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  •  You still didn't answer my question about (0+ / 0-)

    percentages. A couple posts ago you said you did not deny a significant chance of dangerous human caused climate change. What is this significant chance you envision? Why don't you give me what you think the chance is that Human caused climate change will result in at least 1,000,000,000 deaths, the chance for at least 3,000,000,000 deaths, and the chance of a runaway greenhouse effect which we will say for this risk calculation means 7,000,000,000 deaths. We can ignore all values lower than 1,000,000,000 or between the measures I listed to make this calculation easier.

    •  Ok, let's go with (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Michael91

      5, 3 and 1.

      •  Even with the odds you select I still think (0+ / 0-)

        it is our best interest to spend massive amounts of resources, say 2% of World GDP, to get off fossil fuels. Those odds get us:
        .02*1,000,000,000=20,000,000
        .02*3,000,000,000=60,000,000
        .01*7,000,000,000=70,000,000
        Total=150,000,000 lives
        Don't you think that's worth sacrificing around 2% of World GDP for? After all that's more than twice as many people as those who died in World War II.

        •  OK, but let's compare: (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Michael91

          For comparison purposes, let's talk about how many people will die unnecessarily because of poverty.

          We know for a fact that poverty reduces life expectancy. As of 2001, life expectancy in Africa was 54 years vs. 77 years for the U.S. Although there are a number of different causes, the most salient is clearly poverty. The mechanisms are pretty well established -- malnutrition, dirty water, lack of access to medical care, lack of ability to get away from natural hazards, crime, hopelessness, disease, malaria, etc. There's no need to engage in much debate about causal links or probabilities there. Those are things that we know happen everyday, and that directly cause people to die prematurely.

          So, you do the math: taking into account population growth, what is the probability that 1, 3, or 5 billion people in the world will die because of poverty over the next 100 years?

          Even with a back of the napkin exercise, the number of lives worldwide that will be cut short by poverty in the next 100 years goes easily into the billions.

          And what would be the cost of ending poverty?

          According to this source, it could be done for $40-60 billion annually worldwide -- significantly less than the 1-2% of world GDP (which works out to $650 billion to 1.3 trillion).

          We know for a fact that poverty will cut short the lives of billions of people in the next 100 years and we could end it for less than we are contemplating spending to combat AGW, which might costs the lives of more or probably less than the same number of people. We could also do so without having to do environmentally destructive things such as nuclear power, carbon sequestration and emissions trading schemes. We could also do so without raising the price of the very energy sources that people in povery often rely upon for their basic sustenance.

          If it's about saving lives on a global basis over a period of 100 years, why not do that?

          •  I'm all for ending global poverty (0+ / 0-)

            You've got no argument for me there. There is no reason why as you mention we should not be spending this kind of money to wipe out world poverty. We can both agree this is a travesty. I feel that climate change is an even higher priority because I put the estimates of death loss at much much higher percentages than you do, and feel that climate change would greatly increase world poverty. Clearly you don't but theses are separate issues.

            We both know that money not spent on dealing with climate change will not be spent on wiping out world poverty. That's because this country is full of nationalists who won't spend a bit of our money to reduce the suffering of billions. Of course we're almost assuredly not going to take action on climate change for similar reasons.

            But these two are not opposing causes. If it is worth the cost for both curbing climate change and for ending world poverty, than we can both work for both of these causes even if we disagree over which is the higher priority. They are not in competition with each other.

            •  Everything that we as a society (0+ / 0-)

              decide to devote resources to is in competition with everything else. That's what I'm trying to get people to recognize. It's mushy-headed to just be in favor of everything "good" without considering what are the trade-offs.

              I serve on a Board in the City of Los Angeles. We face a budget crisis. You could raise taxes, but people and businesses move freely, so you can actually end up losing revenue when you raise the rate. You could cut pay -- but that means going to war against unions representing policeman, fireman, engineers, gardeners, etc. You can cut services, but that means that disabled people will no longer get rides to health clinics, that 911 emergencies will be responded to twice as slowly, that local at-risk youth will no longer have recreational programs in the afternoons and summers.

              You can shout all you want about the rights of the disabled, of city workers and of the need to have th rich pay their fair share, but it's not going to solve the problem. You have to make hard decisions that involve trade-offs if you are to actually have an impact on anything.

              The same is true for climate change. When you elevate the issue to the greatest threat facing mankind, where anything is justified if it will stop it, then of course other priorities including fighting poverty are going to fall by the wayside. To fail to recognize that is to fail to be serious about engaging with these issues.

              •  Yes to an extent devoting resources to climate (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Rei

                change would take away resources from combating poverty not caused by climate change, just as devoting resources to anything we do would. Let's take food stamps for example. Food stamps can help the poor in America but the money spent on food stamps would save more lives if it were used to combat poverty abroad where less money can do more good. Every dollar we don't spend on food stamps here has a chance of going towards ending global poverty, not high but a chance. So given your reason stated above for opposing using resources to tackle climate change, do you oppose food stamps?

                •  I would oppose food stamps if it was presented (0+ / 0-)

                  as the most important use of government and societal resources, that any amount of money spent on food stamps is justified because PEOPLE WILL DIE if we fail to do so, that anyone who questions plans to spend all of our available resources on food stamps is akin to a Holocaust denier who might as well be signing the death warrants of poor people who will starve to death, if because food was expensive, we decided that all laws and regulations dealing with food safety, organics, GMO's etc., need to be immediately eliminated in order to facilitate our ability to confront by far THE GREATEST THREAT TO MANKIND. Yeah, I would be opposed to that.

                  But if we are to take a look at the needs, at other priorities, at the costs involved, and make a rational, reasoned decision about how much resources should be given to food stamps, then by all means, I'm in support.

                  •  I'm talking about spending around 2% of world GDP (0+ / 0-)

                    to shift the world's energy use to non-carbon fuels. This would involve heavy spending on non-carbon energy sources some sort of carbon tax or similar system, moratoriums on further coal plants etc. Given that by your own estimates climate change would cost at least an average of 150,000,000 lives, are you in favor of this?

                    •  It depends (0+ / 0-)

                      First, I gave you those figures in order to move the discussion. Before I signed on to that I'd have to be convinced that catastrophic climate change is enough of a threat to warrant those kinds of resources. As mentioned above, far more people die of poverty, we can predict this with 100% certainty, and we could stop it for more like .5% of world GDP, yet we don't do that, so why should we do this?

                      Second, if we are to engage in such an effort, you'd have to promise me no nukes, no carbon sequestration, no traders getting rich buying and selling emissions credits raising prices for everyone, while having no effect on greenhouse gas emission increases, and any other environmentally and economically destructive side schemes and that any impacts on poor people in terms of increased food and energy costs will be fully offset by subsidies, and that whatever plan is put into place will actually stabilize greenhouse gases (unlike Kyoto and Cap and Trade Version 1.0 E.U. both of which failed to do so). If I can be sure of those things, then sure, I'd consider spending some significant resources to shift to non-carbon fuels.

                      But the fact is that you can't even begin to give me any of those assurances, so it's a moot point.

                      •  As I mentioned earlier, you shouldn't compare (0+ / 0-)

                        Climate change to poverty reduction and deem global poverty reduction a more worthy cause as reason to abandon climate change if you aren't doing the same for other spending like food stamps and the like. Why is climate change so different?

                        You are never going to have that, that's why it's a cost. You could never get similar assurances when tackling global poverty either. Dealing with climate change will have costs; as I mentioned around 2% of GDP. The question is, are they worth it for the problems that climate change could cause. There are also benefits such as getting on renewable resources. I think that we will likely face losses of billions and have a significant possibility of destroying all life on earth so the cost is certainly worth it to me. Earlier you gave probabilities which gave an average of 150,000,000 lives lost. In that scenario I still feel 2% of GDP is worth it. Are you now backtracking from even those very low percentages you gave? If not, would you say it is worth the 2% for the 150,000,000 lives?

                        •  But I am . . . (0+ / 0-)

                          you aren't doing the same for other spending like food stamps and the like

                          . . . that's the whole point of my previous post which you seem to have just dismissed. I'm not an extremist about global poverty, food stamps or climate change. I think they are all significant issues that should be looked at rationally and addressed in the context of competing priorities and available data.

                          See, I don't need to be certain that climate change will not catastrophic. I can entertain the possibility that climate change is something that needs to be addressed, avoided, planned for, whatever the case may be without certainty. If I'm not certain about climate change then I can support measures to combat it that make sense because they are things that are good ideas on their own aside from climate change, and I can remain concerned about other things besides of climate change and make decisions about what the priority should be. It's only those who are certain about climate change who advocate for things that they wouldn't otherwise advocate for and who prioritize that issue above all others.

                          As I said, whether I would support a program to combat climate change has little to do with the particular percent of GDP involved. It has much more to do with whether climate change is being used as a cover to do these things that I'm opposed to: nuclear power; carbon sequestration; cap and trade. If you bring me a climate change proposal that doesn't do those things and does make sure that the poor are made whole for any additional food and energy costs, and that will actually do the job it's intended to do, then I might be able to support it. But that is not on the table, so it's moot.

                          I would only support those plans that are on the table if I was certain that catastrophic climate change will occur and that we won't be able to adapt and that it's the greatest of all the threats and problems facing mankind today. And I'm far from certain of any of those things.

                          •  That doesn't make much sense to me (0+ / 0-)

                            given the average, 150,000,000 deaths your % estimates produce. I would think this kind of cost in lives would warrant other costs paid to prevent it. Why should a cost such as this be dismissed as not worth any sacrifices to prevent?

                          •  I think you're confusing average with (0+ / 0-)

                            probability. There maybe a 1% chance of the Earth being destroyed by a meteor in the next 100 years; that does not mean that an average of 60 million people are going to die of meteor strikes over the same period.

                            But you're not really addressing my point. I said very clearly that it's not a matter of the money in my book. It's a question of whether the threat of catastrophic climate change is real enough to warrant doing things that we wouldn't otherwise do, such as publicly-subsidize nuclear power, carbon sequestration and emissions trading schemes.

                            The costs really follow that discussion. If it's a big enough threat to warrant potentially ruining parts of the Earth for (functionally) ever, then I suppose, yeah, you're right, any cost is justified. I don't buy that it's a big enough threat to warrant taking the chance with nuclear, and therefore I also think that any potential measures should have to compete with other economic, environmental and social priorities for priority in terms of commitments of public resources.

                          •  There is way less than a 1% chance of earth (0+ / 0-)

                            being hit by a large meteor in the next 100 years, but that's besides the point. Yes in that situation 60 million is the average if you are figuring a population of 6,000,000,000. That doesn't mean 60 million die every time, but that's not what an average is. An average is the total divided by the number of terms. Since this is in percentage terms that would be 99 trials where no one dies, and one trial where 6,000,000,000 die. The total of the 100 trials is 6,000,000,000. Divided by 100, that is 60,000,000, the average. Maybe you're thinking of a median. That is the middle term, which in that case would be 0.

                            You don't have to talk about climate in particular. For a situation in which an average of 150,000,000 would die, would you be willing to make these sacrifices? If not, why?

          •  $40-60B? (0+ / 0-)

            Under ten dollars per person per year?  To eliminate poverty worldwide?  Now how does that work?

            We know for a fact that poverty will cut short the lives of billions of people in the next 100 years

            We also know what AGW will do to them.  What do you think loss of coral reefs does to the food supply of people who depend on them?  What do you think the loss of a large percent of the amazon rainforest from the reduction in tropical rainfall will do to local populations?  What do you think the spread of Dengue Fever will do?  I could go on and on.

            We could also do so without having to do environmentally destructive things such as nuclear power, carbon sequestration and emissions trading schemes.

            Emissions trading is "environmentally destructive"?  Oh please.

            •  Yeah, emissions trading is environmentally (0+ / 0-)

              destructive, at least as it was applied in Europe:

              Much of the cost of the European system is being paid by the public in the price of goods and services, including higher electricity bills, but whether the money is doing any good is an open question. The amount of carbon dioxide emitted by plants and factories participating in the system has not fallen. Their emissions rose 0.4 percent in 2006 and another 0.7 percent in 2007.

              http://www.nytimes.com/...

              I don't know the validity of the numbers cited by that particular campaign to end world poverty that I linked to. It could be off. I do know that the Grameen Bank has lifted people out of poverty by the thousands with $100 microloans that are paid back at rates that would put to shame the U.S. mortgage market. $40-60 billion recycled through that kind of a system could probably go a long ways.

              We don't know for a fact what AGW will do. There are projects and models and anecdotes here and there, but we don't know for sure. There are those who argue that the increased CO2 has actually helped stave off hunger by providing fertilizer for agriculture. Who knows? The point is that the causes of poverty-related deaths are ongoing and not in question whatsoever.

              •  I already refuted that elsewhere. (0+ / 0-)

                And since when is a fractional-percent rise worse than business-as-usual?

                As for microloans, that needs capital -- clearly something different, and doesn't make sense in the context of a recurring basis.

                We don't know for a fact what AGW will do.

                We don't know for a fact that the sun will rise tomorrow.  But I don't plan to gouge out my eyes and try to join the mole people.

                There are those who argue that the increased CO2 has actually helped stave off hunger by providing fertilizer for agriculture.

                There are those who argue that the moon landing was faked.  That doesn't make them right.  Some plants respond positively to increased CO2, while others respond negatively.  CO2 is generally not a limitation to plant growth except in tightly sealed greenhouses in the winter.  Growth constraints are generally either sunlight, water, or mineral.

                •  What plants respond negatively to CO2? (0+ / 0-)

                  We do know for a fact that the sun will rise tomorrow. Even the most committed AGW scientist is going to acknowledge that these are modeled projections, and that there are always unexpected things that happen in the universe, far more likely than the sun not rising.

                  The loans are made on a revolving basis, so it is a recurring cost.

                  •  Loans (0+ / 0-)

                    The whole point of a loan is that it gets paid back.  To loan money, you need money upfront, but not recurring funds.

                    We do know for a fact that the sun will rise tomorrow.

                    Really?  Prove it.

                    Even the most committed AGW scientist is going to acknowledge that these are modeled projections

                    They are not "modeled projections".  Models are just one part of climate science.  Just to pick a random example, there's historical responses to different forcings.

                    •  I can't believe you're arguing this point (0+ / 0-)

                      on the anti-poverty loans. If you had 40-60 billion a year, you could start the first year and loan out say half of that amount and use the rest for other projects. Many of the Grameen loans have pretty short terms, and their are paid back at very high rates. So, year two, you take half of the next batch of money and make new loans, the other half against to the micro-loans. Except this time, half the loans from the first year are paid back. So, now instead of a 60 billion dollar program, now you have a 75 billion dollar program. Sweet. Rinse and repeat until you end poverty world wide.

                      Proving the sun will rise tomorrow? Yeah, it could be done, because we have satellites, and so even though it's dark, we know for a fact that the sun is still shining and the Earth is still spinning.

                      Historical responses to different forcings? What do you think the models are based on?

                      •  Re (0+ / 0-)

                        So, now instead of a 60 billion dollar program, now you have a 75 billion dollar program.

                        Then why wouldn't you just want all of the money upfront?  What is the point of spreading it out over multiple years?  There's no reason why a loan program should have a constant recurring cost associated with it.  That's why they're called loans; they get paid back, and you loan the money to other people.

                        Proving the sun will rise tomorrow? Yeah, it could be done, because we have satellites, and so even though it's dark, we know for a fact that the sun is still shining and the Earth is still spinning.

                        How do you know 100% that you're interpreting the data correctly?  Or that there's not a roving black hole entering our solar system?  Or that the Large Hadron Collider isn't about to turn the Earth into a black hole or a ball of self-expanding Strange matter?  How do you know for a fact that our world isn't a gigantic alien Truman show, or some extradimensional child's computer simulation ant farm?

                        Nothing is known 100%.  Which is my point.  But once you get to a high enough standard of evidence, you quit treating it like a mere hypothesis and start acting on it.

                        What do you think the models are based on?

                        First Principles.  I've seen the code.  What did you think the models are based on?

                        •  Hmm . . . (0+ / 0-)

                          I would think that the models would be based on . . .

                          historical responses to different forcings

                          among other things.

                          WRT ending poverty for $40-60 billion per year, I see no point in arguing back and forth about the exact methodology. It doesn't affect our argument. If there are credible advocates arguing that, then it's reasonable to assume that it would be easily done for 10-20 times that (1-2 percent of world GDP), which is what is being proposed to be spent on preventing global warming.

                          Yes, I suppose it's true that we don't know at 100% certainty that the sun will rise tomorrow, so I would agree that we can make decisions on less than 100% certainty. Ultimately we have to make some kind of societal determination about the likelihood of catastrophic global warming. I understand where you guys are coming from -- if I was 99% sure that we were ALL GOING TO DIE if we don't stop emitting greenhouse gases RIGHT NOW, I would support doing ANYTHING to stop it also.

                          I just think the degree of certainty is nowhere near there at this point.

                          •  Re (0+ / 0-)

                            I would think that the models would be based on historical responses to different forcings among other things.

                            They're not.  They're based on first principles; do you know what that means?  If not, I can get you some reading material on the subject.

                            The models are validated against historical data, but the calculations are almost entirely first principles.  There are a few statistical models in there for things that don't simulate well (namely, cloud formation response, which is a chaotic process); those are the primary source of uncertainty in the models.  But you can swing cloud formation in either direction, and the general results are still the same.

                            I just think the degree of certainty is nowhere near there at this point.

                            The experts in the field overwhelmingly disagree with you on the cost/benefit curve.  You're certainly free to disappear with the experts if you choose.

                          •  Wow, so according to you (0+ / 0-)

                            we've mathematically deduced from "first principles" AGW, with no need to actually consult the historical record other than to "validate" our deductions. That really makes me feel a lot more certain about things. Not.

                            The "experts" in the field do not agree about anything with respect to the cost/benefit curve. Science is usually agnostic about political choices, as it should be.

                          •  Are you even reading what I'm writing? (0+ / 0-)

                            we've mathematically deduced from "first principles" AGW, with no need to actually consult the historical record other than to "validate" our deductions. That really makes me feel a lot more certain about things. Not.

                            Are you even reading what I'm writing?  I pointed out that the models are just one line of evidence -- which is why I brought up comparing planetary responses to natural forcings as an example of another (out of many).

                            And why the hell don't you want historical validation of the models?  Don't get upset because you misunderstood how they work.

                            And lastly, what is your problem with first principles physics models?  Is your argument that our very understanding of the laws of physics is in error?

                            The "experts" in the field do not agree about anything with respect to the cost/benefit curve. Science is usually agnostic about political choices, as it should be.

                            IPCC WG3.  Read it.  Or at least look at the author list.  It's a mix of scientists and economists.

                          •  OK, I guess we have a semantic dispute (0+ / 0-)

                            between "models" and "projections". The original point was that no matter how you cut it catastrophic climate change is a (very) educated guess about the future, as opposed to death from poverty, which is a guaranteed occurrence both now and into the future. Same thing with the mechanisms -- we can theorize that because the temperature goes up by X, that this will mean that this or that geographic area will experience drought and/or famine, which will result on Y numbers of people dying, but it's ultimately still a prediction. It has not come to pass, and just as other dire predictions that seemed inevitable at one time -- the "Population Bomb" for example -- never came to pass, it's entirely possible that the dire predictions associated with climate change will never come to pass, whether or not we act (and vice-versa, it's possible that it will all come to pass even if we act).

                            I stand corrected that the predictions of catastrophic change are not just based on models, but also on other kinds of information and analysis. It was a semantic error on my part, because I was in my mind using "models" as a shorthand for predictions.

                            You are wrong about the role of IPCC on political/policy questions:

                            [The IPCC's] role as defined in the "Principles Governing IPCC Work" is "to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.

                            IPCC reports should be neutral with respect to policy, although they may need to deal objectively with scientific, technical and socio-economic factors relevant to the application of particular policies.

                            http://www.ipcc.ch/...

                          •  The IPCC reports don't advocate a particular (0+ / 0-)

                            policy.  But they do state what the consequences of each given policy will be, and the margins of error and understanding on each of them.  That's the reason why economists were retained for it.

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