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Earth The Almighty Buck Science

Forecasting the Economic Impact of a Changing Climate (arstechnica.com) 249

An anonymous reader writes: Academic research has been busily trying to pin down how a changing climate will affect our planet over the long- and short-term. But a new study in the journal Nature attempts to forecast not the changes in weather, but the changes in our economy as a result of climate change. "The study (abstract) finds that climate change can be expected to reshape the global economy by reducing average global incomes roughly 23 percent by the year 2100. This study is important because it solves a problem that has existed in prior models of climate change effects on economics: discrepancies between macro and micro level observations." Notably, the paper provides evidence that regional economies can be linked to global climate effects. "This modeling allowed them to examine whether country-specific deviations from growth trends were related to country-specific differences in temperature and precipitation trends, while accounting for any global shifts that would be experienced to affect all countries."
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Forecasting the Economic Impact of a Changing Climate

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  • by LaurenCates ( 3410445 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @12:42PM (#50847857)

    Per the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition, in war, someone always turns a profit. Also, in peace, someone always turns a profit.

    A shifting wind (if you'll pardon the turn of phrase) will always result in profit for someone.

    • That doesnt preclude the prediction though. If only the already very rich profit from it tge average will still go down hugely as the non rich outnumber them so much that the average wont be altered much.
      If anything, assuming your hypotheses is correct it means poor and middle class incomes will go down by more than 23% to get the same change in the average.

      • That noise you don't hear is the sound of a starship in space flying over your head.

        Last time I try to make a Star Trek joke when a new series is being announced on the same day. Sheesh.

  • Money, sorry to say (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @12:42PM (#50847861) Journal

    It's time a climate superPAC be formed to create an NRA-like political entity with teeth. Science, math, and logic just don't work on the dumb and the greedy. You gotta bribe politicians with campaign money (or lack of) to get action in our society. That's just the ugly truth.

    The other side will say the existence of a superPAC is evidence of political motivation over science, but they say that anyhow now. Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire.

    • Science, math, and logic just don't work on the dumb and the greedy. You gotta bribe politicians with campaign money (or lack of) to get action in our society.

      The bigger question is figuring out what action should be taken. If we're going to get our CO2 levels back to 350ppm, we're going to need to get all the (non-electric) cars off the road. We're going to need to shut down all coal and natural gas power plants (getting rid of natural gas means also getting rid of wind, because natural gas provides the backup).

      Who is going to agree to that? Nobody, and that's the real reason nothing gets done about AGW (apart from subsidizing alternative energy, and other sma

      • is to ask is what is magical about CO2 levels at 350ppm when in Earth's past CO2 has been much higher and life flourished?

        • by Ichijo ( 607641 )
          Atmospheric CO2 has never jumped as fast as it has in the past 50 years, so we're likely to see a mass extinction before things stabilize. So I think you're correct: life will flourish, eventually. "Life finds a way."
        • is to ask is what is magical about CO2 levels at 350ppm when in Earth's past CO2 has been much higher and life flourished?

          Life also flourishes in Chernobyl, but that doesn't necessarily mean it'd be nice to live there.

      • At some point, a powerful country will be willing to go to war to halt carbon emissions. If you do the game theory math, if you don't bring down greenhouse emissions, the earth will eventually overheat and mass death will occur. If this is the outcome, there isn't any reason not to start blowing up everyone and everything emitting greenhouse gas. Either everyone dies, or you start dishing out death and destruction, and you might survive the resulting war(s). It's a pretty cold blooded calculus.
        • At some point, a powerful country will be willing to go to war to halt carbon emissions. If you do the game theory math, if you don't bring down greenhouse emissions, the earth will eventually overheat and mass death will occur. If this is the outcome, there isn't any reason not to start blowing up everyone and everything emitting greenhouse gas. Either everyone dies, or you start dishing out death and destruction, and you might survive the resulting war(s). It's a pretty cold blooded calculus.

          Hey if it's t

      • And what makes 350ppm the correct level? Did you find it written in the earth's owner's manual or its maintenance manual?

    • by khallow ( 566160 )

      The other side will say the existence of a superPAC is evidence of political motivation over science

      And they would be correct.

      Science, math, and logic just don't work on the dumb and the greedy.

      Why don't you try first rather than just an endless stream of fallacies?

    • by khallow ( 566160 )
      As an aside, we already have climate [nextgenclimate.org] superPACs [lcv.org].
    • Putting lots of money into a superPAC (ie: ad campaign for the politicians it gets donated to) is just a giant waste of money which ironically is what the GW deniers say is the biggest problem with supporting a solution. It's true that without a superPAC it probably won't get much traction, but the same is true for ending the war on drugs. You're confusing a symptom with the original problem which is of course Citizens United.
    • It's time a climate superPAC be formed to create an NRA-like political entity with teeth. Science, math, and logic just don't work on the dumb and the greedy. You gotta bribe politicians with campaign money (or lack of) to get action in our society. That's just the ugly truth. The other side will say the existence of a superPAC is evidence of political motivation over science, but they say that anyhow now. Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire.

      From this content, it's impossible to tell which side you'

  • >> climate change can be expected to reshape the global economy by reducing average global incomes roughly 23 percent by the year 2100

    OK, I can see my taxes easily going up 23% in the next 2100, but how else will my income be reduced?

    • Can you see, they are linked! Government needs MOAR taxes to fight global climate change!

      • Can you see, they are linked! Government needs MOAR taxes to fight global climate change!

        Step 1: Raise more money
        Step 2: Cut down a bunch of trees to make paper
        Step 3: Print carbon credits on the paper, so there are more carbon credits
        Step 4: Send the carbon credits to the worst polluters
        Step 5: Global disaster averted!

  • Wrong Term. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zenlessyank ( 748553 )
    Pretty tired of hearing the term 'Climate Change' and 'Global Warming'. I am pretty sure the correct term is 'Global Poisoning'. With all the pollutants we have been injecting into the environment for the past 600 years, and all the wars and human induced destruction it seems pretty cowardly to use those terms. It is time to take responsibility for mankind's stupidity and greed and clean this shithole up.
  • I've always wanted to ask how robust major city seaports are in relation to climate change and sea level rise. If big cargo ships can't effectively dock at ports that are partially underwater, or the city itself is becoming flooded, that will cause commerce to come to a screeching halt. When are the seaports expected to become compromised? Sorry, this is a dupe, I posted anonymously accidentally and I wanted to get my name on this
    • If it becomes that bad, you can just rebuild the dock. Ocean level rise is so slow that it shouldn't be a big problem.
    • Normal seaport docks today adjust using floats for tidal changes with as much as 30-40 foot differences between low and high tide in some places. Any "climate change" adjustments to sea level will be lost in the noise.

  • by NostalgiaForInfinity ( 4001831 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @12:59PM (#50848039)

    The most striking finding of the study, however, is that continued global warming will cause average global incomes to fall by approximately 23 percent by the year 2100.

    Even if the correlations that the paper identifies are actually meaningful, they in no way support that conclusion. The relationship between temperature and economic productivity the paper finds only exists after normalizing for "cultural difference", "contemporaneous shocks", "country-specific trends in growth rates", and "non-linear effects of temperature and rainfall". That is, the "23 percent estimate" only applies if all these factors remain unchanged for a century and if there is no migration in response to climate change. Those assumptions are, of course, utterly bogus.

    Of course, the correlations are likely not even related to causation, but simply reflect historical accidents and the preferences of European settlers and the agricultural technologies they developed. If other cultures had become globally dominant, or if you had done the same analysis at different points in human history, you would have reached different conclusions.

    In addition, even if all the assumptions of the paper were satisfied (they are not) and even if the 23 percent estimate was well-justified (it is not), then from a policy point of view, the comparison that you need to make is not climate change vs. no climate change, it is climate change vs climate change mitigation, and climate change mitigation itself has a profound negative effect on these normalizing variables.

    • by khallow ( 566160 )

      In addition, even if all the assumptions of the paper were satisfied (they are not) and even if the 23 percent estimate was well-justified (it is not), then from a policy point of view, the comparison that you need to make is not climate change vs. no climate change, it is climate change vs climate change mitigation, and climate change mitigation itself has a profound negative effect on these normalizing variables.

      Here, the drop in economic activity from the study is a bit less than 1% per year. You would also have to include harm from rising sea levels and acidifcation of oceans, which wasn't part of the study. OTOH, similar studies of climate change mitigation have forecast a 1% (Stern Review) to 10% reduction in GDP from mitigation measures. In other words, the minimum estimated costs from mitigation measures here are about the same as the minimum estimated costs of not mitigating things. Once you get to higher es

      • In other words, the minimum estimated costs from mitigation measures here are about the same as the minimum estimated costs of not mitigating things

        One might add that the IPCC report pretty much comes to the same conclusion, and that is under its pessimistic assumptions.

        Note also that many of these estimates fail to properly discount over time; properly calculated, a dollar spent/lost today needs to mitigate about $100 worth in damage (in constant dollars) in 2100 for mitigation even to start making sense.

        Y

  • I'm sure I saw an article just last week where analysis of published economics papers revealed a prediction hit ratio of barely past 50%.

    So it's just pseudo-science rambling.

  • by BCGlorfindel ( 256775 ) <klassenk.brandonu@ca> on Monday November 02, 2015 @01:04PM (#50848083) Journal

    So we have a very abstracted estimate of future economics that is derived from already abstracted estimated models of temperature. Sounds compelling...

    According the IPCC's 5th assessment report in Chapter 9 [www.ipcc.ch] models have problems with the TOA energy balance. Specifically if you look in Box 9.1 they say:
    maintaining the global mean top of the atmosphere (TOA) energy balance in a simulation of pre-industrial climate is essential to prevent
    the climate system from drifting to an unrealistic state. The models used in this report almost universally contain adjustments to parameters
    in their treatment of clouds to fulfil this important constraint of the climate system

    They follow up with a half dozen citations verifying this.

    Read that closely because it is telling. Read the cited articles, and it's even more so. Climate models still can NOT predict TOA energy imbalance. To even get hindcasts correct, requires manual corrections to unknown or poorly understood processes like clouds. Let me observe that long term climate change driven by the greenhouse effect works ENTIRELY through the TOA energy imbalance and trapping more or less energy as gas concentrations change.

    Forgive me if I believe we lack sufficient evidence and understanding to justify carbon taxations and other economic controls to try and rectify something we still can't even quantify,

    • by NetNed ( 955141 )
      That sounds rational and thought out. YOU SIR ARE A DENIER!!!
    • No need for forgiveness. Modeling what may happen with this level of abstract data is good for planning contingencies. What if scenarios sometimes have no precedent. It is a complete farce to use it to promote carbon taxation because that implies that they actually know what will truly positively affect the climate change that they are modeling. Bringing this back to Slashdot, this is therefore classified as FUD.
    • by Xyrus ( 755017 )

      So we have a very abstracted estimate of future economics that is derived from already abstracted estimated models of temperature. Sounds compelling...

      According the IPCC's 5th assessment report in Chapter 9 [www.ipcc.ch] models have problems with the TOA energy balance. Specifically if you look in Box 9.1 they say:
      maintaining the global mean top of the atmosphere (TOA) energy balance in a simulation of pre-industrial climate is essential to prevent
      the climate system from drifting to an unrealistic state. The models used in this report almost universally contain adjustments to parameters
      in their treatment of clouds to fulfil this important constraint of the climate system

      They follow up with a half dozen citations verifying this.

      Read that closely because it is telling. Read the cited articles, and it's even more so. Climate models still can NOT predict TOA energy imbalance. To even get hindcasts correct, requires manual corrections to unknown or poorly understood processes like clouds. Let me observe that long term climate change driven by the greenhouse effect works ENTIRELY through the TOA energy imbalance and trapping more or less energy as gas concentrations change.

      Forgive me if I believe we lack sufficient evidence and understanding to justify carbon taxations and other economic controls to try and rectify something we still can't even quantify,

      The only things this demonstrates is your lack of understanding. You then take that ignorance and formulate it into something that fits your rather obvious bias and hand-wave away any troubling things like "context".

      In addition, you an others like you treat the model runs as the end all be all of climate science. They're not. Models are just one tool that is used, just like any other branch of science that you care to name. All models have errors since all models are imperfect representations of reality, an

      • So we have a very abstracted estimate of future economics that is derived from already abstracted estimated models of temperature. Sounds compelling...

        According the IPCC's 5th assessment report in Chapter 9 [www.ipcc.ch] models have problems with the TOA energy balance. Specifically if you look in Box 9.1 they say:
        maintaining the global mean top of the atmosphere (TOA) energy balance in a simulation of pre-industrial climate is essential to prevent
        the climate system from drifting to an unrealistic state. The models used in this report almost universally contain adjustments to parameters
        in their treatment of clouds to fulfil this important constraint of the climate system

        They follow up with a half dozen citations verifying this.

        Read that closely because it is telling. Read the cited articles, and it's even more so. Climate models still can NOT predict TOA energy imbalance. To even get hindcasts correct, requires manual corrections to unknown or poorly understood processes like clouds. Let me observe that long term climate change driven by the greenhouse effect works ENTIRELY through the TOA energy imbalance and trapping more or less energy as gas concentrations change.

        Forgive me if I believe we lack sufficient evidence and understanding to justify carbon taxations and other economic controls to try and rectify something we still can't even quantify,

        The only things this demonstrates is your lack of understanding. You then take that ignorance and formulate it into something that fits your rather obvious bias and hand-wave away any troubling things like "context".

        In addition, you an others like you treat the model runs as the end all be all of climate science. They're not. Models are just one tool that is used, just like any other branch of science that you care to name. All models have errors since all models are imperfect representations of reality, and they never ever have perfect data. That's why any non-trivial scientific model has numerous parameters and settings that can be set and tweaked, and why a EXPERT is required to run them and analyze the results. Otherwise you'd have Joe Sixpack claiming he developed an infiniglider since he changed a parameter in an aerodynamic model and the airfoil generates lift even at rest.

        You are the one using a waving of your hands to dismiss things. Providing anything like a concrete reason you or anyone else believes that the problems with projecting TOA energy imbalance is not a problem is ignored. Meanwhile I very specifically point out a summary of the current scientific literature that clearly states that hindcasting historic climate REQUIRES manual corrections for accurate TOA energy. My link even references more than a half dozen peer-review journals verifying this.

        Heck, you couldn'

  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @01:38PM (#50848469) Journal

    The link to TAFA to RTFA is http://www.nature.com/nature/j... [nature.com]

    Essentially they took the 'productivity' of countries, mapped them against average temperature, and then turned it around making that predictive. Utter nonsense.

    According to their method, since the most productive industrial countries are all temperate, then warming will turn Germany economically into Italy and Italy into, I guess, Somalia?

    Sure, THAT is likely to happen. How is this substantially different from the "warmer latitudes evolve lazier people" meme from the early 20th century? I thought we'd moved on from deterministic racism like that, or is it ok as long as it's cloaked in Global Warming fear?

    Any purported 'economic' analysis of warming that doesn't see ANY mitigatory factors is more religion than science. To wit:
    - even warming-convinced climatologists admit that the impact of warming on rainfall patterns is nearly impossible to anticipate. Warming will most certainly increase the evaporate take-up into the atmosphere from the 70%+ surface that's water, and that water has to fall somewhere.
    - warming will shift optimal growing belts toward the poles, and vegetation growth has a warmth-bias; that is, there is a temperature floor for farming, but (as long as there's adequate water) not really a ceiling. So contraction of the too-cold biomes around the poles will net-increase the arable productive farmland on earth (not that we're actually short of food today anyway, but that's another point). Plants prefer warmth, and more CO2 is also beneficial for them. Not to mention that optimal-agri-zones will shift poleward, into 'fresh' farmland that wasn't previously as intensively farmed.
    - on a more human scale, melting will open the arctic to regular transit, significantly reducing shipping costs from E Asia to Europe and all but obviating the Panama Canal chokepoint, this will likely cut transport costs for a host of goods.

    I'm NOT saying that warming won't be a net-bad; inundation will badly affect a humanity that largely sited its preferable living places along coasts. (Of course, given a long enough timeframe they were doomed anyway.) But I see nothing in that study that recognizes or attempts to calculate *any* beneficial countereffects of warming. To deny that there will be *some* is at best histrionics, at worst simple mendacity.

    • So how much do people expend on cold weather in temperate regions? I doubt it's 25% but it's not trivial. Think about seasonal clothing, transportation, heating and heating infrastructure, insulation, snow removal etc.....

  • French Weatherman Fired After Slamming Climate Conference

    http://www.nytimes.com/aponlin... [nytimes.com]

  • by Dr. Tom ( 23206 ) <tomh@nih.gov> on Monday November 02, 2015 @03:02PM (#50849429) Homepage

    It's already too late to do anything. Millions of years ago, the Earth was covered by forests. The trees died, as plants and animals do, and this was before mushrooms. If a tree falls in the forest, do mushrooms eat it? These days, yeah, but back then, no. So millions of years ago a lot of plant material turned into coal. We've dug up almost half of it and burned it. All that CO2, sequestered for hundreds of millions of years, has been released into the atmosphere. It took literally millions of years for all that CO2 to be sequestered, and we've released it in 150 years. No, there's no going back. Get used to it.

    • It's too late to put things back to where they used to be. Our decisions are going to influence how much more CO2 is going into the atmosphere each year, and the rate at which things warm up, and I'd say that slowing these things would be a good idea.

  • This is chilling http://dailycaller.com/2015/09... [dailycaller.com] These idiots are no better than the 16th century Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith! Heaven forbid anyone question the party doctrine!
  • There is not significant enough climate change to worry about at this time according to the data. We do have more significant things to worry about that are far more likely to chew us up in this century. And what does this have to do with slashdot anyway?

    • Definition: Shill Chill

      The attempt by paid accomplices of the fossil fuel industry to freeze out discussion and cool concerns about global warming due to human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.

  • 23% sounds like a lot, but relative to the economic growth that will occur in the same period, it is tiny:

    Even the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, a report prepared for the British Government which has been criticized by some as overly pessimistic, estimates that under the assumption of business-as-usual with regard to emissions, global warming will reduce welfare by an amount equivalent to a permanent reduction in per capita consumption of between 5 and 20%. In absolute terms, this would b

  • Just how does one estimate the losses of border wars caused by global warming? And how about the secondary effects when some people suffering economic losses from global warming gravitate to crime, drugs or alcohol. Compound that with damage to fisheries such as death of coral reefs and factors killing off fish. In south Florida we now have a lion fish invasion which will probably impact tourism to some degree which is traced to global warming. Slightly warmer seas caused lion fish to thrive.
  • Their income is going to go down by 23% ! And that of their robo-industrial-complex-baron owners I suppose.

    The actual people, most of them, won't have to worry about this, because their income-earning jobs will long have been replaced by automation.

    I wonder what the effect of bands of neo-luddite anarchists, roving across the flooded or parched lands in angry desperation, will be on the global economy.

  • 1. Petroleum based Fertilizer stocks will go through the roof (combating desertification and creating farmland to replace the previously above-ground farmland)

    2. No more batshit crazy North Korea issues, now it's 70% underwater.

    3. The change in weather patterns will make some places a whole lot more pleasant. Greenland for instance...is actually turning green as we speak.

    4. The inevitable Nuclear winter should really take the edge off of this whole 'global warming' thing.

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