Lower long-term prospects

If fewer people do productive work, less gets done. It is a fact so obvious that we sometimes overlook it. According the article, by far the largest thing pulling down potential growth is the smaller size of the potential labor force and those still in the workforce choosing to work fewer hours. So we have high unemployment AND fewer people wanting work.

The economy just is not recovering the way it always has before. The revision of the POTENTIAL GDP is maybe the worst part. That means that even if we do make a "full recovery" we will never catch up to where we would have been. Trends of people working less were in process before the recession, but they got worse or at least were more strongly revealed by the downturn.

So it looks like we may catch up to our lowered expectation by around 2017, but we will never really recover.

Posted by Christine & John at March 9, 2014 5:49 PM
Comments
Comment #377246

Here’s a very interesting video of what is now happening in France.

With the present regime, is the United States already locked into following the same path?


http://www.cbn.com/tv/3255110732001

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 9, 2014 6:57 PM
Comment #377269

We’re on the down slope of a big curve of employment participation that came from the baby boom and from women entering the workforce. We can look at the economy and say we wish GDP would be a certain way and we wish unemployment was a certain level but we can’t stop women from leaving the workforce again and we can’t stop this massive cluster of baby boomers from hitting retirement age. We’re just going to have to invest in the future with education and technology and hope that the decades following these next few start a new boom similar to the last few decades.

Posted by: Adam Ducker at March 10, 2014 10:46 AM
Comment #377270

CJ, is the US suffering from a labor shortage?

Posted by: Warren Porter at March 10, 2014 7:08 PM
Comment #377277

“CJ, is the US suffering from a labor shortage?”

Good question, Warren.

The output gap seems to me to better explained by reduced consumption potential. Consumers just don’t have the purchasing power to consume potential output. The article alludes to this by pointing out that “damage from a housing and financial bust endures longer than the effects of an ordinary recession” then goes on to talk about labor supply. But, what is that damage? Well, it is the damage done by the bust to household balance sheets. A quarter are underwater and the vast majority are significantly impaired.

Why is that important?

Rhinehold, in a prior post, points out the extraordinary explosion of debt in the last few decades by US households. Up to the bust, consumer consumption has been supported by increasing debt enabled by inflated housing values. That is no longer the case. Households are saving and deleveraging from debt not incurring new debt. The deflation in primary household assets (housing) is a very limiting factor on new debt. Accordingly, aggregate demand has slowed down.

In a debt driven monetary and economic system, it is not surprising that an output gap will develop if the consumer of the output is unable to expand their debt and purchasing power. This is particularly true when middle class wages have remained essentially flat for decades.


Posted by: Rich at March 10, 2014 9:21 PM
Comment #377278

Warren

We are suffering a shortage of skilled labor.

Beyond that, more people working creates more value. And as more people are leaving the labor force, others must pick up the slack for them.

Think of it like you and nine friends are doing some work. Two of them decide that they don’t want to work so hard anymore, so they stop. Now you and seven friends are doing the work. Can you accomplish as much? If you still have to pull your weight and theirs, does your income drop?

Posted by: CJ at March 10, 2014 9:23 PM
Comment #377280

“We are suffering a shortage of skilled labor.”

What evidence do you have of that assertion, C&J. When the issue is looked at empirically, there is virtually no evidence of such a shortage.

http://www.epi.org/

Posted by: Rich at March 10, 2014 9:53 PM
Comment #377281

Better link to interesting article on skilled worker shortage.

http://beforeitsnews.com/r2/?url=http://www.epi.org/publication/shortage-skilled-workers/

Posted by: Rich at March 10, 2014 10:02 PM
Comment #377285

It seems the dems in the senate pulled an all night session declaring that MMGW is factual and no further debate is needed. These wise heads simply discard the thousands of scientists who disagree.

Welcome to the flat earth society. No further discussion is needed or welcome.

Now, if only the libs can find a way to make MMGW an election issue they believe they can win. Once again they underestimate the American voter with their hubris.

One merely has to follow the money to know what their game really is.

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 11, 2014 7:52 PM
Comment #377286

“These wise heads simply discard the thousands of scientists who disagree.”

Royal,

I suppose that you could find some scientists who might disagree about global warming or the role of man in that warming. However, they are a distinct minority.

“No scientific body of national or international standing maintains a formal opinion dissenting from any of these main points [warming and man’s contribution]; the last was the American Association of Petroleum Geologists,[10] which in 2007[11] updated its 1999 statement rejecting the likelihood of human influence on recent climate with its current non-committal position.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change

By the way, who is in the new “flat earth society?”

Posted by: Rich at March 11, 2014 8:50 PM
Comment #377287

Rich,

My problem is the notion that the science is ‘settled’ and any questioning is invalid, that doesn’t sit well with the scientist in me…

All science should be questioned and continually questioned, even once a ‘consensus’ has been reached. We had consensuses of black holes, gravity, general theory, etc all to be proven wrong later because scientists, as they should be following the scientific method, should always be questioning the science.

What hurts the current consensus is that they were mostly based on a theory that x amount of carbon leads to y amount of heating, to put it simply. From that they took ice core samples and determined that because there was x amount of carbon, it was y hot, as it were. Then they made computer models based on those calculations and have predicted certain things were going to happen.

And they haven’t. We were supposed to see increased warming for the past 16 years that hasn’t, we leveled off even with the increase in carbon in the atmosphere. They are trying to account for that now, and I’m sure they will find out the reasons, but the simple fact is that the dire predictions that people who are politically motivated by were not correct because they didn’t have all of the data at the time.

There are some things that have been proven and we know with a very high degree of certainty, but there are a lot of other consensuses that we have that aren’t actually proven yet and we have to be careful with assuming that we have proven something we haven’t and damning people question those consensuses.

It’s worse when we use those unproven consensuses as a reason to be politically motivated, especially when that entails curtailing freedoms instead of advancing them. Even more worse when we politically try to use science to shut up any debate that people have on the issue.

Of course, it doesn’t help when people are questioning the science with non-scientific methods, or based on religious beliefs, because you can’t really have those two things going on at the same time. But not all dissent of the current global warming debate is based on a) religion or b) big oil… There are actually smart intelligent people who are questioning the science and understand the unfortunate political atmosphere that exists in today’s scientific community where access to grants and funding are based on your opinions on politically charged scientific viewpoints.

There is little difference between using the inquisition to silence scientific dissent and using funding/political destruction to do the same, other than the physical pain inflicted…

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 11, 2014 10:30 PM
Comment #377288

Rhinehold,

Believe me, I don’t think that the global climate change issue is “settled science” or that the role of fossil fuel is completely understood. As you point out, science is never really settled. It is a constantly evolving process.

The scientific field of climatology is a remarkably young science. The factors effecting climate change are complex and difficult to accurately measure. I very seriously doubt that we have anything more than a rudimentary understanding of the process at this stage of the science.

That said, I think it foolish, though, to dismiss evidence of historically rapid global warming and the reasonable hypotheses linking it to rising co2 levels from massive burning of fossil fuel. That concern demands additional research not political argument.

I don’t know how the science of climatology can be divorced from today’s politics. Sad.

Posted by: Rich at March 11, 2014 11:38 PM
Comment #377291

By the way, who is in the new “flat earth society?”
Posted by: Rich at March 11, 2014 8:50 PM

All the dem senators who concluded that MMGW is fact and that no further debate is necessary. These “flat-earthers” appear to believe that all that can be known is known. For them, all that remains is the authorization of spending huge sums of money to change climate. We don’t know yet what the perfect planet climate is, how long the change will take, and how much it will cost.

What we know from these senators is that they believe climate change is possible if they are allowed to spend enough money, impose enough regulations, and establish some impossible goal as the most important effort by this nation and the world.

These same politicians are the ones who brought us into trillions of dollars of debt, can’t balance a budget, and lie to us at every opportunity.

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 12, 2014 3:08 PM
Comment #377292

I don’t want to be labeled a warming denier, but I still go back to my childhood study of ice ages. Before we talked about global warming, we used to talk about ice ages, not because of anything we did but because the inter-glacial periods, i.e. warm periods between the cold ones, last around 10,000 years. The last ice age ended (or should we say paused) around 10,000 years ago.

We still cannot decide what caused the ice ages or the warming. Climate science is very inexact. But if we are due for an ice age, as history suggests, I would be very happy to confound mother nature’s evil ice box plan by warming things up “unnaturally.”

Posted by: CJ at March 12, 2014 3:08 PM
Comment #377294

Royal,

Please, the Dem senators are only responding to a strong consensus of the scientific community. To call them “flat earthers” is to flip the term on its head.

Posted by: Rich at March 12, 2014 6:44 PM
Comment #377295

Rich, there was a strong consensus of the scientific community at one time that the earth was flat. As more evidence emerged, they changed their minds. As c/j wrote; “We still cannot decide what caused the ice ages or the warming.”

Yet, a few politicians have determined that all that can be known is known. They say now is the time for harsh regulations and much big spending. Who would have guessed?

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 12, 2014 7:04 PM
Comment #377298

We should be good stewards of the planet. We haven’t done quite so good on that as of yet. It would be nice to see some improvement. If we don’t improve we could join a long list of dominant species on this planet that met with extinction.

Long term projections regarding GDP can be tricky. There are several things that cannot be predicted. Advances in technology, new inventions and the human desire to overcome adversity to name a few. And then there are the bad things that can have an affect. Wars, global catastrophes and the climate. Three years into the future is not that far out to predict but even those predictions can be skewed by good and bad occurrences. I’d like to take an optimistic view and say that not only will be good stewards of our planet but we will also prosper by it. Time will tell.

Posted by: Speak4all at March 13, 2014 3:25 PM
Comment #377300

Speaks

Problem is that reasonable people disagree re what it means to be a reasonable steward. For some, it means keeping thing “natural,” even if unsustainable. For others it means sustainable, even if unnatural.

Humans can sometimes do better than nature, which is the basis of our civilization. Some people don’t believe this.

In the long run we are all dead. Humans will become extinct some day. “Nature” will neither mourn nor rejoice because for nature it really doesn’t matter. Humans are the measure of all progress and all sustainability. Before we arrive, nothing and nobody cared. When we are gone, it is likely nothing or nobody will care again.

Posted by: CJ at March 13, 2014 6:20 PM
Comment #377302

Here’s an interesting article…

Will Connecticut Jail 350,000 Once Lawful Gun Owners?


Read more at http://lastresistance.com/5041/will-connecticut-jail-350000-lawful-gun-owners/#ibym81ZqjB8SUKTL.99

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 13, 2014 6:36 PM
Comment #377304
a theory that x amount of carbon leads to y amount of heating

Not true at all. It is extremely well known that the radiative forcing from CO2 is logarithmic (not linear as you imply).

From that they took ice core samples and determined that because there was x amount of carbon, it was y hot, as it were. Then they made computer models based on those calculations and have predicted certain things were going to happen.

For the most part, the computer models are built around our understanding of physics. From quantum mechanics, we can theoretically calculate the greenhouse effect to be expected for CO2 and other gases. With a proper understanding of fluid mechanics and thermodynamics, we can calculate how the Earth transfers heat around the atmospheres and oceans. Because the atmosphere is a chaotic system, there are limitations on our ability to predict the system’s state in the future, but we can still get a good idea.

The purpose of the ice core samples is to verify the quality of the computer models through a process known as hindcasting where the computer is asked to make predictions of past climate. By comparing these predictions with human observations or proxy datasets (such as ice core data), we get to test whether or not the assumptions that went into the model are correct. In nearly every case, climate models do an excellent job replicating past climates in their hindcasts, which is what gives climatologists so much confidence in these model’s ability to accurately forecast future climates.

We were supposed to see increased warming for the past 16 years
Were we? Did the numerical models predict a monotonic rise in annual temperature? Or did the models predict an increase in decadal mean temperatures accompanied by plenty of intradecadal noise? I challenge you to identify a ten year period from before 1998 with warmer global mean temperatures than any ten year period within the last 16 years.

Nevertheless, your larger point is correct. Nothing is ever really settled in science and it is very difficult for climatologists to commit to the level of certainty demanded by politicians. The reality is that there is sufficient evidence to warrant serious action, but nobody knows anything with absolute certainty.

It’s too bad politicians require absurd levels of confidence before they get off their butts to do anything. I’m reminded of the politically oriented NASA administrators who gave the go ahead for the final Challenger launch despite concerns raised by some scientists/engineers about the resiliency of the solid rockets’ O-Rings in subfreezing temperatures. Because the scientists/engineers were not 100% sure the O-rings would fail, their warnings were not heeded.

Posted by: Warren Porter at March 13, 2014 6:54 PM
Comment #377305

Warren, Nice spin of well broadcast justification for all the MMGW nonsense. The earth has been many times much warmer than it is now and somehow has survived with plant and animal life thriving.

Warren writes; “It’s too bad politicians require absurd levels of confidence before they get off their butts to do anything.”

One could only wish that were true, especially in the case of obamacare. obama is falling like a rock in polls and his party is beginning to abandon him. Our brilliant leader wishes obamacare to be his defining legacy. Stupid is as stupid does. How about this latest fiasco…

Administration adds major exemption for ObamaCare individual mandate

“In what might be the death knell for ObamaCare’s most controversial component — the individual mandate to buy insurance — the administration has added a mega-exemption that critics say would allow virtually anybody to skirt the rule.”

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/03/13/administration-adds-major-new-exemption-for-obamacare-individual-mandate/

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 13, 2014 7:13 PM
Comment #377307

Royal,

Come on, “flat earthers” are people who refuse to accept evidence challenging prior beliefs.

Referring to global warming as “nonsense” only reinforces my opinion as to who is in the “flat earther” category.

Posted by: Rich at March 13, 2014 8:06 PM
Comment #377308
Not true at all. It is extremely well known that the radiative forcing from CO2 is logarithmic (not linear as you imply).

As I stated, I was putting it simply for the non-scientific readers. I don’t recall giving the equations for x and y in my statement…

For the most part, the computer models are built around our understanding of physics. From quantum mechanics, we can theoretically calculate the greenhouse effect to be expected for CO2 and other gases. With a proper understanding of fluid mechanics and thermodynamics, we can calculate how the Earth transfers heat around the atmospheres and oceans. Because the atmosphere is a chaotic system, there are limitations on our ability to predict the system’s state in the future, but we can still get a good idea.

Yet, those computer models have been extremely wrong when examined against real numbers, not imaginary numbers based on assumptions that may or may not have been wrong.

The purpose of the ice core samples is to verify the quality of the computer models through a process known as hindcasting where the computer is asked to make predictions of past climate.

And you leave out the important part. We don’t KNOW what the climate was during those times that the core samples were taken, we are guessing. But we used the theory to backcast what the global temperature was based on the assumption of what the carbon amounts meant. It’s like trying to prove god exists by saying god said he was real…

In nearly every case, climate models do an excellent job replicating past climates in their hindcasts, which is what gives climatologists so much confidence in these model’s ability to accurately forecast future climates

Yet those models have been proven wrong repeatedly over the past 15 years.

I’m not saying, at all, that there isn’t warming going on, or there wasn’t a period of warming in the late 90s, but we have been pretty stable since that spike that ended in 1998 and we aren’t seeing the predicted warming that we expected to see. There are obviously other things going on, other forces in play we don’t understand. Yet people who are looking to politicize the issue are still using those outdated and proven wrong predictions, coupled with blatant lies like in an Inconvenient Truth, to make their case of government action that violates civil rights and also using it as a method to distribute funds from 1st world countries to 3rd world countries.

And there are others who are using those wrong predictions to deny that anything is going on at all.

It’s the real problem we get when we introduce politics into the equation of what should be science, especially a science that is still evolving and trying to understand the basics of their science to begin with.

We were supposed to see increased warming for the past 16 years
Were we?

Yes. According to the computer models the warming was supposed to be increasing these past 16 years, not level off and actually decrease a little. You even point out that the effect was logarithmic, not linear… Yet with the increases in carbon we have seen we haven’t seen that increases in global temps.

I challenge you to identify a ten year period from before 1998 with warmer global mean temperatures than any ten year period within the last 16 years.

Given that we only have real data for the past say hundred years, that’s a little hard. It is also irrelevant. We saw a rise in the 90s, it has stabilized. Why? We don’t know, that is what science is there for, to try to figure it out. But to suggest we shouldn’t question the difference in the predictions with the result we have seen seems a bit counter-intuitive to the scientific method, don’t you think?

It’s too bad politicians require absurd levels of confidence before they get off their butts to do anything.

What actions do you suggest? And what would be the unintended consequences of those actions?

Should we be willing to upend our way of life and everything our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents worked hard for without knowing what is going on? If we do act, will it cause the ice age issues we were concerned about in the 70s to become a reality? If we do it too quick, could it cause the forces we don’t know about that are causing the stability the past 16 years to kick in and cause a cooling that we may not be able to prevent, resulting in less areas to cook food and increase our need for heating oils? If warming is such an issue, why do environmentalists prevent us from exercising the one known type of energy that we have that would eliminate nearly all carbon output we have from electricity generation?

That are so many unanswered questions in a lot of these areas that it make little sense to use the power of the government to solve.

However, the good news is that renewable sources of energy are an inevitability. We will solve the issues that makes those methods too costly and inefficient to deploy en masse. We have already seen great strides in those technologies, something we would have been unable to do if we had tried to adopt them too soon and had inadequate methods of driving those discoveries due to a lack of energy and economic output. These do not require governmental policies, because it will makes sense for businesses to adopt these methods once they become economical since it will save everyone money when they get there.

We will get there, it will happen, but not because of governmental action or inaction, but because it will makes sense for the human race to achieve.

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 13, 2014 8:36 PM
Comment #377310

At what temperature will the earth feel comfy and cozy? Is it .2c higher or .2c lower than what it is now? How do we know?

I’ve seen plants grow larger and faster with more co2 in their environment.

How much co2 would we need in the atmosphere to get plants to grow faster and larger? Do we know?

Would we be able to manufacture enough co2 to make plants grow larger and faster? Have we seen an increase in plant growth that corresponds with the manmade increase in co2 in the atmosphere?

Why can’t we relate this global warming hysteria to yelling fire in a theatre and act accordingly?

Posted by: Weary Willie at March 13, 2014 10:34 PM
Comment #377316

CJ
Reasonable disagreement is what has made this nation stronger and more able to adapt to meet the needs of it’s citizens. I see nothing wrong with that and in fact as I have stated before adversarial policies work well for this country when used with reason. How that will play out on a global scale is undetermined as yet.

I might suggest that your position that humans can sometimes do better than nature has a lot to do with what you have learned in your forestry background and the adversity that you have confronted there. But I might suggest that what really is true is that humans would do well to work in conjunction with the nature of our planet or at least with a deep understanding of consequences when dealing with nature. I believe from what I have read about your efforts you seem to take this tack.

We as the dominant species now inhabiting this planet are very different from previous species. We have reason and intelligence combined with ability to learn and apply what we have learned. I am uncertain what the end result will be for humans however extinction, while a distinct possibility, will be dealt with differently than any previous dominant species.

Royal
Forgive me if I again disregard your readings on the pulse of politics and how this relates to President Obama. There is no abandonment from my perspective of our President, there may be some critical thinking applied on some of his decisions but that is normal and good. Your wishful thinking of his failings and inabilities are just that. I know you derive some happiness from feeling this way and I don’t really want to burst your bubble but he has over two years left in office and with Eric Holder and the Democratic leadership’s support we hope he will accomplish a great deal in that time frame. Even if the Senate and House elections in November do not give him the majorities that will assist him, I expect he will still be able to accomplish some of his goals, much to your chagrin. The PPACA is doing just fine but a little bit behind projected enrollments, it’s a done deal and is now being used by millions of citizens. Look I understand your frustrations. All of the made up scandals just haven’t panned out they way you thought they would (BENGHAZI!, Fast and Furious, IRS, his vacations, how much he golfs, Muslim sympathizer, Obamacare, etc. etc.) You have my condolences but you backed the wrong candidate two times in a row and it doesn’t look much better in the future for your political persuasion to attain the highest elected office of this country any time soon.

Rhinehold
I like your optimism that we will get there because it makes sense but perhaps making sense is something governments may some day be able to accomplish again. They have in the past (the American Revolution is one example). And again time will tell.

Posted by: Speak4all at March 14, 2014 10:11 AM
Comment #377327
We don’t KNOW what the climate was during those times that the core samples were taken, we are guessing

The use of proxies (ice cores, tree rings, sediment deposits, etc) to determine prehistoric temperatures is extremely well documented. Not only are all these proxies consistent with one another, but they also agree very well with recorded observations from the past 1.5 centuries. In addition, ice cores trap bubbles of air when the ice first formed, this preserves the historic atmosphere in a pristine state, which enables us to directly measure the concentration of CO2 and other gases.

To equate well-founded scientific theory with “guessing” really undermines the idea that one has any understanding of the scientific method.

But we used the theory to backcast what the global temperature was based on the assumption of what the carbon amounts meant.
The models are built upon our understanding of basic physics (mostly thermodynamics and fluid mechanics). The proxy data sets only come into account when we try to verify those models so this isn’t a circular argument.
Yet those models have been proven wrong repeatedly over the past 15 years.
How? These models aren’t meant to predict temperature on a year to year basis so how in the world could they be wrong in such a short period?
we have been pretty stable since that spike that ended in 1998 and we aren’t seeing the predicted warming that we expected to see. There are obviously other things going on, other forces in play we don’t understand.
The 1998 spike was caused by a large El Nino event that has not been repeated. The climate system is definitely quite noisy and there are a lot of things we don’t understand (especially decadal oscillations such as ENSO or AO). Regardless, the 2000s were warmer than the 1990s, the 1990s were warmer than the 1980s and the 2010s are shaping up to be warmer than the 2000s.
Yes. According to the computer models the warming was supposed to be increasing these past 16 years, not level off and actually decrease a little
Really? Show me one model that depicts a monotonic temperature increase for the entire century.
Why? We don’t know, that is what science is there for, to try to figure it out. But to suggest we shouldn’t question the difference in the predictions with the result we have seen seems a bit counter-intuitive to the scientific method, don’t you think?
So basically your argument is this: our inability to predict interdecadal oscillations of temperature invalidates our ability to make longer range predictions. That’s absolutely absurd. By the same reasoning, I could debunk the theory that our nation’s debt is increasing because the 2011 prediction of the 2013 deficit ended up coming up short.
What actions do you suggest? And what would be the unintended consequences of those actions?
Price carbon appropriately to internalize its external costs.
If we do act, will it cause the ice age issues we were concerned about in the 70s to become a reality?
Only a few silly journalists concerned themselves with ice ages during the 70s. Until we enter another stage in the Milankovitch cycle, ice ages will not be a threat. Also, the rate of cooling associated with a glaciation event will be much smaller so it will be far easier for us to adapt to the changing climate.
could it cause the forces we don’t know about that are causing the stability the past 16 years to kick in and cause a cooling that we may not be able to prevent
The last 16 years have been anything but stable apart from natural variability caused by oscillations such as ENSO. It is true that we don’t understand these oscillations very well, but we are very sure that they are nothing more than noise in comparison to the long term warming trend.
If warming is such an issue, why do environmentalists prevent us from exercising the one known type of energy that we have that would eliminate nearly all carbon output we have from electricity generation?
I’m not responsible for some environmentalists’ illogic.
That are so many unanswered questions in a lot of these areas that it make little sense to use the power of the government to solve.

However, the good news is that renewable sources of energy are an inevitability. We will solve the issues that makes those methods too costly and inefficient to deploy en masse. We have already seen great strides in those technologies, something we would have been unable to do if we had tried to adopt them too soon and had inadequate methods of driving those discoveries due to a lack of energy and economic output. These do not require governmental policies, because it will makes sense for businesses to adopt these methods once they become economical since it will save everyone money when they get there.

I actually agree with you here. However, the absence of government intervention today will definitely lead to far more intervention tomorrow. Many people who benefit the most from today’s emissions will need to be bailed out by others who are not responsible. And I thought you were opposed to moral hazards?

Posted by: Warren Porter at March 14, 2014 11:04 PM
Comment #377329

Warren, I’m going to start by saying that you seem to be debating with me on the theory as if I am saying that global warming isn’t occurring. I am not saying that at all. What I am saying is that there are problems with the science that need to be addressed and questions are good and should be raised. It is the only way to have a better understanding of what is going on. Is the warming a natural trend? Are the temps we were seeing before the result of a cooling trend we are coming out of? What else could be effecting temperatures that we are missing or not in complete understanding of? There are many smart people asking these questions but they are being called ‘deniers’ and shouted down, which is unfortunately something that can happen in science. Five years ago we thought we knew a lot about black holes, but we are learning today that we knew far less than we thought. Some people still hold on to those old views as ‘settled’, but that’s not how science works.

The use of proxies (ice cores, tree rings, sediment deposits, etc) to determine prehistoric temperatures is extremely well documented.

Yes, it is well documented. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t issues with it and that it is NOT an exact science.

Not only are all these proxies consistent with one another, but they also agree very well with recorded observations from the past 1.5 centuries.

Which until recently has been very imprecise.

In addition, ice cores trap bubbles of air when the ice first formed, this preserves the historic atmosphere in a pristine state, which enables us to directly measure the concentration of CO2 and other gases.

Yes, it does. But it meaningless unless we ‘know’ that x amount of CO2 results in a temperature of y. As you say later, there is a lot of noise that gives us problems with doing that. It also requires that the theories be true for those numbers to be true, so using those numbers to back up the theory is problematic. We may be able to be close, perhaps, or there are other things that we aren’t aware of that may have an effect on temperatures. I’ll get to that in a bit.

To equate well-founded scientific theory with “guessing” really undermines the idea that one has any understanding of the scientific method.

I never suggested anything close to “guessing”. You are projecting now. My point is that theories must pass observable standards and as we move along we are starting to see many variations with those predictions that cause people who are not ideologically (or politically) beholden to the theories to question those calculations and seek to find where those errors are introducing themselves so we can have a better understanding.

The models are built upon our understanding of basic physics (mostly thermodynamics and fluid mechanics). The proxy data sets only come into account when we try to verify those models so this isn’t a circular argument.

Thermodynamics is an area I actually know quite a lot about, it was part of my training as a nuclear physicist in the Navy. I admit I am not an ‘expert’, but I have a better understanding of it than most people.

The problem with thermodynamics is that you have to know all of the effects on matter to understand how those effects change the temperatures from one set of matter to another. But that gets very very complex, especially in our environment. There is a difference between a closed system and an open system, are atmosphere is not a closed system, it is open. There are cosmic forces that are being applied to our earth daily that affect our atmosphere that we are just coming to terms with.

It’s kind of like how when people first start learning physics, we are working on problems that start with the line “in a friction-less vacuum…” because when you start adding friction and gravity and other external forces, the math gets a lot harder and the basic concepts become overwhelming for beginners. That is part of the problem in talking about this science with most political people, because they don’t have that background necessary to really understand the issues going on.

Let’s take an example… 200 years ago there were very few large buildings, almost nothing over 10 stories. We just didn’t have the technology. Those were either made with wood or stone. Then we invented ‘steel’ buildings, metal exteriors, etc. All of these things actually effect our environment. Large metal buildings can reflect heat and energy from the sun back into the atmosphere. Large freeways of concrete, large parking lots of asphalt, etc all change how the weather works. I live in Indiana along I-70, and you can see over the years storms moving along the area and following the freeway as it moves, because those large structures create pathways that can actually effect how the pressure systems interact with the earth, many times we will see raging storms that move along one side of the interstate while the other side is clear. This was heavily prevalent during the drought two years ago, people less than a mile from me were seeing substantially larger rainfall amounts than I was, just on the other side of the freeway. I often predict this affect over the past few decades in rain and snow fall, it’s very observable.

These are just a SMALL amount of things we need to take into account when trying to determine what could be causing temperature changes over time in our environment. It’s not just so simple to say modernization of our society has only affected our weather and environment because of the increase in CO2…

We also have to make sure our detection methods are valid. We have found that there are some temperature detection devices in weather stations in use that existed once in a pretty rural area that is now sitting on top of a parking lot in a much more urban area thanks to urban sprawl. There is one close by where I live in fact. And do you think that that detection device would show an increase in temperature than it did 50 years ago, just because of that change in environment? Our use of satellite detection systems are helping with this problem, but it doesn’t help us be as accurate going backwards…

There are many problems that are not getting the appropriate attention because anyone bringing them up are called ‘deniers’ and shunned… :/

How? These models aren’t meant to predict temperature on a year to year basis so how in the world could they be wrong in such a short period.

What is a good period then? When the temps in the early 2000s didn’t match what we saw in the late 90s, we were told by the scientific community and by people like yourself that you can’t do such short ranges, you needed at least 10 years… Now you are saying 16 isn’t enough. How long would you accept?

So basically your argument is this: our inability to predict interdecadal oscillations of temperature invalidates our ability to make longer range predictions. That’s absolutely absurd. By the same reasoning, I could debunk the theory that our nation’s debt is increasing because the 2011 prediction of the 2013 deficit ended up coming up short.

Those predictions of the deficit are flawed as well, because we don’t know all of the external influences that will affect that system. Just like the atmosphere. And no, it isn’t ‘absurd’, that is how science works. If your theory says something is going to happen and it doesn’t happen just as you predict, it is flawed and has to be reconsidered. It doesn’t mean it is was wrong, it just means that there is something missing in the theory that needs to be sorted out.

It’s like when Einstein first tried to prove his Theory of Relativity. He needed to show that light from a star coming towards earth could be ‘bent’. He had to predict the exact amount of bending that would take place based on his theory. So he had to enlist the help of an astronomer who could look at the stars during a solar eclipse. After a few false starts (partly because of a war going on at the time) he got bad news that the numbers were wrong, but then it was discovered that the detection methods were flawed as a second team found that the numbers that they detected matched his theory on the button. The original flaws were discovered and his theory was considered proven.

That is how a theory is ‘proven’. Until then it is just a theory, just as we have with global warming and CO2, it hasn’t been ‘proven’ yet. And when the predictions continually come up wrong, we see are seeing that there are other things at play that must be considered. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the theory is WRONG, it just means that it is incomplete and our understanding of it is not as good as we thought it was.

Price carbon appropriately to internalize its external costs.

And how do you determine those external costs, especially when we don’t know what those costs are going to be? Do we take into account the benefits of a warmer planet and what carbon does for the planet, like increased crops due to the increase of food (carbon dioxide) for the plants to take in? Or the longer growing periods? Is it just the negatives that are calculated? Do you extend those costs back generations?

Without this information, how can you suggest using the force of government to enact policies on people who are just trying to live their lives as best as they can? This all seems very simplistic and, unfortunately, political for my tastes…

Many people who benefit the most from today’s emissions will need to be bailed out by others who are not responsible. And I thought you were opposed to moral hazards?

I am, that is why I don’t understand why we would bail out the people you say we would need to… That would put a moral hazard in place as we have in our economic system, wouldn’t it? Why do you say that will ‘need to be bailed out’? People failing isn’t moral hazard, putting up safety nets to encourage bad behavior is. Who is it that would ‘need to be bailed out’ in this scenario?

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 15, 2014 3:06 AM
Comment #377365

BTW, this is AMAZING technology… We are smart people, we will figure this all out.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=FWwii1dX4v8

“The billboard pictured here is real, it’s located in Lima, Peru, and it produces around 100 liters of water a day (about 26 gallons) from nothing more than humidity, a basic filtration system and a little gravitational ingenuity.”

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