voters have the ability to replace political leaders at regular elections.

    Citizens have sufficient knowledge and sophistication to vote out leaders who perform poorly, vote in minimally competent replacements, and prevent serious misalignments between government actions and public opinion and at little cost in time or distraction from their private pursuits. That is a pretty low bar that the environmental movement can’t jump.

  103. Well, sure, I guess I just don’t understand why it’s not the top of the policy’s to-do list. If your house was burning down, you wouldn’t ruminate on the pros and cons of gay marriage and Roe v Wade. In fact the solution to the GFC suggests itself too – employ people to build green infrastructure. Worry about the deficit at a less silly point in the cycle.

  104. See http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/04/15/think_again_the_green_economy?page=0,6 by Matthew Kahn:
    “With the right policies, we can build a green economy and stabilize the climate. A good first step might be to stop telling ourselves that half measures will work and that the transition will be easy and painless: just a few subsidies here, some technological wizardry there, and presto, green jobs. This may be the most inconvenient truth of all.”

  105. Jim Rose,

    Climate is a physical reality which does not react to opinion polls or democratic opinion.

    There is only one Climate reality, and it is the one that is in the process of forming.

    Neither my opinion nor your opinion are at all relevent to the physical reality.

    It is only our collective action that is important.

    Although you clearly do not understand this, we are all better off for facing the challenge of Climate Change. Technology is moving at a phenomenal pace and the resultant efficiencies and economies are serving to improve our standard of living.

  106. @BilB The Greens advocate applying truth in advertising laws to election promises. This is shooting themselves in the foot because of their unwillingness to admit that there will be great big new taxes.

    The Greens are not leading by example by saying that that the transition will be easy and painless: a few subsidies here, some technological wizardry there and presto, green jobs.

    Churchill did better with the promise of blood, sweat, and tears.

  107. I’m up for significantly higher taxes and certainly far from sanguine about the notion that there will be technological silver bullets. But massive investment in PV seems to be an obvious candidate for public expenditure (and job creation).

    I don’t know about you, but I’m very, very average in terms of income by Australian standards and my life is frankly luxurious by any reasonable standard.

  108. And wind. And yes, it will cost. And yes, it will be ‘inefficient’ in terms of CBA. You know what else is inefficient? Unemployed people, and collapsed biospheres.

  109. Basically the policy settings as they stand have a massive, massive (albeit largely – not entirely – deferred) set of externalities attached. The notion that if we ignore them that somehow a more sensible or responsible position – morally, economically, whatever criteria you like – than not ignoring them is bizarre. Even if you’re Hayek, it doesn’t make sense. Happy to do my bit – where’s the 51% on this?

  110. Jim Rose,

    You are just flinging words around aimlessly. Try adding some quantitative substance to your ramblings.

    The fact is that the transition to a Green economy will be painless, and economically positive. The Greens are being both honest and completly factual.

    The “Great Big New Taxes” that I am most concerned about are Toxic Tony’s 1.5% business tax to cover his gilt edged maternity leave “”””promise””””, and the stealth taxes he will need to impose to cover his agricultural corporate welfare Soil Carbon farcical fantasy. That is if he ever gets close to being a prime minister, which I doubt will eventuate.

    But the real concern here is that you believe that an Abbott government would mean lower taxes. That is one huge leap of faith, a leap over one huge credibility gap.

  111. To be more precise, the transition to a Green economy is consistent with steadily improving material living standards, as well as environmental benefits. Conventional measures of GDP, National Income and so on will increase more slowly than they would otherwise. If “Green economy” is taken to mean simply to refer to stabilzing global CO2 concentrations, the required reduction in growth is around 0.1 percentage points, relative to a baseline of around 2.0 for developed countries.

    The OP is an illustration. Australia’s carbon price is already having a significant impact on CO2 emissions, and we can now see that its cost is trivial, exactly as all competent and honest economists predicted (I won’t bother naming the exceptions, but their absurd failure on this topic discredits them more generally).

    This leads me to a response to John Dawson’s silly, but amazingly common, belief that the whole climate change crisis is a plot to bring down capitalism. It’s taken 20+ years to get the carbon price we now have, and the result is an imperceptible increase in prices. At this rate of progress, the end of capitalism is further away than the heat death of the universe, which will render concerns about global warming irrelevant.

  112. @BilB will the transition to a green economy require a carbon tax?

    Beware of members of the green left and progressive left who conveniently join the Ed Prescott club: taxes have large effects because elasticities are large.

    This policy conversion is after a life of saying the top tax rate and high incomes tax marginal rates do not affect economic growth, investment and the labour supply by much.

    Peter diamond recently wrote a paper and WSJ Op-ed saying that taking the tax code as given, the top marginal income tax rate should be 48%; but it could be as high as 76% if the tax code was shorn of deductions without lowering growth rates.

    Is the true case against the carbon tax is it might raise revenue, but will not change behaviour much towards a green economy? For a small carbon tax to work, elasticities must be high, which they are not when discussing any other progressive left agenda.

    an example: people used to argue for high taxes on tobacco and alcohol because price elasticities were low. They now argue for high taxes on tobacco and alcohol to reduce consumption and addiction even through the price elasticities are no higher than before. Expressive voting at its best: no interest in whether the policy they cheer for actually works

  113. @Jim Rose It is easier to ask you if you have any evidence to support your inferrence that price (tax) does not influence consumption of tobacco? (hint: huge body evidence to support hypothesis that price to influence tobacco consumption).

  114. Rog, I said that “people used to argue for tobacco and alcohol because price elasticities were LOW”.

    Gary Becker argues that tobacco and alcohol price elasticities were high in the long-run. He is right, but many are allergic to the reasoning he used to get to that conclusion about rational addiction.

    again beware of people who conveniently join the Prescott club: taxes have large effects because elasticities are large – after a life of saying the tax rates do not affect behaviour.

  115. Jim Rose,

    The initial target for reducing CO2 emissions significantly is to defossil fuel the electricity industry, and carry forward with a substantial electrification of transport.

    My preferred method for the grid energy industry is to apply a 3 cents per unit levy on the retail rate for electricity. When I first proposed this my retail rate was 13.5 cents per unit.

    The advantage of this approach is that it raises around 7 billion dollars per year. This is sufficient to completely replace the energy infrastructure over a 30 year period. The second advantage is that the infrastructure is created effectively debt free so there is no capital servicing fee content in the electricity supply cost. The third advantage is that the infrastructure is owned by the consumers, not the providers. The fourth advantage is that of predictable delivery and results, important where there is an essential emissions reduction profile to achieve.

    The investment fund would have been available to industry to use applied for by tender based on the infrastructure type and the delivered energy cost. So private industry does the build and operation.

    This approach was howled down as being a slush fund for industry and unworkable.

    So instead what we have is a 9 cents per unit increase in the retail price of electricity, and absolutely no certainty of deliverable emeissions reductions.

    However, with the Carbon Price emissions are reducing.

    Now to answer your question, and lets not quote the WSJ as it does not speak of the Australian experience, new information leads me to say that in principle we do not need a Carbon Tax to achieve significant emissions reductions. But…and it is a big but, there does need to be significant government initiative to promote the uptake of key technologies as they become available.

    Emissions reducing enabling technologies and initiatives:

    Distributed solar electricity production both private and commercial.

    Rapid uptake of electric vehicles of all scales

    Rapid uptake of hyper efficient transport (VWL1 and all equivalents) [reduced energy bills,reduced roadware, reduced road space required, reduced parking space required, reduced rail intersection parking space required, overall increased functionality]

    Promotion of solar industrial processing.

    All of these are consumer funded investments requiring only legislation support form government. ie minimal cost.

    The existing Carbon Pricing is sufficient to induce the energy producers to perform the required changes, I believe. By far the largest shift to renewables will be performed by the consumer with the driving vector being corporate greed coupled with a degerating business model. ie as consumers are able to drop the cost of energy from their budgets through domestic solar and other, living standards will increase even as global oil prices steadily rise, and grid energy will increase in cost due to altered consumption patterns.

  116. @Jim Rose
    Are you refering to short term or long term elasticities?
    I’ve lost count of how many times those dismissive of the carbon tax have used the flimsy argument that “people aren’t going to walk around in the dark just because electricity costs more”.
    If that is your view then you have missed the point entirely, pricing carbon is not about people going without or even dramatically changing behaviour, it’s about shifting production methods to supply close substitutes or even identical products but in a less carbon intensive fashion.

    Using marginal tax rates and growth as an analogy to carbon pricing is misguided at best, the only alternative to growth is no growth and it’s hardly surprising that investors prefer a lower after tax return to stuffing their money under a matress.

    However, for the vast majority of carbon intensive activities there is an energy efficient alternative.
    The only reason those alternatives are not already the status quo are because they have not been able to externalise any of their costs unlike the fosil fuel industry. Carbon pricing is simply about creating a level playing field where alternative production methods can compete on their merits.

  117. Oh,

    other enabling technologies:

    Smart appliances, including machinery. (these adjust consumption patterns to optimise solar energy useage, essential for closed “use it or loose it” systems)

  118. @Jim Rose you also ask “Is the true case against the carbon tax is it might raise revenue, but will not change behaviour much towards a green economy?”

    I can see your intention and methodology, seeding doubt by using opinion to refute facts. In almost every situation, when called upon to provide evidence, you duck and weave and then pop up with another mysterious confabulation. That’s OK and I don’t have a problem with that, people have their own issues which can influence their perception and it all becomes part of the story. But like it or not we are heading towards zero emissions energy production and that is that.

  119. Cost to burn a tonne of coal for most Australian coal plants before July 1st: About $3
    Minimum cost to burn a tonne of coal in Australia after July 1st: About $70

    Coal capacity mothballed since July 1st: Playford B 240 MW, Tarong 700 MW, Yallourn 360 MW.
    Switched to Seasonal load following since July 1st: Northern Power Station 520 MW
    Planned Gas capacity shelved since July 1st: Dalton 1,000 MW

  120. That is not the right question, Jim Rose.

    The correct question is “which carbon consumption penalty scheme will achieve zero emissions energy at the lowest cost”?

  121. ^ correct

    Zero emissions is a frighteningly long way off, but we can at least begin the transition, and Pigovian taxes are one of tools in the armoury.

  122. Maybe this venn diagram is more useful for stereotyping Jim Rose? He doesn’t seem to have any particular area of interest in his quest for some attention and human interaction. So he is just a generalist, an opportunist ready to take any little piece of information that might support his narrow mindset, and try it on as a way of discomforting those of us who can’t see how good the numbers are if only the people would behave properly?

    http://infoproc.blogspot.com.au/2008/11/venn-diagram-for-economics.html

  123. @Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy

    Many many thanks Catallaxy – I knew there was some reason I watched this thred…. To get a cathartic belly laugh after much eye rolling.

    While my favorite of the two JD probably sees himself as Reagan, I would like to believe he is more likely channelling Xenu. The required ‘hat’ is a marvel – I want one – as long as it is nuclear powered.

  124. Some body is awake. Just got this from consumer watch body ….:

    “”CHOICE is working with community and business groups to seek urgent energy reforms that will help ease the burden on households and businesses.

    Electricity prices have risen by over 50 per cent in the past five years, and further rises are expected largely due to increasing network ‘poles and wires’ costs and coal and gas prices.

    In the wake of these electricity price rises, we’ve teamed up with the Australian Industry Group, Brotherhood of St Laurence and the Energy Efficiency Council to commission a wide-ranging report of realistic options to reduce prices.

    The independent report, Policy options for maximising downward pressure on electricity prices, was prepared by respected energy consultancy Oakley Greenwood, and released on 29 October.”
    ……
    According to the report, the cost of building new ‘poles and wires’ network infrastructure was responsible for around 50 per cent of electricity price rises over the last five years, and network costs now account for around 40 per cent of household electricity bills.

    Replacing ageing poles and wires, on its own, accounted for less than half of this cost. Without decisive action to ensure the networks are as cost-efficient as possible, network costs will push up electricity prices even further.

    One way to help networks become more efficient is to reduce ‘super peak’ demand, which occurs on just a few days a year, normally during very hot or cold days.

    Around 25 per cent of electricity bills are driven by these ‘super peaks’, because we built infrastructure to meet peak demand and generation is more expensive during peaks. If we reduce super peaks it will help to make electricity affordable, while ensuring that the network is still reliable and households receive the energy services they need.

    However, network costs aren’t the only driver of future electricity price rises. Over the next decade the prices electricity generators pay for gas and coal are also predicted to increase, in turn pushing up electricity prices.

    This means it is essential to help energy users get more out of each dollar that they spend on electricity. Boosting energy efficiency will help households stay comfortable while cutting electricity bills.””

    http://www.choice.com.au/media-and-news/consumer-news/news/a-plan-for-affordable-energy.aspx

  125. @Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy The standard view of deliberation is group discussion leads to better outcomes, if only because competing views are stated and exchanged.

    Cass Sunstein has argued:
    • that there are limitless news and information options and, more significantly, the limitless options for avoiding it.

    • Gravitating toward those newspapers, blogs, podcasts and other media that reinforce their own views, citizens carefully filter out opposing or alternative viewpoints to create an ideologically exclusive “Daily Me.”

    • The sense of personal empowerment consumers gain-and subsequently equate with “freedom”-only fuels the “echo chamber” effect, which replaces a sense of democratic unity with accelerating polarization. We risk enclave deliberation

    Debate risks group polarisation members of a deliberating group predictably move toward a more extreme point in the direction indicated by the members’ predeliberation tendencies!

    Denouncing anyone who disagrees is similar to the role of the mind guard in group-think to secure the Daily Me.

    If the righteous majority silences or ignores its opponents, it will never have to defend its belief and over time it will forget the arguments for it.

    As well as losing its grasp of the arguments for its belief, Mill adds that the majority will in due course even lose a sense of the real meaning and substance of its belief. What earlier may have been a vital belief will be reduced in time to a series of phrases retained by rote. The belief will be held as a dead dogma rather than as a living truth.

  126. How high would a carbon price have to be for us to become carbon neutral? Well, as our gracious host mentioned, most estimates are in the $50-$100 range. But personally I am more optimistic. One reason is because I think these estimates have missed the recent plummet in solar PV costs. Another reason is that I think we can remove carbon from the atmosphere at a reasonably low cost. A third reason is there is plenty of room for improved efficiency. And finally I’m sure there will be continued improvements in the cost of solar, wind, and other low emission sources of energy, and also improvements in transportation. We’ve already seen in Australia how rooftop solar, improved efficiency, and a low carbon price have reduced demand for grid electricity resulted in the shutdown of gigawatts of coal power and the shelving of plans for new gas capacity. So I think that maybe a carbon price as low as $35 a tonne could be sufficient. Note I am not saying that $35 a tonne will be enough, I am saying it may be enough if we’re lucky. I do expect estimates to be revised downwards, even though they may not be revised that low.

  127. If the righteous majority silences or ignores its opponents, it will never have to defend its belief and over time it will forget the arguments for it.

    Gimme a break. By far the most serious example of censorship on climate science came from the Bush clique.

    As the Christian Science Monitor reported in 2007, the George W. Bush administration attempted to control which climate scientists could speak with reporters. It also edited scientists’ congressional testimony on climate science.

    http://m.csmonitor.com/2007/1212/p03s03-uspo.html

    Which category of trollery does JR’s absurd implication fit into?

  128. Is the descriptor “Bone-headed stupidity” appropriate as a classification here? It is such a vast category, that it doesn’t help people hone in on what they might be looking for.

    Besides, at this point of the climate change debate, I no longer think stupidity is the problem. I think you need a new label for such items titled “Exposing blantant lies”.

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