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All bad all the time

08 May 2019 | OP ED Watch

One curious feature of climate alarmism is that if there’s bad weather we’re told it’s because the Earth warmed, as if we know what it would have been like otherwise. But when it’s a nice day it’s never because the Earth warmed and it would have been nasty on a colder planet. This cosmic, dogmatic attribution of everything bad to climate change veers into self-parody, however, when we’re told rising income inequality is also due to climate change. Not climate policy, mind you, which would at least be plausible. Warmer weather.

Model-driven alarmism has, in fact, been parodied, by Dilbert. On May 14, 2017 he had the pointy-haired boss bring in “a climate scientist to explain the risk of climate change to our company.” The guy explains to Dilbert that they feed climate data “into dozens of different climate models and ignore the ones that look wrong to us. Then we take that output and run it through long-term economic models of the sort that have never been right.” When Dilbert responds “What if I don’t trust the economic models?” the scientist asks “Who hired the science denier?”

Some people are immune to satire. Thus a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science began “We find that global warming has very likely exacerbated global economic inequality, including ∼25% increase in population-weighted between-country inequality over the past half century. This increase results from the impact of warming on annual economic growth, which over the course of decades has accumulated robust and substantial declines in economic output in hotter, poorer countries—and increases in many cooler, wealthier countries—relative to a world without anthropogenic warming.”

Perhaps the journalists would not have swooped so eagerly if they’d read that opening paragraph more closely and have realized it attributed increases in growth in many cooler, wealthier countries to warming. Aaaaack. Nothing good is meant to come of warming. If there’s a hurricane it’s because of warming; if it’s warm and sunny it’s not. But the key point is that economic growth and its discontents over the last century or two have almost nothing to do with climate, despite the old Soviet joke that you shouldn’t adopt communism because it causes bad weather to ruin your crops every year for seven decades.

The causes of economic dynamism and income inequality, both within and among nations are extremely complex. They have to do with everything from automation to culture to really really bad policy in much of the Third World for many long sad decades. Try a “counterfactual” scenario where China, India and much of Africa didn’t follow the Soviet model economically and, except in India, politically as well and see how your numbers change.

Or don’t, because as Dilbert creator Scott Adams rightly notes, the economic models are rubbish including the ones that said the Soviet Union was an economic success right up to the point where it collapsed in a cloud of polluted rust. When you feed data from one unreliable model into another unreliable model, you get… published.

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