Saturday, November 05, 2016

Krugman's Climate Hyperbole

Amidst all the other nutbaggery about this election, it's also made me lose some respect for Paul Krugman.

Sure, he's a Nobel Laureaute in economics, so he doesn't need my opinion. But I used to respect him for, especially, backing up his claims with data -- often from the FRED database. He had a great way of supplying a tidy graph that clearly supported his claims and easily refuted others, and of using toy models to make his points. 

That actually had a real influence on me, several years ago. I started trying to keep close track of the data -- not so much economic, but climate -- in order to know what I though I understood, and being able to back it up. 

But I can't say the same about Krugman anymore. For one thing, he has all but abandoned writing about economics in the last year, instead writing as a clear shill for Hillary. He dismissed Bernie, the clear progressive choice, from the very get-go.
My suspicion, with no supporting evidence, is that Krugman has been promised a place in Hillary's administration, either formally or (more likely) informally, as a deep consultant. He won't admit that, it seems, either way, which to me raises concerns about his objectivity. Even the NY Times doesn't seem to care about his relationships. 'Course, they have been heavily biased for Hillary all along. 

The other day, Krugman said on Bloomberg TV:
“If the Democrats take the Senate, we probably save the planet,” said Krugman, who recently bemoaned the absence of climate-related questions during the president debates. “Climate change has turned out to be an easier issue economically, and an easier issue politically than we thought.”
This is such hyperbolic crap. The U.S. could disappear tomorrow and the world would still have a very serious climate problem from its 35 gigatons of carbon emitted. (The US takes this up to about 40 GtC.)

Obama's Clean Power Plan 

US 2005 CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels were 5.99 Gt CO2. 32% off that leaves emissions of 4.07 Gt CO2 in 2030 -- still huge. 

That reduction of 1.9 Gt CO2 by 2030 is hardly -- hardly -- enough to "save the planet," as Krugman thinks. It's nowhere close. Saving the planet still relies on immense cuts in the future, and ideally before 2030. Maybe it leads to Kumbaya reductions. I doubt it. Actually it's probably too late now anyhow.

Everyone in this presidential campaign is lying, has lied, will lie a again. At this point I just wish to avoid the destruction of America, and even of the world. But I don't see the big picture changing. I am sorry to see Krugman become part of the hyperbole and giving up on being part of the solution. 

Who cares at this point? 



Layzej said...

Mark Morano on the importance of this election: "If Republicans fail to make repealing the EPA rules and the UN treaty as part of their mandate then if the next president supports these (IE Hillary Clinton), skeptics may have lost the war because we would have domestic climate policy, international climate policy and once four years go by, eight years go by, it's going to be as futile as talking about repealing Obama care." -

Although Morano considers it a loss if there is any climate policy. Krugman only really wins if that policy is effective. There's a big gap between the two where everyone loses.

David in Cal said...

Excellent post, David. Many politicians on both sides pretend that fighting climate change is a binary decision -- you have a climate policy or you don't. As you point out, there are many gradations of climate policy. The models inform one on how effective a given policy will be.

Krugman, of all people, surely understands that magnitudes can't be ignored. In fact, Krugman ought to be the ideal person to compare a climate policy's effect on the earth's temperature with its effect on the economy.

TW said...

Krugman was asked after the election, when the stock market had dropped, how long it would take for the market to recover.
He answered, "Never."
The next day, the Dow was up 500 points. The Krugster is a total hack, not just for Hillary.

David Appell said...

TW: I saw that. Krugman obvoiusly isn't a hack, but he had a strong Hillary bias, and like most experts he isn't very prescient outside his discipline.

Toby said...

Krugman got it right on Brexit - he said there would be no short term damage, even as world stock markets were crashing. He was right, as we know, the markets quickly recovered. He has now said the same about Trump's election - the real damage will be in the long term.

We all lose the run of ourselves occasionally, and Nobel Prize Winning Economists are no exception.

I am not sure if Krugman was entirely wrong in his remarks about the US Senate. There is a fear that if the US abandons the Paris Agreement, other countries may consider it an undue burden to let the US free-load. Hopefully not, but if for example the Trump-like Marine Le Pen takes power in France next year, the French will see little to block abandoning both the EU, and (with a very negative symbolism) the climate agreement that was made in its own capital city.