MIT warmist econ prof: ‘Social cost of carbon’ models ‘close to useless’

IER reports:

Robert S. Pindyck is a professor of economics and finance at MIT, with several decades’ experience publishing articles and books dealing with energy. Moreover, as he explains in this interview, Pindyck believes that man-made emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases will impose climate change damages on future generations, and is an advocate of a carbon tax agreement among the major world governments (though he is doubtful such a tax is politically feasible). With a pedigree like that, you might expect Pindyck to be very complimentary about the computer models that the Obama Administration and other policymakers are using to justify the economics of anti-carbon measures. But as it turns out, Pindyck has written a new, peer-reviewed paper (forthcoming in the Journal of Economic Literature) that is absolutely scathing in its critique of such models. In this post I’ll highlight some of his points…

It is this second class of models, the economic/climate hybrids called Integrated Assessment Models, that Pindyck discusses. Pindyck’s paper is titled, “Climate Change Policy: What Do the Models Tell Us?” Here is his shocking answer, contained in the abstract:

Very little. A plethora of integrated assessment models (IAMs) have been constructed and used to estimate the social cost of carbon (SCC) and evaluate alternative abatement policies. These models have crucial flaws that make them close to useless as tools for policy analysis: certain inputs (e.g. the discount rate) are arbitrary, but have huge effects on the SCC estimates the models produce; the models’ descriptions of the impact of climate change are completely ad hoc, with no theoretical or empirical foundation; and the models can tell us nothing about the most important driver of the SCC, the possibility of a catastrophic climate outcome. IAM-based analyses of climate policy create a perception of knowledge and precision, but that perception is illusory and misleading. [Emphasis added.]

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11 thoughts on “MIT warmist econ prof: ‘Social cost of carbon’ models ‘close to useless’”

  1. You don’t need fancy computer models to show that there is no social cost of carbon (dioxide), there is a social benefit of carbon (dioxide).

    Feel free to travel to any one of the many third world hell-holes and compare it to the quality of life in the USA to test my hypothesis.

  2. Y’know, Mr. Bell, the flattery would go down better without the insults to people I like and respect.
    In terms of other venues, I use the same nom de web on a number of conservative sites.

  3. There are also plenty of ways in which humans could be affecting the weather which have nothing to do with a trace gas in the atmosphere. e.g. diverting rivers, moving vegetation around, putting large quantities of “rock” in various places.
    N.B. weather is by definition local and can even be so local that someone could experience different weather just by walking for a short period of time.
    It’s also hard to know what is and isn’t “natural variation” in the first place.

  4. I’d give him a month. (Maybe a week without oxygen or hydrogen.too.)
    If he makes it as far as two years an interplanetary deportation would definitly be called for.

  5. Let’s be a little fair on the terminology. “Social cost of carbon” is a shorthand way of saying, “diffused costs related to the harm that carbon-dioxide-induced weather changes will cause.” It doesn’t refer to carbon generally — as noted, no carbon, no life as we understand it.
    Of course there’s no actual evidence of increased harm from adverse weather events, except that people have put more stuff in the path of weather that’s doing what it always did.

  6. Truly impressive interview. The Social Cost of Carbon? I wonder if this leading scholar would do without Carbon for a couple of years and then tell us about the real social cost.

  7. So the economic models of climate change are every bit as good as the atmospheric models of climate change.

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