pageok
pageok
pageok
Climate Protectionism?

Tyler Cowen criticizes the Waxman-Markey bill for imposing tariffs on goods from countries that do not reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. (See also VC contributors linked at the end of this post (and scroll down).) Tyler gives lots of good reasons why trying to punish (say) China would be counterproductive. Clearly, doing so is not costless: we can punish China only at great cost to ourselves in the short term. But the fact is that there is no alternative.

To see why, recall that climate change is a collective action problem. In the most extreme form of the problem, a single nation or a group of nations can do nothing about climate warming, because if they tax emissions (directly or through a cap and trade scheme) industry will simply migrate to other countries and export back to the regulated countries. Costs go up, with no gain for the climate.

In an ideal world, a treaty would be negotiated, one that would require all states (or, at least, all states capable of hosting industry) to reduce emissions. States like China would have to be persuaded that they can't afford to stay out of the treaty. China appears to realize that global greenhouse gas abatement serves its long-term interests, but prefers other countries to pay most of the cost—through financial and technological assistance, which has been its bargaining position so far. But the rest of the world can't afford to pay China to reduce its emissions to an adequate level. Only tough bargaining will ensure that China signs on at reasonable cost for the rest of the world. Note also that any realistic climate treaty would provide for sanctions against states that violate their obligations. Bombing harbors and seizing customs houses having gone out of fashion, these sanctions would almost certainly take the form of trade sanctions.

Many people have criticized Waxman-Markey for putting the cart before the horse. We should first negotiate a climate treaty, and then pass laws implementing its limits. This has been my view but I wonder whether it is too ivory-tower. The administration seems to think that it will not have a credible negotiating position unless it signals that the U.S. is capable of passing a climate bill, even a minimal one that doesn't do much for the climate like Waxman-Markey. The fact that this law imposes costs on the United States while providing no real benefits is consistent with the classic signaling model, with the United States trying to persuade the rest of the world that the public will support climate regulation. If this is true, and it is plausible even if not obviously correct, then unilateral restrictions could be desirable, but they also create a problem by simultaneously weakening the American bargaining position. The U.S. having taken abatement steps, China and others can hold out for even more. This may well be a rationale for threatening to punish states that don't climb onto the climate bandwagon. The U.S. will move first (at least, relative to China, not to Europe) but its threat to disrupt trade relations makes it clear that China will pay a price if it tries to take advantage of the U.S. move by holding out for an even better deal in climate talks.

Then why does the Obama administration say that it opposes the tariff? It may fear that the provision will start a trade war, injure relations with China and other countries, and cause much more mischief at a time of economic fragility. Given everything that is going on, it may be impossible to send a good message about climate without sending a bad message about other forms of international cooperation. Therefore, the messages need to be ambiguous. Maybe this is right, but sooner or later, the United States and other countries will have to make it clear that they are prepared to impose sanctions on states that refuse to take on climate obligations and to comply with them—eve at the risk of ending up at the worst equilibrium in which trade is disrupted and a climate deal is not reached. This is a high-stakes game but there is no clear alternative.

Ken Arromdee:
Then why does the Obama administration say that it opposes the tariff? It may...

Of course, there's always the alternate explanation: people who support such proposals are ideologically opposed to such tariffs regardless of whether they increase the chance of the plan working. And this ideology influences the administration.
6.29.2009 1:33pm
Crunchy Frog:

To see why, recall that climate change is a collective action problem.

Uh, no it's not.
6.29.2009 1:36pm
Dan28 (mail):

The fact that this law imposes costs on the United States while providing no real benefits is consistent with the classic signaling model, with the United States trying to persuade the rest of the world that the public will support climate regulation.

I mostly agree with this post, but one important point that gets overlooked by a lot of critics of this legislation is that we don't live in a system in which the economies of the United States and China develop in isolation from each other. The major hope of the Waxman-Markey bill is that the market signal created by the bill generates innovation into new technologies, and gets new technologies past the hurdle of being able to get from a decent idea to mass market profitability. If we do that here, those technologies are going to be available for export, and are probably going to be attractive to markets in the developing world because (1) they do care about climate change as well, even if they aren't willing to do as much as we might like to stop it, and (2) these new technologies are likely to be more efficient generally, and better for them for the same reason they are better for us - less reliant on imports, less vulnerable to market fluctuations, etc. This bill is meant to generate technology, and just as climate emissions have no borders, technological innovation has no borders.
6.29.2009 1:38pm
Joe The Plumber (mail):
The fact that this law imposes costs on the United States while providing no real benefits is consistent with the classic signaling model,

Neither the President nor the Democratic caucus circus passing this bill are smart enough to think this way.

In an ideal world, a treaty would be negotiated "global warming" would be laughed off the national stage....
6.29.2009 1:40pm
John (mail):
"This is a high-stakes game but there is no clear alternative."

There are lots of alternatives, depending on how threatened you feel about climate change and man's role in it.

Adaptation strategies are probably a lot cheaper. Also, geo-engineering could be pushed--it is probably capable today of making the earth as cold as we want at very little cost.
6.29.2009 1:42pm
Cato The Elder (mail):
The signaling theory hypothesis requires a long causal chain that I really, really, don't want to test.
6.29.2009 2:25pm
Bruce Hayden (mail):
Many people have criticized Waxman-Markey for putting the cart before the horse. We should first negotiate a climate treaty, and then pass laws implementing its limits. This has been my view but I wonder whether it is too ivory-tower. The administration seems to think that it will not have a credible negotiating position unless it signals that the U.S. is capable of passing a climate bill, even a minimal one that doesn't do much for the climate like Waxman-Markey. The fact that this law imposes costs on the United States while providing no real benefits is consistent with the classic signaling model, with the United States trying to persuade the rest of the world that the public will support climate regulation. If this is true, and it is plausible even if not obviously correct, then unilateral restrictions could be desirable, but they also create a problem by simultaneously weakening the American bargaining position. The U.S. having taken abatement steps, China and others can hold out for even more. This may well be a rationale for threatening to punish states that don't climb onto the climate bandwagon. The U.S. will move first (at least, relative to China, not to Europe) but its threat to disrupt trade relations makes it clear that China will pay a price if it tries to take advantage of the U.S. move by holding out for an even better deal in climate talks.
I think it insanely naive. I think that China has shown, over the recent past, that it respects strength, and takes advantage of weakness. Here, we are signaling weakness in the form of giving away any advantage we might have over them economically.

Also, keep in mind that China has a big stick to hold over us, in case we were to try to do anything with trade to enforce this - they are holding a lot of our debt, and we are expecting them to buy a lot more of it. For that reason, I suspect that they know that we cannot make any credible threats economically to enforce any sort of climate abatement on their part.
6.29.2009 2:28pm
Allan Walstad (mail):

...recall that climate change is a collective action problem...

Climate change is and has been a reality throughout human existence on this planet and long before. Even assuming that human release of carbon dioxide is what caused the sharp apparent global warming that leveled off a few years ago, and even assuming monumental reductions in emissions, any putative reduction in the putative high temperatures to come will not be realized for some time--when, if humans haven't stupidly stunt their economic development in the meantime, they will likely be in a much better position to adapt or effect changes.
6.29.2009 2:35pm
Abdul Abulbul Amir (mail):

...we can punish China only at great cost to ourselves in the short term. But the fact is that there is no alternative.


The alternative is obvious. Skip the "punishment" and the harm to ourselves. Just because you have pointed the gun at your own foot does not mean you must pull the trigger.
6.29.2009 2:44pm
Dan28 (mail):

Also, keep in mind that China has a big stick to hold over us, in case we were to try to do anything with trade to enforce this - they are holding a lot of our debt, and we are expecting them to buy a lot more of it. For that reason, I suspect that they know that we cannot make any credible threats economically to enforce any sort of climate abatement on their part.

The central focus of their economy is built on exporting goods to U.S. markets. Our leverage over them >>> their leverage over us.
6.29.2009 2:45pm
frankcross (mail):
I don't understand the last two sentences. I would think they make quite the case against tariffs. The only rational basis for tariffs would be a belief that foreign nations would take aggressive action in response to the threatened tariffs. Yet what is the evidence for this?
6.29.2009 2:55pm
Goliath of Gath:
If you truly believed that man causes a significant percentage (majority) of the warming, er changing, climate and that enacting punitive measures on your own country could have a measurable effect on that global issue, why enact the monstrosity that is Pignose/Markey? It's not to save the planet. A straight carbon tax would accomplish that.

This bill is another D.C. game of hide the sausage. The rent-seekers with dollars to spend will carve out their preferences, just like we do with the tax code. Those who like the tax code the way it is will love the new game of avoiding the climate surcharge. The rest get screwed.
6.29.2009 2:59pm
Gabriel McCall (mail):
there is no clear alternative.

There are plenty of clear alternatives, such as, well, not doing any of this stuff. Your post assumes as given that global carbon emissions must be reduced. This is a non-trivial assumption. There is still legitimate controversy over whether anthropogenic global warming is happening at all. Even if it is, there is legitimate controversy over how dangerous it will be, or even whether or not it is undesirable at all.

Planning to impose massive changes on global industrial society based on such uncertain data and weak science is pure hubris.
6.29.2009 3:01pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
<i>In an ideal world, a treaty would be negotiated "global warming" would be laughed off the national stage....</i>

You know, it's unfortunate that in America (and America alone among Western democracies), liberals have to take on the exclusive burden of saving the planet because so many conservatives would rather wallow in their ignorance about the global warming problem.

But at least someone's being responsible.
6.29.2009 3:05pm
Gabriel McCall (mail):
The central focus of their economy is built on exporting goods to U.S. markets. Our leverage over them >>> their leverage over us.


The central focus of their economy is built on exporting goods to U.S. markets, getting dollars back, stockpiling those dollars, and watching them be inflated to worthlessness. If they start shipping those export goods to their own consumers, their national standard living goes up sharply and they lose nothing except a bigger pile of inflating dollars which they weren't doing anything with anyway. Where's our leverage again?
6.29.2009 3:05pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
This is a non-trivial assumption. There is still legitimate controversy over whether anthropogenic global warming is happening at all.

No, there isn't. The conservative movement's decision to endorse flat dishonesty for ideological and corporate purposes is not the same as a legitimate controversy.

As I said, thankfully, liberals are here to save conservatives from their deliberate strategy of ignorance.
6.29.2009 3:06pm
Joe The Plumber (mail):
You know, it's unfortunate that in America (and America alone among Western democracies), liberals have to take on the exclusive burden of saving the planet

Thank you for proving that modern "liberals" can no longer be parodied.
6.29.2009 3:17pm
blcjr (mail):
This is a non-trivial assumption. There is still legitimate controversy over whether anthropogenic global warming is happening at all.

No, there isn't. The conservative movement's decision to endorse flat dishonesty for ideological and corporate purposes is not the same as a legitimate controversy.


Then let's put it differently. While there may be no legitimate controversy over whether anthropogenic global warming is happening "at all," there IS legitimate controversy over whether AGW is causing adverse climate impacts that require the kind of drastic limits on CO2 emissions that the Waxman-Markey bill contemplates. The science isn't "settled," and anyone who says so is either dishonest, or mistaken.
6.29.2009 3:19pm
Joe The Plumber (mail):
because so many conservatives would rather wallow in their ignorance about the global warming problem

Except you can't prove this event is actually happening (which is why people like Hansen feed false data into rigged models) nor can you define the "problem" and it's requisite effects.

Otherwise, you're doing a bang up job of "saving" the planet.


No, there isn't

Stamp your feet louder. It helps.
I promise.
6.29.2009 3:19pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Joe:

It's not persuasive to put "liberal" in scare quotes. It just makes you look like a jerk who won't accord your ideological opponents even minimal respect.

Perhaps you might consider enrolling in a local community college writing course and picking up some tips on how to actually construct an argument. While you are at it, you could take a course on the climate.
6.29.2009 3:20pm
Joe The Plumber (mail):
As I said, thankfully, liberals are here to save conservatives from their deliberate strategy of ignorance.

What is most comical about this drivel is that even this post admits the Waxman bill does nothing to address this "problem" you shamefully and dishonestly keep insisting is happening.

No, there isn't

The world's foremost expert on hurricanes disagrees with you,


Global warming is a hoax.

"I am of the opinion that this is one of the greatest hoaxes ever perpetrated on the American people," he says when I visit him in his office on a sunny spring afternoon.

He has testified about this to the United States Senate. He has written magazine articles, given speeches, done everything he could to get the message out. His scientific position relies heavily on what is known as the Argument From Authority. He's the authority.

"I've been in meteorology over 50 years. I've worked damn hard, and I've been around. My feeling is some of us older guys who've been around have not been asked about this. It's sort of a baby boomer, yuppie thing."

Gray believes in the obs. The observations. Direct measurements. Numerical models can't be trusted. Equation pushers with fancy computers aren't the equals of scientists who fly into hurricanes.

"Few people know what I know. I've been in the tropics, I've flown in airplanes into storms. I've done studies of convection, cloud clusters and how the moist process works. I don't think anybody in the world understands how the atmosphere functions better than me."

In just three, five, maybe eight years, he says, the world will begin to cool again.


Don't worry, you still have your liberal sensibilities to cling to.
6.29.2009 3:22pm
Joe The Plumber (mail):
It's not persuasive to put "liberal" in scare quotes. It just makes you look like a jerk who won't accord your ideological opponents even minimal respect.

It is in quotes because you are not "liberal" by any standard measure.
6.29.2009 3:24pm
Joe The Plumber (mail):
Perhaps you might consider enrolling in a local community college writing course and picking up some tips on how to actually construct an argument

Mind you, from the author of:

it's unfortunate that in America (and America alone among Western democracies), liberals have to take on the exclusive burden of saving the planet


Boy, that is some argument construction there!!
Wooooooweeeee!

Again, parodying people like you really is no longer possible.
6.29.2009 3:26pm
Joe The Plumber (mail):
While you are at it, you could take a course on the climate

Laugh out loud funny.
6.29.2009 3:28pm
NickM (mail) (www):
China will likely happily sign on to a treaty that calls for emission reductions, and then proceed to violate it and lie, with official reports attesting to the reductions having taken place.
It's their modus operandi on every other international regulation applicable to their exports. [See, e.g., melamine in pet food, seafood labelled as bicycle parts on the containers, faux fur that's actually dog hair, digital photo frames containing Trojan horses.]

Nick
6.29.2009 3:28pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
It is in quotes because you are not "liberal" by any standard measure.

Right wingers don't get to determine what the standard measure of a liberal is.

As I said, refusing to call liberals liberals is something that isn't persuasive. The fact that you think it is indicates that you could use some remedial writing instruction. May I suggest you enroll in a local GED course.

Certain rhetorical tics basically define someone as an imbecile. You should avoid this for that reason alone, even if you don't really think I am a liberal.
6.29.2009 3:29pm
AnthonyJ (mail):
Given any thesis, you can find a scientist willing to disagree with it. That doesn't mean that the scientist who disagrees is correct. In this case, it appears that Gray is a dinosaur -- it's seriously nutty to not consider computer models to be useful. It's reasonable to criticize the details of models, but there's no rational argument for computer modeling being useless.

Anyway, this aspect of the argument doesn't really matter. The "Global Warming Doesn't Exist" argument isn't going to convince anyone who doesn't already agree with you, whereas a "this method doesn't work" argument has a chance.
6.29.2009 3:33pm
Joe The Plumber (mail):
liberals have to take on the exclusive burden of saving the planet

Oh, really?

These companies may be operating with the best will in the world, but they are doing so in settings where it's not really clear you can monitor and enforce their projects over time," said Steve Rayner, a senior professor at Oxford and a member of a group working on reducing greenhouse gases for the International Panel on Climate Change. "What these companies are allowing people to do is carry on with their current behavior with a clear conscience."

Some carbon-offset firms have begun to acknowledge that certain investments like tree-planting may be ineffective, and they are shifting their focus to what they say is reliable activity, like wind turbines, cleaner burning stoves, or buying up credits that otherwise would allow companies to pollute.


It isn't about facts it is about feelings...
6.29.2009 3:35pm
Toby:
Dilan, I fear your definition of liberal must be as precise and developed and exclusionary as it is of feminisim.

Pray, define the classic tenets of liberalism. You can follow up with a statement about how how academics no longer define it that way, and in fact, never did. Then you may define it for us.

My toes are curled waiting.
6.29.2009 3:37pm
Joe The Plumber (mail):
As I said, refusing to call liberals liberals is something that isn't persuasive.

I'm not trying to be "persuasive" with you, clown.

Right wingers don't get to determine what the standard measure of a liberal is.

Um, who said that?
Answer: Nobody.

Further, you do understand there a definition to that term, don't you, clown? You can grasp the elemental fact what you believe does not fall into that defintion?
It appears not...
6.29.2009 3:37pm
Joe The Plumber (mail):
In this case, it appears that Gray is a dinosaur -- it's seriously nutty to not consider computer models to be useful

Funny stuff.

Um, that was in 2006 and he said "In just three, five, maybe eight years, he says, the world will begin to cool again. "

and he is 100%, without a doubt, correct.

And he didn't need a model. Go figure..
6.29.2009 3:38pm
Joe The Plumber (mail):
I greatly enjoy this "saving the planet" liberal activism:


Carbon offsets are essentially promises to use money in a way that will reduce carbon emissions. Panelists at the F.T.C.'s session on Tuesday raised a number of questions about certifications behind the claims, wondering if the offset companies might be double-counting carbon reductions that would have happened even without their efforts.

There is even disagreement over how much carbon dioxide can be neutralized by tree-planting, which is the type of offset that is easiest to grasp.


Don't worry, Henry Waxman and Dilan are going to save the planet!!!
6.29.2009 3:43pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Dilan, I fear your definition of liberal must be as precise and developed and exclusionary as it is of feminisim.

It's not exclusionary at all. "Classical liberals" is a perfectly good description of certain types of libertarians.

It is the RIGHT wing that is being exclusionary. They don't want to call modern mainstream Democratic Party-type Rawlsian political liberals, who have been called "liberals" in American discourse for at least 70 years, liberal.
6.29.2009 3:44pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I'm not trying to be "persuasive" with you, clown.

That's good, because you haven't yet shown the persuasive powers necessary to persuade a dog to bark.
6.29.2009 3:44pm
Joe The Plumber (mail):
That's good, because you haven't yet shown the persuasive powers necessary to persuade a dog to bark.

Mind you, from the author of:


No, there isn't


You have no sense of self-awareness or irony.

Keep going, this is hysterical to watch.
6.29.2009 3:46pm
Joe The Plumber (mail):
They don't want to call modern mainstream Democratic Party-type Rawlsian political liberals, who have been called "liberals" in American discourse for at least 70 years, liberal.

Of course people with actual brains realize that Democrats like FDR, Truman, JFK, and Johnson believe different things than people like Obama, Pelosi, and Waxman.

You, on the other hand, take the "wave my arms and make silly assertions" approach.

And there is a reason for that.
6.29.2009 3:48pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Of course people with actual brains realize that Democrats like FDR, Truman, JFK, and Johnson believe different things than people like Obama, Pelosi, and Waxman.

Barry Goldwater believed different things than George W. Bush. Are they both not "conservatives"?
6.29.2009 3:49pm
Joe The Plumber (mail):
That's good, because you haven't yet shown the persuasive powers necessary to persuade a dog to bark.

Keep projecting.

Please.
6.29.2009 3:50pm
Tom B (www):
Some people have already covered some of what I was going to say before I lost Internet connectivity for a bit, but here it is anyway:

Alternative to W-M #1: same bill but wait until the economic downturn is over.
Alternative #2: pass W-M without tariffs, thereby leaving China alone for a decade or two, like Europe did with the U.S. and Kyoto.
Alternative #3: do nothing.

Reason not to support a tariff #1: enacting tariffs that could lead to a trade war during a severe economic downturn are a bad idea. See Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act and Great Depression.

Reason not to support a tariff #2: tariffs will anger China, who buys and holds lots of U.S. treasuries. We are running huge deficits, and inexplicably, Congress desires to continue doing so. It would be a good idea not to tick off China.


I happen to think global warming is inevitable, even if there was no human affect on the climate. And I also think that the cost of climate action vastly outweighs the benefit - it would be better to combat more certain problems like hunger, disease, poverty, etc. But why do so many global warming related posts inevitably degrade into an argument over global warming itself? It is like arguing over religion - no one is going to be convinced. It is also like masturbating: sure you can waste 10 minutes on it, and it might make you feel good, but it is ultimately a pointless exercise.
6.29.2009 3:57pm
Dan28 (mail):

The central focus of their economy is built on exporting goods to U.S. markets, getting dollars back, stockpiling those dollars, and watching them be inflated to worthlessness. If they start shipping those export goods to their own consumers, their national standard living goes up sharply and they lose nothing except a bigger pile of inflating dollars which they weren't doing anything with anyway. Where's our leverage again?

What does this even mean? Do you understand that the United States is currently in our third consecutive month of DEflation? That we have a $800 billion trade imbalance with China in their favor? That China's domestic market isn't anywhere close to being able to pick up the slack for a fall in U.S. imports? That the fall in exports to the US caused by the recession is currently having much more devastating impacts on China's economy than on the US?
6.29.2009 3:58pm
Thales (mail) (www):
Professor Posner has perhaps not been with the blog long enough to realize that posts about climate policy bring denialist cranks out of the woodwork in the comments section. Yes, there is a handful of legitimate scientists not in the pay of the fossil fuel industry that dispute that human-caused climate change is a) occurring and b) a serious problem requiring collective, global political action. But that's it.

Serious and interesting discussions in this space are over a) what combination of approaches, political and technological, will best address the problem (making roofs of buildings more reflective and making buildings more energy efficient would actually do a great deal to offset greenhouse gases for a trivial cost), b) how much they will cost (probably more than policy makers are letting on, but of course these costs must be compared to the costs of inaction) c) who should and will bear the expense (yes, consumers will pay a lot of this, and will have to adjust their lifestyles). The initials "AGW" and the word "controversy" in this context are generally signals that the utterer does not deserve to be taken seriously, any more than the handful of people in the 1960s claiming there was no link between cigarette smoking and cancer. Unless it is Freeman Dyson, and then only out of respect for his vast intellect.
6.29.2009 4:02pm
Joe The Plumber (mail):
Are they both not "conservatives"?

Dilan,
I would argue Bush was not a conservative by any standard measure. He grew the government massively.

Just as I would say people like you are not "liberal" - at every turn you favor more government, regulation, and governmental interference into the lives of citizens. There is nothing liberal - "liberty" has little to nothing to do with your beliefs - about that.
6.29.2009 4:09pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Joe, you can argue whatever you want. But that doesn't change the accepted meanings of the terms.

You are not language czar, and you don't get to define what "liberal" and "conservative" mean in modern discourse.

In the context of that discourse, Bush is a conservative and I am a liberal. (And note, that's a linguistic point completely separate from whatever legitimate substantive complaints you may have about Bush's presidency.)
6.29.2009 4:11pm
Joe The Plumber (mail):
bring denialist cranks out of the woodwork in the comments section. Yes, there is a handful of legitimate scientists not in the pay of the fossil fuel industry that dispute that human-caused climate change is a) occurring and b) a serious problem requiring collective, global political action. But that's it.

Yet these "ligitmate" scientists are not "denalist cranks"?

Go figure!

Your post is even more laughable than the "save the planent" nonsense Dilan continues to author.
6.29.2009 4:12pm
Joe The Plumber (mail):
I love this:



You are not language czar, and you don't get to define what "liberal" and "conservative" mean in modern discourse.

In the context of that discourse, Bush is a conservative and I am a liberal.



Don't worry, you don't get it.

I suggest you consult a dictionary for step 1.

Though I have my doubts you can grasp what is going on here...
6.29.2009 4:13pm
Joe The Plumber (mail):
But that doesn't change the accepted meanings of the terms.

And here I thought the "accepted" meaning of the terms would be the actual definitions.

Nope, not in the "reality based community"!
6.29.2009 4:14pm
Joe The Plumber (mail):
In the context of that discourse, Bush is a conservative

Mind you, from the author of:

Right wingers don't get to determine what the standard measure of a liberal is.


Don't worry, you don't get it.
6.29.2009 4:16pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Joe, if people have referred to folks with my general set of political beliefs as "liberals" for 70 years, that counts as accepted usage.

You are being dishonest here (not surprising, for you are also dishonest on global warming). You don't like an accepted usage of a word, so you are pretending that this accepted usage doesn't exist.

But here's a hint-- if 100 million people use a word a certain way and Joe the Plumber says it's wrong, that means Joe is wrong, not the 100 million. But as I said-- you know that; you are just being a lying dishonest hack.
6.29.2009 4:17pm
Joe The Plumber (mail):
You don't like an accepted usage of a word, so you are pretending that this accepted usage doesn't exist.

Um, no. I'm saying the accepted usage is wrong.

Again, nothing you believe has anything to do with actual liberalism. Nothing. Not 1 thing.

In fact, people like you proclaiming themselves "liberal" is downright Orwellian.

if 100 million people use a word a certain way and Joe the Plumber says it's wrong, that means Joe is wrong

And if 100 million people said 2+2=5, you'd merrily agree because they say so, right?
6.29.2009 4:33pm
Mark Buehner (mail):

Yes, there is a handful of legitimate scientists not in the pay of the fossil fuel industry that dispute that human-caused climate change is a) occurring and b) a serious problem requiring collective, global political action. But that's it.

Define a handful. Heartland Foundation compiled a list of 500 scientists who's work contradicts the catastrophic theory of AGW.

Regardless- even if there is only one, if they have legitimate points that makes it a dialog, not a lecture, right? Or is this a popularity contest? I was under the impression that science consisted of testing hypothesis, not a show of hands.
6.29.2009 4:33pm
John T. (mail):
The only reason there's such a strong concern for tariffs is because this tax is put on producers. If the tax were levied on consumers at the time of purchase, there would be little need for a separate tariff.
6.29.2009 4:35pm
mcbain:
Forgive me for asking, what would happen if we did nothing about global warming, and why would those events be bad for America?
6.29.2009 4:48pm
John T. (mail):
Consider, for example, the difference between taxing gasoline at the pump, and taxing US producers of gasoline.
6.29.2009 4:54pm
Joe The Plumber (mail):
Dilan,
you liberals sure have a funny way of "saving the planet" See, you're here on a computer typing multiple posts trying to convince me you're a liberal and I'm "dishonest." You do know that said computer users power, correct? You do understand the power you're using is a result of oil or coal, right? You do understand that according to your global warming theory, that oil and coal cause the globe to warm?

So if you are indeed busy saving the planet, you may want to power down the PC...
6.29.2009 5:26pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Joe:

That's just silly. Preventing global warming is a collective activity-- there's nothing wrong with limiting one's own consumption, which is good for a number of reasons, but the only way to deal with global warming is to change policies.

Keep making unserious arguments, Joe. It befits your unserious position.
6.29.2009 6:02pm
Mark Buehner (mail):
Take that argument to its logical conclusion- there's nothing wrong with limiting American consumption, but the only way to deal with global warming is globally. So when China and India decides to tank their economies, then we should jump on board, and not before any more than Al Gore should stop using 60x the energy of the average American.
6.29.2009 6:11pm
AnthonyJ (mail):
First of all, many of the lists of 'scientists opposed to global warming' are bogus, in that they include people who are not scientists and/or people who don't disagree with the general thesis of global warming (disagreement on details is common but not terribly relevant to the overall dispute). Secondly, 500 is in fact a small minority.
6.29.2009 6:17pm
wfjag:

mcbain:
Forgive me for asking, what would happen if we did nothing about global warming, and why would those events be bad for America?

That's what we did -- nothing, or at least no ratification of Kyoto and permitting skepticism (later called "denialism" to associate the rhetoric with Holocaust Denialism -- and the result is that about 10 years ago, the average global temp started going down, while CO2 continued to rise.

However, you are not allowed to talk about such things. See Cnet news, E-mails indicate EPA suppressed report skeptical of global warming by Declan McCullagh, June 27, 2009 11:10 AM PDT
http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-10274412-38.html

and sources and documents linked within the article.
6.29.2009 6:33pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Take that argument to its logical conclusion- there's nothing wrong with limiting American consumption, but the only way to deal with global warming is globally.

Obviously, the author of this didn't read Eric Posner's original post, which persuasively addresses and rebuts this argument.

But more generally, I should also observe that it's a plain stupid point even if there weren't a "signalling" issue, because obviously one of the largest economies in the world has a lot more influence on the climate than one individual does.

But as I said, conservatives are being deliberately ignorant and unserious on this issue.
6.29.2009 6:36pm
Thales (mail) (www):
"I was under the impression that science consisted of testing hypothesis, not a show of hands."

Of course, but the thing is, in cases involving statistics, complex systems, modeling, forecasting etc. there will always be a good faith hand or two (in this case there are many more bad faith ones). We do have (by leagues) enough of consensus on a theory about the causes and severity of the problem to justify policy action, which of course can be refined as time goes on. What the best and most current evidence disturbingly shows is that we have been *under*estimating the rate and severity of warming. We needn't all panic, but we also need to do something rather than nothing and do it in good faith and in rational apprehension of the best available evidence. People that have a vested financial interest in obscuring facts should not get a seat at the policy making table, or at least not the prominent one they have purchased so far.
6.29.2009 7:23pm
josil (mail):
"People that have a vested financial interest in obscuring facts should not get a seat at the policy making table, or at least not the prominent one they have purchased so far."
Nor should people who have a vested ideological interest in obscuring facts. Of course, the latter seem to insist that all scientific disputants are denialists, an accusation that saves the time and effort involved in testing hypothesis and developing evidence.
6.29.2009 7:54pm
rosetta's stones:
Well, kids, although the old saying is that corn fields should be "knee high by the 4th of July", I find that in most years, the corn is generally at shoulder level by July 4th. However, I was just driving around here in SE Michigan, and the corn is not even at knee level, on June 29th. Some of it's just past ankle level.

And the Traverse City Cherry Festival will be taking place around July 4th, but unfortunately, there won't be any cherries available, as they haven't ripened.

So whattaya know. It does appear that the planet is cooling, not warming. CO2 supposedly rising, and temperatures falling... that doesn't appear to fit the alarmists model, does it? Or maybe it's just cooling here, and heating up everywhere else.

Good luck selling those bogus climate models. Don't look now, but the public is now recognizing them to be bogus. They sorta pay attention to the things mentioned above... they're kinds funny that way. Maybe the alarmists should start paying attention to those things as well.

But then, how would they make cash off the scare, if they didn't stay alarmed?
6.29.2009 8:05pm
Brooks Lyman (mail):
This, as someone pointed out, is hilarious. Unfortunately, if this bill becomes law, we all pay the price in higher fuel costs, so the joke becomes a bit sour. A few hucksters such as Al Gore will make out like bandits, trading in carbon offsets, the rest of us get skrood.

In the meantime, back in the real world, for the last ten years, global temperatures have remained steady or decreased. Now, let's admit that there's a lot more to the Earth's temperature than some CO2 generated by human beings, and that it's possible that we are in a global warming cycle, with the last ten years just a brief hiatus in the warming trend. Nonetheless, isn't it a bit rash to commit unilateral national economic before we have some real facts instead of computer climate models which any honest climatologist will admit are a long ways from comprehensive?
6.29.2009 8:18pm
Nunzio:
What effect has the Great Recession we are in had on C02 emissions?

I agree with the commenter who said that China will sign on to something, certify its compliance, and then not comply.

We also need China's help with North Korea so I'm not surprised the administration is against the tariff.
6.29.2009 9:33pm
Mark Buehner (mail):

What the best and most current evidence disturbingly shows is that we have been *under*estimating the rate and severity of warming.


Oh? How does that jive with global temps stagnant or dropping in the last 10 years? Perhaps you mean the MODELS are becoming more severe... because they are programmed to be. The fact that the earth stopped warming in the late 90s is somehow used as evidence that we are overdue for even more warming. Possible, certainly, but why is it not brought up as possible evidence that AGW is overblown? Occam's razor?
6.29.2009 10:32pm
Mark Buehner (mail):

But more generally, I should also observe that it's a plain stupid point even if there weren't a "signalling" issue, because obviously one of the largest economies in the world has a lot more influence on the climate than one individual does.


Fine- but Al Gore and his Hollywood buddies are certainly a powerful 'signalling' in American culture. How about allowing of private jets (or taxing them to death, as seems the favored route these days)? That would have a non-trivial impact on CO2 emissions and send a strong message. I think we all know- cuz the elites wouldn't stand for it. All of this nonsense is fun if makes for a good cocktail fundraiser, but lets not get carried away and actually impact Nancy Pelosi or Alec Baldwin's lifestyle. I'll believe Al Gore is really panicked about GW when he rants and raves for Nuclear Power, the simplest, most proven, and most effective way to eliminate a huge amount of coal immediately. Crickets....
6.29.2009 10:39pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Fine- but Al Gore and his Hollywood buddies are certainly a powerful 'signalling' in American culture. How about allowing of private jets (or taxing them to death, as seems the favored route these days)?

You think you are making a brilliant, clever point, but the cost of carbon permits will definitely be passed on to any limousine liberals who decide to fly private jets. Those folks are calling on themselves to sacrifice along with everyone else.
6.30.2009 12:16am
John Moore (www):
Thales (mail) (www):

We do have (by leagues) enough of consensus on a theory about the causes and severity of the problem to justify policy action, which of course can be refined as time goes on. What the best and most current evidence disturbingly shows is that we have been *under*estimating the rate and severity of warming.


Oh, please. We have no such evidence. Quite the opposite - the current cool phase is in direct contradiction to ALL of the models used by the IPCC.

Furthermore, the models themselves have serious difficulties, and cannot be tested at all. These difficulties include:

1) Extremely low temporal and spatial resolution compared to the phenomena being modeled

2) Great difficulties in calibration, including

... poor paleo-climatic data (especially visible when "reputable" scientists like Hansen finally let people actually look at their raw data).

...no real-world CO2 conditions under which the parameterizations can be tested

3) a fundamental problem with the approach: chaos. Chaos sharply limits the forecast span of even the best models, and with mathematical certainty prevents forecasting significantly into the future (say, past 30 days for weather). Current GCM's, when used for weather, are rarely useful beyond 5 days (although ensembles are *sometimes* useful out to 10 or 15). Climate GCM's suffer from the same problem.

4) the amount of positive feedback in the climate sensitivity. The "greenhouse effect" causes only 1.2 C temperature rise for each doubling of CO2 (it is logarithmic). This produces so little warming by itself that it oculd not be measured over the next century. Hence all alarming forecasts assume substantial positive feedback. However, climate history indicates that generally the climate feedback is negative - which is hardly surprising, since otherwise other variations would have sent the climate to the rails and we wouldn't be here.

On top of this, the politicization of science has caused most skeptics to be shut out of the research funding and publication. This is why most skeptics are "fossils" (i.e, the most experienced and often wisest) - they are old enough that their career and funding is not put at risk by stating their views. The number of senior scientists who have come out strongly against AGW-driven policies, and the "science" behind it, is dramatic and growing every day. This includes people like the founder of the field of climatology, and "Mr. Hurricane" (Bill Gray).

[Note: AGW is shorthand for anthropogenic global warming, which is NOT a term invented by or exclusive to skeptics]
6.30.2009 12:16am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Svante Arrhenius was the first to quantify the greenhouse gas effect in his 1856 paper On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air upon the Temperature of the Ground. You can read the original here. He got about 5 degrees C for a doubling of the atmospheric CO2 concentration. The IPCC range range of predictions is 1.5C to 5C. Arrhenius got pretty close to the modern number working alone without computers and without massive government funding in the middle of the 19th century. Pretty impressive. But he was a real scientist. Another thing to bear in mind is that the range of predictions for a CO2 doubling has remained unchanged for the last 20 years. That means we have not made any real problems in understanding the feedbacks, which are mainly the cloud physics. I for one don't have enough confidence in AGW at this point to justify damaging the economy.
6.30.2009 1:13am
Ricardo (mail):
John Moore,

On the one hand you say the climate is a chaotic system, an assertion that is almost certainly correct. You then go on to say that "climate history" suggests the climate is characterized by negative feedback loops. This claim contradicts the first and is probably false. A negative feedback loop tends to produce a stable equilibrium, not the chaotic behavior we observe in the climate.

Climate history in fact shows big swings in the climate over time, as some skeptics are fond of pointing out, without really thinking about the implications. Unless all of these big changes were due to changing solar activity, it appears the climate is not characterized by negative feedback loops in the long-run.
6.30.2009 1:26am
John Moore (www):

A negative feedback loop tends to produce a stable equilibrium, not the chaotic behavior we observe in the climate.

Not true. Chaos is the result of extraordinary sensitivity to small changes in initial conditions. While chaotic systems are nonlinear dynamic systems with feedback, climate systems with negative feedback may fit into that characterization.

Actually, climate AFAIK has not been proven chaotic. Weather is clearly chaotic, and climate simulations (technically, CO2 sensitivity simulations) use weather modeling and hence are subject to chaos.

Note that even with damped negative feedback, you can get big swings. The sign of the feedback (ignoring time lag) determines whether an effect is magnified or minimized. Large enough forcing phenomena do not require magnification in order to create significant change. CO2 forcing may or may not fall into that category at the levels under consideration (<1000ppm).

The mechanism of solar activity on medium term climate change (say, the last 11 years, or the Maunder Minimum) is not well established. On theory involves changes in cosmic ray induced nucleation, resulting from changes in cosmic ray flux due to changes in the solar wind. However, this effect is merely hypothesized (a friend of mine is studying this now, so we may learn more soon), and the magnitude appears to require significant positive feedback.

That being said, the correlations between historic sunspot changes (minima during the "little ice age" and the current miinimum coinciding with a cool year) are significant. Even stronger are correlations between solar cycle length and global temperature (recognizing the uncertaincies in paleoclimatic temperature data) are even stronger. It is an open question.
6.30.2009 2:25am
Mark Buehner (mail):

You think you are making a brilliant, clever point, but the cost of carbon permits will definitely be passed on to any limousine liberals who decide to fly private jets. Those folks are calling on themselves to sacrifice along with everyone else.

Actually, i think i'm making a nasty, snarky point, which generally characterizes the nature of this 'debate' in our nation. You'll excuse me if I happen to think that these quasi-religious 'indulgences' don't have quite the force of outlawing or at least boycotting unnecessary private jets completely. If I thought abortion was murder, I wouldn't think it was ok just because i was paying a government tax premium for one.
6.30.2009 9:15am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Actually, i think i'm making a nasty, snarky point, which generally characterizes the nature of this 'debate' in our nation. You'll excuse me if I happen to think that these quasi-religious 'indulgences' don't have quite the force of outlawing or at least boycotting unnecessary private jets completely. If I thought abortion was murder, I wouldn't think it was ok just because i was paying a government tax premium for one.

But carbon use isn't murder. It's simply an activity we can have some of but not too much of. Cap and trade is a rationing system. As long as you pay for your ration at a high enough price that it controls total consumption, there's nothing wrong with consuming carbon.
6.30.2009 11:30am
John Moore (www):

But carbon use isn't murder. It's simply an activity we can have some of but not too much of. Cap and trade is a rationing system.

No, cap and trade is a direct tax on consumers, since they have little control about home much carbon they consume. For example, my house requires a significant amount of electricity to cool in the Phoenix summer - a significant part of my total budget. It would cost me easily $50K in modifications to change that, which would come directly out of my retirement funds.

Cap and trade is also the biggest political boondoggle in all of history. The disposal of all of those billions of dollars are subject to political whims of congressmen, and we know just how good they are at sticking to fairness and "science" rather than paying off their constituents. Farm ethanol is a great example, and caused huge costs to consumers, riots in foreign countries over increased food prices, and zero or negative impact on climate. Think what those same congressmen will do with this new enormous program.

Or, if you imagination doesn't quite do it, consider this: Enron, that evil giant, was strongly in favor of cap and trade. Do you think their reasoning was unselfish?

Finally, of course, enough cap and trade (or whatever) to cause changes in consumption necessary to meet the CO2 emissions standards of the Obama administration will literally take us back to the CO2-per-capita levels of the 19th century, when it took a good proportion of our population's labor (not magnified by energy consuming technology) just to grow our food.

And, even that would do nothing significant about "global warming" unless the rest of the world could somehow convince their citizens to put on the same sackcloth and reduce their standard of living equivalently.

In other words, cap and trade is a very expensive non-solution to an only theoretical problem; a solution which can never work in the real world, but will do what Obama and his congress like to do best - reallocate wealth and income to politically favored groups.
6.30.2009 12:15pm
geokstr (mail):

Ricardo:
John Moore,

On the one hand you say the climate is a chaotic system, an assertion that is almost certainly correct. You then go on to say that "climate history" suggests the climate is characterized by negative feedback loops. This claim contradicts the first and is probably false. A negative feedback loop tends to produce a stable equilibrium, not the chaotic behavior we observe in the climate.

Climate history in fact shows big swings in the climate over time, as some skeptics are fond of pointing out, without really thinking about the implications. Unless all of these big changes were due to changing solar activity, it appears the climate is not characterized by negative feedback loops in the long-run.

Where does John say that "feedback loops" always have the same effectiveness at returning short-term climate to some magical, mystical preferred equilibrium? If "feedback loops" worked perfectly, and exactly as we wanted them to, we wouldn't even have weather. We'd all be living in the equivalent of San Diego, every day of the year.

In fact, it is the nature of chaos itself that the actions and reactions and counterreactions of literally millions of known and unknown causes and effects will result in swings of wildly varying sizes and lengths in temperature, atmospheric gases, and ocean depth over any given period of time. Even if we knew every one of those causes and their effects, the results would still be totally unpredictable over time, which is why they call it chaos.

In the time of the dinos, CO2 was some 20-30 times greater than today's so-called disastrous levels that Congress feels the need to radically restructure our national economy over. Most of that time apparently, there were no ice caps whatsoever, and still there was lots of land for basically a world wide rain forest.

And without SUV's (or even, gasp, Congressional legislation), all the conditions changed drastically and radically many, many times over vastly differing periods of time. Some scientists (yes, even ones with real degrees who study climate) even believe that ice ages can become very severe very quickly:
The Next Ice Age

How will Obama then make the glaciers recede, like he is now willing the seas to do?
6.30.2009 1:22pm
John Moore (www):
BTW, chaos was first discovered by a meteorologist (Edward Lorenz) working on weather models. Before that, the field did not exist in physical sciences. That should give one a clue as to how fundamental it is to the problem of simulating weather and the integral of weather: climate.
6.30.2009 2:43pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):

No, cap and trade is a direct tax on consumers, since they have little control about home much carbon they consume.


The two things are not inconsistent. Cap and trade rations carbon by subjecting it to a form of taxation.

For example, my house requires a significant amount of electricity to cool in the Phoenix summer - a significant part of my total budget. It would cost me easily $50K in modifications to change that, which would come directly out of my retirement funds.

So how many Bangladeshi lives is that $50,000 worth?
6.30.2009 3:20pm
karl (mail):
I'm sure the models predicting climate change are accurate, look how well they predict hurricanes. Despite having studied hurricanes for over a hundred years and have acces to every physical aspect of the systems creating and surrounding the storms, they can't predict their number or their strength or their path until the actual event takes place. When the National Weather Service "updates" its hurricane forecast, they are really saying, "we were wrong before".
6.30.2009 4:54pm
John Moore (www):
Dilan Esper:


For example, my house requires a significant amount of electricity to cool in the Phoenix summer - a significant part of my total budget. It would cost me easily $50K in modifications to change that, which would come directly out of my retirement funds.



So how many Bangladeshi lives is that $50,000 worth?

That's pretty low. That $50,000 could do one hell of a lot more to save Bangladeshi's employed in ways other than increasing the energy efficiency of my home.

How many Bangladeshi's will die because of the economic chaos caused by all this ill advised economic tinkering?

BTW... I keep someone alive in India with some of my charity. I prefer the direct approach, instead of wagering all that money on a clearly ineffective and foolish scheme to address a non-existent problem (and if you think Bangladeshi's face serious risk due to anthropogenic climate change, you have drunk WAY too much of the Kool-aid).
6.30.2009 8:29pm
John Moore (www):

When the National Weather Service "updates" its hurricane forecast, they are really saying, "we were wrong before"

Note that the guy who has long been responsible for creating those forecasts is now a major climate skeptic - do you suppose he knows a little bit about modeling?
6.30.2009 8:30pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
and if you think Bangladeshi's face serious risk due to anthropogenic climate change, you have drunk WAY too much of the Kool-aid

Well, I know that if I were a poor Bangladeshi, facing this threat, and I knew that policymakers could either do what the vast majority of climate science experts say they should do or believe some right-wing ideologue commenter on the Volokh Conspiracy, I'd sure hope that your views prevail. Right? :)
6.30.2009 10:21pm
John Moore (www):

Well, I know that if I were a poor Bangladeshi, facing this threat, and I knew that policymakers could either do what the vast majority of climate science experts say they should do or believe some right-wing ideologue commenter on the Volokh Conspiracy


Well, if you could actually find a vast majority of climate science experts who believe that Bangladesh was in danger, you might have a point. Of course, you would have to avoid selection bias since so many skeptics are "in the closet."

I happen to have a life outside of right wing ideology. A big part of it is applied meteorology, and computer science. Your ad hominem comments are out of line.
6.30.2009 11:06pm
Mark Buehner (mail):
But carbon use isn't murder.

So how many Bangladeshi lives is that $50,000 worth?

Now we see the incoherence inherent in the system. Either carbon use is costing lives and needs to be addressed as a moral crisis, or it isn't. Somehow, the greens and dems want their cake and eat it too- its the cost of billions of lives when it comes to enacting their laundry list of social changes that just amazingly happen to be the same list theyve had for 50 years outside of AGW, but when it comes to leading by example, hey, whats a few Bangladeshis if it gets me from LA to NYC without having to suffer in first class with the riff-raff.
6.30.2009 11:36pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Either carbon use is costing lives and needs to be addressed as a moral crisis, or it isn't.

Plenty of harmful activities are discouraged through taxation. Taxation is especially effective when harm (global warming) is a byproduct of productive activity (burning carbon).
6.30.2009 11:42pm
John Moore (www):

Taxation is especially effective when harm (global warming) is a byproduct of productive activity (burning carbon).

Yeah, subsidies work great too. I'll bet you were all for the ethanol program because it would save Bangladeshis.
6.30.2009 11:48pm
Mark Buehner (mail):
So, continue sucking down the Soylent Carbon even though its killing people (as you say) because at least you can feel good about paying taxes on it.

I gotta tell you, if you _really_ believe it is costing human lives every time you fire up your AC, your response is actually quite despicable. I'd like to think if our leaders especially really believed millions of lives were at stake they could come up with something, well, effective. Its kind of ridiculous and petty to wave the anti-nuke banner in fear of a wildly unlikely accident if you really think the alternative is genocide.
6.30.2009 11:57pm
John Moore (www):
Mark,

It's not about realistic alternatives - it's a combination of political opportunism (cui bono on offsets) and religious activvity (belief rather than science, penance and American protestant hair-shirtedness) and a sense of moral superiority.

How cone one look good to one's fellow progressives by advocating, gasp, nukes, made by, gasp, big companies, and using the, gasp, same basic fuel as, gasp, nucular weapons?

Watch "The Goode Family" (Mike Judge's latest effort) for good insight into this mentality.
7.1.2009 12:12am
Fat Man (mail) (www):
Anybody who thinks that if the US sets a good example, that China will follow it, just does not understand China or the Chinese.

To put it bluntly, they really don't care what the white devils think, say, or do. They will not agree to a treaty that costs them a cent. They do not care about polar bears, unless they are roasted in hoisin sauce. As far as they are concerned, if there is a global warming problem and sacrifices must be made to solve it, then white people can do all the sacrificing, the Chinese have made enough sacrifices.

Want to start a trade war? Make their day. They will bet that it will end with the US surrendering a day after they dump the first hundred billion of treasuries. They will be right.

"Then why does the Obama administration say that it opposes the tariff?" because they know that the US is broke and that if they get sideways with China they won't be able to keep the lights on.

Economic sanctions against China? What color is the sky in your world. We can't get the Euros to go along with economic sanctions against Iran, and Iran is a lot more dangerous to Europe and a lot less important to its economy.
7.1.2009 12:46am
Craig C (mail):
If global warming is caused by Humans, why is Mars warming at about the same rate?
7.7.2009 5:37am

Post as: [Register] [Log In]

Account:
Password:
Remember info?

If you have a comment about spelling, typos, or format errors, please e-mail the poster directly rather than posting a comment.

Comment Policy: We reserve the right to edit or delete comments, and in extreme cases to ban commenters, at our discretion. Comments must be relevant and civil (and, especially, free of name-calling). We think of comment threads like dinner parties at our homes. If you make the party unpleasant for us or for others, we'd rather you went elsewhere. We're happy to see a wide range of viewpoints, but we want all of them to be expressed as politely as possible.

We realize that such a comment policy can never be evenly enforced, because we can't possibly monitor every comment equally well. Hundreds of comments are posted every day here, and we don't read them all. Those we read, we read with different degrees of attention, and in different moods. We try to be fair, but we make no promises.

And remember, it's a big Internet. If you think we were mistaken in removing your post (or, in extreme cases, in removing you) -- or if you prefer a more free-for-all approach -- there are surely plenty of ways you can still get your views out.