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April 16, 2007


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How many exhalations will we be allocated each year, and how will those be metered?

Can I, as a sedentary person, sell my excess breaths to those selfish people go exercise inordinately? At what point in the year will those carbon emitting joggers be shut down and not allowed to jog any more?

I'm just looking forward to profiting off the backs of those annoying joggers!


What about the concept of a Carbon Tax? All sorts of economists seem to be coming to the conclusion that such a tax is better than cap and trade. See the blog of Greg Mankiw of Harvard for additional information.

Frederick Hamilton

Lets see. Costs high. Benefits low or non existent. Reason for doing it is to lead by example. Don't think so. Tough to talk global warming as we need to shovel out of our spring snowstorms.

There must be another approach other than it will be good to increase taxes (call it what you want to, but increased costs to the citizenry is a tax) and drag down the economy (another form of tax) simply to show we think global warming is a problem.

Methinks the deniers as articulated wonderfully in the Canadian National Post provides enough data to make any thought of ignoring cost/benefit calculations silly and wrongheaded. Go to: www.canada.com/nationalpost/news/story.html?id=c6a32614-f906-4597-993d-f181196a6d71 - 49k - Apr 15, 2007


I am struck by Mr. Sunstein's assertion that "the United States accounts for only about 20% of the world's annual emissions". The United States is the world's largest emitter of CO2, and has been for decades. The argument that he offers (that American reductions won't help much) can be applied even more successfully to every other nation on the planet. And of course, when Chinese emissions exceed US emissions, the Chinese will be absolutely justified in following our lead in refusing to address the problem.

This is a "tragedy of the commons" problem. It is in the interest of each nation to ignore global warming and hope that other countries will bear the cost of reducing the problem. The tragedy of the commons cannot be solved by conventional economic approaches; it is only solved by government intervention. The government can intervene using economic methods, but the basic fact of intervention is the only way to address the problem.

Finally, we must remember to weight ALL costs against ALL benefits, not just the costs and benefits of 2007. The benefits of reducing global warming will be enormous. We don't have numbers yet, but the report issued yesterday regarding the impact of global warming in North America should be enough to convince even the most thick-headed fool that global warming is going to cost us trillions of dollars. Even tiny incremental improvements in the magnitude of the problem will be worth billions of dollars in benefits.


Can we tax the sun when the solar cycle heats up or pay a subsidy to some volcano that spews up tons of sun-blocking ash, both of which have an order of magnitude larger impact on global climate than the paltry effects of C02.


Roach, we can't control those factors. We can control and regulate our consumption of fossil fuels and the release of CO2 due to that consumption which is a signifiant factor in climate change. I hope that distinction isn't lost on someone with an antiquated mind like yours.


Mr. Roach, your comment is based on some misconceptions about the science of global warming. Solar radiation as a forcing agent is not considered a significant factor in current global warming; volcanoes erupt rarely, hence their averaged contribution to the climate is small. Most important, however, is the fact that anthropogenic global warming sits on top if natural forcing factors, making them worse. To use natural forcing factors to excuse anthropogenic factors is no different from excusing murder on the grounds that many more people die of natural causes.


Who says solar radiation "is not considered a significant factor in current global warming." Lots of people know this to be true, and this (alone with the "mini ice age" and mini warming periods of the middle ages) are considered to be important factors in global temperature. Everyone knows water vapor is a much bigger and more variable factor for global temperature than C02 for example. Likewise, everyone knows we've been in a 1 degree or so range for the last 100 years, even with the post '98 "hockey stick" spike (that has since cooled and not been borne out by events).

I do think it's funny that this complicated and to some extent unkonwable prospective scientific enterprise is fast becoming dogma with all kinds of unquestioned facts, even when the data are still in flux (even in the case of the latest recommendations from the UN panel there was a significant downplaying of the data from the time of the initial release of policy suggestions to the release of the supporting data).

But I do think it's phenomenally stupid to undertake a multitrillion dollar change to our economic activity on which every human productive activity depends when (a) that money is better spent on things like cleaning up water, conserving forests, and engaging in different public health and environmental measures with a direct and measurable impact; (b) when the effect of any of these proposed changes is uknown, but even at the upper level is a percent of a percent of a percent on the total atmospheric C02 (which even now is predominantly from biogenic sources) which itself is only a small relative contributor to the total "greenhouse" effect of the atmosphere (the most optimistic estimates of the impact of Kyoto are less than 1 degree and acknowledge the effects of inertia from oceanic temperature etc (See, e.g., http://www.hillsdale.edu/imprimis/2002/march/default.htm)); and (c) where there are various sinks and self-correcting operations in the earth and unknown variables that impact on this whole multivariable phenomenon.

This is, in short, a very expensive proposed undertaking, with minimal benefit, and it all may be based on flawed science and incorrect assumptions about the trajectory of the earth's atmosphere and the effect of C02, especially when taken alongside other variables.

Lackawanna Blues

Amen, Brother Roach.

Climatology is hardly even science - it is more like shamanism. What's scary and amusing is that liberals can't tell the difference. Liberals criticize religious persons for believing in something unproven and unprovable. Man-induced global warming is the Left's Risen Christ. You've just gotta take in on faith, man.

The environmental left has been singularly wrong on every major question or issue it has put forward for the last 30 years. Remember learning that fossil fuels would be gone by 2010 in grade school? Um, er. No. Older people will remember the warnings about a new ice age. Um, er. No. And the list goes on and on and on.


Lackawanna Blues, I find your post to fall outside the reach of reasoned discussion. I can only speculate that you are ignorant of basic science. There is no faith involved in the IPCC reports or the NAS report -- there's a lot of very good science. The fact that you can't understand that science does not make it unreliable, for the same reason that an ostrich putting his head in the sand does not make the danger go away.

Mr. Roach, you pepper your comments with "everybody knows", followed by some clause whose scientific merit is dubious. Your comment is a good example of sophomorism: knowing just enough to be horribly wrong. And again you repeat the logical error that I nailed you on in my previous posting: Everybody knows that far more people die of natural causes than murder, so why should we even bother addressing murder?

You also include some flat-out errors of fact. The world has NOT shown any cooling trend in the last few years -- it has shown an accelerated warming trend.

The policy response we choose in dealing with global warming is a debatable issue; reasonable people can disagree. But those who continue to deny global warming in the face of current evidence are no more rational than flat-earthers and creationists.

Frederick Hamilton

Roach and Lackawana Blues,
You are on the mark. I am truly grateful (and amazed) that politicians are now on record as proposing that with new legislation we can cool the earth.

In the dog days of August with temperatures in the 100's in the inner-cities, to think with proper legislation a few hundred lives could be saved from sweltering heat. And only at a sniveling cost of a few hundred trillion dollars from the economy and a few million jobs.

Just think. We could bring the 105 degree temperature in St. Louis down to 103. That two degrees will save lives.

Now that we know that appropriate legislation can do this, why can't appropriate legislation eliminate poverty? No country has ever done it (with or without legislation), but we should be able to do it with the right legislative approach. Indeed, now is the time to turn earth's temperture control over to Congress. I can breath easier and rest calmer. I can feel the cool breeze coming now. Oh crap, that's another snow storm in April. Oh well. Gotta get in my six-cylinder Jeep and drive home. I'm doing my part. If only Gore would do his. Yeah, I forgot, he is, he buys carbon offsets from his own carbon bank. How can I get my own carbon bank? Can you rob a carbon bank? Willie Sutton should know.


Mr. Hamilton, it is obvious that you are unaware of the prognosis offered in the latest IPCC reports. I suggest that you read these before contributing any more ignorant blather.

Lackawanna Blues

Sorry that we are insulting your "sacred texts" the IPCC and NAS reports. There is a pretty substantial body of man-induced global warming skepticism out there in the scientific community, friend.

I am skeptical of the entire discipline of "climatology." It is not science -- it is guess work. There's no scientific method when it comes to the temperature of the Earth, precisely because there is no control. These hypotheses about man-induced global warming are just that, hypotheses -- but unlike the hypothesis that light travels faster than sound, for example, the man-induced global warming hypotheses are untestable and unprovable.

Rather like the Risen Christ.

Except that apparently some people saw the Risen Christ and we have their testimonial evidence that he was alive when they saw him.

You fundamentally misunderstand the nature of science if you think that the climatologists supporting this jihad have the same scientific rigor as, say, Michelson.

Of course, you probably believed Rosie O'Donnell when she claimed that 9/11 was the first time in human history that fire had melted steel.


Mr. Lackawanna Blues, I challenge you to document your lie that there's a substantial amount of skepticism in the scientific community about anthropogenic global warming. The evidence provided by both the NAS and the IPCC reports demonstrates scientific consensus about anthropogenic global warming. And if you don't like the results in those reports, go ahead and do the research yourself and prove that it's all wrong. There's a Nobel Prize waiting for you if you succeed.

Your skepticism about climatology might have merit if you knew anything about climatology. So, why don't you demonstrate your expertise here by telling us which of the major climatological models you find most flawed, and what the most serious flaw in that model is.

And while you're at it, let's see if you know any of the basic science. If the Stefan-Boltzmann constant were to increase by 1%, how much would the temperature of the earth change? If you knew anything about climatology, you would be able to answer that question instantly.

Lackawanna Blues

How about Richard Lindzen, dude?

I will gleefully admit to knowing nothing about climatology. What I do know is physics, chemistry, and mathematics (which means, incidentally, that I know what Stefan's constant is, and probably more about black body radiation than you would care to hear), and enough of those things to know that climatologists are full of hot air (ooh, I made a funny).

Just out of curiousity, what would cause Stefan's constant (which is, after all, a constant) to increase, given that it is based on Boltzmann's constant, Planck's constant, pi, and the speed of light -- none of which are likely to change -- them being constants and all?


Yes, and I promise you Lackawanna has never studied complex systems and dynamics. Leave the heavy thinking to those of us who completed advanced physics, would ya? Or at least actually were intelligent enough to go to the U of C. Shouldn't you be posting on the Messiah U faculty blog?

The inability to create a detrministic model of a complex, highly sensitive mulitvariable system hardly precludes our ability to throw data at the wall and study independent variables enough to say meaningful things about how that system behaves. While we will never be able to model our atmosphere perfectly, we have plenty to say beyond any doubt about what the weather will be like tomorrow. The same goes for global warming.

There is no credible skepticism about it in the scientific community. The only thing skeptics can say is that we can't be sure. I can't be sure it's not going to snow 5 feet tomorrow either, but I'll give you 20,000,000,000:1 odds on it.

Go back and hide your head in the sand Lackawana, that is where it belongs.


Now do tell, what does blackbody radiation have to with any of this? This should be good. A man with many words and little understanding.

Lackawanna Blues

Maybe because it comes from the Stefan-Boltzman Law that says that the energy radiated by a blackbody per second per unit area is proportionate to the fourth power of the absolute temperature. But who am I fooling?

Nice use of big words, LAK. It got me all nostalgic for my days of research.

Lackawanna Blues

"we have plenty to say beyond any doubt about what the weather will be like tomorrow"

I actually found this hilarious. Beyond any doubt. Somebody fire that Skilling character and replace him with LAK!

Lackawanna Blues
Lackawanna Blues



Good for you, Lackawanna Blues! You know about the Stefan-Boltzmann law! So perhaps you'd be able to apply all that physics you say you know and make a stab at guessing how the earth's temperature will respond to increasing quantities of CO2 in the air. If you really did take physics courses, didn't your instructors ever mention the greenhouse effect to you? Didn't they say that it was likely to cause global warming but (depending on how long ago you took it) conclusive data to confirm that had not yet been obtained? If not, did you go to an accredited institution?

If you're not familiar with thought experiments in which physicists calculate the effects of different values of physical constants, well, that's just one more part of your education that's deficient.

But most important is the fact that you come right out and admit "I will gleefully admit to knowing nothing about climatology." Contrast this with your earlier statement that "Climatology is hardly even science - it is more like shamanism." So you dismiss as unscientific a field of endeavor that you gleefully admit to be ignorant of. Can any better demonstration of charlatanry be forthcoming?

I am seldom so abusive of other correspondents on bulletin boards. I prefer to be scrupulously gentlemanly. But I have made an exception in your case because the claims you make are the foulest sort of charlatanry. If you had substantive arguments to offer, I'd much prefer to engage you in gentlemanly discussion. But the wild claims you make are in the same class with the ravings of flat-earthers and creationists. Come back down to earth and start writing like a rational person.

Frederick Hamilton

I gave you substantive scientific rebutals with my link to the Canadian National Post on the subject. There are many reputable scietists detailed in that series now backing away from the global warming hysteria.

The closed minds on the subject are not those questioning the science behind man made global warming and what can be done about it. The closed minds are those who say all is known and it is a scientific done deal. Fortunately any decisions made will be made after significant debate and decision making by Congress and the executive.

Time will tell the outcome of that debate. The science is not as Al Gore has made it out to be. Sorry.


Yea, the question was what blackbody radiation has to do with global warming and the greenhouse effect buddy. Not what the stefan boltzman law says. The anwer is nothing, but I'd like to know what the hell it is you are implying. So care to try again nitwit? Remember this is the University of Chicago, not your Messiah U. Aman of your intelligence would do much better on the blog of a lesser University, like the ones you attended.

Nobody can be sure about what the weather will be like tomorrow given the initial conditons today. That is analagous to what global warming skeptics say about the link bewteen the increased greenhouse gases in he atmosphere (which we are sure of) and increased warming in the last half century (which we are also sure of).

But that doesn't stop me from watching Tom Skilling, and for good reasons.

I don't know about you Repugnicants, but I'll take the consenus of 99% of the scientific commuity over the 1% nay sayers. And I'll watch the weather man to plan my day.

Lackawanna Blues

I'm not quite sure what's being asked of me any more. Eras asked a foolish question about what would happen to the temperature of the Earth if Stefan's constant "changed." I indicated that I knew what Stefan's constant was -- which of course has a lot to do with black body radiation. Then LAK jumped in and said I was talking about an irrelevance.

Eras also asked me to cite a man-induced global warming dissenter and I did -- Richard Lindzen at MIT. Read some of his stuff. It's great. Read his criticism of your Bible -- the IPCC -- it's great.

I don't know why you guys get so upset.

Must be because I'm questioning your religion...

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