Andrew Dessler Cancels Economists from the Climate Debate
By Robert Bradley Jr.
“In order to solve the climate problem, the first thing we need to do is ignore the economists.” – Andrew Dessler, May 14, 2022
“If you’re pushing fossil fuels at this point, you’re anti-human.” – Dessler, June 28, 2022
Andrew Dessler is the alarmist’s alarmist, joining Michael Mann and others who have declared war not only against fossil fuels but also against anyone who thinks otherwise. The two bring to mind the infamous Joe Romm, who carried the ugly torch back in his heyday.
Dessler is angry. His message of doom-and-gloom is not convincing many outside of the Church of Climate. And his emotions and disrespect work against his (hyped) activism. Consider his sarcastic paraphrase of the IPCC Summary for Policymakers:
Hey assholes. We’ve been telling you for decades that this was going to happen if we didn’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions. You didn’t listen and now it’s all happening. We hope you’re happy. Enjoy the heatwaves, intense rainfall, sea level rise, ocean acidification, and many other things, you fucking morons.
That’s Angry Andy, to whom every negative weather event is due to us and every positive weather event is, well, in spite of us.
Dessler will not debate physical climate science against an able opponent (why not?) as if fundamental questions of natural-versus-manmade warming were settled (they are not). He ignores plant biology (the work of Craig Idso) since that is on the benefit side of CO2 emissions and increasing atmospheric concentrations.
Dessler looks the other way at the profound problems of climate modeling where causality is sub-grid scale, for starters. He tries to cancel the esteemed Steven Koonin whose influential book Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters (2021) explains what Dessler does not want you to know.
Dessler does not understand Economics 101 either. Such concepts as opportunity cost and anticipatory entrepreneurship do not register well in his natural science mind. Energy density? Not part of his thinking. Energy affordability? That’s not an energy crisis.
Andrew Dessler now traffics on the economics and policy sides of the climate debate, far outside of his expertise–and his job as a chair professor in geosciences. (His colleagues in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University must wonder about his agenda and priorities. But with tenure ….. )
Dessler’s latest is … ban the economists! On the one hand, he wants to cancel the “climate deniers” as out of the mainstream. Yet he relies on Stanford University engineer Mark Jacobson, an outlier for sure, to argue that renewables are cheap, reliable, and scalable. (They are not.)
Economists do not give Dessler the answers he so desperately wants, so he dismisses them. Bjorn Lomborg is one critic that wants to cancel. But the list of leading climate economists who cannot find a way to justify pricing carbon dioxide (CO2) anywhere close to Net Zero runs deep. Climate economists, in fact, are important to tone down climate activism, as Bryan Gould recently explained:
Rhetoric about climate change being an “existential threat,” a “crisis,” an “emergency” and even an “extinction-level event” has come, not just from overheated activists, but also from corporate leaders, bankers, bureaucrats, politicians, United Nations officials and more than a few scientists.”
Missing from that list? Economists. If the climate-emergency crowd were right, we should have stopped using fossil fuels and demanded that major producers immediately sequester the stuff underground. Most economists, by contrast, view the climate-change cost of fossil fuel use as a relatively small side effect that should not stand in the way of continued enjoyment of the global benefits of inexpensive and reliable energy.
How do I know? Partly because in 2018 the Nobel Prize committee for economics gave the award to Yale’s William Nordhaus for work on the economics of climate change that showed, among other things, both that aggressive emission reductions were costlier than doing nothing and that the optimal course of action would be to reduce emissions to only slightly below the business-as-usual case. As Robert Murphy and I explained in a study published by the Fraser Institute last year, Nordhaus’ analysis does not support the 1.5°C policy [of CO2 mitigation] or anything close to it….
[M]ainstream climate economists … view carbon dioxide emissions as a global problem, but not a huge one and not one that should cause us to radically alter the role of fossil energy in economic growth and development…. [T]he economic implication is that the optimal response to climate change is to keep using fossil fuels almost as much as if carbon dioxide wasn’t a greenhouse gas.
The way out of this mess begins by getting back to mainstream economics, mainstream science, and the more than occasional exercise of common sense.
Andrew Dessler has a problem, a big one. He is emotionally wed to a cause that is both wrongheaded and futile. He is in denial about the benefits of fossil fuels and CO2 greening, not to mention the benefit side of the human influence on climate. And Andy is mad as the world correctly prioritizes here-and-now problems over future, speculative ones.
Will this activist make mid-course corrections with climate and energy realism in place of exaggeration and alarm? Or will be become more and more shrill, while demeaning and teasing his adversaries who value economic freedom, affordable and reliable energy, and a greener, more productive earth?