The appallingly bad neoclassical economics of climate change
By - Helicase21
I’m not sure what to think of human nature when the threat of starvation, lack of potable water, and a toxic atmosphere aren’t enough to convince someone to stop shitting where they eat and, more importantly, where their children and grandchildren will eat. But, apparently, the trick was to threaten the wealth of the 1%, and the ovine masses would likely fall in line.
That's a long read, still working on it. So the author's attacking a few writers who are obviously wrong about their estimates on the climate impact on GDP. That explains why these numbers always seem to be so low when you see them (like 1% of GDP hit per degree of warming). I'm *assuming* that the papers he's attacking here are representative of this and not a straw man.
A couple of highlights are:
>Labour without energy is a corpse, while capital without energy is a sculpture.
He's saying, for one thing, that these models assume no change in energy production in light of climate change, where 85% of current energy is derived from fossil fuels. And:
>Richard Tol: 10 K is less than the temperature distance between Alaska and Maryland (about equally rich), or between Iowa and Florida (about equally rich). Climate is not a primary driver of income.
>Daniel Swain: A global climate 10 degrees warmer than present is not remotely the same thing as taking the current climate and simply adding 10 degrees everywhere. This is an admittedly widespread misconception, but arguably quite a dangerous one.
If we hypothetically followed that logic and just burned all the known reserves of fossil fuels assuming we could adapt to whatever happened, we would eventually end up with a CO2 concentration of around [5,000 ppm](https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms14845) and - accounting for the increase in solar output since then - a level of warming that's two or three times higher than that of "The Great Dying" - the End Permian extinction event of 250 million years ago - *and* over a much shorter timer period.
I've heard some scarier arguments where if the CO2 concentrated gets to high in the atmosphere it'll end up making water nearly everywhere pretty acidic. Which could kill off plankton for good in the oceans. That would mean we lose too much oxygen in the atmosphere to survive....
You're talking about ocean acidification. Yes, it hurts zooplankton production, and shellfish and corals even more so. No, it won't seriously deplete atmospheric oxygen anytime soon. Oxygen is produced primarily by phytoplankton and land plants.
If it makes it so phytoplankton cant reproduce it'll be a problem.
True, but we [don't yet know](https://news.mit.edu/2015/ocean-acidification-phytoplankton-0720) what phytoplankton response to acidification will be. Loss of zooplankton, corals and shellfish will be a disaster for food production and ecosystem health, however.
I've already assumed only farmed fish will be available in a few decades. I have no hope that we will collectively stop fishing for long enough to let stocks recover.
As soon as the sea ice in the Arctic Ocean melts, the jet stream, which governs weather patterns across the northern hemisphere, will severly weaken and tend to flow towards Greenland, instead of flowing north. This will hugely alter local weather patterns across the northern hemisphere and also slow down the movement of storms, leading to cycles of flooding and drought. Agricultural regions will be unable to adapt with such radical climate change and food shortages will cause global civil strife. If you are reading this and disagree, please post a reasoned argument below.
I struggle to understand why so few economists make climate change their principal area of study, when it is so clearly the central economic subject of our time. More than once I've heard economists shrug off warnings from thoroughly credible sources like Stern, Weitzman or whole teams in the IPCC. "Questions about discount rates, you know...Nordhaus has a Nobel...harumph".
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