Little Whyte Bull

Late last week, New Zealand’s far right ACT party was pleased to let the media know that its leader, Jamie Whyte, had won the “prestigious Institute of Economic Affairs’ Seldon1 Award” — an award given to IEA fellows by the IEA for work published by the IEA. Whyte is an IEA fellow, which may (or may not) be prestigious in itself — the IEA is the grandaddy of British free-market “think tanks” — but the award appears to be little more than a bit of mutual backslapping. Whyte won for a paper published last year entitled Quack Policy – Abusing Science in the Cause of Paternalism (pdf), in which he sets out to show that “much ‘evidence-based policy’ is grounded on poor scientific reasoning and even worse economics”. Unfortunately, in his discussion of climate science in the paper, he shows an incredibly poor understanding of what the science actually says, and an even worse appreciation of its implications for humanity.

Here’s Whyte asserting that “the science is not settled” (p80 of the pdf):

The forecasts for AGW relied upon by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other authorities are derived from modern climate science and, especially, from general circulation models (GCMs). How credible are these models and the climate science behind them? Or, more precisely, how much credence should we give their predictions of a calamitous man-made increase in the global climate (sic) in several decades’ time?

That climate models are especially important in determining a need to urgently cut carbon emissions is a common fallacy expressed by those who seek to minimise the need for action to reduce those emissions. Climate models are extremely useful tools, and they allow us to ask a great many “what if” questions about the way the ocean/atmosphere climate system works, but to know that we are in big trouble all we need is basic physics and an understanding of climate history.

What do we know with great certainty?

  • Adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere must result in heat accumulating in the climate system. This is both theoretically obvious — known for 150 years — and understood down to the quantum level.
  • The pattern of warming observed — the fingerprint — is precisely what would be expected from increased greenhouse gas levels. It is supported by observations of land and ocean warming, land and sea ice reductions, and stratospheric cooling.
  • The study of past climate states — paleoclimate — tells us that when atmospheric CO2 was at levels equivalent to today’s, sea levels were 16-20 metres higher than now, and the world was a much warmer place, with little or no ice in the Arctic and a greatly reduced Antarctic ice sheet.

No models are required to suggest that dumping ever more carbon into the atmosphere is going to get us into big trouble. The models provide useful advice about what we can expect to happen and when, given assumptions about future greenhouse gas emissions, but they are not the only or even the most important reason2 why we need to act to stabilise and reduce atmospheric greenhouse gas loading.

A paragraph later, Whyte suggests a null hypothesis, but gets it completely the wrong way round.

This difficulty is exacerbated by the fact that we do not know what the climate would be in 50 years’ time if the climate models that predict AGW were false. In other words, we do not know what the climate would be if the null hypothesis were correct. No one denies that the climate changes even without any human influence. But, without depending on the very models we seek to test, we cannot predict the future climate without the effects of greenhouse gases. This means that we do not know which future climatic observations would confirm the AGW hypothesis and which would disconfirm it.

When we have observations showing that the planet is warming because of increasing atmospheric greenhouse gases, and a detailed understanding of why based on well-understood physics, then the correct null hypothesis is that warming will continue if greenhouse gases continue to accumulate in the atmosphere. The onus of proof lies with those who want to overturn that understanding. I somehow don’t think that Whyte is quite ready to re-write quantum physics.

Whyte’s misunderstanding of climate models and what they tell us is not limited to the foregoing, and I leave it as an exercise for the reader to enumerate all the ways in which he is wrong3, but it is worth looking closely at his discussion of “uncertainty and climate policy” (p91 et sub). Here’s his introduction:

The predictions of theories that have not been tested, and are not entailed by well-known facts, do not warrant high levels of certainty. Those who insist on this are not ‘anti-science’, as they are often claimed to be. On the contrary, it is those who are willing to be convinced in the absence of predictive success who display an unscientific cast of mind. The predictions of AGW may well be true but the certainty we should have in them falls well short of the certainty properly enjoyed by the predictions of physics. Those scientists who say otherwise – who claim that the predictions of climate science warrant as much confidence as predictions based on gravity, or that the AGW thesis is ‘settled’ – do not promote the public understanding of science.

Whyte’s fixation with, and denial of, the “predictive success” of climate models is just one more straw man among many, but his misunderstanding of certainty implies that the “motivated certainty” he imputes to scientists is much more in evidence in his own thinking. He argues, but fails to convincingly demonstrate, that we can’t be certain of the truth of the “AGW thesis”, and that therefore we should not act to cut emissions. It’s been difficult to get international agreements on emissions reductions, he says, and then states:

Add to this the uncertainty about the AGW thesis, and pursuing the policy of cutting carbon emissions looks misguided.

As non-sequitors go, that has to take the biscuit, if not a whole packet of jammy dodgers. It is certainly difficult to get international cooperation on climate matters, but that is true on almost any policy matter. I don’t expect to find Whyte’s ACT party arguing against the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement on the ground that it’s difficult to negotiate and that its benefits are uncertain, though both are certainly true.

Whyte’s failure to grasp even the bare bones of the climate problem lead him to some truly facile statements about sensible policy options.

If AGW is uncertain, and if the future climate even without AGW is uncertain, how can you decide which adaptive policies are wise? The short answer is that you need only respond to market prices. […] …adaptations to climate change will occur without any direction from governments. Insurers and investors have a private interest in adjusting the prices they charge to changing risks, and businesses and households have private interests in responding to those changing prices. No government policy is called for.

There’s one small problem for this view, and it’s a trap Whyte would have avoided had he bothered to familiarise himself with what we really know about the climate system. We no longer live in a static climate. Heat is accumulating in the system, and even if atmospheric greenhouse gases were to somehow, magically4, stabilise at current levels, the planet’s surface would continue to warm for at least another 30 years, and sea level rise would continue far into the future. If you take no steps to cut emissions and stabilise greenhouse gases, you are committed to adapt to a moving target.

Acting to reduce emissions amounts to a sensible insurance policy5, because it reduces the risk of low probability, but high cost damages in the future. We may not be certain that warming will be catastrophic, but even a low probability of that being true should motivate us to act urgently, because the ultimate costs will be so large.

Those costs, however, are not purely economic and cannot be assigned a single monetary value. You cannot simply assume that economic growth will continue in the future, or that future generations will inevitably be richer than we are today. The environmental damages of climate instability and resource restraints on an increasingly crowded planet will make continued economic growth (as it is presently defined) ever more difficult to achieve. The economy and the environment are not two separate but interacting systems. Economies exist inside earth systems that provide free support services (air, water, soil, stable climate etc). When those services fail, economies inevitably struggle. Money is of no use if there is no food to buy.

If you accept the evidence offered by climate science at face value — that the planet is warming, and it would be wise to try to stabilise and then reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere — then policy making can flow from that. The message is not itself political: it is a statement of well understood fact. The denial of that fact is, however, motivated by economic interests and political ideologies. Whyte is just another ideologue making stuff up to justify his world view. Apparently that’s enough to get a form prize in year 12 philosophy at Free Market Grammar.

In some respects it’s not surprising that the right wing, free market, libertarian-leaning wing of political thought should be uncomfortable with the recent emphasis on building government policy around real evidence, and not just gut feelings or populist sentiment. As Stephen Colbert has pointed out, reality has a well-known liberal bias. It’s hard to think of a single tenet of free-market, right wing policy which has any broad base of evidential support. So what do you do when you don’t like the facts? You shoot the messenger delivering them.

Whyte’s paper, in its section on climate science and condescending nonsense about scientific expertise, is just a well-written but intellectually lightweight exercise in building straw men and shooting them full of arrows. In right wing circles, this obviously plays well, as his award — and rapid elevation to the leadership of the ACT party — demonstrates. The real world is not about to cooperate, however hard Whyte, ACT and the ideologues of the right might wish it to.

[Tommy Steele]

  1. Not this Seldon, sadly. []
  2. Ocean acidification alone should be enough to motivate steep emissions cuts and ultimately, reduction of atmospheric GHG levels. []
  3. They are many, and various, but life is too short etc etc… []
  4. The free market at work, perhaps? []
  5. Whyte manages to get the insurance argument wrong, too, in a section in which he discusses alien abduction policies(!). []

175 thoughts on “Little Whyte Bull”

  1. Oh dear, the IEA. Let me tell you a little bit about that. The lovely Matt Ridley of The Times has his natural home there. The IEA, with the Atlas Foundation, set up the International Policy Network, whose heads, Roger Bate and Julian Morris, set up so-called “grassroots” groups across the world. Morris is now at the European Science and Environment Forum, which he helped set up with APCO and Phillip Morris as a European version of The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition.
    More details here.

    That’s the history, and if you look on the list of IEA advisors today, you get a similar story. Michael Hintz, funder of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, is on the board.

  2. 1) Cigarette companies stay in business only by addicting youth, while their brains are developing to something that will eventually bring many agonizing deaths.
    2) IEA has long helped the tobacco industry and gotten paid for it., so if he’s happy to get an award from people who help cigarette companies…

    3) See mention of IEA in Familiar Think Tanks Fight For E-Cigarettes.

    4) UCSF’s Legacy Tobacco Documents Library (LTDL)Lhas a wealth of hits for IEA, often talking of how much they’d get paid, IEA looking for money, etc, from BAT:
    >Advanced Search
    “institute of economic affairs” in first search box
    >Collections none, then select British American Tobacco search

    That finds 246 documents, such as:
    $ And others from the 1980s onward.

    Change search box: between 1995 and 2014:
    64 documents, including this one from 1995, which mentions global warming
    http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/aeg30a99/pdf?search=%22institute%20of%20economic%20affairs%22
    and this one on IEA’s Research Agenda, see p.2 on Environment
    http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/qsl71a99/pdf?search=%22institute%20of%20economic%20affairs%22
    Roger Bate to BAT:
    http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/ohs24a99/pdf?search=%22institute%20of%20economic%20affairs%22
    1995 on books, including “Global Warming: Apocalypse or hot air?”
    http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/psl71a99/pdf?search=%22institute%20of%20economic%20affairs%20warming%22
    1996 IEA to BAT, papers on environmental risk
    http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/nsl71a99/pdf?search=%22institute%20of%20economic%20affairs%20warming%22

    An overall search for “global warming” across the LTDL gets 2723 hits…

    1. You will not be surprised to learn that the second part of Whyte’s paper is devoted to a discussion of passive smoking, attempts to restrain which he dubs “bigotry-based policy”. The acorn never lands, etc etc…

      1. You are correct.
        I am not surprised. Climate anti-science and tobacco promotion go together aroudn the world.

        Hopefully, NZ will get “plain packaging” like AU.
        I was pleased to meet Kiwi Dr. Janet Hoek a few months ago, knowledgeable and lively ,gave a good talk.

        1. So a former Cambridge University philosophy lecturer is promoting “Christian anti-science”

          Yeah right. These rants get less believable every day, if that is possible

          By the way, as I pointed out a while back, the second hand smoking issue has been backed up by peer-reviewed research in the BMJ, but don’t let facts get in the way

          You have any agenda and anyone who disagrees is “anti-science”

          It is just pathetic really

          1. AndyS, the peer reviewed research does show some risk from passive smoking, but admittedly small. However commonsense also tells me you would expect some risk. And some people find passive smoking repellant, and it can induce asthma.

            I don’t know why anyone would go to extreme lengths to be in denial about it. We are only asking smokers not to smoke in bars or other public buildings.

            1. nigelj
              “but admittedly small. ”

              The issue isn’t so much cancer (except as one more additive factor), but cardiovascular and respiratory problems imposed on *other* people..

              See 2014 US Surgeon General Report,, specifically PDF pages:
              56-59 history

              405 Asthma Asthma sufferers sometimes end up in emergency rooms. Thankfully, a woman I dated decades ago didn’t, but then were were careful to avoid some places.
              “Although extensive evidence implicates exposure to
              secondhand smoke as a cause of exacerbation of asthma
              among children and adults …”

              p.421 Impact of Smokefree Policies on Respiratory Outcomes
              p.422 has nice graph: in most places, smokefree laws reduce hospital admissions.

              p.462- Exposure to Secondhand Smoke and Stroke
              “Additionally, studies provide evidence that exposure
              to secondhand smoke may increase the risk of hypertension, a potent risk factor for stroke.”

              p.463 Fig 8.5 association between exposure to secondhand smoke and risk of stroke,
              p.466 “The evidence is sufficient to infer a causal relationship between exposure to secondhand smoke and
              increased risk of stroke.
              2. The estimated increase in risk for stroke from exposure to secondhand smoke is about 20−30%.”
              p.467 Impact of Smokefree Laws on Acute Cardiovascular Events …
              p.473 “There is a scientific consensus…”
              p.474 “The evidence is sufficient to infer a causal relationship between the implementation of a smokefree law
              or policy and a reduction in coronary events among people younger than 65 years of age.
              The evidence is suggestive but not sufficient ,,, (oithers)”

            2. John, I totally agree. Passive smoking risk is not just about cancer, and I did mention asthma.

              I also sometimes wonder about children of smokers. They are inhaling smoke, and this may be getting them a little addicted or primed up, and this may create the urge for them to experiment with cigarettes.

            3. nigelj:
              That’s one I don’t know offhand.
              1) it’s certainly know that secondhand smoke doesn’t help kids, but if I recall right, that was mosly pulmonary problems.

              2) As for addiction, I’m not sure, at least for kids under 10-12, I don’t recall seeing anything about the early brain-rewiring then. Needless to say, nobody will do the lab experiments to determine exactly how young kids can really get addicted.

              3) Of course, growing up amidst smokers is likely to make it seem OK to try.

            4. I’m not actually defending smoking, and I am very happy that bars and restaurants are smoke-free these days.

              I am not a smoker and never have been
              I spent enough time in smoky Scottish bars, coming home smelling like an ashtray, to realise that it is a disgusting and anti-social activity

              However, you can still take an objective view of the scientific data.

            5. AndyS, it is true that the cancer risk from passive smoking appears small, but as is pointed out there are about a dozen other risks and some of these are quite significant. This adds up to enough justification to ban it in pubs etc.

              I think you are right to scrutinise the science, but I also look at these things with some commonsense. Tobacco causes dozens of diseases, and if you are breathing it in passively over an extended time, it is hard to see how that would not have some effect.

              We also do not have to have definitive 100% proof before we act. It is hard to have 100% proof about anything. It’s about probabilities.

            6. nigelj:
              Indeed, since humans are not electrons, much of this had to be probabilistic and always will be. Nobody ever will do the definitive experiments on thousands of people to give controlled exposures over decades.

              However, the existing science is extensive. Just like IPCC reports, the US Surgeon General reports are based on expert assessments of thousands of peer-reviewed papers over decades, plus the 80M-page plus set of industry documents in UCSF’s Legacy Tobacco Documents Library.

              Of course, to scrutinize the science, it actually helps to do that, not talk about it, and anyone who doubts this should, and it takes serious effort. Of course, it’s a good idea to figure out who experts are, contact them and get pointers, read, attend lectures, talk to people. It’s hard to beat being able to ask experts’ questions. Of course, this is easier for some people than others, depending on location. Try talking to doctors who do lung transplants or nurses who care for patients dying, slowly of lung cancer or pulmonary diseases. They have opinions.

              I’ve only met Janet Hoek from NZ and Melanie Wakefield from AU, but they’d certainly know others.

            7. My aunt, and cousin never actively smoked, but lived in the 1940’s 50’s and early 60’s in a house filled with tobacco smoke from an uncle who smoked 2- 3 packs a day. (He died aged 56 after suffering angina and a massive heart attack) My aunt died several years later from breast cancer, and my cousin aged 26 died from lung cancer. My grandmother who also lived with the family died from skin cancer. Anecdotal I know – but I have no doubt that passive smoking was involved in each of their deaths.

          2. Whyte’s lack of understanding of the scientific method is breath-taking! How he ever was considered for a lectureship at Cambridge, if this is the standard of his scholarship, is bewildering.
            I find it exceedingly ironic that “economists” of the Whyte ilk, pour scorn on the accuracy of climate models, whilst at the same time failing to see the overwhelming fragility in their own – models that bear no resemblance to reality whatsoever.
            As for the “award” – self congratulatory praise from a small group of ideological zealots (who give themselves grandiose titles “International Economic Association” indeed! lol) is meaningless.

            1. What specific thing alerts you to the fact that Jamie Whyte’s understanding of the scientific method is incorrect?

            2. “What specific thing alerts you to the fact that Jamie Whyte’s understanding of the scientific method is incorrect?”

              His belief that you must have 100% proof. This is impossible in science, and only applies to maths. It’s about the level of evidence.

              His lack of understanding of what modelling really is.

              The fact that Jamie Whyte seems to think you can ignore the weight of evidence.

              Well almost everything he says really. Dont ask me to repeat the exact wording of his speeches, just read them. The message is clear to all the rest of us. If we consistently get a certain message from him, he either doesn’t understand the issues or can’t communicate clearly.

            3. I don’t see anywhere in the “Quack Policy” document that he states that 100% proof is required.

              I don’t see anywhere in that document to suggest that he doesn’t understand modelling.

  3. AGW doesn’t fit his world view. He wants to scrap the RMA and rely on common law and law of torts. Business these days is property development.
    If AGW was a problem you couldn’t call the Houston model of development successful.

  4. Our own NZIER keeps calling for population increase despite:

    2.3 Changing policy expectations
    While useful, models do not capture all the effects policymakers expect from immigration. When New Zealand moved to increase the numbers and skills of immigrants in the 1980s and 1990s, policymakers appear to have considered that these changes had the potential to have major beneficial impacts on the New Zealand economy, reinforcing the gains from the other liberalising and deregulating economic reforms undertaken during that period.
    At that time, it was considered that skills-focused inward migration could: improve growth by bringing in better quality human capital and addressing skills shortages; improve international connections and boost trade; help mitigate the effects of population ageing; and have beneficial effects on fiscal balance. As well as “replacing” departing NewZealanders and providing particular help with staffing public services (for example,
    medical professionals), it was believed that migration flows could be managed so as to avoid possible detrimental effects (such as congestion or poorer economic prospects) for existing New Zealanders.

    Since then, New Zealand has had substantial gross and net immigration, which has been relatively skill-focused by international standards. However, New Zealand’s economic performance has not been transformed. Growth in GDP per capita has been relatively lacklustre, with no progress in closing income gaps with the rest of the advanced world, and productivity performance has been poor. It may be that initial expectations about the potential positive net benefits of immigration were too high.

    Based on a large body of new research evidence and practical experience, the consensus among policymakers now is that other factors are more important for per capita growth and productivity than migration and population growth. CGE modelling exercises for
    Australia and New Zealand have been influential in reshaping expectations.

    http://www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/research-policy/wp/2014/14-10
    Yet they get away with it. Me thinks they are someones mouthpiece.

    1. Methinks the NZIER are indeed someones mouthpiece, and have various self interested agendas. High immigration doesn’t appear to actually improve the economy overall, but it certainly keeps wages low, and inflates the housing market as much as possible, to the benefit of property investors. Coincidence?

  5. I think Jamie Whyte is wrong about the science of climate change, and is trying to impose his anti authoritarian libertarian ideology, yet this ideology doesn’t make sense. Governments must have powers to act, or you have the rule of the jungle.

    Sometimes the rights of individuals cannot be open ended. The counter argument is governments, or majorities of citizens, must not abuse their power, or act on poor science. But climate science is good quality, and is 95% certain.

  6. Years ago, when your blog was about AGW it was worth reading, irrespective of ones political persuasion, now that it’s just a political and rabidly anti-right blog I think that’s no longer the case.

    1. It would be very good Andrew, if the political right would end its anti-science stance and embrace the challenges and the opportunities that lie in tackling the most difficult issue of our time: The change towards a sustainable living arrangement of humanity.
      It is very unfortunate that the right is not picking up this task but instead is fighting a trench battle against reason and responsibility from an untenable position. In fact, ‘unfortunate’ is a rather weak adjective.
      Unless the right is woken up (perhaps most effectively from some enlightened members of their own political corner) and becomes a protagonist towards conserving the planet (is that not what should be at the heart of so called ‘conservatives’??) the AGW debate will appear and remain politicized. Remember, it is not the climate scientists and those who recognize the validity of their concerns, who have politicized the issue. It was the reactionary right who mistook climate science as an attack on liberty and prosperity who called the shots and stared the war (all the way down to quixotic legal battles…).
      AGW is not an invention of the left or the greens or whatever mythology the right has invented. It represents a real and grave concern for the future of humanity, arguable the most significant we might ever face.
      We should all join forces in meeting this problem. The denial of realty by the right must end and soon. It is surely not in their own favor to be remembered for their inability to see this for what it is. The current stance of the political right is probably the most colossal failure of judgement of any political group in our current time.

      1. I’ve had no problem finding evidence for AGW, but, even though I’ve searched and searched for evidence of CAGW, I haven’t found it more than weak claims, and a lot of people who want to believe CAGW likely far beyond anything the science supports.

        1. Andrew can you define CAGW in your understanding? What temperature change constitutes CAGW for you? What sea level rise constitutes a CAGW consequence for you? And what ocean pH level would constitute a CAGW level for you?
          It will make it easier to discuss if we know what you mean.

          1. Andrew can you define CAGW in your understanding?

            Changes that happen at such a rate as to seriously damage long term societal or ecological wellbeing.

            It’s that rate of change, and so far predictions of <10mm/yr SLR, or ~0.02C/yr over the next 100 years that don't, in my opinion, constitute"catastrophe", such rates of change are glacial compared to how our civilisation (modern technology, population growth, the continual rebuilding of our cities and transport systems etc) has changed in the last century, and how ecologies have had to changed to cope with the massive impact Man's activities have already had (agriculture, destruction of habitats, invasive species, pollution, extinction from over hunting and fishing). AGW is a slow effect compared to how fast we’re already changing the world.

            1. Are you trying for the most ill-informed comment of the century? What planet are you on? I’m not going to even attempt to correct this mis-mash of error. But please don’t come on here and spout lies as if they were facts. It’s unbecoming.

            2. We have had this discussion on the word Catastrophic recently. Andrew’s definition is OK. The view that CC effects are so incremental as to be non-threatening giving time for adaptation,is widespread and understandable. They can be answered and I often have to do so.

              Catastrophy tends to be experienced locally with extreme weather . A tree crushing your house is catastrophy at the household level, or being repeatedly flooded, as in parts of the world. The recent Pakistan floods (plural) are catastrophic at a national level. Prolonged drought, then heatwave when soil moisture has evaporated has already proved deadly to scores of thousands thus far into the 21st century. The resulting food shortages, as in Eygypt following the Russian heatwave, set off the Arap spring armed conflicts and the Syrian catastrophy. Even a few centimetres of sealevel rise can amplify the consequences of stormsurge, flood and kingtide occuring together as demonstrated repeatedly in recent times.Sinking cities in the face of sea-level rise invite catastrophy further.

              Growing heat and drought and the warming so far has released forest pests from winter deaths. The resulting decimation and increased risk of fire and GHG release is potential catastrophy that is proving very difficult to ward.

              The ongoing acidification of the oceans, related eutrihication, stratification with rising temperature is heading toward planetary catastrophy as is the probability of a large rise in temperature resulting in large chunks of the planet becoming uninhabitable. The need for relocation of huge populations in the face of already commited sea level rise (WAIS) and corresponding reduction in food supplies will be catastrophic on a global scale.

              Where should this recital stop.? Conditions already bring more than enough catastrophies with the global average surface temperature rise still less than 1° C !

            3. Catastrophy [sic] tends to be experienced locally with extreme weather

              Attributing extreme weather events to AGW is still dicey, as is attributing earthquakes to it, and while an increase in the number of warm side extremes is a reasonable expectation, so is a decrease in the number of cold side events.

              The variability of weather is essential for life on land, and it’s hard to make a sound economic argument for avoiding extreme events 100 years hence due to discount rates.

            4. Andrew – your bell curve is fixed on it’s heat axis whereas, growing heat in the system moves it to the right. I would I could post the graphic here but I will have to rely on your imagination. Just to be visually generous, colour the left hand 5% of the first curve blue for extreme cold. Colour the 95%+ area red for heat extreme. Now add a second bell curve to represent added heat displaced to the right, far enough for visual distinction. Draw a perpendicular from the original 95% point to the new curve – colour red to the right. The frequency of the former extreme events have increased and extremes are greater. At the cold end the frequency of cold events has decreased and the extremes are not so extreme. I hope readers get that. It was first explained by Hansen with his “Loading the Dice” analogy.

              So we have x2 warming at the poles, warmer winds heading away from them. Warming everywhere else – more moisture in the air, faster moving winds but not necessarily stronger because the atmospheric density grows less and the troposhere expands.

              However, just to acknowledge a different experience for some people: The larger meanders of the northern polar jet stream have brought to people way further south than before, record cold periods too, but those winds from the north have in fact been warming as a as a recent paper has shown This and similar examples do not contradict the shift in normals and extremes I’ve attempted to describe..

            5. noelfuller July 10, 2014 at 12:28 pm

              You seem to be labouring what I just said, or am I missing something?

            6. Thank you Andrew for giving us some concrete numbers of what you think would NOT constitute catastrophic climate change. Sadly, you did not provide any peer reviewed reference that the change rates you cite are not catastrophic.
              I would suggest to you this study:

              … Inertia toward continued emissions creates potential 21st-century global warming that is comparable in magnitude to that of the largest global changes in the past 65 million years but is orders of magnitude more rapid. The rate of warming implies a velocity of climate change and required range shifts of up to several kilometers per year, raising the prospect of daunting challenges for ecosystems, especially in the context of extensive land use and degradation, changes in frequency and severity of extreme events, and interactions with other stresses.

              http://www.sciencemag.org/content/341/6145/486.abstract

              We leave it up to the reader to contemplate your idea that the rates of change you cite are ‘glacial’. SLR alone, will consume the living space of hundreds of millions of people and the arable land from which they obtain there sustenance. Combined with the other effects of even juts a 2Deg (average) warmer world, I fail to see that this is not catastrophic.

              On some other issues…

              On the issue of the levels of GHG:

              Amospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane correlate well with Antarctic air-temperature throughout the record. Present-day atmospheric burdens of these two important greenhouse gases seem to have been unprecedented during the past 420,000 years.

              Nature

              On the issue of species extinction through AGW:

              we predict, on the basis of mid-range climate-warming scenarios for 2050, that 15–37% of species in our sample of regions and taxa will be ‘committed to extinction’.

              Nature

              Ocean Chemistry Change:

              The ocean continues to acidify at an unprecedented rate in Earth’s history. Latest research indicates the rate of change may be faster than at any time in the last 300 million years.

              Third Symposium on the Ocean in a High-CO2 World

              The issue is Andrew, that your ‘personal ideas about what is dangerous or not’ are rather irrelevant, don’t you think? unless you can actually convince us with some solid peer reviewed evidence that all will be just fine as you seem to suggest.

            7. Call me a stick in the mud, but I’m only interested in peer reviewed papers, letters to Nature don’t go through the peer review process.

              None of the respondents to my points here have produced peer reviewed papers that contradict the points I’ve made.

              Sadly, you did not provide any peer reviewed reference that the change rates you cite are not catastrophic.
              The onus is on the CAGW advocates to support their case, not on me to prove a negative.

              The issue is Andrew, that your ‘personal ideas about what is dangerous or not’ are rather irrelevant, don’t you think? unless you can actually convince us with some solid peer reviewed evidence that all will be just fine as you seem to suggest.

              Don’t be silly Thomas, you’ll continue to believe what you want to believe “convincing” you of something you don’t want to believe is a fools errand.

          2. It will make it easier to discuss if we know what you mean

            I’ve been asking what you mean since forever, and failed to get a response.

            I presume that you don’t actually know what you mean. “Climate change” seems to be a series of bumper-sticker slogans

    2. Ah well, Andrew, when the rabid right recognise the reality of climate change and start making a sensible contribution to the policy discussion, I’ll stop picking on them. Meanwhile, Whyte is just another in a long line of influential tossers misrepresenting climate science.

      1. A compelling argument can be made on AGW and the need for action in mitigation and adaptation without reference to modelling nor even extreme weather except by reference to some recently experienced consequences. I did just that yesterday.

        1. But on extremes: Just posted on RealClimate

          “A new study by Screen and Simmonds demonstrates the statistical connection between high-amplitude planetary waves in the atmosphere and extreme weather events on the ground.”

          It’s a little hard to get at the moment – everyone is reading it.

      2. You too have made and supported claims that are wrong or go waay beyond what the science supports.

        Do you still argue that geometric progression of the rate of SLR is valid?

        That atmospheric methane runaway from clathrate breakdown likely?

        That an ice free Arctic – year round – this century, likely?

        1. SLR: I have never argued that SLR will follow a “geometric progression”. I have reported the steadily increasing estimates of SLR over this century, and on the ice sheet instabilities that make them more likely. I also never tire of pointing out that the equilibrium sea level for 400ppm CO2 is 16-20 metres above present.

          I have never argued that atmospheric methane will “runaway” as a result of clathrate breakdown, but I have reported the findings of scientists studying shallow sea bed methane hydrates off the Siberian coast – and they warn that large releases are distinctly possible. There’s enough carbon up there, and in (rapidly melting) Arctic permafrost to make our efforts to cut emissions a waste of time.

          I certainly did speculate that a year-round ice free Arctic ocean was possible this century, but I have never claimed that it was anything other than speculation, or assigned any probability to it. I recall calling it a “topologically infeasible back of the back of an envelope calculation”, or words to that effect. Ice-free summers are bad enough, and I’m not alone in thinking that may happen in the next decade or two.

          General point: When assessing the risks of climate impacts, you have to look at the full range of possibilities – including the worst case(s). I’ve been at this climate blogging business for 7 years now, and over that time, there’s been very little comforting news coming out of the science being done.

          It would please me greatly if there was evidence that the problem was likely to be less severe than we currently expect, and I would report it with enthusiasm. But that evidence simply isn’t there.

          Meanwhile, climate policy in NZ and the rest of the world goes backwards — or at best sideways — thanks in no small part to the idiocy of right wing politicians. I make absolutely no apology for focussing on politicians who deny the need for action or who pay it only lip service. They are working to make things worse, not better, and deserve to be called out for it.

          1. I stand corrected on the geometric progression, it was Hansen that used it as an example (which I remembered correctly) you weren’t as supportive of his approach as I remembered.

  7. Andrew W

    You claim “Attributing extreme weather events to AGW is still dicey, ”
    I disagree about this. The mechanisms are obvious and well discussed. There is a mountain of evidence showing we have already had increases in extreme weather over the last three decades. Over the last three decades there are documented increases in dry periods and heavy rainfall events and certain types of storms, and this is all documented in the IPCC reports.

    Your other argument is the weather has always had extremes so this is natural and good. This is just illogical, and on the same level as saying earthquakes must be a desirable thing. Extreme weather is damaging, just ask any farmer.

    You argue global warming is a slow process so is not concerning or we can adapt. But against what reference are you claiming this? We have had 20,000 years of relative climate stability and now changes are comparatively rapid.

    Over the stable period we have established vast coastal settlements vulnerable to sea level rise. Adapting to a rate of change of one metre or more of sea level rise per century will be very expensive even with the most optimistic views about some future technologies. Various species are already struggling to adapt to current rates of climate change.

    1. You claim “Attributing extreme weather events to AGW is still dicey, ”
      I disagree about this.

      Peer reviewed links please.

      Your other argument is the weather has always had extremes so this is natural and good.

      Any other sh!t you’d like to make up and attribute to me?

      Adapting to a rate of change of one metre or more of sea level rise per century will be very expensive even with the most optimistic views

      Any additional costs will be negligible compared to the basic maintenance costs of cities, buildings typically pay for themselves within a couple of decades, compare the skyline of almost any city today with the skyline it had 100 years ago.

      Various species are already struggling to adapt to current rates of climate change.

      Name them, now try listing the species that Man has pushed to extinction over the last couple of hundred years one list is a bit longer than the other.

      1. Andrew W

        Thanks. Regarding the weather extremes issue, the climate science community generally thinks that global warming will lead to a higher probability of more extreme weather events or intensity of events. As I noted research has already shown an increase in extreme weather in recent decades. The basic concept is more heat energy in the oceans can influence storm formation, rainfall events, etc.

        For peer reviewed research relevant to all these issues refer to the IPCC reports or Hansen (2012). There is plenty of other evidence just do a simple google search.

        http://www.climatecentral.org/news/hansen-study-extreme-weather-tied-to-climate-change-14760

        I didn’t misquote you. You stated “The variability of weather is essential for life on land, and it’s hard to”. This sounds debatable to me. How much variability is actually essential? Where is your proof or research evidence? Organisms cannot adapt to fast rates of change.

        You claim any additional costs of adaptation will be negligible. But you provide no research evidence so you have some nerve accusing me for not proving a list of links.

        In fact the weight of evidence says that costs of adaptation are high, to put it in simple terms. Look on “adaptation to climate change” on Wikipedia and you will find a discussion and a very long list of published research and mainstream literature on the issue, about 100 items.

        This issue is not just about sea level rise and buildings, it includes negative impacts on rainfall and drought, crop yeilds, species diversity, heat stroke, and those are just the things we can predict. There are of course some positive impacts but there are multiple negative impacts that outweigh the positives. Read the literature.

          1. Andrew W, rather a weak argument. These places are inhospitable because they are deserts, not because the weather lacks variability. Mildly variable climates are good for agriculture, like NZ. Highly variable climates less so.

      2. http://www.nature.com/news/2004/041129/full/news041129-6.html

        for a start.
        then there is:
        http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/07/30/1205276109
        and
        Identification of human-induced changes in atmospheric moisture content
        Author(s): Santer B. D.; Mears C.; Wentz F. J.; et al.
        Source: PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Volume: 104 Issue: 39 Pages: 15248-15253 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0702872104 Published: SEP 25 2007
        and this
        Trapp, R. J., N. S., Diffenbaugh, and A. Gluhovsky (2009), Transient response of severe thunderstorm forcing to elevated greenhouse gas concentrations, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L01703, doi:10.1029/2008GL036203.
        and this:
        Trenberth, K.E., P.D. Jones, P. Ambenje, R. Bojariu, D. Easterling, A. Klein Tank, D. Parker, F. Rahimzadeh, J.A. Renwick, M. Rusticucci, B. Soden and P. Zhai, 2007: Observations: Surface and Atmospheric Climate Change. In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M. Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.

        How much more do you want?

        1. http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/cmb/bams-sotc/2011-peterson-et-al.pdf
          “In the past it was often stated that it simply was not possible to make an attribution statement about an individual weather or climate event. However, scientific thinking on this issue has moved on and now it is widely accepted that attribu¬tion statements about individual weather or climate events are possible, provided proper account is taken of the probabilistic nature of attribution.”

          See the WRI for a more fuller appreciation of this report:
          http://www.wri.org/blog/2012/07/5-takeaways-noaa’s-new-study-climate-change-and-extreme-events

      3. Andrew said: “Any additional costs will be negligible compared to the basic maintenance costs of cities,….”

        What a load of total tosh Andrew!! You forget (conveniently) that not only will SLR destroy buildings, it will make large areas of now densely settled lands useless and make hundreds of millions of people into refugees, their lands and livelihoods gone for good.

        The equilibrium SLR we are already committed to is several meters. Arable land , cities and their entire infrastructure gone, aquifers ruined and entire national and regional infrastructures wrecked. And your assertion that we “anyway” change things quickly is childish. As if you never set foot in any of the old capitals of the world, walked though their centuries old centers. All this you want to wipe off the map with a smirk as it seems. What wicked mind of yours indeed!

            1. Oh, and Andy, that Potsdam paper did not yet take into consideration the stark revelations we now have about the Antarctic.
              http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/bad-news-about-rising-sea-levels-as-quickening-antarctic-winds-lead-to-faster-ice-melt-20140707-zsz3o.html

              As we told you and your denier morons so many times, the ‘uncertainty’ in our climate predictions is no cover for inaction. The uncertainty goes always both ways. And with regards to SLR commitments and effects the recent advances in the science have decisively pushed the estimates further to the ‘bad news’ end of the envelope.

            2. Sure. 2 Degrees of warming are now basically certain

              Over what time period?

              Are you prepared to bet your house on it?

        1. What a load of total tosh Andrew!! You forget (conveniently) that not only will SLR destroy buildings, it will make large areas of now densely settled lands useless and make hundreds of millions of people into refugees, their lands and livelihoods gone for good.

          Firstly you ridiculously ignore how mobile human populations are.

          Secondly you need to quantify how much SLR you’re talking about to make “hundreds of millions of people into refugees”, and the “refuge” claim is absurd unless you’re going to claim that all the emigrants from the UK (as an example) and their descendants are refuges.

          As if you never set foot in any of the old capitals of the world, walked though their centuries old centers. All this you want to wipe off the map with a smirk as it seems.

          If they’re deemed worth keeps they can be kept, it’s funny how the Netherlands is never mentioned as a potential victim of SLR, maybe you don’t think the Bangladeshi people are as clever as the Dutch? Me, I’ve obviously far more faith in their intelligence than you.

          1. Oh dear, what a moron did we encounter with this Andrew dude here!?!?

            Andrew: The Netherlands are always mentioned as a sample case of a country that will eventually seize to exist with SLR projections going forward.
            http://www1.american.edu/ted/ice/dutch-sea.htm
            Mate, if you want to survive on this site, you better come prepare with a bit more than your ultra right wing polemics!

            Further… “If they’re deemed worth keeps they can be kept,”….!!!
            Who is deciding if your home town or country is worth keeping for starters?? Some committee? Explain how you would keep Venice for example, by the end of even this century?

            Andrew: Did you ever actually think about anything you are saying here? There are vast areas of densely populated areas from Bangladesh to the Niger delta to the Netherlands and many other parts of the world which will disappear under the oceans in due course. About 100 million people, the size of entire nations, live within 3 feet of today’s SL and within the SLR range predicted for this century alone.

            1. Despite what you imagine Thomas, the Dutch have taken SLR of over a metre over the next century into account, the additional cost being about a billion Euro, they won’t be going broke, there won’t be millions of Dutch refugees to worry about.

              Who is deciding if your home town or country is worth keeping for starters??

              Here’s what no doubt will be for you a revolutionary approach, how about we actually let people, communities and countries deal with how SLR affects them? You probably don’t think other people are actually capable of running their own affairs without outsiders meddling, but maybe if you give it a shot you might be surprised that other people can actually run their own lives without your expertise.

              Explain how you would keep Venice for example, by the end of even this century?

              You’re obviously unaware that Venice and the land around has been sinking for hundreds if not thousands of years, currently at around 3mm/yr, so, either a solution will be found, or it will disappear, with or without SLR due to AGW.

              About 100 million people, the size of entire nations, live within 3 feet of today’s SL and within the SLR range predicted for this century alone.

              You realize that hundreds of millions of people move house every year don’t you, that in China alone there’s been a massive population shift involving hundreds of millions over the last couple of decades?

              If it makes you feel good, you can call those people “refugees” too.

              You keep suggesting I’m some how obligated to provide solutions, well now it’s my turn to ask you, given that SLR is locked in, that it’s going to happen and that there’s no realistic means of mitigating it, what’s your “solution”?

            2. Actually the Dutch are spending over €1 billion per year for the next 14 years.

              And those hundreds of millions of people who move each year leave viable property behind. If you’re moving because your property has disappeared beneath the waves it’s a greater financial loss.

            3. It is my expectation that very few of the Bangladeshi homes of today will meet minimum accommodation standards of 100 years hence, and my hope that they won’t even meet the minimum standards of 30 years hence.

            4. Although sea level rise is locked in the more we mitigate by reducing climate change the more the magnitude will be reduced.

            5. AndyS, so what if the Dutch have been building dykes etc for millenia? This still costs them money and I’m sure the dutch would rather spend money on other things.

              Sea level rise has large costs there is no escaping this.

            6. Yes andy they understand the problem far better than you or I. Obviously they think its going to deteriorate.

            7. Thomas: please stop calling all & sundry “morons”. Andrew W has a long history of dealing with climate denial – he was one of the people posting pithy comments at the original NZ CSC site, before they switched the comments off because people like Andrew and myself were relentlessly showing them up to be wrong.

              The fact that he is something of a climate optimist shouldn’t be held against him.

            8. Thanks Gareth, I was actually wondering if this “Thomas” was the same “Thomas” that was involved in the discussions we had back then, maybe not then.

              AGW is a subject I like to think I weigh independent of any ideological leanings I have, and If your readers and commenter’s here think I’m sceptical of CAGW, I can assure them that people on “skeptic” sites I comment on are usually pretty quick to conclude that I’m a lefty “alarmist”.
              🙂

            9. Perhaps I misread your stance Andrew.
              But what I can assemble from what you have said here, an image of an uncaring individual arises, from: letting affected communities (countries) deal with their fate on their own; to: lets not worry about our children’s and grandchildren’s generations fate either; to: who cares about 100 million climate change refugees and their lands, lets just move them on… and so on.
              It sounds to me that you hold an utopian belief in the ability of humanity to solve any problems through a perpetuation of exponential growth (lets just rebuild everything when needed), with disregard to the actual situation of dwindling cheap energy, rising damage to the ecosystem and the coming climate catastrophe.

              You won’t will find many takers for your stance, especially if you engage in an active struggle through your arguments against societies attempts to get a handle on our CO2 emissions. I assume in the end this what you stand for: a business as usual, who cares she’ll be all right attitude. I my humble opinion you are completely mistaken and despite your assertion otherwise, I think you are in some rather deep denial about what AGW is doing to our planet and the situation we are in.

              I am sure AndyS is sooo delighted to have you here…..

            10. letting affected communities (countries) deal with their fate on their own;

              If it’s a sudden disaster like a tsunami or devastating quake obviously outside help is essential, but that’s not what we’re talking about, we’re discussing whether or not the people living in the affected areas are the ones who should be in control of adjusting their lives to the slowly changing situations they find themselves in. The price people pay for a handout is losing control over their own lives. I don’t tell others how they should live their lives, as I don’t claim to know what’s best for everyone else.

              lets not worry about our children’s and grandchildren’s generations fate either

              My children are growing up to be happy, responsible and self reliant adults, it sounds to me like your children will always be children, looking for someone else to take care of them the result will be – The price people pay for a handout is losing control over their own lives.

              who cares about 100 million climate change refugees and their lands

              They’ll only be refugees if you make them into victims, maybe you see the hundreds of millions of people involved in the internal migration in China as victims, but as long as they resist the temptation to listen to your ilk the vast majority will be progressing to better lives.

              It sounds to me that you hold an utopian belief in the ability of humanity to solve any problems through a perpetuation of exponential growth

              No, just that people are more likely to get through their hardships if they have the power over their own lives. It sounds to me like you think you know what’s best for everyone else.

              with disregard to the actual situation of dwindling cheap energy, rising damage to the ecosystem and the coming climate catastrophe.

              Your solution being to strangle societies ability to adapt by putting all the power into just a few hands.

              I assume in the end this what you stand for: a business as usual, who cares she’ll be all right attitude.

              People know best what’s best for them, not Thomas & Co knows best what’s best for everyone else.

              I think you are in some rather deep denial about what AGW is doing to our planet and the situation we are in.

              I think I’m actually thinking about what the realities are of those effects of AGW that we have a reasonable measure of, rather than adopting the more popular Left vs Right knee jerk reaction.There are areas where there is still considerable doubt – the effects of ice free Arctic summers, possible increases in instabilities in the Northern polar vortex.
              But as these are areas where confidence of the nature of the possible changes is low, I don’t actually make pronouncements about how harmless/destructive these changes will be.

            11. Andrew, I am not sure what ‘handouts’ have anything to do with our discussion on tackling the root causes of AGW??? You are sinking deeply into straw man argument territory….

              Coming to binding international agreements on limiting the growth of CO2 is not a hand-out. It would be an intelligent choice made by an intelligent world population. Unfortunately we are not that advanced as it seems. Instead we have a mess of various opinions derived from political stances juxtaposed to the message of science and no measurable action whatsoever on a global scale yet. Seen from the outside, what humanity is doing is completely insane, no less!

              We have the knowledge of impeding disaster and we have the technology and (so far) the prosperity to make the required choices. But it has to be a choice made out of solidarity to all nations and the unborn generations. (something that seems to be amiss entirely in your logic).

              You state that somehow people, say in Bangladesh or Tuvalu or the Niger Delta, will adapt. Sure they will adapt somehow, misery and all, and I am not at all saying that we need to tell them how to adapt. But as we (in the Western World) cooked up the age of fossil fuels and produced the mess we find ourselves in, we are culpable and we are responsible to assist. Don’t you think? Your free market ideology would certainly permit counties to have a legal case against those who caused their grief, right?! A free market is not a system without culpability, far from it! As you so much despise ACC, you will welcome the USA system where people take each other to court for damages and accidents. Correct?

              The best remedy we could offer at present would be to work towards a drastic reduction of GHG emissions. Damage prevention trumps an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff any time. You agree??

              Further, you state changes in Bangladesh will be small and gradual. Again, you are totally blue eyed. SLR is not arriving neatly, a few mm/year. It comes in spurts and rushes and will make itself felt in ever more drastic effects of storm surges, erosion and severe weather events aggravated by the higher SL. For many people SLR will be evident if their home and their fields, that never flooded before, are suddenly ruined!
              In countries with a high tidal range SL will only noticeably manifest itself in the King Tides for a while to come. Conveniently deniers will always haggle with each event over whether it was attributable to AGW or a higher SL or just a ‘normal’ cyclone.

              Your assertion that somehow emissions reductions and a strive for a zero carbon fuel society equates to my children requiring handouts is so laughable that I actually almost spilled my drink? What do you know?
              Both my kids, still at school, have jobs and earn money of their own and I have been self employed most of my life! My kids grow up knowing that you earn your keep by the quality of our work and contribution to society!
              Andrew, why don’t you simply stick with what you know instead of making stuff up. Ok?

              Let me summarize my stance: AGW poses the most significant current threat to the ecosystem of our planet and therefore to the existence of our civilization. I believe that we have the moral obligation to act decisively. I believe that the free market entrepreneurship is best equipped to come up with the technological solutions we require. However, I also believe that the self interest of the current entrenched powers in the capitalist system will not act until it is way too late.
              In fact the fossil fuel industry is proactively hindering our efforts with a scandalous campaign of disinformation and derailment. We therefore need a binding and biting international legal and policy framework that compels private interests towards acting for the greater good of the planet.

            12. Coming to binding international agreements on limiting the growth of CO2 is not a hand-out.

              I have no argument that CO2 is a GHG, and that it’s increasing concentrations in the atmosphere will lead to warming, and that that warming will in some areas lead to climate changes that will cause losses.

              And I’m not disputing that CO2 emitters should not be able to externalise their costs, forcing those costs to be borne by others.

              We have the knowledge of impeding disaster ..

              Great! What you need to do is get that “knowledge” to the IPCC so they can present it to the UN.

              Or don’t you know the definitions of “knowledge” or “impeding” or “disaster”?

              This is good:
              Let me summarize my stance: AGW poses the most significant current threat to the ecosystem of our planet and therefore to the existence of our civilization. I believe that we have the moral obligation to act decisively. I believe that the free market entrepreneurship is best equipped to come up with the technological solutions we require. However, I also believe that the self interest of the current entrenched powers in the capitalist system will not act until it is way too late.
              In fact the fossil fuel industry is proactively hindering our efforts with a scandalous campaign of disinformation and derailment. We therefore need a binding and biting international legal and policy framework that compels private interests towards acting for the greater good of the planet.

              The only bits I don’t agree with are the implicit assumption that “the most significant current threat” is a significant threat, that it’s the most significant threat to our civilization, a greater threat, as I see it, is people like Marco, who think we’d all be better off under an extreme form of state socialism.

              And I’m really, really, sceptical about the rationality of people who use the phrase “the greater good”, inevitably it means they’ve put themselves on a pedestal believing they can see further and more clearly than all us peasants.

            13. I cannot believe the unmitigated callousness of this reply Andrew – are you for real? Do you really believe that the price people pay for receiving help in a difficult situation is to loose control over their own lives? Unbelievable!

            14. AndrewW

              Your rhetoric all assumes the strategy should be adaptation rather than emissions reductions. The peer reviewed assessments find adaptation alone as the only strategy is rather more expensive than mitigation.

              Your posts are moving into who is responsible for helping countries and you are presenting a very conservative leaning viewpoint. You explicitly said you were not going to politicise the issues or get into matters of ideology. Your viewpoint is also rather selfish and inflexible.

          2. AndrewW, we are talking about potential 20 metre rises in sea level. I suggest you read the literature. This may be spread over several centuries, but there is no escaping it will be a massive cost cumulatively.

            It doesn’t matter how clever people are at dealing with it, whether dykes, relocating buildings, reclaiming land, whatever this is going to requires huge expenditure of effort and resources and will be a massive cost over time. It will not be “absorbed” into maintainance budgets, it will be a cost.

            1. Two years ago, I talked to the recently-retired US Chief of Naval Operations, a very savvy guy named Gary Roughead, after a talk he gave at Stanford.

              Anybody want to guess what his top 4 worries were regarding climate change? 3 of the 4 involve SLR. (If you’ve seen this before, give other people a chance to guess.)
              #2 was the one that didn’t involve SLR, the opening of the Arctic Ocean.

            2. A wild guess:
              #1 The fact that Karachi, PK was at sea level…
              #3 Low Pacific bases
              #4 Norfolk and San Diego

            3. Well, Andrew W has obviously seen this …
              Karachi, PK was indeed CNO Roughead;s #1.

              I don’t know the wind patterns well enough, maybe somebody knows whether or not NZ would ever care about fallout from nuclear war on the Indian subcontinent. AU may be too close, but NZ may be far enough. In any case, the immigration challenge for NZ and AU is more likely, given the problems coming for Indonesia, islands, and SE Asia.

            4. No doubt you think you have a point, I’m guessing that you believe the sudden rise in sea levels will suddenly take lots of people by surprise, that suddenly these peoples houses will suddenly go under water resulting in them suddenly becoming refugees.

              Oh, and that all this suddenness with result in a nuclear war between India and Pakistan.

            5. It’s pointless to worry about Climatic changes more that 100 years hence, it’s equivalent to the people of 1914 worrying about setting the world right for us today when they should and would have been worrying about matters affecting the time they lived in.

            6. Marco, I notice you’ve been accusing others of lying, I’ll just point out that your link doesn’t support the claims you’ve made.

            7. Who said that I attributed those statements regarding the risks of inundation to that recent report of increased inundation events on the East Coast of the states?
              I’m simply stating the science and if you want to dispute that I suggest you take it up with Dr James Renwick

              “”This report […] paints a very clear picture of what the future could hold for humanity if we don’t get on top of greenhouse emissions,” says Dr James Renwick of Victoria University’s school of Geography, Environment and Earth Science.

              “Every 10cm of [sea level] rise triples the risk of a given inundation event, and we are expecting something like a metre of rise this century. That would mean today’s one-in-100 year event occurs at least annually at many New Zealand coastal locations. New Zealand has a great deal of valuable property and infrastructure close to the coast that will be increasingly at risk as time goes on.”

              http://www.3news.co.nz/Climate-change-report-a-wake-up-call-for-NZ–scientists/tabid/1160/articleID/338105/Default.aspx

            8. Thanks for clearing that up.

              All the flooding in NZ that comes to mind is a result of excessive rainwater runoff, off-hand I can’t think of any serious flood damage that’s been caused by sea water inundation.

              100×0=0

              Obviously SLR of say 1 metre will cause sea levels to be a metre higher, so what’s your point? You don’t seem to be adding anything to the discussion.

            9. The Thames flood of 1981 was as you say excessive run off – but that was exacerbated by storm sea surge and high sea levels. If there is no where for the water from the rivers to go…
              http://hwe.niwa.co.nz/event/April_1981_Waikato_Storm
              we see it constantly here from our vantage point on the hill. When the tide goes out – the flood plain empties.
              But there are many places around theCoromandel and bay of plenty for instance that are even now under immediate threat of sea inundation in a server storm

            10. Andrew said: “It’s pointless to worry about Climatic changes more that 100 years hence…”.
              Andrew, this is precisely the attitude that gets humanity into so much trouble. People care only for their personal patch of life (geographically and time-wise) in our narcissistic consumer society where today’s shareholder value trumps any consideration for long term consequences.
              The problem is Andrew: You have been told with a ton of scientific evidence for the last decades, that our fossil fuel habit is wrecking our place and that our failure to act with a long term horizon at heart is the root cause. Unless we make changes to the way we act today, our children will inherit a Mad-Max scenario from us with dysfunctional societies scrapping over the ruins and the remnants of civilization, ecosystems and ocean resources….

              Go and read Oreskes latest book. Its only a few bucks on Kindle.

              And I hope your kids won’t one day turn around and wonder what their dad was thinking when he was educating them to disregard the long term consequences of our actions today. Setting the world right for us today means precisely that: saving the world from its current course towards the cliff!

            11. Andrew said: “It’s pointless to worry about Climatic changes more that 100 years hence…”.

              A dollar invested now needs to return hundreds of dollars in 100 years time to be financially justifiable, so you’re better off investing a little more closer to the time the money needs to be spent.

              Put another way, would you go buy a car for a newborn baby because you’re worried that in 18 years cars would be more expensive?

              Unless we make changes to the way we act today, our children will inherit a Mad-Max scenario from us with dysfunctional societies scrapping over the ruins and the remnants of civilization, ecosystems and ocean resources….

              Is that what the peer reviewed science actually says or is that the fantasies of a fanatic?

              Hint, fanatics rarely recognise that they’re fanatics.

            12. Andrew, you look rather silly accusing me of fantasy, when my concern over the trajectory of society and the planet is backed up by countless good minds in the science community, while you are flying by your privately held opinion. Who is the fantast here? Where is your peer reviewed evidence and where is the science community supporting your position?

              Your car purchase analogy is ridiculous. You don’t understand the implications of our current ecological debt bomb and its translation into the economic realities of the next centuries and millennia. You got the logic 100% backwards: A dollar invested today into directing our lifestyles towards a sustainable trajectory will pay itself back umpteen times over.
              What seems financially unjustifiable to you, makes best practice for others!
              With regards to your economic outlook I recommend this to you: http://www.tullettprebon.com/strategyinsights/

            13. my concern over the trajectory of society and the planet is backed up by countless good minds in the science community,

              “concern”

              You’ve not been expressing “concern”, you’ve been claiming certainty, something scientists rarely do, do I need to remind you of what Mann said about proof?

              Your certainty is a fantasy.

              You got the logic 100% backwards: A dollar invested today into directing our lifestyles towards a sustainable trajectory will pay itself back umpteen times over.

              No, but if you’re willing to impress yourself by spending your own money on things that won’t provide you with a return for many decades, you go right ahead, those of us who understand opportunity cost will continue to look for investments that provide shorter term and ongoing returns.

            14. Good Grief! Indeed Andrew.

              I will leave you to your short term thinking. Good luck with that…!

            15. Oh, one more remark: from your comments here and your style I would imagine that you might in fact be:
              Andrew W. Montford.
              It would explain a lot really!

              I’ll file that comment under “humour”

            16. AndrewW, I disagree, Even European nations of the distant past considered the future beyond the crisis of the immediate day.

              Events 100 years out from now could be rather serious in terms of climate, and they affect our children and their children. I think it’s pretty pointless striving to do the best for our children on one level, and leave them a world negatively affected by climate change, when we could avoid this.

            17. Even European nations of the distant past considered the future beyond the crisis of the immediate day.

              OK, I’ll bite, give me an example of a nation acting for the future 100 years ahead to its shorter term cost.

            18. Oh dear, Andrew, some people here might have traveled or have some grasp of history!

              Just for starters, a large number of the most precious historic buildings took generations to complete. The Cathedral of Cologne was stared in 1248 and completed in the 19th century!
              Your short term thinking is a hallmark of 20th century hubris!

            19. No Thomas, it took that long because they kept running out of money. Once they got the Eastern wing sealed it was put to use, later they lost the plans for the facade and didn’t find them till the 19th century.

              Like a lot of grand projects it didn’t run to budget or on time.

              You’ll need to do better.

            20. You missed the point Andrew: They planned a grand project that they for well knew would take generations to finish. That is the point I was making.
              It took even longer than they had hoped for due to unforeseen delays. But that is not the point!

              BTW many people in Europe live in grand buildings and urban structures designed hundreds of years ago.

              Your idea that we should disregard our knowledge about the long term consequences of our actions and concentrate on short term profit would be amusing if it was not such a serious matter. It is a revolting attitude quite frankly!

              Our short term thinking has been the result of the technological revolutions of the 20th century heralding a fast pace of changes and the throw-away society made possible by (comparatively) very cheap fossil fuel energy. We have become addicted to short term gratification of our needs and have become blind to the long term consequences of our actions or knowingly deny the same.

            21. They planned a grand project that they for well knew would take generations to finish.

              Evidence please.

              Your idea that we should disregard our knowledge about the long term consequences of our actions and concentrate on short term profit would be amusing if it was not such a serious matter.

              Now we’re back to your lack of understanding of the word “knowledge”, and also there are very good reason why the very long term is not our concern (and here I’m talking of over a hundred years) apart from the realities of economics there’s also our lack of knowledge about the nature of society in a hundred years, you’re likely to be trying to solve problems that to those alive then are incredibly minor or not problems at all.

              Are the buildings of today going to even meet the building standards of one hundred years hence? Are cities still going to exist or will technology have made them a liability?

              These are things you can’t know about, despite your repeated claims of “knowledge”.

            22. Evidence please (Cologne Dom)
              http://www.hausschlesien.de/zwirner/der_koelner_dom.html
              You might need to polish up your German perhaps…. I could not find a good English site, I leave this to you. Key facts: The plans for the Cathedral were drawn up about 1240. The start of construction was 1248. The construction was paused in 1560 (the Reformation changed priorities for the people and the catholic church…), over 300 years after the construction began! Generations of stone masons labored on the site during this time.
              Construction was then finally continued in the 19th century, when the old plans, which had been looted by the French, were found in Paris, after a pause of almost 300 further years. The Cathedral was completed in1880. BTW: I cited this example as I grew up not far from Cologne…

              Knowledge: Of cause knowledge is a gradual thing. I am a scientist, I know. You willfully misrepresent what I am saying. Not a smart way to score points here.
              We will never be 100% sure that the future pans out precisely as we thought. But we have sufficient knowledge to make a very good assessment of where things are heading AND what we would need to do today to change the course. That is what I summarize as our ‘knowledge’ in this regard. And any lack of understanding should be no reason for comfort as things may well pan out to be worse than anticipated. Uncertainty cuts both ways! Your hope that incomplete knowledge allows you to somehow abdicate responsibility and culpability for future impacts or our current behavior is mistaken.

              Of cause in 100 years we will have made technological advances, and a lot of them. And we will have built a lot of new structures. This is not what we debate here. What matters is what the conditions are in which we find ourselves then!

              I maintain that we have much to gain from making conscious choices that see us in 100 years (Preferably much sooner!) no longer predicated by a destructive fossil fuel based technology and with an ecosystem that is in a state of much needed repair compared to our world today (deforestation, oceans, rivers, pollution… you name it). But as things stand, we are poised to loose a lot of our planetary inheritance while trampling along for a few more turns on a directionless commerce trail.

              Whatever, Andrew. You provided entertainment on a rainy weekend…

            23. I’ll concede the planned long construction periods for cathedrals, I checked out a few others and a hundred years or more seems to have been pretty common, I guess it’s one of those things people do in the name of religion (but don’t say that too load on climate change sites!) if you’re buying merits for the afterlife it hardly matters whether or not the thing’s completed in your current life.

              In his post Gareth mentions three areas of climate change that “we “know” with great certainty”, (I take issue with his use of the “know” in that sentence), What we don’t “know” with great certainty is just about everything else, which includes lots of the stuff you seem to think you “know”.

              If you don’t want me to ping you on that word, try using it correctly.

              Your hope that incomplete knowledge allows you to somehow abdicate responsibility and culpability for future impacts or our current behavior is mistaken. once again you’re assigning motivations to me based on what you want, rather than what I’ve stated.

              ..compared to our world today (deforestation, oceans, rivers, pollution… you name it). But as things stand, we are poised to loose a lot of our planetary inheritance while trampling along for a few more turns on a directionless commerce trail.

              I doubt even you know what you mean with that.

              There’s no dispute that we need to move beyond fossil fuels, and in my opinion we need to continue work on reducing pollution and protecting ecosystems and the species they contain, outside of that, certainty about what should be is for fanatics.

            24. Planetary inheritance at significant risk:

              Oceans: Corrals, shell fish and plankton, the later especially with a significant impact (risk of collapse) on the entire ocean food web including the risk of loosing an important CO2 regulator species…
              http://www.esf.org/fileadmin/Public_documents/Publications/SPB37_OceanAcidification.pdf

              Tropical Forests: Significant risks due to warming.
              http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/where_we_work/amazon/problems/climate_change_amazon/

              Glaciers…. No need to mention their irreplaceable role in providing summer flows for many of the most densely settled and intensely worked arable lands. Loose the glaciers and you loose water security for large areas of the globe.
              http://www.waterunites-ca.org/themes/28-climate-change-affects-water.html

              Ice caps (especially North Pole) play an important role in climate regulation and ocean circulation dynamics. An upset of the ocean circulation dynamic will have huge consequences for the planet.
              http://scied.ucar.edu/longcontent/melting-arctic-sea-ice-and-ocean-circulation

              Mass extinction risks from CO2 spikes:
              http://www.skepticalscience.com/Lee-commentary-on-Burgess-et-al-PNAS-Permian-Dating.html

              Sea level rise and loss of land and infrastructure.

              Andrew: Cite peer reviewed science that invalidates these concerns and supports your idea that we should not care about the consequences of our actions for the next centuries and in fact millennia.

            1. Specifically, I refer to this comment


              A: Our global paleotemperature reconstruction includes a so-called “uptick” in temperatures during the 20th-century. However, in the paper we make the point that this particular feature is of shorter duration than the inherent smoothing in our statistical averaging procedure, and that it is based on only a few available paleo-reconstructions of the type we used. Thus, the 20th century portion of our paleotemperature stack is not statistically robust, cannot be considered representative of global temperature changes, and therefore is not the basis of any of our conclusions.”

              http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013/03/response-by-marcott-et-al/comment-page-1

            2. Ie Your blanket statement is wrong. The Marcott construction is robust, all but the little uptick at the end. But that little uptick is incontrovertible from direct measurements.

            3. But that is andy to a “T” . Take a statement and spin it as hard as he can – even as much as 180 degrees to its intended meaning – and present this as incontrovertible proof that his interpretation is correct. It’s like trying to handle a slippery eel. And unless you like a bit of smoked eel, in the end its hardly worth the effort. 🙂

            4. Pretty impressive that the paleo-temperature reconstruction mirrors actual temperature measures despite sufficient data to be statistically significant.
              The hockey stick has been verified many times in many different ways. It’s real Andy and we know the cause.

            5. If the hockey stick is real, then maybe someone can get back to me with one that is “statistically robust”

              I fail to see how directly quoting the authors of the paper is “spin”.

              The uptick is not statistically robust because the uptick comes from a different dataset that has a different temporal resolution.

              The robust part is the long handle of the curve that shows temperature reconstructions across the Holocene

            6. Andy, turn on the brain for a moment: The Marcott paper is dealing with a 10,000 year time frame. The last century is too short a timescale to yield stats from their work for this. This is where as Marcott says, the actual temp measurements come it. Put together you get the familiar Hockey Stick.
              See what happens when spin doctors like you and your ilk cite out of context and confabulate your nefarious mythology!

            7. Yes I have turned on my brain
              This is the same as “Mike’s Nature Trick to Hide the Decline”, is it not?

              Do you think it is a scientifically acceptable practice to splice together two datasets together in this way?

              Can you give examples from other scientific disciplines where this is used?

            8. Andy, that is perfectly acceptable. We do not have the fine grain temp measurements of the past but we do have ours. It is perfectly ok to use the best data available for each time frame. The message is clear and is one of many that has reconfirmed the hockey stick shape of temp data.

            9. Thomas, the hockey stick of Marcott et al is an artifact of the methodology. Yet you think this is ok, despite the fact that the authors themselves don’t.

            10. AndyS, just on the Marcott research. Sure there are difficulties splicing instrumental data onto the older data, but the picture is 10,000 years of stability with an increase around 1920 and the magnitude that can be debated if you want.

              But it looks like we are ending 10,000 years of stability. That was my point. Now if you want to gamble the graph is fundamentally wrong along with gambling that the physics of the greenhouse effect is wrong, along with gambling other stuff is wrong, well you get the point.

            11. Your graph shows nothing of the sort. The argument is fundamentally flawed

              You are defending the indefensible. I cannot take anything that you or Thomas state seriously anymore.

            12. You talk utter tosh andy merging two sets of data is done all the time, particularly in medical science, social sciences, and the Earth sciences. Where one set discontinues and another overlaps, there are standard methodologies to align the two. For instance satellite data needs to be aligned with data recorded on Earth (how else can you ensure that the data from extra terrestrial measures is reliable). Proxy data needs to be aligned with direct data sets, and so on.
              The are difficulties with combining two data sets – Simpson’s Paradox for example, but in this example where one data set (direct observation) follows from another, that difficulty does not exist.

            13. Macro, the authors of the paper state:

              . . . the 20th century portion of our paleotemperature stack is not statistically robust, cannot be considered representative of global temperature changes .

              Did you get that? How many times do I need to repeat this? The two parts of the data are at different resolutions

              You cannot combine them in this way

            14. AndyS, regarding Marcott and the parts you have quoted. They freely admit the paleo climate data in the uptick of 1900 – 1940 could be wrong, because it is such a short period.

              This doesn’t matter as we have instrumental data for that period 1900 – 2010 which is spliced on. The end result is a 10,000 year hockeystick. This is how I read it and what the graph in your link shows.

            15. Andy, its you do not comprehend. The Marcott data give a temperature series for 10,000 year time frame. AGW is in comparison a rapid change. We do not even need to contemplate using Marcotts analysis on our contemporary data at all because half a century is too short to be statistically significant under Marcotts analysis of long term historic data. But we know what our contemporary data series is very well. We can then compare our instrumental record with the work by Marcott going back 10,000 years. The result is the graph you hate.
              If you want to invalidate Marcotts historic data, take the matter up with him. Find a fault in his statistics if you can. Publish your critique. We will talk then. If you want to invalidate the contemporary temp record, take it up with the relevant institutions. If you want to avoid looking at both, the historic record and the contemporary record in comparison, then stick your head in the sand if you must. Your problem, not ours!

            16. Thomas said

              If you want to invalidate Marcotts historic data, take the matter up with him. Find a fault in his statistics if you can. Publish your critique.

              I don’t need to. Marcott has already acknowledged that the 20th C paleo data used in this way is “not statistically robust and does not form the basis of their conclusions”

              Why do I need to take up an issue with the authors that they agree with and you apparently do not?

            17. No Andy, you are playing stupid!
              You must do two things: a) Invalidate Marcotts historic data and analysis (not his treatment of 20th century data, which for reasons he states is not adequate in his long term data statistics) or b) invalidate our 20th and 20st century data.
              Marcott showed us what the temperatures where like over the last 10,000 years. We compare our modern data to that.

            18. We don’t disagree with the authors of the paper andy – what they say is perfectly correct. Where the problem lies is that you fail to understand (or more to the point – chose not to understand) what it was they were saying.

            19. Good grief Andy. Anyone who deals with time series has no qualms about using all of the data available even if they don’t span the whole time series. If you are worried that different series are not measuring the same thing, you look at the cross-correlations. It doesn’t matter if 50 years is insufficiently long for some proxies because we have real actual temperature measures. Unless you think they are invalid too because of trees in Albert Park and the urban heating effect of Antarctic bases?

            20. Just to clarify here, you are disagreeing with my position that happens to align with the authors of the paper?

              I am interested that so may people seem to disagree with me and the authors of the paper.

              Quite odd really
              Perhaps you can explain your reasoning.

  8. Going back to Gareth’s post: It’s hard to think of a single tenet of free-market, right wing policy which has any broad base of evidential support

    Gareth, what is that supposed to mean?
    I like the fact that New Zealand has one of the freest economies in the world, I like that our supermarkets, other retailers and other businesses operate in a competitive market environment, I hate having to deal with government protected monopolies like ACC and the various government agency monopolies whose management and staff know that, because you have no option other than to do business with them, don’t care that they leave you on hold on the phone, or in waiting rooms for hours (try Rotorua A&E sometime) and don’t care that you think the services they offer are piss poor.

    1. Well bully for you!
      There are many thousands who don’t share your views.
      I happen to like having an Govt Accident Insurance system where if I fall and break my shoulder I know that I will receive the very best of care and rehabilitation and never a thought as to how much it will cost – because I live in a society which caters for such eventualities. As for the endless waits on phones I think that is universal whether corporate or government.
      Govt departments are being asked to do more with less, and the end result is just what you describe. If you don’t want to pay taxes to provide services for when you need them, then I suggest Somalia is a good place.

  9. I happen to like having an Govt Accident Insurance system where if I fall and break my shoulder I know that I will receive the very best of care and rehabilitation

    A lot of people who’ve actually been through the ACC system don’t share your optimism.

    As for the endless waits on phones I think that is universal whether corporate or government.

    With the corporate in a competitive market, they know, and you know that you at least have the option of shopping around.

    Govt departments are being asked to do more with less, and the end result is just what you describe.

    Waiting after-hours in the A&E with a child that’s broken her arm, maybe you just notice it more when the staff are sitting around socializing with each other, yacking about their holidays, the blokes they’re seeing, the general personal gossiping.

    Actually come to think of it, nope, I don’t see that carry on to anything like the same extent in businesses that worry about giving their customers a good impression.

    But since you don’t see it as a problem, maybe you’d like to see the same system of state monopoly replacing the current market system in general retail and throughout the wider economy, one government owned nation wide supermarket chain to get rid of all that wasteful market duplication, one state owned fuel station chain, one state owned restaurant chain?

    1. Cool Andrew. Lets get rid of ACC, Pharmac and the Public Health System and as we are at it, you would probably like to throw out the DPB too and why not Super…. Let bring in the glorious system they have in the U.S.A: A free for all for lawyers and insurance companies who are basking in the billions they can clip of the ticket of the miserable, the unlucky and the gullible masses who get sold that system as hallmark of freedom…!
      Don’t start making straw men like Andy… there is no basis in comparing supermarkets to ACC.

      And if you so wish, you are free to take out private health insurance, or, (perhaps you despise insurances anyway) you can pay with your own cash for your private health care any time. As a matter of fact, you are absolutely fee to leave NZ and fly to the U.S.A for treatment in the glorious free market health care system there if you want to pay 4 times over for the same treatment. I am sure they will love your money just the same…!

      http://thefutureishealthy.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/how-the-NZ-health-system-compares-with-other-countries.pdf

      1. Incredible you construct this strawman: Cool Andrew. Lets get rid of ACC, Pharmac and the Public Health System and as we are at it, you would probably like to throw out the DPB too and why not Super…. Let bring in the glorious system they have in the U.S.A: A free for all for lawyers and insurance companies who are basking in the billions they can clip of the ticket of the miserable, the unlucky and the gullible masses who get sold that system as hallmark of freedom…! Attributing arguments to me that haven’t been discussed, and then, apparently not recognizing you’ve just build a strawman, go on to say: Don’t start making straw men like Andy… !
        And if you so wish, you are free to take out private health insurance, or, (perhaps you despise insurances anyway) you can pay with your own cash for your private health care any time.
        Like a lot of people I’m in no position to pay twice for health insurance, especially after the gouging from ACC.

        Most people recognise that the US system is far from ideal, personally I’d go for a system similar to Pharmac, the state shops around on behalf of the consumer for the best deals in a competitive market.

        Clearly Thomas you’ve put more bluster than thought into these matters.

        1. No Andrew, I know very well what I am talking about. I lived several years in the USA running a business and I also lived many years in Germany running a mid sized company there. The NZ system trumps in my mind both other systems for its effectiveness and its low cost to the consumer and especially to the company and the employer!
          I especially like that ACC eliminates the toxic atmosphere of the legal system in the US where a spilled coffee is worth a million bucks with the right lawyer and health care cost are vastly inflated through legal liability cost, all to the benefit of the fat sharks of the legal fraternity and the insurance companies.
          ACC is a lot cheaper than any of the alternatives!

          The so called “free market” alternatives to ACC will result only in private companies picking off the raisins from the cake, well off and relatively healthy individuals in low risk white collar environments while socializing the cost of the rest of the market.

          And your characterization of the NZ heath system workers is risible! You talk like a spoiled little brat!

          I have yet to have a single case in my family or any people I know personally well, where the service provided through our public health care and ACC system was not excellent. Both my in-laws needed extensive surgery. Despite them having paid a lot of money into private health care insurance, both were in the end treated exceptionally well in public hospitals because both cases were to complicated for the private hospitals!
          We live in a rural community where the local public GP operates a 24/7 emergency service second to none. Our rescue chopper system is excellent also.
          I really think you should go and try to make ends meet in the USA for a while. It will cure your appetite for a private system rather quickly!

          1. I can only assume you didn’t read my comment very well.

            I said “Most people recognise that the US system is far from ideal, personally I’d go for a system similar to Pharmac, the state shops around on behalf of the consumer for the best deals in a competitive market.”

            That’s not the US system, it’s a state financed and controlled system that uses competing private health companies.

            The right to sue, which was removed with the introduction of ACC is a separate issue altogether, civil court cases in this country are not decided by juries so there isn’t likely to excessive awards of punitive damages as happens in the US.

            I have yet to have a single case in my family or any people I know personally well, where the service provided through our public health care and ACC system was not excellent.

            I’ve a large and young family, we also live rural, the kids have been to A&E in Rotorua I think 4 times in the last 5 years, a deep cut (from the handle of a bike) not cleaned out of grass and sand, requiring subsequent visits to GP to sort out the mess, a wait of 5 hours on one occasion, 9 hours on another (daughter with a dislocated elbow), on none of these occasions was A&E busy (other than the staff socialising).

            This is not to say that the experiences I’ve had with the public health system have never been OK or good, but I know damn well that I can expect better service when there are competing providers/businesses.

            Despite them having paid a lot of money into private health care insurance, both were in the end treated exceptionally well in public hospitals because both cases were to complicated for the private hospitals!

            It surprises you that in a health system dominated by public spending that the private operators are sidelined and don’t provide a full range of services? Do you somehow think that under a system in which competing private providers were paid through the state that the range of services now available wouldn’t be there?

            1. Andrew: you have a choice to which GP or ANE you go. And much of the services the state purchases are done through tenders from guess who, private enterprises. And most specialists tender their services to DHBs and also practice privately, running their own businesses or are in partnerships with others.

    2. “But since you don’t see it as a problem, maybe you’d like to see the same system of state monopoly replacing the current market system in general retail and throughout the wider economy, one government owned nation wide supermarket chain to get rid of all that wasteful market duplication, one state owned fuel station chain, one state owned restaurant chain?”
      sounds good to me – maybe that’s all we will have in a few years time when the proverbial hits the revolving blade

        1. I remember the glory days of UK nationalized car industry that gave us triumphs of socialism such as the Austin Allegro and the Morris Marina.

          Truly splendid vehicles

            1. That’s the thing with competing in a market, if your products don’t appeal to the market your business falls over, that’s a good thing.
              Though that’s something you’ll never understand.

            2. I think you need to understand a little more about what was happening in a PRIVATE company (BMH) before the merger Andrew before opening you mouth and looking silly.

            3. Oh, please enlighten me, especially as to how you imagine how this wisdom of yours relates to my comment July 12, 2014 at 10:17 pm

            4. BMH was the biggest company of the two and had the larger market share – so you comment that their product wasn’t selling is way off the mark. The fact that BMH was on it’s knees prior to the merger was due to the fact that it was (not unlike our current govt) a ship without a rudder. Amongst other things, it had no plans to up grade (it seemed to think that having sold the Austin Cambridge/Morris Oxford since the early 60’s there was no need to change) and even the successful Mini was because of production inefficiencies and mismanagement costing almost as much to produce as its retail price.
              So it wasn’t a failure to provide vehicles that the public wanted that brought BMH to near collapse prior to being rescued by nationalisation – it was internal mismanagement.

            5. So what you’re saying is that their product didn’t appeal to the market at the price they would have had to have charged to remain profitable?

              Believe it or not Marco, that’s just another way of saying their product didn’t have adequate market appeal.

            6. No! – that is NOT what I said and it is a completely muddled headed for you to suggest that it is. I will reiterate – it was bad management. That was the reason why the British government had to step in and save 250,000 jobs that were on the line. Had BMH had better management then the company would have been far more viable.
              This is before the merger with Leyland.
              We are not taking of the Marina and Allegro here – they were cars introduced after the merger and incidentally were very popular. It was only in later years that they have been sneered upon. And any independent on-looker would concur with me.
              If you want to believe your idiotic interpretation of “market economics” then that’s your prerogative. But don’t think you can foist it on to every example of an industrial failure.

            1. Interestingly :
              “The Trabant was a steel monocoque design with roof, trunk lid,hood,fenders, and doors made of Duroplast. Duroplast was a hard plastic (similar to Bakelite) made of recycled materials: cotton waste from the Soviet Union and phenol resins from the East German dye industry. This made the Trabant the first car with a body made of recycled material and was partially responsible for the misconception that it was made of cardboard. Various crash test results showed it performed better than comparable contemporary Western hatchbacks.
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trabant

            2. Various crash test results showed it performed better than comparable contemporary Western hatchbacks,
              except when it wan’t actually crashing.

            3. The point is Andrew – that just because it was a state run enterprise didn’t mean that innovative practices were not possible.
              The other consideration being that for a much smaller portion of GDP the state was able to provide far more people with their own transportation. An important consideration in post war years. Now however we are wish to reverse that and increase public transportation rather than private.

    3. AndrewW

      You say “But since you don’t see it as a problem, maybe you’d like to see the same system of state monopoly replacing the current market system in general retail and throughout the wider economy, one government owned nation wide supermarket chain to get rid of all that wasteful market duplication, one state owned fuel station chain, one state owned restaurant chain?’

      AndrewW, that is a strawman argument, the same thing you accuse others of doing. There is no reason for state ownership of retail, as the sector is capable of high levels of competition.

      There are plenty of reasons why the state should own healthcare. We are a small country and privatisation would probably lead to a large monopoly or close to it with high prices. Access would be a nightmare, and we would have all the same insurance nightmares Obama is trying to resolve.

      Privatised healthcare also has certain inefficiencies due to duplication of resources. Our current hospital should not be fundamentally changed. I have used Greenlanes services and staff work very hard and efficiently.

      ACC is also actually very efficient. Read reviews by Price Waterhouse.

      1. There are plenty of reasons why the state should own healthcare. We are a small country and privatisation would probably lead to a large monopoly or close to it with high prices. Access would be a nightmare, and we would have all the same insurance nightmares Obama is trying to resolve.

        I don’t see that as likely, in an earlier comment to Thomas I outlined the system I think most workable which is competing private health providing services to people with government (taxpayers) footing the bill, if a provider is too expensive more government business goes to more efficient providers.

        1. competing private health providing services to people with government (taxpayers) footing the bill…
          But Andrew, that is pretty much what we have. Much of the services the DHBs are purchasing are tendered to private companies or non profit organizations. Ask your local GP if he runs as a private business or if he is employed by the state. As your local radiology or other specialist praxis about how their relationship with the state works! Plus if you don’t like your nearest GP or ANE or specialist, you can go to another just as well. You the customer chooses.

          1. Yep, and those services are usually pretty good, how about the parts of the health systems that aren’t tendered to private companies or non profit organizations, they’re not so efficient or customer friendly.

        2. AndrewW. You don’t think it is likely privatised healthcare could end up as a monopoly? Have you not observed the way the NZ food retail sector has converged almost into a monopoly? This could then certainly happen with healthcare.

          I have read your suggestion, but it seems to talk about privatised healthcare but the government purchasing services on our behalf. This does not overcome the monopoly issue, as providers could simply merge into a monopoly. I have no confidence the government would do anything to stop that.

          However what you suggest is sort of like a competitive tender situation. The problem is this may work in the construction industry but is much more difficult in terms of the entire health delivery system.

          The other problem is you provide no proper “peer reviewed” evidence the current health system is inefficient or costly.

          There seems some evidence it is very efficient if you look at international comparisons. Our system offers extensive services, and we have decent life expectancy, and yet spending on healthcare is quite low.

          I can’t see a reason for fundamental change to something good by implementing some unproven radical agenda of dubious merit.

    1. I wonder why he chose to put his wisdom on the matter behind a firewall on an American newspaper, rather than put in front of the New Zealand voters he is presumably trying to woo for his party.

            1. Yes andy I’m well aware that this post is about what Whyte has written (all of it twaddle) – having read the post, I have no need to waste my time reading anything else by him – there are far more important things to read and do.

            2. You could post some twaddle from Russel Norman in exchange if you like

              Unlike you, I like to read twaddle from all perspectives

            3. Macro, thanks for your links but they are not from Russel ( one L despite the press releases from him that have two Ls )

              I have read UFO boys stuff before so thanks anyway

            4. For those interested (this may or may not include andy), Green Party Policy is NOT determined by the co-leaders, but through consensus from all members, I guess this is about as democratic as you can get. Gareth Hughes is the spokesperson for Energy, so the annunciation of Policy is through him or a co-leader. I don’t find this a particularly difficult concept to grasp – but for one who worships a top down undemocratic party such as ACT and it’s “leader” I guess it is confusing.

            5. Macro. I am a big fan of Gareth “Hey clint” Hughes and I always read everything he has to say

  10. I look forward to Whyte’s follow-up article defending ACT’s climate change policies, which I understand will be titled “Inter-Generational Theft as a Moral Imperative”.

    Should be a good read.

  11. The Act party gets its ideology from the USA Republican party and I remember that Rodney Hide was a guest speaker at the Heartland institute as a minister of NZ. Wonder if he declared the fee he would have been paid.n Its good to see that all these fringe party’s are losing traction. Hang em highs and lock em up forever could be on the way out.
    You might read my new blog.
    http://www.climateoutcome.kiwi.nz/blog

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