Tag Archives: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

My conversation with a leftist friend about basic economics and rent control

My conversation with a leftist friend about “Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy, 4th Edition“, by Thomas Sowell.

Him: I remember why I stopped reading that book when you asked me to read it.

Me: Why did you stop reading it?

Him: Because of the chapter on rent control.

Me: Chapter 3 is the chapter on price controls. It talks about rent control.

Him: I expect an economist to present both sides of rent control. He has to present the arguments for and against rent control.

Me: There are not two sides to rent control. There is only one side to rent control. He chose that because it is a clear cut example of the problems caused by price controls. Economists universally condemn rent control, across the ideological spectrum.

Him: No they don’t.

Me: The chair of the Department of Economics at Harvard University, Greg Mankiw, reports in his economics textbook that 93% of professional economists agree that rent control reduces housing supply and housing quality. It is the most agreed upon position among economists across the ideological spectrum, number one in his list of facts on which professional economists agree. And obviously they have reasons for agreeing on that, specifically the experience of trying rent control policies in different times and places. It has always failed.

Him: Somebody must like rent control, because they have it in New York city.

Me: Politicians and low-information voters support rent control. It makes politicians feel good, and it gets them elected, too – if the voters are economically illiterate enough, as they are in New York city.

Him: But what about global warming then? Isn’t the consensus against you there?

Me: There has been no global warming in the last 17 years, according to the New York Times. They were reporting on findings by the UN IPCC in 2013.

Him: The UN never said that. The New York Times never wrote that.

Me: Yes, they did. And I have the sources I can send them to you.

Him: I’ll bet you do. (walks away in a huff)

This is the relevant quote from the Greg Mankiw post from his survey of economists that appears in his textbook:

  1. A ceiling on rents reduces the quantity and quality of housing available. (93%)
  2. Tariffs and import quotas usually reduce general economic welfare. (93%)
  3. Flexible and floating exchange rates offer an effective international monetary arrangement. (90%)
  4. Fiscal policy (e.g., tax cut and/or government expenditure increase) has a significant stimulative impact on a less than fully employed economy. (90%)
  5. The United States should not restrict employers from outsourcing work to foreign countries. (90%)
  6. The United States should eliminate agricultural subsidies. (85%)
  7. Local and state governments should eliminate subsidies to professional sports franchises. (85%)
  8. If the federal budget is to be balanced, it should be done over the business cycle rather than yearly. (85%)
  9. The gap between Social Security funds and expenditures will become unsustainably large within the next fifty years if current policies remain unchanged. (85%)
  10. Cash payments increase the welfare of recipients to a greater degree than do transfers-in-kind of equal cash value. (84%)
  11. A large federal budget deficit has an adverse effect on the economy. (83%)
  12. A minimum wage increases unemployment among young and unskilled workers. (79%)
  13. The government should restructure the welfare system along the lines of a “negative income tax.” (79%)
  14. Effluent taxes and marketable pollution permits represent a better approach to pollution control than imposition of pollution ceilings. (78%)

And this is the relevant quote from the New York Times article, dated September 2013:

The global warming crowd has a problem. For all of its warnings, and despite a steady escalation of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, the planet’s average surface temperature has remained pretty much the same for the last 15 years.

As you might guess, skeptics of warming were in full attack mode as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change gathered in Sweden this week to approve its latest findings about our warming planet. The skeptics argue that this recent plateau illustrates what they always knew — that complex global climate models have no predictive capability and that, therefore, there is no proof of global warming, human-caused or not.

The author of the NYT article (a leftist) goes on to attempt to explain he is not concerned by the 17 year period of no significant warming, but the point is that the 17 year (not 15 year) period of no significant warming is A FACT acknowledged by the UN IPCC that has to be explained by those who believe in catastrophic man-made global warming. The IPCC may not like the temperature measurements, but those facts are not in doubt. The global warming crowd might make predictions about the future, but they made predictions about the past before, and we now know for a fact that those predictions (polar ice caps melting, Himalayans melting, significant global warming, etc.) were FALSE. They have been falsified by evidence, and that’s not in doubt.

Economic illiteracy is the problem

When people on the left voted for Barack Obama in 2012, they did not know based on evidence that they could keep their doctors and keep their health plans and that insurance premiums would drop $2500. They did not know it because the economic studies contradicted Obama’s words. They even believed Obama when he said that the Benghazi incident was caused by a Youtube video. Obama-supporters had a sincere belief in the words of his passionate speeches. They were impressed by the visuals of him talking to large crowds of young people. They believed him because they had feelings about him. And voting for him made them have good feelings about themselves. They felt that they were going to achieve good things by voting for this good man. They meant well, but they did not know. They did not have evidence.

Before the 2012 election, people on the right pointed to evidence from studies (like this one) showing that Obama was lying, but his supporters were apparently not interested in economic studies. They want to preserve the feelings of being good people. They want to preserve the belief that you can embrace policies that sound good, and that words that sound good will necessarily lead to good results for people who are at a disadvantage. I don’t question the motives of people on the left – they mean well. But meaning well doesn’t produce good results without knowledge of economics. In economics, policies that sound appealing to well-meaning liberals (rent control, tariffs, protectionism, minimum wage, trillion-dollar deficits) actually produce bad results for poor people. And we know this for a fact from our experience across different times and places.

If we can get people to accept the authority of our observations of policy experimentation in different times and places over and above their feelings and intuitions, then we can save this country.

New study shows that the medieval warming extended far and wide

From the UK Daily Mail.

Excerpt:

Current theories of the causes and impact of global warming have been thrown into question by a new study which shows that during medieval times the whole of the planet heated up.

It then cooled down naturally and there was even a ‘mini ice age’.

A team of scientists led by geochemist Zunli Lu from Syracuse University in New York state, has found that contrary to the ‘consensus’, the ‘Medieval Warm Period’ approximately 500 to 1,000 years ago wasn’t just confined to Europe.

In fact, it extended all the way down to Antarctica – which means that the Earth has already experience global warming without the aid of human CO2 emissions.

At present the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) argues that the Medieval Warm Period was confined to Europe – therefore that the warming we’re experiencing now is a man-made phenomenon.

However, Professor Lu has shown that this isn’t true – and the evidence lies with a rare mineral called ikaite, which forms in cold waters.

‘Ikaite is an icy version of limestone,’ said Lu. ‘The crystals are only stable under cold conditions and actually melt at room temperature.’

It turns out the water that holds the crystal structure together – called the hydration water – traps information about temperatures present when the crystals formed.

This finding by Lu’s research team establishes, for the first time, ikaite as a reliable way to study past climate conditions.

The scientists studied ikaite crystals from sediment cores drilled off the coast of Antarctica. The sediment layers were deposited over 2,000 years.

The scientists were particularly interested in crystals found in layers deposited during the ‘Little Ice Age,’ approximately 300 to 500 years ago, and during the Medieval Warm Period before it.

Both climate events have been documented in Northern Europe, but studies have been inconclusive as to whether the conditions in Northern Europe extended to Antarctica.

Lu’s team found that in fact, they did.

What that means is that the Medieval Warming Period was not local to Northern Europe, but extended all the way to Antarctica, as well. Now you might be asking yourself “how could medieval knights riding around on horseback cause global warming? Wouldn’t they have to be driving SUVs and drilling for oil and generally do nasty capitalist things like that?” Yes, they would. But they weren’t. And so this clearly shows that the warming and cooling of the Earth has nothing whatsoever to do with CO2 emissions. Whatever will the socialists do now to trick people into voting for higher gas prices?

Now that global warming is dead, what was it all about anyway?

Consider Melanie Phillips writing in the UK Spectator.

Melanie cites this e-mail about the Medieval Warming Period from Phil Jones, the director of the now disgraced Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.The Medieval Warming Period is a period during the Middle Ages when the Earth’s temperature was higher than it is today.

Phil Jones writes:

Bottom line – their is no way the MWP (whenever it was) was as warm globally as the last 20 years. There is also no way a whole decade in the LIA period was more than 1 deg C on a global basis cooler than the 1961-90 mean. This is all gut feeling, no science, but years of experience of dealing with global scales and varaibility.

The first graph has no MWP, and the second graph (the real temperatures) has the MWP.

What happened to the Medieval Warming Period?
What happened to the Medieval Warming Period?

(Source: UK Telegraph)

Melanie comments:

In other words, despite the fact that science (or history) tells us that the Medieval Warm Period was warmer than today, thus destroying the basis of the AGW myth that we are living through an unprecedented warming of the climate caused by carbon dioxide arising from industrialisation, it cannot be true – because the Hadley CRU Director’s ‘gut’ tells him so.

All the manipulation, distortion and suppression revealed by these emails took place because it would seem these scientists knew their belief was not only correct but unchallengeable; and so when faced with evidence that showed it was false, they tried every which way to make the data fit the prior agenda. And those who questioned that agenda themselves had to be airbrushed out of the record, because to question it was simply impossible. Only AGW zealots get to decide, apparently, what science is. Truth is what fits their ideological agenda. Anything else is to be expunged.

Which is the more terrifying and devastating: if people are bent and deliberately try to deceive others, or if they are so much in thrall to an ideology that they genuinely have lost the power to think objectively and rationally?

I think that the terrible history of mankind provides the answer to that question. Nixon was a crook. But what we are dealing with here is the totalitarian personality. One thing is now absolutely clear for all to see about the anthropogenic global warming scam: science this is not.

They had so much blind faith that they just knew that the real temperatures were wrong – so they felt justified in manipulating the data. They had faith that they were right and that the objective world was wrong.

Why they did it

Now consider this article from Pajamas Media. (H/T Muddling Towards Maturity)

Excerpt:

Global warming was a fraud, and it has now been exposed.

That little fraud would have cost the taxpayers of the world trillions of dollars, not to mention wrecking their economies with carbon taxes and penalties.

But that’s not even the worst of it. The most important take home lesson is that global frauding was the clear and conscious work of a political machine aiming to steal your money,  your liberties, and your country. It was a massive, worldwide attempt at a coup d’etat, and the victims were going to include all the free and prosperous peoples of the world. Hitler had his Reichstag fire. Today’s transnational left had its global warming fraud. The political goal was exactly the same: maximum power through maximum fear.

Now that we know for certain that global warming IS false, I think it’s time to ask why the global warming alarmists pushed it so hard. I think the best answer is that the government wanted to control the free market and the production and consumption of individuals. They thought we were using up too many resources doing stupid things like driving. They thought we were having too many babies. They thought that there was no sovereign God in the universe, so they had to step in and take control.

So, they took a bunch of taxpayer money and paid a bunch of arrogant scientists to invent a compelling myth, complete with fabricated data. They paid unionized teachers to teach that myth to vulnerable children in government-run schools. Some of them bought shares in companies that stood to gain from the hysteria they were manufacturing. And they used that myth to deceive people into voting them into power so they could override our fundamental liberties. They thought we were too stupid to run our own lives.

Mark Steyn explains what Climategate teaches us about peer-review

The article is here in the National Review. (H/T Secondhand Smoke via ECM)

First, he argues that Climategate shows that the peer-review process can be corrupted:

Here’s what Phil Jones of the CRU and his colleague Michael Mann of Penn State mean by “peer review.” When Climate Research published a paper dissenting from the Jones-Mann “consensus,” Jones demanded that the journal “rid itself of this troublesome editor,” and Mann advised that “we have to stop considering Climate Research as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers.”

So much for Climate Research. When Geophysical Research Letters also showed signs of wandering off the “consensus” reservation, Dr. Tom Wigley (“one of the world’s foremost experts on climate change”) suggested they get the goods on its editor, Jim Saiers, and go to his bosses at the American Geophysical Union to “get him ousted.” When another pair of troublesome dissenters emerge, Dr. Jones assured Dr. Mann, “I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow — even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!”

Second, he writes that the mainstream media is far too biased to report the facts:

And gullible types like… Andrew Revkin of the New York Times fell for it hook, line, and tree-ring. The e-mails of “Andy” (as his CRU chums fondly know him) are especially pitiful. Confronted by serious questions from Stephen McIntyre, the dogged Ontario retiree whose Climate Audit website exposed the fraud of Dr. Mann’s global-warming “hockey stick” graph), “Andy” writes to Dr. Mann to say not to worry, he’s going to “cover” the story from a more oblique angle:

I’m going to blog on this as it relates to the value of the peer review process and not on the merits of the mcintyre et al attacks.

peer review, for all its imperfections, is where the herky-jerky process of knowledge building happens, would you agree?

And, amazingly, Dr. Mann does! “Re, your point at the end — you’ve taken the words out of my mouth.”

And that’s what Andrew Revkin did, week in, week out: He took the words out of Michael Mann’s mouth and served them up to impressionable readers of the New York Times and opportunist politicians around the world champing at the bit to inaugurate a vast global regulatory body to confiscate trillions of dollars of your hard-earned wealth in the cause of “saving the planet” from an imaginary crisis concocted by a few dozen thuggish ideologues. If you fall for this after the revelations of the last week, you’re as big a dupe as Begley or Revkin.

I think we need to be skeptical of having science hijacked to prove things that the secular left wants it to prove. They want to “prove” evolution so that they can undermine traditional morality, which they view as an unnecessary restraint on their pursuit of happiness in this life. They want to “prove” global warming so that they can undermine the free market and gain control of the production and consumption of individuals. And they often discriminate against skeptics in the peer-review process (and in hiring/promotion decisions) in order to manufacture a false consensus.

Did Man-Bear-Pig eat the Climate Research Unit’s raw data?

Is this the reason that CRU's data has been "lost"?
Is this the reason that CRU's data has been "lost"?

The UK Times reports.

Excerpt:

SCIENTISTS at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have admitted throwing away much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based.

It means that other academics are not able to check basic calculations said to show a long-term rise in temperature over the past 150 years.

The UEA’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) was forced to reveal the loss following requests for the data under Freedom of Information legislation.

[…]The CRU is the world’s leading centre for reconstructing past climate and temperatures. Climate change sceptics have long been keen to examine exactly how its data were compiled. That is now impossible.

[…] Their findings are one of the main pieces of evidence used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which says global warming is a threat to humanity.

The Washington Times reports on some of the hacked e-mails that talked about data “loss”.

Professor Phil Jones, head of the CRU and contributing author to the United Nation’s IPCC report chapter titled “Detection of Climate Change and Attribution of Causes,” says he “accidentally” deleted some raw temperature data used to construct the aggregate temperature data CRU distributed. If you believe that, you’re probably watching too many Al Gore videos.

Mr. Jones is the same professor who warned that global-warming skeptics “have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone.”

The worst part of this mess is that taxpayers footed the bill for all of this “research”. In effect, the government was distributing taxpayer money to “scientific” lobbyists.  These “scientists” then put out suspect data in order to trick the public into voting for increased government power over individuals and businesses – all to “solve” a completely made-up crisis. It’s depressing. The only thing to do to solve this is for the public to vote for smaller government and lower taxes. Everything needs to be privatized.