The Science is Now Un-Settled

Back in early 2008, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine launched a commission to study the impact of Global Warming on Virginia. “Gone are the days of debating whether man-made effects exist,” he said. “Those days are gone.”

Well, it turns out those days are back. And one of the central figures in reopening the debate is none other than Patrick Michaels, the environmental scientist and former state climatologist whom Kaine defrocked from his post. (I covered these events when they happened. Type “Patrick Michaels” into the search box to read my commentary.)

In what is fast exploding into the greatest scientific scandal of the decade, a large volume of email correspondence and other documents have been either hacked or leaked from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the East Anglia University in the United Kingdom. The CRU is the keeper of the world’s most extensive data files tracking temperatures across the globe and back in time. Its data formed the basis for the United Nation’s 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the report before which anthropogenic Global Warming advocates bow, scrape and genuflect as holy writ.

The hacked/leaked emails contain extraordinary material suggesting that the keepers of the data massaged the data until it yielded the results they wanted, stonewalled Freedom of Information Act requests to access the data, and sought to marginalize Global Warming skeptics by keeping them out of peer refereed scientific journals. It’s as if an archaeologist had stumbled across a cave in the Holy Land and unearthed documents proving that ancient scribes had tampered with the Gospel of Mark to support their theological views.

One of the most vilified figures in the email correspondence is none other than Patrick Michaels, a leading skeptic of human-caused Global Warming. As one of the GW high priests said, “Next time I see Pat Michaels at a scientific meeting, I’ll be tempted to beat the crap out of him.”

The CRU has put out the story that its computers were hacked, thus casting a pall of illegitimacy upon those who would use the documents to criticize the institute, but it’s entirely possible that they were leaked. In truth, the story has been brewing for a long time. In September, Michaels wrote a column in National Review, “The Dog Ate Global Warming,” in which he described the lengthy and unsuccessful efforts over several years of GW skeptics to obtain the CRU’s data . CRU officials gave a variety of reasons for refusing to cooperate. Then one of them confided to a University of Colorado scientist:

Since the 1980s, we have merged the data we have received into existing series or begun new ones, so it is impossible to say if all stations within a particular country or if all of an individual record should be freely available. Data storage availability in the 1980s meant that we were not able to keep the multiple sources for some sites, only the station series after adjustment for homogeneity issues. We, therefore, do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (i.e., quality controlled and homogenized) data.

As Michaels observed then, two months before the scandal broke, “If we are to believe Jones’s note to the younger Pielke, CRU adjusted the original data and then lost or destroyed them over twenty years ago. “

Apparently, he wasn’t far off the mark. One of the most damaging of the 3,600 documents revealed in what the blogs are calling Climategate is one entitled “HARRY_READ_ME.txt” composed by an unknown computer programmer (presumably named Harry) who spent three years trying to debug the computer code at the core of the CRU’s climate model. Declan McCullagh with CBS, who has done the best MSM reporting I’ve read so far, reports some of the more damaging statements regarding how the database incorporated data from temperature reading stations:

I am seriously worried that our flagship gridded data product is produced by Delaunay triangulation – apparently linear as well. As far as I can see, this renders the station counts totally meaningless. … I am very sorry to report that the rest of the databases seem to be in nearly as poor a state as Australia was. There are hundreds if not thousands of pairs of dummy stations. … There truly is no end in sight… So, we can have a proper result, but only by including a load of garbage! …

One thing that’s unsettling is that many of the assigned WMo codes for Canadian stations do not return any hits with a web search. … Makes me wonder if these are long-discontinued, or were even invented somewhere other than Canada! …

Knowing how long it takes to debug this suite – the experiment endeth here. The option (like all the anomdtb options) is totally undocumented so we’ll never know what we lost. … Right, time to stop pussyfooting around the niceties of Tim’s labyrinthine software suites – let’s have a go at producing CRU TS 3.0! since failing to do that will be the definitive failure of the entire project. …

Ulp! I am seriously close to giving up, again. The history of this is so complex that I can’t get far enough into it before my head hurts and I have to stop. Each parameter has a tortuous history of manual and semi-automated interventions that I simply cannot just go back to early versions and run the update prog. …

Right now, defenders of the GW orthodoxy are conceding that the emails are embarrassing but don’t change the overwhelming evidence in support of anthropogenic global warming. That, of course, is total nonsense. The scandal changes everything. The CRU data undergirds the U.N.’s IPCC report, which is widely regarded as the final word on the “consensus” view of Global Warming. If the data has been corrupted — or, worse, deliberately tampered with — the temperature reconstructions of this critical document are worthless. This development, combined with the truly inconvenient truth that, against all expectations, global temperatures have remained flat for the past decade, has thrown the GW debate wide open.

I warned some time ago, and I repeat my warning now, that Virginians who believe in the necessity of Fundamental Change in human settlement patterns should not rest their case on Global Warming. There are many good reasons for supporting Fundamental Change — rising energy costs, pollution caused by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels, and dependency upon foreign oil — for moving toward a more energy-efficient society. In recent years, those entirely legitimate reasons have faded into the background as the enthusiasm for saving the world from Global Warming has become the animating force — witness Tim Kaine’s commission on climate change. The danger is this: If GW orthodoxy is descredited in the public mind, so, too, is the need to reform human settlement patterns. And that would be a public policy disaster of the first order.

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109 responses to “The Science is Now Un-Settled”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    The only thing a statist wants is to control you through big government.

    Enviro-statists are the worst offenders and the gig is up.

    Look for more patriots pulling the pants down on these social justice, enviro, PC loving statists like the Goose…

    I hear Detroit is lovely this time of year.

  2. Waldo Jaquith Avatar
    Waldo Jaquith

    Sure, that makes sense. The same way that Rush Limbaugh being a pill-popping drug addict means that all of conservatism is down the toilet.

    If I follow your logic.

  3. Darrell -- Chesapeake Avatar
    Darrell — Chesapeake

    Who are you kidding? Nothing will change with IPCC. The data supports the agenda, nothing else matters.

    Makes one kind of wonder about all the other data the public gets fed on a daily basis, doesn't it?

  4. Well.. a couple of thoughts.. it's not just the climate folks in England who believe there is a potential problem; pretty much around the world in most of the academic and government agencies that deal with weather and climate like NOAA.

    So.. yeah.. they were emailing strategy back and forth and best how to portray the data – like no one else does that?

    But Bacon and others just have this deep skepticism that is almost black & white in nature.

    Like for instance, what if the climate folks are right – but they are in the 60-80% range as opposed to the 100% range in terms of scope and timetable?

    I look at the climate skeptics today like I looked at folks who swore up and down for years and years that there was nothing wrong with the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia's Rivers because, after all.. there were lots of crabs, oysters and rockfish, etc.. so that "proved" there was nothing wrong – right?

    Wrong! The scientists were telling us all along but a lot of folks just don't believe until they see it in front of their eyes.

    Sort of like most of the deadly types of toxics that we convinced ourselves were not deadly and thus not a concern – until the damage was done and no longer could be denied.

    However, the worst part of all of this is not that folks were wrong in their initial assessments.. no that would not have been of any import – EXCEPT when you get to the part that says – "yes.. there is damage… and now.. what can we do to fix it"?

    THEN – and only then do even the once-skeptics understand that "undoing" is not an easy task.. in fact, an impossible task where the best one can hope for is some measurable progress against the seemingly permanent damage – many years and many dollars into the future – as we now contemplate with our own once-believed virtually indestructible Chesapeake Bay.

    So I ask folks like Bacon – if you know for a fact that human beings can indeed destroy the Chesapeake Bay – how can you be so sure that we are also not capable of permanently altering our climate?

    Isn't it a proven fact that we can affect the environment and what we are now dithering about is simply the scope and scale?

    So. how can you be so sure that there is zero percent chance that we have and are altering our climate?

    I mean even if you only believe it is 20% possible rather than 100% – are you prepared for what the 20% might bring – perhaps a climate version of our own Chesapeake Bay's problems?

    I think the climate-deniers are acting out their own self-denials that surely .. no way in heck.. could mankind cause such damage – even as we already accept as fact that indeed we have already done so for other forms of pollution.

    Go Figure!

  5. James A. Bacon Avatar
    James A. Bacon

    Larry, you asked, "So I ask folks like Bacon … how can you be so sure that we are also not capable of permanently altering our climate?"

    In point of fact, I'm quite certain that humans do alter the climate, at least on a micro-level, primarily through land use — deforestation, urban heat islands and the like. As for the human impact on global warming, I'm not certain of anything. Don't count me among those who like Rush Limbaugh think Global Warming is a "hoax" deliberately perpetrated upon the public. (Although what appears to have happened to the CRU data comes dangerously close to scientific fraud.) I just don't think the science is settled.

    When I see (a) the manipulation of raw source data at a place like the CRU, and (b) the campaign of pro-GW forces to de-legitimize skeptics as "deniers" in order to drive them out of the debate, and (c)the knee-jerk defense of so many people in politics and the media, I can't help the feeling that I'm being fed a line of B.S.

    We've learned a lot in just the two or three years since the 2007 IPCC study. We've learned that temperatures have plateaued, even as CO2 levels continue to rise. We've learned more about the role of sunspots, solar wind, cosmic radiation and cloud formation, factors which are not take into account by the climate models. We've learned the existence of ocean currents we didn't previous know existed. I think it's ludicrous to suggest that the science is "settled."

    That doesn't mean that global warming is not happening. There are some GW advocates who acknowledge the reality of stable global temperatures and don't try to sweep it under the rug. They think that we're experiencing the influence of climate "forcings" from other sources that temporarily overwhelm the secular, long-term trend toward CO2-induced warming. For all I know, they may be right. But they also may be wrong.

    I'd like a little more certainty before the developed world commits itself to the expenditure of hundreds of billions of dollars to bring down CO2 levels.

  6. Jim – I'm not sure if the "Science" is ….EVER…. "settled" on a wide, universe-encompassing basis.

    We learn – Continuously … and … invariably … that what we often thought was fact.. undeniable truth – was.. only in our own minds all along.

    But – humans have a history of always optimistically hoping for the best – ESPECIALLY if money or sacrifice is at stake – and ultimately.. with regrets – accepting that indeed – there is no free lunch – especially when it comes to the environment.

    I am continually amazed as how anyone, Scientist or common man – can believe without further investigation and validation that we could – for instance – put anti-biotics or hormones in our waste-water sewage streams – and then – later on – argue the science.. and then be ultimately _shocked_ that we are finding critters and fish showing clear effects from such drugs.

    It's like – what in the world were any of us thinking that when you dump powerful drugs into a stream … that we then were "shocked" to see that it was not a good thing…???

    and so.. the climate is the same way in my book…

    we humans – we have a pattern on these issues..

    of dumping first, then "unsettling" science points out some disturbing anomalies – but of course we know that since the science is "not settled" that these anomalies have yet to be proven without a shred of doubt…. then denial… then anger.. then acceptance.

    we do this.. not once, not twice, but over and over… throughout history..

    and yet.. each time..we repeat it – we act like it is a Eureka moment…

    every time.. a " AHA " … like we never ever suspected that we were capable of doing the same dumb stunt – more than once…

    so that's where I'm coming from.

    If you're a betting person.. on the issue of the Environment – how many times have us humans "got it wrong" …and how many times have we "got it right"?

    It's not contest.

    We are miserable failures at this.

    We are like the guy who guzzling illegal drugs, slugging down Vodka and going through two packs a day and when the doctor says " you've screwed up Bub"

    our response is: "Why me"?

    It's almost comical Jim.

  7. Gooze Views Avatar
    Gooze Views

    Jeeez, Jim,

    "In what is fast exploding into the greatest scientific scandal of the decade,…"

    Talk about hype. You should get a job on Fleet Street!

    ANd based on such an unbiased, reliable source as the Natioinal Review, no less!

    By the way, I don't believe the U.K. has an FOIA. They call it something else.

    And as for people selectively reading the Gospel to buttress their pre-conceived notions, well, gee, evangelicals do that every day.

    Peter Galuszka

  8. Anonymous Avatar

    For you statists out there…

    Get a nice big fork and eat this…

    "It has been often said that the "science is settled" on the issue of CO2 and climate. Let me put this claim to rest with a simple one-letter proof that it is false."

    "The letter is s, the one that changes model into models. If the science were settled, there would be precisely one model, and it would be in agreement with measurements."

  9. whether you're talking about A model or model(S) it don't matter if that model cannot use previous data to successfully and reliably predict an outcome that did happen.

    In other words, a "model" can be anything from just laying claim to the name and it cannot produce reproduce past circumstances given the past inputs to a model that is precise, and can reliable replicate scenarios give the same inputs.

    That's why you don't have ONE hurricane model but several and you plot out for each of them what their prediction is and anyone who follows such things knows that more often than not two different models can predict form the same inputs – a hurricane going in two separate directions.

    but also don't think that models by their nature cannot be reliable.

    Every satellite launched. Every shuttle launched can fairly accurately be portrayed with a well validated and well calibrated model.

    And the model itself is a separate deal from "settled science".

    A missile, a shuttle – is INTENDED to arrive at a point not where the model predicted – but close enough that a course correction is possible.

    you cannot do that with a hurricane nor with climate – no matter how good the model is.

    Again – Science is NEVER settled – only somewhere on a continuum ranging from "we don't know" to " we're pretty dang sure but outliers are still a potential".

    So no – no existing climate change model that is "out there" can be given the circumstances in say 1814 and accurately predict the climate for the next 20 years.

    But that's not the issue.. anyhow..

    anyone can legitimately doubt a model especially if it obviously cannot accurately predict outcomes but that does not mean at all that what it's trying to model – to predict – is not a possibility .. settled science or not….

    but you can get a handle on this.

    If you think that mankind is capable of affecting the environment – then why limit yourself on the specifics or the scope or scale in terms of a belief system?

    If you think we can screw up the Chesapeake Bay or create a Nuclear Winter – why would you find it inconceivable that we could cause an impact equivalent to a nuclear winter?

    How plausible is it that the doubters _could_ be wrong?

    Let's try to put a number on it.

    Are you 100% sure that given the current state of "unsettled" science that there is virtually NO CHANCE that we have and are affecting climate?

    90% 80% 50% ?

    don't worry about the _model_ or even how settled science is… just think about whether you're willing to take an all or nothing position ANY question involving our ability to impact the environment.

    How many times – have we actually OVERESTIMATED our impact on the environment and had to backtrack from that position?

    Give me one example… and I can give you 100 or 1000 where we underestimated.

    We have a history of guessing wrong.. virtually every time we have tried to predict our impacts.

    You don't need a _model_ or settled science to confirm this just a memory.

  10. Anonymous Avatar

    NEWSFLASH: The word climategate made it to ABC News…

    Nothing from CBS, NBC, CNN…

    Isn't it nice to know we live in an extra-constitutional society, where Baghdad Bob rules the information and the re-press… Hmmm… I feel like a dissident in China…

    Restore the Republic! Viva la revolution!!

    Ask yourself a question… if the state-run media isn't covering the story, why? Then ask, what does that say about everything else you've received via the same source.

  11. Inflation, unemployment, money supply, climate change data … all these "facts" have been substantially changed by those who measure them during the last 20 years. Darrell is right – this is not just about climate change, it is about systematic deception by government.

  12. No matter where you get your favorite news and data from – it's basically diversionary to cite sources you don't trust as the basis of your opposition when there is irrefutable data available.

    For instance:

    " Since about 1750 human activity has increased the concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Measured atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide are currently 100 ppmv higher than pre-industrial levels.[22] Natural sources of carbon dioxide are more than 20 times greater than sources due to human activity,[23]"

    Now, if you are an intelligent and thinking person who holds the MSM in low repute – then fine – but you CAN find information if you really want to and the "science" IS SETTLED in terms of the data that shows tremendous increases in greenhouse gases..

    What the argument is about is whether or not these increases will result in climate change (or not) and if so – how much and what I say again – is for anyone to consider our track record in estimating what increases in pollution would have an effect on or not.

    We do it the same way every time.

    We acknowledge that there are increases in the pollutants but we insist that until we see prove of the damage that we can not be sure that there is any damage.

    Then when the damage cannot be denied any longer – the most vocal of the doubters just slip away .. they never stick around and say "you know, I was wrong and should have realized that we just cannot dump these substances willy nilly into the environment with no impact".

    Nope.. they're just slide away back into the shadows…

    Where are the modern-day defenders of dioxin, PCBs, mercury, etc – you know the folks who insisted early on that these things would not harm the environment – and the science as to their impact was "not settled"?

    Where are the folks who insisted for decades that there was nothing wrong with the Chesapeake Bay and that human activities were not harming it?

    So these same folks fade away as the proof becomes undeniable but early on they are hard core.. blaming the science.. blaming the media but never ever really thinking for themselves in terms of our track record with these issues.

    Again.. tell me how many times we "overreacted" to a pollution threat and "over regulated" it?

    It doesn't happen.

    We ALWAYS screw up on these issues and we ALWAYS wait too long and we ALWAYS find out that the damage down cannot be easily undone.

    All I ask is given our track record on this.. why is the doubter strategy that blames the science and blames the MSM still a legitimate view?

    Wouldn't you think that if even the consequences of global warming was "only" at the 20% of predicted level that they would be high enough anyhow that we'd want to at the least admit that a tremendous increase in green house gases – could… potentially portend consequences?

    You'd don't need to have settled science or a msm you can believe in to use your own brain.

  13. Anonymous Avatar

    Yeah… we really got that DDT thing right and millions have died from malaria…

    Use your own brain…

    -Wilkes 45

  14. Malaria is an example where we now KNOW the adverse impacts of the chemical even as we realize it's benefits – and we can see clearly that worldwide use of DDT to kill biting insects is not the answer even as we consider more selective and careful use of it but hey.. why "believe" in the Malaria "news" when it comes fromm the same MSM and "lying government" that you don't trust anyhow?

    sort of selective logic here.

    when the answer is not one you agree with then it's the science, msm and corrupt govt fault but otherwise.. those same players are just fine.

    again.. you do have a brain – right?

  15. Anonymous Avatar

    Nice Morton's Fork…

    Synapses working just fine. Unfortunately, you do not understand the DDT issue and you should really catch up to 2009 on the issue. A lot of people have died from malaria due to ignorance.

    Your belief and trust in the same federal and global governance that found all those WMDs in Iraq, to control or fix the climate (which we are along for the ride on) is indeed laughable.

    Make it rain in the Sahara desert. Go ahead. If you can control the climate; then you certainly can control the weather from day to day. I have some snake oil that will fix all of your problems… Those pesky warts, gone! Hairy feet, No More! If these silly proposals didn't have such a negative impact on freedom and my rights to life, liberty, and property, than I could go back to watching the matrix unfold on TV.

    Until then, keep your brain in your head… it is leaking out onto the floor and no one really needs to see that…

    Wilkes 45

  16. I think for DDT all you need to do is contemplate a proposal to spray it in your own neighborhood to "keep the bugs down" and your attitude would likely not be the same at all.

    People died for thousands of years due to malaria but not from DDT.

    Trading one for the other is worthy of deeper thinking about the trade-offs but like I said if they told you that it was going to be sprayed in your back yard – along with other "beneficial" orthophosphates you may not agree with that decision.

    I don't have an unbounded faith in govt or other institutions but I don't consider all of them untrustworthy and worthless either.

    No one should.

    And anyone who claims they are – are simply fools who would dismiss anything if it was not perfect and had flaws.

    The reality is the govt works just like you do – without perfection – doing the best it can.. making mistakes and having successes.

    Ditto for the MSM and "science".

    Claiming selective luddite status on a pick and choose basis while at the same time adopting other technology and "science" and continuing to read MSM even though you say it's not worth reading is less than rational thinking.

    If you go to the doctor and take your prescribed drugs or even buy drugs off the shelf or belief that he air bag in your car works or that 99% of all bridges don't all down… or that an ambulance will come to your home when you dial 911 – or eat prepared foods trusting they won't poison you – you believe in governments, science and both public and private institutions whether you will admit it or not.

    Such behavior where on one hand we "trust" without a whimper (say for instance in our military) and then on the other hand we say we think the same govt is incompetent and conspiratorial is … at the least an interesting perspective.

    Anyone who thinks we have proven that we can pollute without consequences – no matter whether you want to distrust the govt or "science" or pick your favorite Glen Beck bogeyman…is ignoring a thousand years of proven, documented history.

  17. Darrell -- Chesapeake Avatar
    Darrell — Chesapeake

    "a thousand years of proven, documented history"

    What that thousand years proved is that science is based on ethically reproducible mathematics. Jacking numbers to adhere to dogma, destroying data used to produce a thesis, or silencing modern critics like Galileo was in the past isn't science. It's the same elitist cult that led to the 1600's Catholic church, headless bodies littering an Aztec temple, and Pernkopf's Atlas.

    Heretics are easy to find when you control the definition.

  18. Anonymous Avatar

    If my village was a malaria invested death trap, no statist would keep my village from using DDT.

    So the 1940s used DDT everywhere on everything and they only have enjoyed the longest average life expectancy of any generation. That DDT sure should have killed them off, eh… according to the revisionist science… The thing is that it didn't. Explain that "science" or is it all politics.

    When one plays politics in science… both lose and things are apt to get a little crazy…

    The question I posed was… Why isn't the state run media covering climategate and what does that mean to you as a statist? Is it good for America, in the old nostalgic republic sense?

    Lastly… get off this govt good v bad stuff… The answer is not always in Washington DC. Period. Our federal govt is out of control, about $12,000,000,000,000 worth now, and it will kill us all! We had a constitutional republic and the revolution will bring us back to it MLK style. IT is already happening.

    Wilkes 45

  19. Anonymous Avatar

    "It's like – what in the world were any of us thinking that when you dump powerful drugs into a stream … that we then were "shocked" to see that it was not a good thing…???"

    Where do you think those drugs are going to go? Or is it that you think we would be better off without them?


  20. I'd be the first one to admit that the answer is not always in govt… not always in science.. not always in institutions, public or private…

    that's why I'd not condemn any of them or accuse the MSM as complicit in joint conspiracies with those institutions either.

    you need to cruise by Wiki and pick up some basic facts about Malaria and DDT…

    For instance:

    " However resistance soon emerged in many insect populations as a consequence of widespread agricultural use of DDT. In many areas, early victories against malaria were partially or completely reversed, and in some cases rates of transmission even increased.[19] The program was successful in eliminating malaria only in areas with "high socio-economic status, well-organized healthcare systems, and relatively less intensive or seasonal malaria transmission""

    Now the import of the above statement is this.

    Do you believe it or not?

    Do you trust the people who made this statement?

    to wit:

    Sadasivaiah, Shobha; Tozan, Yesim; Breman, Joel G. (2007). "Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) for Indoor Residual Spraying in Africa: How Can It Be Used for Malaria Control?". Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 77 (Suppl 6): 249–263.

    What's my point here?

    My point is that you don't have a clue just like most who have only a thimble full of information based on mainly reading in the MSM – which is notorious for NOT providing the entire story behind something but regularly focusing on one part of it.

    And yet you have managed to capsulize something in wrong ways that leave you more ignorant than knowledgeable – and blaming MSM, government and science for your own misconceptions – which you could have alleviated simply by gathering more information to base your opinion.

    We're all guilty of this by the way.

    We're all ignorant – on lots and lots of issues but the difference is some of us realize and accept it and know that there is often much more to an issue than what the Glen Becks of the world portray it as…

    Thousands and thousands of professionals – government people, scientists, and others have struggled with the Malaria and DDT question and what I suggest is you cruise by the WIKI entry for it which has 124 footnotes for further reference if you don't trust per your usual …. approach…

    Again.. I'm not advocating that Govt or Science or the MSM are paragons of truth and honesty but at the same time – they are how we operate – good, bad and ugly and the world is never so simple as some think it might be.

    If someone told you they could get rid of every mosquito within a mile of your home but in the process your kids genes would mutate – how would you choose?

    Would you think accuse the person who told you of the choice to be dishonest and not telling you the "truth"?

    Who would you go to then to get the "truth"?

    or would you believe the part about the DDT killing every mosquito in a mile but not the part about gene mutation because you didn't like the implications of the impacts?

    This is not simple. Never was. And blaming governments, scientists and MSM is not IMHO a particularly intelligent way to go about making up one's own mind about these things.

  21. the choice of having or not having the drugs is a false choice.

    Disposing of those drugs in ways so they do not pollute the environment is a choice also.

    Developing a system that includes not only the development and use of such drugs but proper disposal of same is exactly the same thing we do with motor oil – is it not?

    so what's so hard about that?

    we used to dump motor oil into sewers.. curb gutters,… etc.. but then we figured out that that was not a good thing….

    this is not rocket science.

    it's common sense.. on vacation.

  22. Anonymous Avatar

    "Anyone who thinks we have proven that we can pollute without consequences – …"

    Not polluting has consequences, too. It is only a question of which are the greater and lesser consequences, who they affect, and when.

    I'm in the camp that believes we are experiencing anthropgenic global warming.

    However, I'm not convinced that the results of draconian attmpts to curb it won't be as bad as the disease.

    I don't believe those that prophesy a new green economy with perfectly clean jobs for all any more than I believe those who claim there is no global warming, or that there is a conspiracy to promote belief in global warming.

    After all, just because there is a conspiracy to promote belief in global warming doesn't mean that it isn't happening.

    That isn't the problem, in my opinion, the problem is that these crackpots think that any expense is not too much. These are people who believe that we can, and should, reach a point of zero pollution, as if they never void anything into the environment, or buy or use anything that does.

    Pollution = Pollution/Material Used * Material Used/GDP * GDP/Capita * Population.

    We can reduce pollution by reducing any of the erms on the right side. We can use material that creates less pollution. We can conserve by using less stuff for each unit of GDP. We can live less well by using less GDP per person. Or we can have fewer people.


  23. our record with pollution is clear and undeniable.

    We almost always underestimate the impacts and later on have to backtrack…

    I keep asking for someone to provide an example where the opposite happened?

    Give me one – and I'll give you a 1000 that went the other way.

    We have a proven pattern here.

    Your equation doesn't work because we often don't know the measurements of the parts especially early on.

    We never knew when we first created DDT that one of the impacts would ultimately be the destruction of entire species of birds.

    Why didn't we know that from the get go if your vaunted equation is so unerringly trained on the truth?

    The science is NEVER "settled" – only further time goes by

    and again.. as time goes by .. invariably our prior estimates of how much damage was being done is virtually always an underestimate…

    If we knew what the heck we were doing – we'd not need non-attainment areas or complete bans on some chemicals that did not start out as complete bans in the first place – right?

    trying to "balance" benefits with impacts – as the impacts are never static but always expanding.. does what to the "equation"?

    Well. here's what it does.

    A company does the R&D.. it does the lab work.. it invests huge amounts of time and money – and bring it to market – only to find out that 10, 20 years later.. not only were they wrong.. they were very badly wrong and that equation you keep talking about did not help at all in deciding a proper decision.

    If anything, it gave a false sense of reassurance because essentially not enough data was available for the equation to work right to start with.

    take a look at this list:

    and tell me WHEN your equation "proved" these chemicals were safe … and then the same equation proved them not safe?

    what happened?

    why should we have confidence in an equation that you say portrays the truth when it clearly does not?

  24. Anonymous Avatar

    "the choice of having or not having the drugs is a false choice."

    No, Larry, it isn't.

    If you have those drugs then they are going to wind up in the environment, along with a lot of other stuff that was used to make them.

    It is impossible to be otherwise unlss you are willing to expend far more energy chasing the stuff down,capturing it, and turning it into something else than it took to make the stuff in the first place. That energy use is going to cause pollution, and this idea assumes you can turn the captured goods into something completely unharmful. Or that you can sequester it forever.

    You can have the drugs along with the costs of having them, or you can do without. You cannot have the drugs and clean up after yourself perfectly, and if you could the costs would be so high you would be beter off without the drugs.


    "Disposing of those drugs in ways so they do not pollute the environment is a choice also."

    No it is impossible. This isn't a choice because it does not exist. You take an antibiotic and then you pee in the toilet, some of that antibiotic goes in the water and that water has to go somewhere.


    "Developing a system that includes not only the development and use of such drugs but proper disposal of same is exactly the same thing we do with motor oil – is it not?"

    Good example. How big of a sample do you think I would have to take from anywhere on the planet before I could detect motor oil in it?

    Like I said, it is impossible. There are some things we can do better at, but only up to the point at which the costs exceed the benefits. If you believe that preventing toads with three eyes is priceless, then the thing to do is ban drugs, because you cannot both have them and keep them out of the environment you live in.

    It is a ridiculous idea.


    "..we used to dump motor oil into sewers.. curb gutters,… etc.. "

    Some people still do, and even the people that do not still contribute some motor oil pollution to the environment.


  25. Anonymous Avatar

    "The science is NEVER "settled" – only further time goes by…."

    The science is settled. It is only our knowledge of it that is not. As mark Twain said, it isn't that we don't know anything, it is that so much of what we know isn't true.

    Political parties are a marketing game in which he operators seek to gain power by gaining the most members willing to mutually convince each other that their knowledge is correct.

    It has nothing to do with seeking the right answer, the best available answer, the most ethical answer, the fairest answer or even the cheapest one.



  26. Anonymous Avatar

    "It was used widely with great success to eliminate the last pockets of malaria from North America and Europe."

    Sounds like your "DDT losing its effectiveness" argument doesn't really hold when you use it just for malaria and not as a general agricultural pesticide. There are even recent uses when DDT was used and the malaria deaths dropping. Those are real people and their lives were improved through DDT.

    "Carson sounded the initial alarm against DDT, but represented the science of DDT erroneously in her 1962 book Silent Spring. Carson wrote "Dr. DeWitt's now classic experiments [on quail and pheasants] have now established the fact that exposure to DDT, even when doing no observable harm to the birds, may seriously affect reproduction. Quail into whose diet DDT was introduced throughout the breeding season survived and even produced normal numbers of fertile eggs. But few of the eggs hatched." DeWitt's 1956 article (in Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry) actually yielded a very different conclusion. Quail were fed 200 parts per million of DDT in all of their food throughout the breeding season. DeWitt reports that 80% of their eggs hatched, compared with the "control"" birds which hatched 83.9% of their eggs. Carson also omitted mention of DeWitt's report that "control" pheasants hatched only 57 percent of their eggs, while those that were fed high levels of DDT in all of their food for an entire year hatched more than 80% of their eggs. "

    Feels like global warming all over again…

    Why are statists (like lg) afraid of the original question?Where is the state run coverage?

    Show me where DDT causes your genes to mutate? haha statists are funny!

    Stop using Morton's fork please…

    Wilkes 45

  27. It's true you cannot keep all of it out of the environment but that's not the question.

    the question is can you keep enough of it out of the environment so that it's impacts are minimized/acceptable?

    That's certainly the approach that we have taken with motor oil, CFCs and hundreds of other substances.

    Using your approach, We'd not store and reprocess nuclear material.. we'd just say that we can't do without it and release every last bit of it into the environment.

    that's a dumb approach RH and we don't do it.

  28. Anonymous Avatar

    "We almost always underestimate the impacts and later on have to backtrack…"


    The fact that you believe that has never happened doesn't change the fact that you have to guard against that eventuality JUST AS MUCH AND NO MORE as the other.


  29. " The science is settled. It is only our knowledge of it that is not. "

    That's what is meant when we say the science is not settled pilgrim.

    It's sorta shorthand for " we don't know everything yet – and probably never will..but we need to keep learning".

  30. " Sounds like your "DDT losing its effectiveness" argument doesn't really hold when you use it just for malaria and not as a general agricultural pesticide. There are even recent uses when DDT was used and the malaria deaths dropping. Those are real people and their lives were improved through DDT."

    My point is – do you believe that statement – and why do you or do you not?

    That's the essential question with global warming.

    who do you believe or not believe for DDT or global warming?

    Do you believe the DDT scientists but not the global warming scientists?

    why? why not?

  31. Anonymous Avatar

    "Your equation doesn't work because we often don't know the measurements of the parts especially early on."

    The equation always works, whether we know the answer or not.

    It is our choice as to whether we choose to find out, or flap our wings wildly. It is our choice as to whether we treat and evelauate our options equally, or whether we choose to put one price on one life and a different price on another.

    That is what it boils down to: equal property rights starting with your value a a human.


  32. " Show me where DDT causes your genes to mutate?"

    How do you think insects become resistant to DDT?

  33. " The equation always works, whether we know the answer or not."

    this is really an ignorant statement RH.

    If we don't know HOW the equation "works" why would we use it to make decisions?

    you keep talking about the equation as a tool for making decisions but then you turn around and say " whether we know the answer or not."

    that's asinine.

  34. Anonymous Avatar

    "It's true you cannot keep all of it out of the environment but that's not the question."

    It is absolutely the question, and the answer is "How much can you afford?"

    Ultimately this is about saving lives and preventing damage. We ned to answer the question whose lives and how much damage.

    If you are willing to spend $400 to prevent $100 worth of damage then you are a fool.

    If you are willing to spend $100 for a ten percent change of preventing $400 in damage then you are still a fool.

    If you are willing to spend $100 of someone else's money for a ten percent chance of preventing $400 in damage then you are not only a fool, but a thief.



    tell me how you know this.

    Give me some examples that clearly demonstrate the truth of your statement.

  36. " It is absolutely the question, and the answer is "How much can you afford?"

    Ultimately this is about saving lives and preventing damage. We ned to answer the question whose lives and how much damage."

    WHEN do you KNOW?

    Do you know from the get go or do you find out after the fact?

  37. Anonymous Avatar

    "…the question is can you keep enough of it out of the environment so that it's impacts are minimized/acceptable?"

    Wrong again.

    Now you agree that you are not going to keep it out of the environment: that some damage is minimal or acceptable.

    Whatever it is, that damage has a cost.

    There is also a cost to doing whatever it is that you do to keep it out of the environment.

    If that cost is greater than the damage, then you are spending too much.

    We would be spending $400 to prevent $100 in damage. There are an infinite number of things that someone thinks is a priortity that we MUST SPEND on, but we simplu do not have an infinit number of $300 bills to waste.


  38. " If that cost is greater than the damage, then you are spending too much."

    give me an example of when we did that

  39. Anonymous Avatar

    WHEN do you KNOW?

    We will know when we agree that is the solution we are looking for instead of wrongly assuming that the alternative of spending too much is always better.

    1) First you have to agree that there IS AN OPTIMUM SOLUTION.

    2) Then you have to agree to go look for it, regardless of your party affiliation.

    3) Then you agree to set a value for statistical human life, and use that same value for every alternative action you face. If you think it is important to be conservative about having a clean environment, then this is where you drive a stake in the ground.

    But if you try to set the value at 100 million instead of the current 7.5, then two things will happen. You will have a hard time justifying such a figure, and if you succeed it will mean that you can afford to do far fewer things to benefit the environment.

    4) You agree that every life is worth the same amount, and everyone gets treated the same. The direct result is that everyone has equal property rights.

    5) Decide how much money you can spend.

    6) Save all the lives you can for $1 apiece, then $2 and so on until you either run out of money or you reach $7.5 million apiece.

    7) Go back and measure how many lives were actually saved, for each project and reorder the priorities. The cost of measurement is part of the cost of saving the lives, so you cannot claim that we don't know, or can't know, or the cost of knowing is too high.

    8) When the priorities stop changing, then you will know. You will have done the best that you can. You will kill off all the cheap tasks first, and things will get harder and more expensive to do. Eventually you only get to pick among those that are predicted to save lives at $7.5 million apiece. And when you go back and do the measurements you will find out statistically whether they cost more or less.


    Right now we do some project and we predict that it will cost less than it saves at $7.5 million apiece.

    Big deal.

    If there was some other project we could have done that saved lives at a lesser cost, then by spending on the chosen one we essentially valued some peoples lives at more than others.


    That means you are going to need a measuring stick that all agree to. We don't argue about how long a meter is, even if there are those who work tirelessly to get an ever more accurate stick.


  40. WHEN do you know that you've got the right answer?

    People agree to measure.

    what they don't agree on is how much is too much or how much is too little because the equation does not tell them that.

    your equation is the only one that knows the answer.. anyone else trying to use the equation to make the decision has so many variables and so many ways of measuring and so many ways to deciding what concentrations are too much and what are too little that the equation is just some amorphous concept rather than a legitimate decision-support tool.

    your equation is also of no help because one day it gives one answer and then the next day another answer – depending on what has changed from the original.

    you seem to think that there is ONLY ONE ANSWER for what a life is worth or not worth – never once apparently considering that there are different but legitimately different ways to value a life.

    you seem to think there is but one number from but one authoritative source.

    tell me what that source is and why you believe them and not someone else please.

    when do you know – that you've reached the optimal solution?

    and again.. give me an example of when we went "too far" on pollution restrictions and caused harm.

    Give me that example and tell me how much the cost was of "over" restricting.

    If you're going to make the claim then you need to provide some evidence to back it up.

    stop the hand waving and answer the questions.

  41. Anonymous Avatar

    " If that cost is greater than the damage, then you are spending too much."

    give me an example of when we did that


    Give me an example of when the government ever admitted it was wrong.

    See today's article in the Post about the cost of fighting some kinds of cancer, compared to the cure rate.

    Or consider the fishing Pier in North Carolina. It was considered to be an environmental or social amenity, so the state rebuilt it a a cost of twice what it could ever be worth.

    Or how about the Hudson River PCB dredging project?


  42. Anonymous Avatar

    "Because society has limited resources to spend on regulation, such analysis can help illuminate the trade-offs involved in making different kinds of social investments. In this sense, it would seem irresponsible not to conduct such analyses, since they can inform decisions about how scarce resources can be put to the greatest social good.

    In principle, benefit-cost analysis can also help answer questions of how much regulation is enough. From an efficiency standpoint, the answer to this question is simple — regulate until the incremental benefits from regulation are just offset by the incremental costs. In practice, however, the problem is much more difficult, in large part because of inherent problems in measuring marginal benefits and costs. In addition, concerns about fairness and process may be very important economic and non-economic factors. Regulatory policies inevitably involve winners and losers, even when aggregate benefits exceed aggregate costs."


    "Congress has passed several statutes to protect health, safety, and the environment that effectively preclude the consideration of benefits and costs in the development of certain regulations, even though other statutes actually require the use of benefit-cost analysis. At the same time, Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush all put in place formal processes for reviewing economic implications of major environmental, health, and safety regulations. Apparently the Executive Branch, charged with designing and implementing regulations, has seen a greater need than the Congress to develop a yardstick against which regulatory proposals can be assessed. Benefit-cost analysis has been the yardstick of choice."


  43. we're talking about the cost of restricting pollution.

    show me an example where we went too far and had to backtrack as opposed to all the times that we underestimated it and had to go back and further restrict it.

    You keep talking about "balance".

    me too..

    if we had "balance", then wouldn't we have just as many cases of over restriction as under restriction?

    wouldn't that make your case ?

    then you could clearly establish that there are real consequences to over restrictions..

    you could then rattle off a list of cases that "prove" that over restriction causes economic harm.

    but you never provide them guy.

    you hand wave..

    where is your definitive case?

    out of hundreds of thousands of pollution restrictions – can you not find a single example where we over reacted?

    If you cannot..then why do you go through this song and dance talking about the "harm" that can result from over restriction?

    what exactly do you base your concerns on if you don't have any evidence to prove your case.

  44. Anonymous Avatar

    We offered eight principles.

    First, benefit-cost analysis can be useful for comparing the favorable and unfavorable effects of policies, because it can help decision makers better understand the implications of decisions by identifying and, where appropriate, quantifying the favorable and unfavorable consequences of a proposed policy change. But, in some cases, there is too much uncertainty to use benefit-cost analysis to conclude that the benefits of a decision will exceed or fall short of its costs.

    Second, decision makers should not be precluded from considering the economic costs and benefits of different policies in the development of regulations. Removing statutory prohibitions on the balancing of benefits and costs can help promote more efficient and effective regulation.

    Third, benefit-cost analysis should be required for all major regulatory decisions. The scale of a benefit-cost analysis should depend on both the stakes involved and the likelihood that the resulting information will affect the ultimate decision.

    Fourth, although agencies should be required to conduct benefit-cost analyses for major decisions, and to explain why they have selected actions for which reliable evidence indicates that expected benefits are significantly less than expected costs, those agencies should not be bound by strict benefit-cost tests. Factors other than aggregate economic benefits and costs may be important.

    Fifth, benefits and costs of proposed policies should be quantified wherever possible. But not all impacts can be quantified, let alone monetized. Therefore, care should be taken to assure that quantitative factors do not dominate important qualitative factors in decision making. If an agency wishes to introduce a “margin of safety” into a decision, it should do so explicitly.

    Sixth, the more external review that regulatory analyses receive, the better they are likely to be. Retrospective assessments should be carried out periodically.

    Seventh, a consistent set of economic assumptions should be used in calculating benefits and costs. Key variables include the social discount rate, the value of reducing risks of premature death and accidents, and the values associated with other improvements in health.

    Eighth, while benefit-cost analysis focuses primarily on the overall relationship between benefits and costs, a good analysis will also identify important distributional consequences for important subgroups of the population."

    Emphasis mine



    I disagre with point five. If youthink it cannot be monetized it is because you have not tried hard enough. Besides, it doesn't matter: assign arbitrary values to subjective costs as long as they are consistent it won't be a discriminator in choosing among policies.

  45. where is your case?

    I don't need you to reference ample discussions about cost-benefit philosophies.

    you have a philosophy that over regulation can have economic harm.

    prove it.

  46. Anonymous Avatar

    we're talking about the cost of restricting pollution.

    show me an example where we went too far and had to backtrack as opposed to all the times that we underestimated it and had to go back and further restrict it.

    You keep talking about "balance".

    me too..

    if we had "balance", then wouldn't we have just as many cases of over restriction as under restriction?


    How will we know as long as people like you refuse to look?

    If you pardon the pun, what about the flap over suggested mammograms?



  47. mammograms are not pollution restrictions.

    show me your cases where we have over regulated pollution and in the process caused economic harm?

    this is the essential argument of the folks who doubt global warming – right?

    they think we are "over reacting" and will cause economic harm.

    I'm asking for you to provide an example – out of the hundreds of thousands of times we have regulated – which of them has been found to go too far and cause economic harm?

  48. Anonymous Avatar

    "the risk-management approach to confronting climate change has emerged as an important analytic tool designed explicitly to ameliorate or at least account for many (but by no means all) of these thorny issues. Its most straightforward applications begin with the statistical definition of risk – the probability of an event multiplied by its consequence. In benefit-cost approaches, all consequences are calibrated directly as economic outcomes that are expressed in units of currency. In these applications, any dollar lost or gained in one possible outcome is worth the same as any other dollar lost or gained in any other outcome. It follows that decision-makers need only worry about expected outcomes regardless of how good or how bad any specific “not-implausible” extreme might be."

    Precisely so, we cannot afford to spend infinite sums of money on every "not impausible" extreme some lobbyist can dream up.

    We have to restrict ourselves to expected value: probability times risk.


  49. " Precisely so, we cannot afford to spend infinite sums of money on every "not impausible" extreme some lobbyist can dream up."

    when have we done this?

  50. Anonymous Avatar

    "But these dirty plants can also serve as an example of how environmentalist can use economics to forward their agenda. Since Ronald Reagan placed cost-benefit analysis at the center of his deregulatory agenda in 1981, environmentalists have developed a strong allergy to economic analysis. They rarely participate in the debates over how cost-benefit is conducted, and do not place economic analysis at the center of their arguments for new and stronger regulation.

    On the other hand, antiregulatory groups like trade associations representing industrial polluters and conservative think tanks have embraced cost-benefit analysis. They argue that economic analysis shows deregulation is a good thing.

    The asymmetry of participation has had several negative consequences. First, proregulatory interests consistently lose ground before the courts and OBM, which for nearly three decades has reviewed all "significant" regulations. Because OMB and the courts look to cost-benefit analysis, groups that cannot frame their arguments in economic terms are bound to lose.

    Second, cost-benefit itself has become biased against regulation. It has been shaped by antiregulatory interests with little input from proregulatory interests, resulting in the adoption of several flawed techniques that tend to underestimate regulatory benefits and overestimate regulatory costs."


    Here is an environmentalists who gets off on the right foot: environmentalists should embrace cost benefit analysis.

    But then he goes on to suggest how to politicize it!

    WRONG, Wrong, Wrong. It is what it is, lets all work to get it right, not to bend the process to suit our agenda.


  51. show me where we have over regulated and caused economic harm because of it.

  52. Anonymous Avatar

    How about cash for clunkers? As an anvironmental benefit it was a stinker, but it had other parallel purposes……


  53. Anonymous Avatar

    show me where we have over regulated and caused economic harm because of it.



    Endangered Species Act.

  54. cash for clunkers is an example of overly restrictive pollution laws?

    you're falling apart guy.

    all this high-minded talk about the consequences of overreacting to pollution and your money case is cash for clunkers?

  55. endangered species ACT?

    is that pollution?

    no matter.

    make your case.

    show me the economic harm that is in excess of the benefit…

    where is that report?

  56. Anonymous Avatar

    Look, if you think we have under regulated, thenyou should be out pushing for more and better cost benefit analysis, because it will prove your point.

    And if it turns out you are wrong, then you still win, because you are money ahead, and that's money we can spend on some other, better project.


  57. Anonymous Avatar

    There are documented cases of people cutting down their forest, just so they wouldn't have a spotted owl move in.


  58. Anonymous Avatar

    It doesn't matter whether the policy regards pollution or not: the point is that if you promote environmental protection over some other life-saving polcy then you are valueing one life more than another.

    CAFE standards may save lives through lowering pollution and cost lives due to less protection in cars. We can eliminate automotive pollution by eliminating cars but it may cost more lives than it saves.


  59. I don't think we are under regulated.

    I'm asking those who say we are and are preparing to do so again with Global Warming to prove their point.

    Show the history of what you're claiming – that over regulation has caused economic harm.

    I'm asking you to provide some concrete evidence that supports your claims.

    Surely with all these folks running around worried about the economic disaster that awaits us if we regulate green house gases – we'd have some prominent concrete examples in the past when we over regulated and caused great economic harm

    but so far.. all I hear is Grade A unadulterated BLATHER.

  60. people cutting down trees is your proof that over regulation has resulted in more economic harm that the regulation brought in benefits?

  61. " It doesn't matter whether the policy regards pollution or not: the point is that if you promote environmental protection over some other life-saving polcy then you are valueing one life more than another."

    where is your example of that happening?

    show me where we've done what you say

  62. Anonymous Avatar

    When stating "your genes" that means humans. I can find no examples of DDT changing human genes or mosquito genes for that matter…

    Gene mutation in mosquitos is due to natural selection, not DDT. That is a good thing, right? At least for the mosquito.

    Or will the statists control evolution too? They tried that too remember?

  63. insects and other critters become resistant to antibiotics and insecticides by "natural selection" when some of their number experience gene mutations that make them more resistant.

    the new genes adapt quickly because of their fast reproduction cycle.

    you should be able to search and confirm for yourself what the downsides of the use of DDT is.

    It's safe to say that if there were no significant impacts that there would be no concern about it's use and that's clearly not true.

    here's one:

    " Reproductive Effects: Potentially causes
    chromosomal aberrations, interferes with the
    healthy balance of estrogen and testosterone, can
    be passed in breast milk to infants, can shorten
    the duration of lactation in women, leads to
    erectile dysfunction in rats, causes feminization
    in numerous animal species, softens the shells of
    bird eggs. DDT and DDE are both known
    endocrine disrupters."

    but you're evading the question.

    Who do you trust when it comes to information about DDT?

    You've already said that you don't trust the govt or scientists nor the MSM so I've asked you who do you trust for your information?

    Do you not trust the scientists when it comes to Global Warming but you trust them for other information?

    Are there particular scientists that you trust while distrusting all others?

    I'm just trying to understand how you go through life making decisions about stuff that you're not an expect on and have to rely on others.

    How do you decide what info you can trust and believe – and not?

    what do you consider "credible"?

    as far as being statist or not what is that about?

    are you opposed to all govt across the board ?

    what kind of governance would you support?

    every man gets a gun and fends for himself?

    they got that in many countries.

    of course those folks often have a literacy rate in the low teens but maybe that's what you're getting at.. don't trust governments and don't trust science.

  64. Anonymous Avatar

    How about government mandates that refiners use increasing amounts of ethanol in gassoline?

    Due to decreased fuel use during the recession and decreased consumpton under other mandates, the ethanol rules may be mathematically impossible to meet.

    Clearly the costs vs benefits of those rules need to be re-thought.


  65. ethanol is a subsidy …not a pollution restriction….

    I'm still waiting for an example of where pollution restrictions were done prematurely and caused economic harm and were subsequently rolled back…

    because that is your basic premise that you cite over and over about prospective new regulations..

    our history to date – is 99%+ the opposite.. where we start out with less restrictions.. see that harm still results and we have to go back and tighten the restrictions…

    so what past history are the Global Warming skeptics relying on when they say those restrictions will result in economic harm greater than the unregulated pollution will result in?

    show me examples.. of where we have messed up by regulating and we should not have…

  66. Anonymous Avatar

    "people cutting down trees is your proof that over regulation has resulted in more economic harm that the regulation brought in benefits?"

    In this case it was pretty obvious, one goal of the Endangered species act was to preserve habitat, but that isn't what happened: people cut down their forests prematurely and at lower economic value for fear they would get "caught" with an endnagered species on their property and be prohibited from selling – ever.

    Everyone lost on that deal, spotted owls included.


  67. It's still not an example of unwarranted pollution restrictions that had to be rolled back when it was proved that they caused more economic harm that they delivered in benefits.

    cutting down trees to get rid of endangered species is not restricting pollution.

  68. Anonymous Avatar

    We launched the war in Iraq in order to save lives by destroying weapons of mass destruction.

    Without commenting on whether the war turned out to be right or wrong, I would submit that as a life saving policy, we could have spent our money a lot better than searching for WMD's.


  69. you're all over the map RH…

    restrict your examples to pollution restrictions please.

  70. Anonymous Avatar

    "..unwarranted pollution restrictions that had to be rolled back when it was proved that they caused more economic harm that they delivered in benefits."


    Only because they have not been rolled back or otherwise altered to provide proper compensation.


    You are setting a high standard: the government is not big on admitting it has made a mistake, and then changing. it usually takes a court to make that happen.


  71. Anonymous Avatar

    " restrict your examples to pollution restrictions please."

    The argument is that every statistical life is valued the same. Otherwise the government is not doing its principal job of protecting everyone's person and proerty equally.

    It makes no difference what policy is argued to save lives or protect property. What makes a difference is what the policy costs and how many lives it ultimately saves (as well as when).

    If you restrict the conversation to pollution only then you suggest that some kinds of rights, and some kinds of lives are different than others – worth either more or less.

    I'd argue that if conservationists were really interested in conservation the first industrial activity they should oppose would be war.


    Your contention is that the precautionary priciple justifies setting rules that may (or may not) cost more than they save until such time we are certain that what we do is 100% safe and non-polluting, or very nearly so.

    Which is effectively never.

    You are assigning a price to the value of certainty but no price to the value of uncertainty. Usually there is no profit without risk, so you ae dismissing whatever value the "other side" might have out of hand, and assigning a near 100% probability to value of "your side".

    There is no more reason to value the current situation more than a future unknown situation, arguing that it is likely to turn out badly, based on a few hstorical bad examples.

    And since you won't buy into the concept of cost benefit analyisis, to begin with, there will never be a sufficient argument from the "other side" that cannot be refuted by claiming value for things that are priced either subjectively or never.

    Again, I would submit that once you put any policy into place, you have effectively monetized it, sot the cannot be priced argument is moot.

    I would also argue that it does not matter very much what price you put on subjective values: as long as you are consistent. Either it won't affect very much the rank ordering of policies to be undertaken, or else it will become obvious that the wrong values were chosen when ridiculous results occur.

    It has been argued that more coal miners have lost their jobs due to productivity gains and automation than to sulfur emission controls, and therefore the negative effect of sulfur emission controls was small. Likewise the cost of electricity has decreased,not increased since sulfur conrols were established, so clams of increased coss due to sufur controls were unfounded.

    This is obviously ridiculous. It doesn't matter what ELSE happened it matters that 5100 minors lost their jobs due to sulfur emission controls. It doesn't matter what else we did to lower electricity costs,they would still be lower without sulfur controls in place.

    There are obviously benefits to reducing sufure emissions, too, but you wouldn't argue that those benefits are smaller because of increased mining efficiency or lower electricity prices.


  72. Anonymous Avatar

    you're all over the map RH…


    No I'm not, it is a simple basic proposition: is my life and property to be protected by the government equally to everyone else or not?

    If so, how should the government go about it? What measures should they use to find out?


  73. I subscribe to cost/benefit analysis.

    I'm asking you to provide one that proves that an initial decision to regulate was wrong and they had to roll it back.

    so far, you've done nothing but hand wave…

    you seem to base a lot of your logic and philosophy on your equation and say that the government screws up on this and causes economic harm

    and I'm asking you to provide a real case and you have not.

    so you need to re-think your approach here guy because it's clear you're not relying on facts for your philosophy but instead some misconceived ideas that have have no evidence.

  74. " If so, how should the government go about it? What measures should they use to find out?"

    They should go about it the way they have been all along because in hundreds of thousands of decisions to regulate – you have been unable to provide a single valid counter example.

    So it's clear – your ideas have no facts to back them up and so you're wrong.. and your equation is wrong.

  75. Anonymous Avatar

    Pollution restrictions have caused companies to go overseas where there are less regulations…

    We have a 10.2% unemployment rate.

    Looks like it is time to roll back some restrictions.

    We can only have the environment that we can afford.

    Since you state that none have been rollback, that is a pretty good indication that there is some low hanging fruit where ridiculous pollution standards have been set and now could be relaxed.

    How many times has the EPA further restricted the ppm standards from its original mandate?

  76. " How many times has the EPA further restricted the ppm standards from its original mandate? "

    often – which is a clear indication that you erred in their initial assessments of harm vs benefits.

    The EPA may well have rolled back some restrictions – I'd not be shocked if they did out of the hundreds of thousands of decisions that they made..

    but what I question are those who say that restricting polluting is a problem that can harm the economy without providing one shred of evidence to back up the assertion.

    And then from that fallacious concept – to develop a philosophy based on it…

    when our history is plain and clear – in virtually every case – we UNDERESTIMATED the environmental damage and as time went by – it because clear that we did.

    some industry does go overseas to evade pollution rules much like they used to shop around for different states in the US before we had national standards but you won't find many of them going to the EU whose standards are even tighter than ours – and even the countries that allow it now – are gradually ramping up their own rules like we did in the original going.

    The EU and the US to a lesser extent is also refusing to allow import of goods that were created by polluting substances that we restrict.

    But the biggest point being made here is that those who say that we have a danger of putting pollution restrictions in place that will harm the economy – do not provide clear evidence of this but that does not stop them from giving that as a reason to not have restrictions.

    This is what is behind the Global Warming argument.

    The same folks who say the US/EPA is wrong on global warming have absolutely no problem with the same entity severely restricting the release of chemicals like PCBs, Mercury and other toxics into the environment.

    In fact, they are glad.

    They blather on and on about how we need to clean up the Chesapeake Bay – How? – by further restricting things like nitrogen and phosphorous.

    And these same folks who tacitly acknowledge that mankind can screw up the Chesapeake Bay and spawn Nuclear Winters – turn right around and say that it's not possible that we could screw up our climate.

    It's a schizoid… hypocritical approach.

    So.. their philosophy is not a principal that applies to all pollutants…


    their philosophy CHANGES according to what the pollutant is – and how much they think controlling it will cost.

    As far as I am concerned, this is EXACTLY why we need the government.

    Spare me from those who can't even keep a consistent philosophy and tailor it instead to personal prejudices.

  77. Anonymous Avatar

    " How many times has the EPA further restricted the ppm standards from its original mandate? "

    often – which is a clear indication that you erred in their initial assessments of harm vs benefits."

    could be, or it could be that we are overpaying for protection that we don't much benefit from.

    Politicizing science as uncovered in the British Emails is a disgrace. We won't know what the "right" amount to pay for environmental protection is until we at least agree to look for an answer that doesn't always come back "More is Better".

    I actually think the right standard is pretty high, but until it is made clear what it costs the answer will always be "more".

    It is the same as Larry's argument about the highways – if we don;t pay the actual cost, people will demand too much.


  78. Anonymous Avatar

    Ijust haven't posted one you will accept.

    The ethanol example is a clear case of over-regulation, as was the Endangered Species Act.

    Not that they are bad ideas, but they were managed very badly.


  79. Anonymous Avatar

    How should government go about it?

    First thing to do is build in triggers to the rules, such that if improvemnt in the target cause is not seen, then the rules are relaxed. If improvement in the traget cause is seen, then the rules can be increased if it is still seen to be beneficial.

    As it stands now, we make a rule and it is cast ins stone: there is no feedback loop.


  80. " could be, or it could be that we are overpaying for protection that we don't much benefit from"

    this has been your claim over and over and part of your advocacy for your "equation" but you have yet to provide a single example of out the hundreds of thousands of restrictions that we have already seen put in place.

    Until you are able to provide some convincing evidence of your claims – the same claims that you use as the foundation of some of your environmental and property rights arguments – you are blowing smoke…

    The govt ALREADY uses cost/benefit processes – and that includes the EPA – and the track record to date is that, if anything, the process is biased on the low side because we end up having to put more restrictions on what is regulated – not less.

    If you believe otherwise, then give some examples of where they had to backtrack and loosen the regulations.

    Way back when – you claimed that people had an inherent right to pollute – as a "property right".

    I strongly disagreed with you – and you moved on but your basic philosophy seems to be still rooted in that concept because even though you can provide no evidence – you seem to remain convinced that we have over regulated pollution restrictions.

    …because.. you think that the right to pollute is a property right….that cannot be taken away without compensation…

    same idea.. same wrong conclusion

  81. Anonymous Avatar

    * If the climate and recent changes are not unprecedented, then there's nothing to do. Let's go to the pub.

    * If it is unprecedented, then we need to know why. If we don't know if it is unprecedented or if we don't know why, we need to stop here until we can find out.

    * If it is unprecedented but it's not us, then we need to question seriously if there is anything that we can do about it and the answer to that is very very likely to be "no".

    * If it is us, we then to move into economics. Will the damage outweigh the benefit?

    * And even if the damage does outweigh the benefit, we still need to consider if the cost of stopping the climate change at source is less than the cost of adapting to the problem to minimise the damage.

    * And even if the mitigation does cost less than adaptation, we need to ask if our only option for mitigation is to subborn all our freedom to a putative benevolent world government.

    Only if you can answer "yes" all the way down that chain can you get to Copenhagen. One misstep and you are looking at adaptation, either because we shouldn’t do anything, or it’s the best thing to do or the alternative is so appallingly ghastly, depending on which route you took to get there.

  82. the benefit of proceeding with restrictions even if you don't have 100% proof – if that you can back out of them when you find out that they were not needed.

    the consequences of being wrong on not regulating could be massive economic damaged caused by weather changes.

    what is our track record with regard to overly ambitious restrictions that we guessed wrong on and had to back out of?

    answer that question.

    the damage to date has virtually ALWAYS been from too much pollution – not from too little.

  83. with regard to the "science", it's pretty clear IMHO – things are changing but we are not sure what those changes mean nor how big a changes we might be seeing.

    This is not unlike a discussion to understand how much mercury can be released in the environment and what the consequences of it are – especially at different concentrations.

    The fundamental premise is that we know that there will probably be levels that are not acceptable.. that cause so much widespread damage that we cannot responsibly permit it.

    That does not mean that there should be no restrictions at all.

    It means we know there should be and we're still trying to understand what is an acceptable number – and until we know more – we purposely pick a CONSERVATIVE number so that if we are wrong – that we have not ended up with permanent damage that cannot be undone.

    this is common sense.

    as it turns out – we've been wrong over and over.

    We already have too much mercury in the environment and there is not a viable way to remove it.

    Setting up a cap & trade system for green houses gases – to have the system – is a separate issue from what the concentrations will be or not.

    We can set the system up with relatively easy-to-meet concentrations and pull it back as we go along – and we ALWAYS have the option of going back the other way also – to relax the standards if it looks as if we were too ambitious early on.

    But like I said – OUR HISTORY – does not show us to have been too ambitious in pollution restriction at all – since the EPA began.

    It's the other way.

    We start out with one level and we find out that it was too generous and had to be cut back.

    In 99%+ of the cases we were too loose in our approach – not too restrictive.

  84. Anonymous Avatar

    "…we purposely pick a CONSERVATIVE number so that if we are wrong – that we have not ended up with permanent damage that cannot be undone."

    But that is precisely where you are wrong: Yo DO wind up with permannet damage that cannot be undone, it is only of a different type.

    All TYou are doing is assuming that one type of cost is less than another.

    I don't have any problem with that, but you need to include the assumptions in your plan and then build in a means to go test them.

    Otherwise you do not have a plan to go forward and improve things: you have a plan to keep the status quo.

    Keeping the status quo is NOT the sae as conservation.


  85. " But that is precisely where you are wrong: Yo DO wind up with permannet damage that cannot be undone, it is only of a different type.

    All TYou are doing is assuming that one type of cost is less than another."

    I'm not assuming anything.

    I'm asking you to provide some clear evidence where we have "over regulated" and subsequently had to "un regulate" because it was shown that the regulation was more costly than the damage done by not-regulating.

    You cite this all the time as a reason to not regulate but you have yet to provide any evidence that we have had this problem.

    I don't see anyone out there saying that we have over regulated PCBs or mercury in Tuna or growth hormones in beef (remember DES?).

    In virtually every case – we were TOO CONSERVATIVE so as to not have an overly restrictive regulation and in virtually every case – it has been shown that if we guessed wrong – we guessed on the low side – not the high side.

    what is it about this that you refuse to understand?

    Either provide some proof and evidence of your position or stop using it as a justification for less regulation.

  86. Anonymous Avatar

    "…this has been your claim over and over and part of your advocacy for your "equation" but you have yet to provide a single example of out the hundreds of thousands of restrictions that we have already seen put in place."

    No, you are wrong. You assume that I have an advocacy in only one direction.

    Suppose we have a restriction and we fid that the benefits of that restriction outweigh the costs by 4 to 1.

    What the equation says in that case is that we are not spending enough on the restriction: we can afford to spen more and we should spend more up until the costs DO equal the benefits.

    The problem is that we never go back and look: we make an estimate of the benefits and use that to justify a rule, which then continues in a vacuum.

    Or even worse we, take a retroactive look, like the example on SO2 control, and we bring in a bunch of utterly extraneous events which happened subsequent to the rule and have nothing to do with the assumptions on which the rule was based.

    Yes, we KNOW that manufacturors will exaggerate the proposed costs. We KNOW that when finally confronted with a new propblem they will find ways to cope, and reduce their costs.

    We KNOW that environmentalists will exaggerate the benefits. On top of that they will demand additional protection under the precautionary principle.

    How can you ever expect to get a right answer under those conditions. Both set of assumptions need to be tested.

    Otherwise we expend our treasure and effort doing things like I saw where hundreds of tons of dirt are dug up and trucked a thousand miles only to be buried in a different hole. And all of this to keep a couple of grams of PCB (that was already buried) out of the environment.

    I maintain that we could have done better, more important, and more valuable environmental work for a lot less money. We need to find a way to stop that kind of madness, and get our priorities at least ordered sensibly.

    That way, if we are going to waste conservation money at least we waste it on the best jobs first.



  87. Anonymous Avatar

    "…but what I question are those who say that restricting polluting is a problem that can harm the economy…… "

    You are not listening, or you are interjecting you rown thoughts.

    Restricting pollution may harm the economy, if it is done too much. Pollution harms the economy if not restricted enough.

    My argument isn't that it is hurting the economy. My argument is that if it is hurting the economy then we don't have as much to spend (properly) on conservation. My argument is that if we have costs associated with OVERregulation then we are wasting conservation money.

    Wasting conservation money is not conservation. It is not green. It makes no sense, and it makes us ALL worse off than we might be if we get it right.

    But the vast majority of "conservationists" think as you do. It is not scientific, it is not economical, and it is not equitable. It is, however, inconceivably stupid, like the store sale ads that claim the more you spend the more you save.

    It is the environmental equivalent of building a bridge to nowhere, and slowly but surely it is ruining our credibility.

    I think we can do a lot better, but it will never happen as long as (smug in our own moral authority) we refuse to look.


  88. I think you've had an advocacy from the get-go that the right to pollute is a property right and that the government should not regulate unless it can prove without question that the pollution is more harmful than the economic benefits.

    I've asked you to provide proof of your views and you have not and either hand-wave or try to slide sideways …. talking about an "equation" that is worthless from a real-world practical use.

    By the time you get the data right .. it would take decades in many cases and/or involve experimenting with human beings.. and at the end of the process – the damage would be done and no way to undo it.

    We USED to do this but no more – and for good reason.

  89. Anonymous Avatar

    If we doubled our police protection and cut all of our crime rates in half, some people would thnk tht was a good deal.

    Then we ought to double our police protection again and cut our crime rates in half again, No?

    If you do that, then the next murder you prevent will cost you four times as much as the first one prevented before any increases.

    If you double the force again it will cost sixteen times as much and might not prevent any more murders because they have all been prevented.

    But there is a finite possbility that we could be wrong and suddently Bacon's Rebellion will break out in the streets causing the deaths of thousands.

    Under the precautionary principle we can revent that (remote) possibility, and so we ought to do that regarless of the cost: lets double the police force again.


    No one would make such an argument concerning our street police, but that is analogous to the argument yo make for environmental police.

    But at least the analogy suggests that there is some measurement going on.

    Why do we keep track of crime statistics? So we can figure out how much to spend on police.


  90. have you ever seen a cost-benefit study comparing police/prison costs with societal costs?

    it's certainly a concept just like all the other blather you espouse…

    but have you got a study that shows that we spend too much or not enough on police/prisons?

    I don't think so.

    Life would be so simple with your equation.. we'd just plug in the number and adjust the expenditures accordingly – right?

    it don't work like that RH…

    if it did – you could at least show me at least one cost-benefit study and I don't think you can…

    How about comparing countries on this issue.

    show me a ranking of the most cost-effective countries for public safety expenditures…

    that's not coming either..

    you're dealing in concepts and theories guy – things that make sense from 10,000 feet but cannot be easily determined on the ground…

    Let's take your own county.

    how does the expenditure for public safety compare to the economic losses that would occur without it?

    How would you go about trying to figure that out – realistically.

    Can you show what would happen if you cut your public safety expenditures in half?

    Wouldn't you actually have to do that before you had real data ?

  91. Anonymous Avatar

    "I think you've had an advocacy from the get-go that the right to pollute is a property right…"

    That isn't what I said. What I said is that owning property does NOT give you the right to claim damages that you have not incurred.

    By extension you may not cause damages against someone else, which are greater than they cause you.

    Not surprisingly, this result pertains when the cost / benefit equation is minimized.

    And this boils down to determining the point at which we are willing to look the other way for our own benefit.

    Every time you start your car or your furnace or your refrigerator you create pollution, and all of the rest of us look the other way so that we can use our refrigerators and cars and furnaces. By long established custo the ability to use our property is what we call property rights.

    You cannot use anything without creating some pollution, and therefore the right to own property must contain some right to pollute.


    That much is settled: we all own stuff and we all pollute.

    Now what we are arguing about is not whether the r right to pollute is a property right, but rather how much of that right is allowable, and how do we determine that we all get equal or at least fair representation in protecting those rights.


  92. Anonymous Avatar


    Why is your furnace OK but the one at the power plant not, even though the power plant furnace is much more efficient than yours?

    Your property is worth 250,000 and you emit a ton of SO2 every year. The power plant property is worth $250,000,000 and it releases a thousand tons of SO2 per year.

    What is the difference? Your ton does just as much damage as a ton from the power plant. Where do you get off demanding that the power plant buy equipment to protect you but you don't have to spend an equivalent amount to protect your neighbor?


    All I'm arguing is what is fair, efficient, and environmentally sound.

    What you are arguing for is the right to steal. Artfully disguised under a heap of rhetoric, but without equla property rights, that is what it is.

    I only argue that you have the same right to pollute with your property as I have with mine,, and now we need to agree on how much that is.


    As you put it

    "the question is can you keep enough of it out of the environment so that it's impacts are minimized/acceptable?"


    "what they don't agree on is how much is too much or how much is too little because the equation does not tell them that."

    Except that you are wrong, that is exactly what the equation does. you make a change in policy and then measure the TOTAL costs. If they don't go down then you made the wrong change.

    It tells you when the TOTAL costs are minimized. The problem we face is that the right answer (Minimum total costs) is not the "acceptable" answer for some people.

    And what this boils down to is that THEY are making an unsubstantiated claim of superior property rights. They want a solution that makes the other guys costs higher than their own costs, even if it makes the total costs higher.

    Mathematically you can prove that this is an ethically untanable position, provided you beleive that the government has an obligation to protect all of us equally from each other.


    In the case of the power plant we finess that because the power pant bills us for the pollution equipment that we demand they install.

    Then when the aluminum plant shuts down or moves overseas we shrug and say, well, at least it wasn't my job.


    It is a closed solution, you can argue till you are blue in the face but as long as disagree that 6 = 2+ 2+ 2, youare going to continue to be wrong and the policies you espouse will result in substandard results, which mean you could have had better environmental protection some other way.

    I am arguing for the environment, for better environmental rules, for more environmental equity, and I'm arguing for the economy that we need to pay for environmental protection.

    You are just so locked up in your own bad environmental therories that you cannot see the light. I was once one of your kind, until I saw first hand how stupid it was.


  93. "By extension you may not cause damages against someone else, which are greater than they cause you."

    do you mean when we restrict pollution?

  94. " Every time you start your car or your furnace or your refrigerator you create pollution, and all of the rest of us look the other way so that we can use our refrigerators and cars and furnaces."


    where do you think laws that restrict tailpipe pollution or pollution from electricity come from?

    We don't look the other way.

    We restrict pollution when we deem it necessary – and it applies to EVERYONE – every single property owner no matter what.

    If you manufacture cars or refrigerators or furnaces you have to meet the pollution standards for them.

    If you generate electricity then again.. you are restricted.

    we don't look the other way at all.

  95. Anonymous Avatar

    " but cannot be easily determined on the ground…

    I didn;t say it was easy, but it CAN be ddone, we do it all the time.

    And whether we do it or not, we are still going to live ignorantly with the consequences.

    You are willing to err on the side of precaution, as if that kind of error has no cost. Not only that, but yo are willing to continue to err on the side of caution virtually forever, which means the cost is infinite.

    I think that kid of mistake is just as stupid as over using DDT or underusing swimming pool covers.

    All we are talking about is whose money is being wasted in favor of whose (alleged) safety.

    I've convinced myself that the argument you are making is equivalent to stealing: it is a claim that you have more rights than someone else. Namely that you have the right to say they have NO RIGHTS, but they cannot come and shut down your polluting furnace.

    You can't see it, but to me it is as obvious as it is that my right and left hands are equal and opposite partners.

    This isn't ten thousand feet stuff to me. This is basic right and wrong stuff that every mother should teach their kid: stealing is wrong – here are the ramifications of that…….


  96. Anonymous Avatar

    I really don;t even understand where you are coming from.

    If you are right and our rules are beneficial then we ought to measure how beneficial so we can have more of them.

    You don't wan't to measure because you are afraid that you might be wrong. Because you are afraid you might have to give back what you stole.

    I don't care one way or the other. If we measure and find out the rules are benefitical, then we can have more and I'm better off. If we find out they are not beneficial then we can have less of them and I'm better off.

    The only way I'm not better off is if we appen to have gotten it exactly right. I'm pretty sure that isn't the case.

    The second way I'm not better off is if/when we get to the point that the measurements cost more than what we can gain from them. I'm pretty sure that isn't the case yet, either.


  97. " My argument isn't that it is hurting the economy. My argument is that if it is hurting the economy then we don't have as much to spend (properly) on conservation."

    more.. unrelenting blather RH

    when we "save" money we do not necessarily spend it on "conservation".

    If you "under regulate" mercury in a food stuff – you'll end up with "un conservation" for sure.

    " My argument is that if we have associated with OVERregulation then we are wasting conservation money."

    your argument is … CRAP.. because you've never proven – not once – that this is or has been the case.

    Other people DO .have the RIGHT to restrict you and the onus is on you to prove that the restrictions are unwarranted – not the other way around.

  98. " Your property is worth 250,000 and you emit a ton of SO2 every year. The power plant property is worth $250,000,000 and it releases a thousand tons of SO2 per year.

    What is the difference? Your ton does just as much damage as a ton from the power plant. Where do you get off demanding that the power plant buy equipment to protect you but you don't have to spend an equivalent amount to protect your neighbor?"

    the difference is – in both cases there are regulations and restrictions on both parties for the same reasons…

    Your ideas are NOT environmentally sound nor are the accepted by ANY environmental group in this country whereas my views are aligned with the most respected environmental groups like the NRDC and Environmental Defense and they in turn support the way that the EPA does business for the most part.

    No one save for a few fringe folks actually believes that by restricting people from polluting that we are "stealing" their "rights".

    I'm done with this thread.

  99. Anonymous Avatar

    Despite climate gate, I think the scienc on global warming is probably in the right direction ,if not completely solid.

    However, I feel betrayed by scientists who have allowed the system to be politicized.

    They are not helping the cause. it is wasteful, and it isn't green.

    This isn't us against them, right or wrong, red or blue.

    If we get the right answer we all win, if we get the wrong answer we all lose, but some may have more power than others.


  100. Anonymous Avatar

    You are done with this thread because you position along with that of the mis-named environmental defense fund is indefensible.

    My position is not aligned with many enveirnmentalists, but there are some that "get it".

    Eventually my position will win out becoaus the other position leads to bankruptcy in the funds we need to do the work required.


  101. Anonymous Avatar

    Republican and Democratic presidential administrations have supported the use of cost-benefit analysis (cba) in the review of
    federal regulatory decisions. And for three decades, both Republican and Democratic White Houses have supported the use of some sort of cost analysis for such decisions. But that consensus appears to be ending. The growing partisan divide over cba is beginning to reflect the Red Team–Blue Team battles that have become common in other aspects of government.

    The history of bipartisan support for cba is probably well known to readers of Regulation, but it is largely unknown to most of the rest of the population. Although there has been some debate among economists concerning the strengths and limitations of cba for analyzing regulatory decisions, that debate has taken place largely in economic journals and gray literature. But few, if any, of the involved scholars have argued that such analyses should not be undertaken.

    In the last few years, however, outright opposition has appeared to the use of cba in reviewing or formulating environmental regulations. This has major potential implications for regulatory decision-making in future administrations, particularly Democratic ones.

    Most of the opponents of cba have been lawyers; those defending cba have been economists. The debate originally revolved primarily around articles by John Morrall of the Office of Management and Budget and Robert Hahn of the AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Affairs. Both scholars attempted to show that the cost-effectiveness of federal regulations varied greatly. cba opponents have gone beyond disputing Morrall’s and Hahn’s analyses by making much broader arguments that cba has inherent problems, that it is being administered with an anti-environmental bias by omb’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, and that it largely helps only the regulated industries by delaying and weakening new regulations.


  102. Anonymous Avatar

    Basic Economic Principles 1.6

    People choose

    Choices have costs (they may lie in the future)
    Costs: what people have to give up – monetary and non-monetary

    Opportunity Cost: the next best choice that is given up

    All economic decisions involve opportunity costs


    The interaction between buyers and sellers determines the price

    This is how scarce goods and services are allocated – or who gets them.

    Time for an auction!!!


  103. Anonymous Avatar


    Land – paid for by “rent”

    Labor – paid for by “wages”

    Capital – paid for by “interest” (not the same as credit)

    Producers pay rent, wages and interest to individuals (who are also consumers) to add value

    Consumers pay the producers for the finished goods and services


  104. Anonymous Avatar

    Priceless: On Knowing the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing
    Stuart W G Derbyshire, assistant professor
    University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, USA Email:

    "Although Priceless poses an important question, there are serious problems with the proposed solution. Certainly it is ridiculous to ask people what they might pay to avoid a cancer bearing toxin, for example, and then assume that a company can “pay” an amount to disperse that toxin. At the same time, however, it is equally ridiculous to believe that society can function with only positive consequences. People want to be able to travel, communicate, use consumer goods, and have the comfort of running water, electricity, and gas appliances, to name just a few elements of modern existence. A grown up society accepts that these things will inevitably go wrong sometimes and that injuries, even severely destructive and fatal ones, are bound to happen.

    Equally it is understood that all risks, including life threatening ones, cannot be avoided. This is not to accept passivity in the face of danger but to demand realism as to what steps can and should be taken.It is here that Priceless badly fails the reader. In Priceless the “company” is always the bad guy. I liked this theme in the Alien movies but in an academic work it is problematic."


  105. Anonymous Avatar

    "The belief, favoured by Priceless, that the company will always take the cheap and dirty option is just as biased as the belief, favoured by right wing economic groups, that the company can do no wrong. Sometimes a company will ignore a risk it really ought to tackle but sometimes the risk is really much too small and indeterminate to be worth the cost of pursuing. When it comes to carcinogens and toxins, for example, Priceless assumes that there is no safe threshold. This is, of course, untrue as many things that can be toxic in large doses (salt, sugar, and even water) are harmless or beneficial in low doses.

    Priceless urges “precaution in the face of scientific uncertainty,” but the authors needed to attack this idea with the same zeal as they attacked cost-benefit analysis. If they had done so they would have noticed that everything new carries uncertainty and that abiding by the precautionary principle can have negative consequences. "


  106. Anonymous Avatar

    "…books like Priceless that have a jaded view of modern society. Instead of being reassuring, approaches based on precaution, which assume everything to be dangerous unless proven otherwise, encourage needless anxiety and introspection and promote unnecessary, unfounded and unshakable bitterness and cynicism. Rather than taking society forward, such bitterness and cynicism throws society into reverse gear, where, ironically, we are likely to miss real dangers and forgo real opportunities to tackle them."


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