How can it be Obama’s fault that Trump claims credit for the fact that no commercial planes fell from the skies in 2017? Ah, I’ve got it!

Of course this isn’t narcissism on the President’s part. Of course it’s not an indication of his almost comical obsession with being praised and respected. Of course it’s not a reflection on the state of our national character that we have elected in successive terms men who take credit for stopping the rise of the oceans and for keeping planes in the sky.

Here it is. Caught on video.

Actually, it’s worse, though it pains conservatives to admit it. I’m old enough to remember when Reagan claimed to be responsible for single-handedly placating the Aztec sun god, Tonatiuh. “It’s morning in America.” The clear, counter-factual implication of this famous 1984 ad was that, had America unwisely re-elected Jimmy Carter, Tonatiuh would have brought an end to the current cosmic era. (Tonatiuh must be placated with ritual human sacrifice, although these days we call them ‘welfare cuts’.)

These days conservatives prefer not to remember their embarrassing mass flirtation with Aztec apocalypse. It was the 80’s, and a lot of things that seemed totally plausible then look a bit silly now.

Why “extremely unlikely” climate events matter

by John Quiggin on January 5, 2018

I’ve just been advised that my latest article “The importance of ‘extremely unlikely’ events: Tail risk and the costs of climate change” has come out online in The Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics. For those who can use it, the DOI is 10.1111/1467-8489.12238. For everyone else, here’s a link to a pre-publication version. The main points are

* The IPCC convention is to use the phrase “extremely unlikely” to refer to outcomes (in particular, values of climate sensitivity) in the range of 0–5 per cent.
* Most of the risks against which we act to protect and insure ourselves (for example, car crashes, premature death in any given year) are “extremely unlikely” by this definition
* Around half, or even more, of the expected welfare loss from climate change arises from the worst-case 5 per cent of high values for climate sensitivity.

Nothing really startling here, but it’s the other side of the coin to the contrarian suggestion that since there’s a 5 per cent probability that global warming will turn out not to be a problem, we should do nothing.