Friday, December 18, 2009


Jim Manzi Talks About the IPCC Consensus and Tom Friedman

I loved this Jim Manzi guest post at MasterResource, particularly because I recruited him for the task. The irony is that the latest IPCC report does not support aggressive emission cuts. You'll notice that the people who do propose such actions will say things like, "Things have gotten worse since the IPCC AR4 report came out, as this paper in Science suggests..." Here's Manzi:
It is amusing to watch advocates of rapid, aggressive carbon dioxide emissions reduction, when confronted with the plain facts of the consensus scientific projections for climate change and its associated damages, move from “science says we must do this or die” to “well, actually, the science is pretty uncertain, so it’s possible that we might die,” and then proceed to some restatement of Pascal’s Wager.

Tom Friedman’s recent New York Times column is a perfect illustration of this logic. I’ll quote him at length, before demonstrating that his emission-cuts-as-insurance analogy breaks down once you plug in actual numbers...

nice to see it ,well done .
Bob,sorry, but I find Manzi`s rather sick and knowing false gotcha on the expected consequences of climate change to be almost physically repulsive.

In order to trot out the aggregate GDP figure, Manzi`s certainly had to have read the AR4 SPM, which lays out very, very major ecosystem changes:

Economists all understand that GDP figures don`t reflect damages to ecosystems, expect perversely to count expenditures to cope with changes as GDP "growth" - thus incorporating the broken window effect.

The report makes it clear that the aggregate figure is an underestimation as a result, and also notes that because costs and benefits won`t be equally shared, costs in some places will exceed the aggregate number.

Further, because climate damages are expected to be felt in poorer countries, this depresses the way we monetize the damages.

We also have fundamental libertarian objections to cost-benefit analysis, especially here where it`s easy to see that Manzi`s purpose is to ignore that the bulk of climate damages are expected to fall on those least responsible and least prepared/capable of coping.

The fact that the people he debates this issue with aren`t well aware of these points isn`t a reason to cheer Manzi on, but a shamefull strike against him.
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