Skip to comments.A lack-of-progress report on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Hot potato revisited.
Posted on 11/09/2003 5:59:25 PM PST by .cnI redruM
YOU might think that a policy issue which puts at stake hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of global output would arouse at least the casual interest of the world's economics and finance ministries. You would be wrong. Global warming and the actions contemplated to mitigate it could well involve costs of that order. Assessing the possible scale of future greenhouse-gas emissions, and hence of man-made global warming, involves economic forecasts and economic calculations. Those forecasts and calculations will in turn provide the basis for policy on the issue. Yet governments have been content to leave these questions to a bodythe Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)which appears to lack the necessary expertise. The result is all too likely to be bad policy, at potentially heavy cost to the world economy.
In our Economics focus of February 15th this year, we drew attention to (and posted on our website) telling criticisms of the IPCC's work made by two independent commentators, Ian Castles, a former head of Australia's Bureau of Statistics, and David Henderson, formerly the chief economist of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and now visiting professor at Westminster Business School. Their criticisms of the IPCC were wide-ranging, but focused on the panel's forecasts of greenhouse-gas emissions. The method employed, the critics argued, had given an upward bias to the projections.
The IPCC's procedure relied, first, on measuring gaps between incomes in poor countries and incomes in rich countries, and, second, on supposing that those gaps would be substantially narrowed, or entirely closed, by the end of this century. Contrary to standard practice, the IPCC measured the initial gaps using market-based exchange rates rather than rates adjusted for differences in purchasing power. This error makes the initial income gaps seem far larger than they really are, so the subsequent catching-up is correspondingly faster. The developing-country growth rates yielded by this method are historically implausible, to put it mildly. The emissions forecasts based on those implausibly high growth rates are accordingly unsound.
The Lavoisier Group, an Australian govnernmental body, posts Economics, Emissions Scenarios and the Work of the IPCC by Ian Castles and David Henderson. See also the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The Castles-Henderson critique was subsequently published in the journal Energy and Environment (volume 14, number 2-3). A response by 15 authors associated with the IPCC purporting to defend the panel's projections was published in the same issue. It accused the two critics of bias, bad faith, peddling deplorable misinformation and neglecting what the 15 regard as proper procedure. Alas, it fails to answer the case Mr Castles and Mr Henderson had laid outnamely, that the IPCC's low-case scenarios are patently not low-case scenarios, and that the panel has therefore failed to give a true account of the range of possibilities. If anything, as the two critics argue in an article in the subsequent issue of Energy and Environment, the reply of the 15 authors gives new grounds for concern. This week the IPCC is preparing to embark on its next global-warming assessment reviewand if the tone of its reply to the critics is any guide, it is intent on business as usual.
It is true, as the IPCC says in its defence, that the panel presents a range of scenarios. But, as we pointed out before, even the scenarios that give the lowest cumulative emissions assume that incomes in the developing countries will increase at a much faster rate over the course of the century than they have ever done before. Disaggregated projections published by the IPCC say thateven in the lowest-emission scenariosgrowth in poor countries will be so fast that by the end of the century Americans will be poorer on average than South Africans, Algerians, Argentines, Libyans, Turks and North Koreans. Mr Castles and Mr Henderson can hardly be alone in finding that odd.
The fact that the IPCC mobilised as many as 15 authors to supply its response is interesting. The panel's watchword is strength in numbers (lacking though it may be in strength at numbers). The exercise criticised by Mr Castles and Mr Henderson involved 53 authors, plus 89 expert reviewers and many others besides. Can so many experts get it wrong? The experts themselves may doubt it, but the answer is yes. The problem is that this horde of authorities is drawn from a narrow professional milieu. Economic and statistical expertise is not among their strengths. Making matters worse, the panel's approach lays great emphasis on peer review of submissions. When the peers in question are drawn from a restricted professional domainwhereas the issues under consideration make demands upon a wide range of professional skillspeer review is not a way to assure the highest standards of work by exposing research to scepticism. It is just the opposite: a kind of intellectual restrictive practice, which allows flawed or downright shoddy work to acquire a standing it does not deserve.
Part of the remedy proposed by Mr Castles and Mr Henderson in their new article is to get officials from finance and economics ministries into the long-range emissions-forecasting business. The Australian Treasury is now starting to take an active interest in IPCC-related issues, and a letter to the British Treasury drawing attention to Castles-Henderson (evidently it failed to notice unassisted) has just received a positive, if long delayed, response. More must be done, and soon. Work on a question of this sort would sit well with Mr Henderson's former employer, the OECD. The organisation's economic policy committeea panel of top economic officials from national ministrieswill next week install Gregory Mankiw, head of America's Council of Economic Advisers, as its new chairman. If Mr Mankiw is asking himself what new work that body ought to take on under his leadership, he need look no further than the dangerous economic incompetence of the IPCC.
We would have to elect Howard Dean, then Hillary Clinton, then Barney Frank to make this event even remotely plausible.
This is quite typical of the modelling the IPCC does. It's best case scenario is acually a worst-worst-worst case scenario and it's worst case scenario is actually an imposible scenario. The IPCC routinely uses computer models to overblow their case many times over. They are a fraud and any 'scientist' should be ashamed to be associated with them.
The truly pathetic fact about Kyoto has been that there is so little that can be done to mitigate climate change by attempting to control carbon dioxide levels. Most of that change has natural causes, thus we had best spend our efforts learning how to adapt to what WILL happen instead of destroying the capitalist system that must fund that response.
The sad part is that there are real environmental consequences to increased carbon dioxide, both beneficial and destructive, that DON'T make their way into the debate because of the feeding frenzy of the carbon credit whores.
It's pretty discouraging.
Solar Energy Is The Answer!
I think you are assuming too much. There is no evidence the increase in CO2 is gonna have much affect on the environment at all. The computer models that are being used are an absolute joke, based on the most unrealistic assumptions. The science is being so minipulated it is impossible to draw any conclusions.
I'm not talking about climate change due to increased carbon dioxide. I am talking about the feritlization effect. That is real. It has a beneficial effect on crop production, and is inclined to have an adverse effect on forest structure. Like any change, there are trade-offs.
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I subscribed to The Economist for about ten years. It took a while before I realized that nearly every article was an opinion piece. The effort necessary to extract facts from all the stupid globalist cheerleading got tiresome. Their environmental positions were pathetically ignorant.
I canceled, deciding to give the money to FreeRepublic, instead.
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