Russ Roberts

Christy/Emanuel Postmortem

EconTalk Extra
by Russ Roberts
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Going Deeper...Christy and Ema... Cochrane on Education and MOOC...

Here's my postmortem on the Christy/Emanuel episode. The original episode can be found here.

For a regular EconTalk episode, I prepare a list of questions for the guest that I hope and expect will take about an hour to answer. But I don't just go through the questions. We get into side issues, I ask for clarification, I challenge a claim, and the next thing I know, some subset of the questions are moot--we covered them in passing, they don't fit in with the thread of the conversation and so on.

While the guest is talking, a bunch of stuff is going though my head. I'm looking at the clock--it is time to move on to a new topic? Should I challenge that claim? Did that answer make sense--maybe I should get more explanation. Did I just say something stupid? Do I need to clarify what I said?

When there are two guests and it's live, it get more complicated. I want to be fair to both guests. I also want interaction between the guests. So in addition to thinking about follow-up questions, I have to think about whether to get the other quest to respond.

Bottom line is that this format, the one I used for Christy and Emanuel, is harder than a "regular" episode. I expect I'll get better at it. This one was OK. But there were moments where I missed opportunities and at least once when I flubbed a joke.

The joke was supposed to be: how do you know macroeconomists have a sense of humor. Answer--they use decimal points. I mis-told it and I knew I did when no one laughed. It's not exactly a knee-slapper but it usually gets a nice chuckle after a short delay to let people get the humor. This time, nothing. I realized I'd butchered it. That's life.

The other mistakes I made were not to push for more clarification. I wish we'd spent more time on what the models actually are about. Emanuel got in a nice jab when he claimed that in his field, they know the equations. But evidently, they don't know how they go together because their predictions are not very precise. If he had been the only guest, we would have delved into that more deeply. Maybe in another episode down the rode.

What I loved about this episode was not just the civility--which is nice--but the willingness to agree and disagree and the nature of those interactions. I'm hoping to do another climate change one down the road with a different pair of scientists. It will be interesting to see if it comes down to the same issues.

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COMMENTS (30 to date)
Greg G writes:

This episode sounded very smooth from this end. I'm sure this is one of those cases where a lot of work goes into making something look easy.

When I first saw the topic I was disappointed because discussions about climate change are usually so predictable. This one was different. In a good way. One of the things I like about EconTalk is that the podcasts often turn out different than I expect. That keeps them interesting.

Michael Byrnes writes:

It was an outstanding event that was handled exceptionally well by all involved.

Paul H writes:

It was another terrific conversation about an important topic. I did feel that the format (two speakers, one hour), may have held back some of the more delving questions that usually mark Econtalk. The guests usually addressed the questions. However, at times they spoke past one another where there were opportunities to drill down on a topic or statement.

In particular, I thought Christy completely changed the discussion (or tried to) with his first statement: "ultimately, the question before us tonight is a moral question and not a scientific question."

He came back to this a few times. It seemed like a pivot/dodge to one of the central questions of climate change policy: what are the consequences of our current activities and how would various policies, if they can be implemented, change that future.

Those who advocate costly actions to address climate change are offering an insurance policy against future disaster. However, it's not clear how well we know the future costs or what our insurance policy is worth. Christy's view of this as a moral issue and not a scientific one (setting aside the idea that I don't turn to climate scientists to anchor my morality) attempts to hollow out the critical scientific and economic debates that should be at the center of this public policy debate.

Victor Venema writes:

It was a nice podcast and more balanced as I had expected after the one of Judith Curry. Still as a climatologist, my main annoyance was not Emanuel, but that Christy got away with so much misinformation. For example, his claim that the climate models are too warm. This is simply wrong.

Or Christy's suggestion that the poor in Africa would be hurt by any mitigation policy. Unbelievable. I do not know of anyone suggesting that energy prices in Africa should be increased. Liberals propose to shift tax burden from labour to carbon and to reduce subsidies for fossil fuels in the Industrialised countries. Republicans attempt to extend this to upcoming economies (China and India) and hurt the poor there. But Africa?

If anything, the reduction of demand for fossil fuels in the rich countries will reduce global market prices for fossil fuels and thus help the poor. And the price reductions for renewable energy and especially solar energy add an opportunity for poor rural regions in Africa where long power lines would be very expensive.

Matt writes:

I thought this was an interesting episode of Econtalk. The debate format worked well in this case. I would have liked to hear a longer episode so you could have delved deeper it a few of the questions.

You had good guests how were knowledgeable and willing to have a civil discussion.

Victor Venema writes:

Rus Roberts:

"Emanuel got in a nice jab when he claimed that in his field, they know the equations. But evidently, they don't know how they go together because their predictions are not very precise."
Maybe you did not notice, but Emanuel answered that question as well. He explained that while we know the equations we need to make simplifications. The most important equation for the greenhouse effect is the radiative transfer equation, which describes how heat and solar radiation move through space. This equation is exact and long established.

In a climate model, these equations need to be simplified. For example, you need to compute the equation for every wavelength of the light, but that would be computationally too expensive. Thus climate models use frequency bands. The influence of such a simplification can be studied by comparing the method used in the model with so-called line-by-line methods, which use a large number of frequencies.

Similarly, in most climate models the radiative transfer is simplified in that the radiation can only go up and down, but not sideways. We also have 3-dimensional Monte Carlo Models where radiation can move in all directions with which we can investigate how good that simplification is.

And if I recall correctly Emanuel also mentioned that for some processes we do not have exact equations such as for the melting of glaciers or the response of the vegetation under climate change.

Such simplifications and uncertainties in the input lead to uncertainties in the projections. Currently the observed temperate is in the lower range of the model uncertainty range. If the observations were never in that range, the estimate of the uncertainty would have been too large. In the 1990ies the temperature increase was faster than average, next to a slow rise in expected temperature, there is also natural variability, which can perturb the trend for such climatologically short time periods.

A large part of this uncertainty is because these climate models do not make predictions, but projections. To make predictions, one needs to start from the current state of the atmosphere, like it is done in weather prediction and what would be needed to predict the natural variability. Predicting the natural variability is hard, due to the chaos introduced by the nonlinear equations, like weather prediction. Projecting the influence of greenhouse gases is easier, that is a change in forcing and thus more like computing the temperature difference between winter and summer.

I do not know whether the official economic predictions have uncertainty ranges. (In the media they are normally not mentioned.) I hope they do, otherwise I would not see economics as a science. These uncertainties must be very large. A German economist once claimed that the official economic institutes have never predicted a recession. And that is just a few months in advance. Still irrespective of all the uncertainties economic advice is taken into account when formulating policy.

Peter H writes:

Victor,

That's fascinating about the radiative transfer equation. And I think Russ' point is exactly that it would have been great to get that kind of answer (explaining an example of an equation that has to be simplified) as part of the show. As it was, Emanuel asserted it without proving it. That doesn't mean his assertion was wrong, but one of the great benefits of econtalk is that the format is long enough to let someone prove their point, and not just assert it.

Gary Mullennix writes:

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Halvard writes:

This is one of the better discussions regarding global warming. Mostly because it focused on science and on any politics/policy/changes.

The debate over man made global warming has not been a debate over the science. Of course not. Science is hard, it is complex, you will find many uncertainties and few clear answers. In the think tank world, media and among pundits answers are absolute. Just look at the people that has been at congressional hearings. It is a show and has nothing to do with science.

So what about published articles. According to Business Insider, in 2013 10,885 scientific articles were written about global warming, 2 out of 10,885 reject man made global warming.

Think about that. Think about what you have read, think about all the pundits, think tanks and "experts". How many of them have reflected the reality of the science?

My prediction going forward is the the "skeptic" side will now use two new tactics since the science argument gets harder to use.
First you will hear a lot about moral. Christy already used it in the debate. Of course this is on the policy side and has nothing to do with science. But if you reference the science, the skeptics will counter with: "you do not want poor people to get a better life".

The other argument is straight out of the creationist/intelligent design playbook. It is God in the gaps or in the global warming debate, the problem with the models. The argument is: since all the models are not 100% accurate I win by default. Again this is a negative argument since the skeptic side does not do science and publish articles. They mostly play in the policy, think tank and politics arena.

Andrew writes:

Super interesting points Victor and very helpful context.

I get frustrated sometimes when everyone talks about how complicated the models are but no one actually provides any details. Does anyone know of a resource online that provides a general description of the climate models? I am scientifically literate, if not a scientist, and would love to dig more into the subject matter at a basic level.

On the last point you made Victor, I know several economic projections that have predicted recessions... quarter after quarter after quarter. Eventually they turn out to be right, just like a broken clock is right twice a day.

I actually think there are a fair number of similarities between macroeconomics and climate science, even if the underlying equations have different levels of precision. I suspect the biggest problem in both cases is we do not have enough time series data. Economists base nearly everything on post-WWII to the present. Climate scientists have admittedly more time, but they are dealing with a phenomenon that has a much longer time horizon and the degree of measurement precision plummets pretty quickly pre-1900s. The complexity in both cases is also imposing.

I guess that is what makes both such interesting areas for research; there is so, so much that we don't understand.

Jeff writes:

I thought it was all pretty swell, Russ. I liked both the format and the guests. Well done.

john writes:

Victor, radiative transfer is certainly isotropic. The radiative forcing thing reminds me of the Southpark Underwear Business Model.

phase 1: collect underwear (carbon dioxide)
phase 2: ? (forcing)
phase 3: profit (warming)

The more I learn about the models the more sick to my stomach I become when I hear the science is settled. Emanuel certainly didn't think the science was remotely settled in his responses and he is an expert in the field.

Rufus writes:

For a good resource with explanations of the climate models, you can look up Tamsin Edwards, a climate researcher. (I'm sure she has her critics, but on her allmodelsarewrong.com blog she has a good 5 part series that explains a lot about climate modeling and models in general).

I think there is always hope that more data will somehow provide a better answer. However, in any complex data set, error bars should accompany any statement, and we should retain a healthy regard for the chance that what we see as a signal is simply a spurious correlation. (For more on that, read Taleb's Antifragility or some of Gary Taubes work related to epidemiology).

One of the overriding issues is how these proxies for temperature are created, and then how different methods of measurement are then merged or spliced together. For example, listen to the Morten Jervens Econtalk episode about the difficulties in measuring GDP in the developing world. And, once you think about that for a moment, then realize that a very large portion of the earth (e.g., Africa) does not have temperature monitoring stations at anywhere near the density of that of the US or Europe.

Also consider that temperature monitoring in the ocean is a relatively new data set, so they rely on various historical sources of data, such as seawater injection temperature recorded by ships as they transited the oceans. (hopefully, those sailors did not gundeck the log).

Or changes in land use over the past 100 years have made a huge change, and many of the temperature stations are poorly sited. I think it strains credibility to say that we can accurate measure temperature trends over time in Chicago based on ORD (Orchard Field, aka O'Hare airport) given the millions of tons of concrete and constant blasts of hot air from jet exhaust that surround that site. I really don't care if a scientist can run a statistics program and "adjust" for the changes. That's not the real world.

Finally, there is very little data collection vertically in the atmosphere, and any attempt at modeling the various circulation patterns of the atmosphere suffer from lack of data, or even basic understanding of how some of these phenomena work. (Google Hadley Cells or Ferrel Cells to see a diagram).

I do like the recent changes to Econtalk to add some variety to the mix. Certainly a moderated discussion between two experts with opposing views is interesting. Perhaps we could get a Boudreaux v. Krugman in the future and talk about the minimum wage or inequality?

Mark writes:

I was underwhelmed by the podcast. I don't think either guest was particularly illuminating on the central issues.

The critical issues are 1) how accurately do the models treat feedbacks, especially those related to clouds and water vapor?, and 2) what are the tradeoffs of specific proposed policies?

Emanuel was pretty slippery on 2). He basically admitted, in passing, that proposed policies would not make a significant difference in the models' predictions, but believes we should do them anyway. Russ should have pressed him on that.

Most of the warming predicted, about 2/3, is a result of positive feedback, not direct forcing from increased CO2. So, to get better predictions, obviously the feedback behavior needs to be accurate. Russ was looking for common ground. One area that all sides should agree on is that more basic research is needed to validate the feedback relationships of clouds, water vapor, and other variables.

Victor Venema writes:

Peter H writes: "As it was, Emanuel asserted it without proving it."

This formulation sounds excessively hostile to me, given that Emanuel was not asked to prove it.

Halvard writes: "The debate over man made global warming has not been a debate over the science. Of course not. Science is hard, it is complex, you will find many uncertainties and few clear answers. In the think tank world, media and among pundits answers are absolute. Just look at the people that has been at congressional hearings. It is a show and has nothing to do with science."

The irony is that the science is relatively hard. Science solves detailed question, which have a clear answer. Hard is not the same as exact, making predictions with confidence levels is hard science.

On the other hand, policy deals with in infinitely many options, deals with people and perpetual novelty. Policy will always be soft and intuitive. The pundits try to make it look simple. I would say it is best to ignore such people.

When it comes to politics, it also comes natural to talk about morals and values. No one can objectively say you have to care to the future generations and should use a low discount rate. How strong the impacts will be and how easy it will be to reduce emission or to adapt, depends on how technology develops and how we react. How bad do we think it is to use public transport? Or to cycle and stay healthy? That is all subjective. I wish the climate change dissenters would use such arguments instead of misinforming the public about the scientific understanding.

Andrew, you do not need to know about climate models to understand climate science. They are just a detail. A detail the dissenters like to emphasise because it is the most uncertain. Like suggested above, all models are wrong, is a good resource. The blog of Steve Easterbrook is quite good. He is an informatics professor and thus seems to be well able to understand what an outsider needs for information.

I could not find something on modelling specifically. The start page of RealClimate has a number of general information sources.

Alarmist people that really worry that reductions will put us back into the middle ages, might find the topic sufficiently interesting to buy an old-fashioned book. That is the best way to inform oneself on a new topic. I have Mankiw lying next to me. This book probably requires some science background to be readable.

Andrew writes: "On the last point you made Victor, I know several economic projections that have predicted recessions... quarter after quarter after quarter. Eventually they turn out to be right, just like a broken clock is right twice a day."

:-) That is why I was careful and wrote official predictions. It could be, however, that they also have an handicap. Official prediction may not like to predict a recession, because that could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. That is one of the reasons why economics is so much more difficult and that makes it even stranger that economists have no problem giving policy advice, while claiming that climate projections are much too uncertain. Looks like a case of double standard to me.

Victor Venema writes:

john writes: "Victor, radiative transfer is certainly isotropic."

It is 3-dimensional, it is not equal in all directions. Climate models take the cloud cover into account. The remaining error due to the 3-dimensional character of radiative transfer is modest. Unfortunately. That was an topic I have worked on, when we started it we had expected it to be more important. For remote sensing it has some importance.

The clouds themselves are a larger source of uncertainty. Please remember that uncertainty in science can go both ways. It can be better or worse. In politics, saying "I am uncertain" means it might be wrong and if someone admits he is uncertain that is typically a cover up for being simply wrong. That is not the way the word is used in science.

Climatology already understood the greenhouse effect before there were climate models. Also without them there is a strong case for man-made global warming. The climate models are mainly important to get regional results, which are necessary to compute the impacts and provide information for adaptation. For the question whether the global mean temperature will increase due to greenhouse gas emissions, models are not fundamental.

Rufus: "Or changes in land use over the past 100 years have made a huge change, and many of the temperature stations are poorly sited."

If you mean urbanization with "Land use change", that has been very well studied. For single stations the urban heat island can be large. What is important, however, are changes in the urbanization of a station. Given that many stations started in cities and have been moved (multiple times) to the suburbs, this effect can even lead to an artificial cooling of a station record. Overall, the estimate is that only a small fraction of stations has a partially artificial trend bias and that the influence averaged over all stations is small.

Other types of land use change are thought to be smaller and are consequently unfortunately studied less. The influence of irrigation would, for example, be interesting.

The poor citing of temperature stations is mainly a problem in the USA. The technicians has only one day to install automatic weather stations that need power and consequently these stations were often installed near buildings. The automatic weather stations used in the USA are, however, around 0.2°C colder as the traditional measurements with a cotton region shelter. As a consequence there was actually an artificial cooling due to the change to automatic weather stations. This cooling is removed using homogenization. That is actually what am working on, thus if you are interested feel free to visit my blog Variable Variability.

The influence of station quality has been studied in several papers. The problem is well known because blogger Anthony Watts gives it much prominence. Also the paper co-written by Watts came to the conclusion that after homogenization there are no significant problems any more. On this blog, WUWT, he keeps on erroneously claiming that homogenization is just smoothing. If he had any proof for that, he could have claimed that in his article.

Rufus: "Finally, there is very little data collection vertically in the atmosphere, and any attempt at modeling the various circulation patterns of the atmosphere suffer from lack of data, or even basic understanding of how some of these phenomena work."

There is not much historical data in the vertical. But nowadays there is quite a lot because it is necessary for numerical weather prediction. The circulation is very important for weather predictions and the atmospheric parts of weather prediction and climate models are the same. Weather prediction models are tested every day. Scientists are never happy, but circulation is really understood very well.

The main problem is probably the realistic modelling of tropic convection (showers). Convection is very important in the tropics, but needs to be simplified because it occurs at spatial scales that the model does not resolve.

And again, that adds uncertainty, which can go both ways and is mainly a problem for adaptation. The more uncertain the expected changes are, the larger the range of changes we have to prepare for and thus the more expensive adaptation is relative to reducing emissions. I have never understood why climate change dissenters emphasise uncertainty, it is not their friend.

John Cunningham writes:

Halvard cites the paper (Cook, et. al., 2013) in support of a claim that only 2 of over 10,000 papers reject man-caused global warming. Halvard may be honestly in error; that paper is a disaster, see the analysis here http://www.populartechnology.net/2013/05/97-study-falsely-classifies-scientists.html#Update2

the Cook paper posed the question of whether papers accept the proposition that human activity contributes somewaht to global warming. I accept ythat view; the question is, what is the weighting? human activity 1%? 90%? read the piece in popular technology and see whether Cook's work is worth citing.

Halvard writes:

@John Cunningham
Here you have a link to what I was referencing
http://www.businessinsider.com/the-scientific-debate-on-global-warming-in-one-chart-2014-3

My point is about science. The skeptic side is really active in politics, think tanks, media, policy etc. But do they do any science? If so, where is the science.

Like I said, the skeptic side will now start with two approaches:
1. the moral argument
2. the model attack

Regarding the model attach, will they try the hard job themselves and make better models. My guess is no, it is much easier to be active in think tanks and media than to try to improve science.

TM writes:

Judith Curry was so good, best I have heard on the subject in too long. This on the other hand was a circus not worth what I paid for it.

Rufus writes:

As with any scientific topic, there is a distribution. From Cook's paper there were 8 categories ranging from explicitly stating that humans are the primary cause to explicit rejection with quantification.

Category # of papers

1 humans primary 64
2 humans cause some 922
3 implicit endorse 2910
4 no opinion 7930
5 uncertain 40
6 implicit reject 54
7 explicit reject 15
8 reject w/ quantification 9

Not sure how that table will format, but you at least get the idea that there is a distribution of scientific opinion across this topic. It does skew towards the CAGW side, and even Christy admitted he is in category 2.

Victor Venema writes:

Judging abstracts can be difficult, but I have been working in meteorology for over a decade and lately also in climatology and I can thus confirm that the percentage Cook et al. found is in the right ball park.

I would estimate that a few percent of my colleagues are still on the fence. I am a little surprised by the high percentage of papers that reject AGW in the Cook et al. study. The scientists I know do not publish papers rejecting AGW because they have no valid arguments for it.

Everyone can read the open-access Cook et al. (2013) paper in Environmental Research Letters.

If you do so, you will find that Rufus changed the wording of the first two categories. They actually are:
(1) Explicit endorsement with quantification
(2) Explicit endorsement without quantification

To be category 1, the abstract has to explicitly state that the human contribution is more than 50%. For category 8 correspondingly, that it is less than 50%.

John Cunningham writes:

Halvard cites the paper (Cook, et. al., 2013) in support of a claim that only 2 of over 10,000 papers reject man-caused global warming. Halvard may be honestly in error; that paper is a disaster, see the analysis here http://www.populartechnology.net/2013/05/97-study-falsely-classifies-scientists.html#Update2

the Cook paper posed the question of whether papers accept the proposition that human activity contributes somewaht to global warming. I accept ythat view; the question is, what is the weighting? human activity 1%? 90%? read the piece in popular technology and see whether Cook's work is worth citing.

Jay Mackro writes:

I found the Christy – Emanuel discussion on climate change to be quite interesting. As the conversation reached its end, I wished they could have gone on a bit longer.

However, I felt that this topic was a bit outside the scope of the usual EconTalk discussion. A debate about climate models is interesting but is it economics? A great follow-on to Christy – Emanuel would be a discussion of the cost-benefit of addressing climate change.

It is easy for a scientist or an activist to say “the risk of a 10 degree temperature rise or a 10 meter sea level rise may be uncertain, but the consequences are so dire that we have to stop burning fossil fuels tomorrow just to be safe.” But no one seems to analyze what the impact of such a move would be. Non-technical people believe that wind and solar are the answer, but they don’t grasp the math that determines how many square miles of solar and wind installations would be needed. And locating wind farms off Nantucket or displacing desert tortoises with solar arrays seem no more popular than building nuclear power plants.

Someone who can discuss the economics of addressing climate change would make a terrific guest for a future EconTalk.

Victor Venema writes:

John Cunninghamm, you are right that claim is not from Cook et al.

The claim that only 2 of over 10,000 papers reject man-caused global warming comes from a blog post of James Powell. This blog post looked at articles published in 2013 only. Cook et al. looked at a much longer period.

Rufus writes:

My issue with many of the statistics cited in the climate debate is related to what data was excluded. For example, in the Cook paper, on his web page he says:

Among all papers that were self-rated as expressing a position on human-caused warming, 97.2% endorsed the consensus.

However, as you can see from the post above, the vast majority of the papers (7930 of the 12464) expressed no opinion. That's certainly an acceptable result - research papers need not express an opinion on CAGW, but at the same time, why does Cook then claim the 97.2%? Isn't that disingenuous when over 63% of what they analyzed expressed no opinion at all?

Of course Cook and others are very careful in how they parse their statements, and that simply leads to more questions of their credibility. For example, on Cook's FAQ page, the questions are neatly formulated to avoiding admitting that 63% of what they analyzed they placed in the 'no opinion' category.

Sure, you can read the paper for yourself, but clearly that is not what happens when journalists or other advocates of this position produce links to articles like the one that Halvard posted. This is why it is mandatory that journals enforce their policies of archiving data and also making data public so that others can review the results. If the cooks won't tell us the recipe, we at least need access to the raw ingredients to see if we can replicate the results.

Susan G. writes:

As a lay person hearing so much hype on both sides of the issue, I thought this podcast was excellent and brought a lot of balance - if not actual clarity - to the issue. The thing I came away with, that Russ set up very nicely, I think - is that we should avoid participating in hyperbole and seek common ground. This topic has become a weapon used far to often to advance power tactics rather than try to balance risk and decide on rational public policy.

I have been listening to this podcast for a few months and find it to be a very thoughtful and respectful approach to issues that impact public policy. I am not an economist, just a regular person who wants to dig deeper into important issues of our day and hear rational ideas and facts from all sides. Thanks, Russ.

Wally Hendricks writes:

Cass Sunstein has a nice book (Worst-Case Scenarios, Harvard University Press 2007)that has a much more detailed discussion of the decisions that must be made when there is potential for a horrible result although the probability of the horrible result is not easily predictable. One of the examples is global warming. If the decisions in these cases are made by individuals, it seems to me that income plays a huge role. If you are really poor, the amount that you are willing to give up to insure against a worst case scenario is pretty low or nonexistent. I think that Emanuel was wrong to characterize this as a moral issue. If it is a moral issue, then the Chinese are much more likely to make an immoral decision than the Danish because they have many more poor citizens whose lives will benefit a great deal by having more cheap availability of coal.


Ryan S writes:

Wonderful episode! I have not been looking into climate news lately because of the polarized views. I enjoyed and learned much from this episode.

Thank you!
Ryan

Victor Venema writes:

Wally Hendricks, Christy presented to problem as a moral issue in his prepared opening statement.

"GuestC: Thank you, and it's a delight to welcome both of you here at the U. of Alabama in Huntsville. Ultimately the question before us is a moral question, not a scientific question."

Had Emanuel given it more thought, he might not have used this framing in a later response.

Personally, I would frame it as an economic question, do we solve the problem efficiently by reducing greenhouse gas emissions or do we pay huge bills for adaptation and damages? This framing unfortunately also has its problems, the loses are not spread uniformly over all and not everything can be expressed in monetary terms (tearing communities apart, biodiversity loss, morbidity and mortality, for example).

Mark Dornfeld writes:

This was an intriguing interview for all the reasons Russ mentioned in the post-mortem. I was going to mention most of what Russ did. Russ, even Jerry Seinfeld "died" on stage. I wouldn't worry about the joke gone awry.

Polarization of nearly every issue in the USA is perhaps the biggest problem facing the solution seekers. The issue has many faces, not just two and polarization will actually make the solutions more difficult to achieve.

I think if there were more representatives of the issues like Christy and Emanuel there might be some progress on the real problem.

What I would like to see are some human-readable papers without scientific jargon that actually explain the science. Not summaries, but data that can be understood. The IPCC papers are just too dense for the average bloke to understand. And as much as I liked both participants, it is clear each has a mostly incompatible agenda.

More importantly, there is a crying need to let people know what they can do to "be smart" about energy consumption.

Dismantling all fossil fuel infrastructure is a non-starter. Most of my conversations with "greenies" contain the question: "How are you going to heat your home in a northern latitude in winter if the sun decides to really cool us off?" Solar panels? Hardly. Wind? Maybe it will help. NatGas? Yes, where it is available. Heating oil? Of course where NatGas lines don't run. Propane? Sure if it's not in short supply? Nukes? Seems pretty obvious to me that this is a large part of the answer. In short, all of the above are going to be needed including clean coal.

But the new tech is just way too expensive for the average person to afford. Have you seen a factory worker driving a Tesla lately? Or a Chevy Volt? Who can afford those clean cars -- and are they really clean? But that's another subject.

If the solution is to be market driven, then all the costs of the market have to be factored in and the cost of carbon emissions should be part of the equation. The market "should" be able to fix itself if the market is fully represented.

If the issues aren't clear to the average citizen, then the discussion will be driven by the fear of change and what that change will cost. With polarization of the issues the problem will NEVER become clear -- at least not to me.

All in all this was a thoroughly enjoyable podcast.

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