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Yes, folks; researchers announce the unveiling of the ‘Bullshit Molecule!

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25 thoughts on “Major Discovery!

  1. now if it was a bullshit gene, I would ask how many politicians they tested. This molecule that makes clouds and accelerates cooling by forming clouds sounds just like the meddelsum thing a global warming liar would insist on implementing causing more harm than good, especially since the planet has already been cooling for ten years

  2. So lemme see.

    A Cabinet minister’s home is a couple of hundred yards from the route of the new rail line. She sells the home just before her Cabinet colleague, the Prime Minister, announces approval for the line.

    Gosh, what a stroke of luck she had. It would almost be like insider dealing, except that there’s no way – no way at all – anyone would have tipped her the wink.

    Heaven forbid.

  3. Of course it’s easy to sneer and Rightworld invariably does when it comes to global warming. Its worldview is that the sea ice and glaciers are not really melting. But the fact is that we could pick the low hanging fruit and make easy gains in tackling this problem:

    “From coal mines to rice paddies and cooking fires to diesel exhausts, 14 highly cost-effective measures could quickly curb global warming and save millions of lives, while also boosting global food production. That is the striking conclusion of a new study published in Science and the most authoritative look yet at the opportunities offered in tackling methane and black carbon – soot – pollution. The headline findings are striking. The measures would reduce warming by 0.5C by 2050, very useful indeed with the world failing to get to grips with carbon dioxide emissions. And that’s only half the tale. They would also avert between 0.7 and 4.7 million premature deaths caused by air pollution every year and bump up crop yields by 30 to 135m tonnes a year.”

  4. Peter –

    Fine, no problem.

    If the measures are cost-effective then free markets will implement them.

  5. Sure they will. Even if the oceans go bankrupt or drought causes agriculture to collapse then that will send a price signal to the market, and another earth will simply emerge to take their places. It’s ‘creative destruction’.

  6. Frank O’Dwyer –

    Absolutely.

    The oceans going bankrupt has always been a strong price signal.

  7. Frank

    There has been a promising trial with oil derived from algae:

    “Collaboration between the world’s two biggest shipping fleets is expected to lead to the deployment of renewable marine fuels. Maersk uses more than $6bn of bunker fuel a year for its 1,300 ships, and the US navy, the world’s biggest single user of marine fuels, burns around 40m barrels of oil a year. The navy plans to test more ships on algal fuel next year as part of its “green fleet” initiative and has pledged to cut 50% of its conventional oil use a year by 2020. Maersk hopes to achieve similar cuts in the same time.

  8. Peter, interesting. I notice that Maersk is a Danish company (Denmark has had a price on carbon for some time) and I suppose the US Navy must be a hive of communism also.

    Anyway here’s hoping for a technological solution (you’d think that if the issue is earth trapping energy on the one hand, and meeting human energy demands on the other, that these problems would somehow be destined to solve each other).

  9. Pete,

    Why not put your faith in the free market to the test and try a little thought experiment:

    Suppose it’s true that AGW is happening and consequences a hundred years hence would be 20% or more of global GDP.

    Suppose that there is an emission free alternative for energy that is more expensive to use than the current alternatives, and which would avert the consequences of AGW but only if the switch happens now, and that this would cost 1% of global GDP. Suppose for the sake of argument that supplies of oil and this other fuel are effectively unlimited, and that in all respects other than CO2 they are equally polluting.

    Since it is more expensive in the short term, by what means would a free market choose to switch to that new fuel?

  10. Frank O’Dwyer –

    Is that new fuel the only alternative? What are the other alternatives? One point of free markets is that we can try lots of different things to see what works and what does not work.

    The premise is fantastical. No-one has any idea if global warming, if true, would cost 20 per cent of global GDP.

    But to answer your highly hypothetical question, a free market is not the mechanism by which to direct humanity to one solution. A fascist tyranny is what you want. However, since we know politicians are always wrong about everything, we don;t want what government would order, do we?

    If it just so happens that we would freely choose this other alternative one day, then the price mechanism is the way by we would know when to switch over.

  11. Pete,

    “Is that new fuel the only alternative? What are the other alternatives? One point of free markets is that we can try lots of different things to see what works and what does not work.”

    It doesn’t matter how many options there are, I’ve picked 1 for simplicity’s sake. It’s a thought experiment – the fuel is the only option that works, by construction. There are many possible scenarios, and this is one of them. It’s even one of the more likely ones.

    “The premise is fantastical. No-one has any idea if global warming, if true, would cost 20 per cent of global GDP.”

    Sheesh. That’s not true, and even if it were, it’s a thought experiment. The cost has to be something – it could be negative, it could be zero, it could be 20% of world GDP. I am simply picking one scenario and asking you to show how a free market would deal with it, because in this case it wouldn’t.

    You wrote up there If the measures are cost-effective then free markets will implement them. – well I’m showing you a case (one of many I could have picked) where the measures would be cost-effective, and free markets still wouldn’t implement them.

    “But to answer your highly hypothetical question, a free market is not the mechanism by which to direct humanity to one solution. A fascist tyranny is what you want.”

    Up there you wrote that if the measures were cost-effective, the market will implement them. I present you with a scenario in which there is one measure that is cost-effective *by construction* (but only in the long run), and now you say only a fascist tyranny can deliver that. Make up your mind.

    ” the price mechanism is the way by we would know when to switch over.”

    WHAT price mechanism? There is only the price of the fuels – and that says the good option is more expensive (in the short term). But in this case we know (again, by construction) that in the long run it isn’t. But nothing in the price reflects that fact. That means the price is wrong, and that means the market will be wrong.

    So in this case not only would the market not pick the right solution if handed it on a plate, it wouldn’t even have had the incentive to come up with it in the first place.

  12. Frank O’Dwyer –

    It’s such a contrived scenario it’s meaningless.

    The price mechanism means we will buy the cheaper fuel in the short and long term. When the preferred energy runs short it’s price will rise. When the price rises above the alternative we will switch over and investment will pour into that energy.

    Paying more than we need to pay for energy now makes us poorer now. You suggest the alternative to switching to the alternative energy now is a 20 per cent to global GDP in a century. Even if the world now pays just 5 or 10 per cent more for energy than it needs to, this will become an enormous opportunity cost and will greatly reduce GDP in a century.

  13. Pete,

    “The price mechanism means we will buy the cheaper fuel in the short and long term. ”

    Right – and that, in this case, would be the wrong thing to do. Given those facts, it is true by construction.

    Saying that the scenario is ‘contrived’ won’t cut it – you claim that the market WILL implement the best available solution. The fact that it is possible to come up with not just one but limitless counterexamples with just a moment’s thought completely blows away that claim. To continue to make the claim regardless is the triumph of ideology over reason.

    What I’ve said here isn’t even particularly controversial, I can even find libertarians who agree with it. If you want the market to take account of the costs of carbon then in practice that means there has to be a price on carbon. In the market as you would have it, that price is set by default: 0, and that price is almost certainly wrong. You yourself have even argued (ignoring all evidence to the contrary) that warming would be a benefit, in which case the price should be negative, so it’s not even correct on your terms.

  14. Frank O’Dwyer –

    The hypothetical situation is daft and silly. It doesn’t bear any reality to life. Free markets (i.e. economic freedom to act in our best interests) accord to human motivations, not silly, contrived examples. You say:

    “Suppose for the sake of argument that supplies of oil and this other fuel are effectively unlimited”

    But they’re not! Nothing is unlimited, nothing is cost-free, there are no choices but only trade-offs. Again, you say:

    “If you want the market to take account of the costs of carbon”

    What costs of carbon? Social costs? Again, this is a silly, contrived invention. If there is pollution then we have property rights and the courts to resolve pollution, otherwise there are no costs.

  15. Pete,

    “It doesn’t bear any reality to life. Free markets (i.e. economic freedom to act in our best interests) accord to human motivations, not silly, contrived examples”

    Well then, since according to you free markets don’t exist in reality, I suppose we can ignore them too and you better think of a more realistic solution. But there’s nothing contrived about a scenario in which warming would have a significant cost, and in which any emission free alternative would cost more than fossil fuels. That is not only plausible but reasonably likely.

    “But they’re not! Nothing is unlimited,”

    Over the next century fossil fuels are as good as unlimited. The alternative fuel is completely hypothetical (in the system you propose, there’d be no incentive to invent it in the timeframe), and to cost just 1% more and be any kind of workable alternative it would have to be pretty abundant too. You are nitpicking details that are simply irrelevant and don’t change the basic conclusion at all.

    “nothing is cost-free”

    And yet how much does it cost to emit carbon in the system you propose? Zero. Can we emit CO2 into the atmosphere indefinitely? At what point should it have a non-zero price and how would it ever be set?

    “If there is pollution then we have property rights and the courts to resolve pollution, otherwise there are no costs.”

    Who should I or my descendants sue if warming causes sea levels to rise and inundate my property? In which court?

  16. Frank O’Dwyer –

    You may as well resolve to sue a priest if there’s no afterlife.

    Now then, who is proposing some new energy sources and how do we know their minds are infallible?

  17. Pete,

    You’re dodging the question. Any damages from CO2 would be the result of activities of millions of individuals, many of whom are already dead, so who is anybody going to sue for damages if they result? In which court would they do so?

    And how is that prospect going to influence anyone’s behaviour now?

    In essence your solution boils down to claiming there is no problem. If you’re wrong about that, and you almost certainly are, you’re all out of ideas.

  18. Truth by blatant assertion – I won’t embarrass you or bore everyone else by asking for evidence to back your claim up.

    Meanwhile I’ll take your continual changing of the subject as admission that you know that under the (rather reasonable) assumption that there is a problem, nothing you’ve proposed here comes close to being a solution.

  19. I explained in the past at some length what we ought to do whether or not AGW turns out to be true – whatever we like, so long as governments do nothing.

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