SHOCK: New paper advocates ‘exaggeration’ & ‘manipulation’ about global warming to ‘enhance global welfare’
A new peer-reviewed paper published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, titled “Information Manipulation and Climate Agreements”, is openly advocating that global warming proponents engage in mendacious claims in order to further their cause.
The paper appears to openly advocate lying or “information manipulation” to further the cause of man-made global warming and “enhance global welfare.”
The authors, Assistant Professors of Economics Fuhai Hong and Xiaojian Zhao, note how the media and environmental groups “exaggerate” global warming and then the offer their paper to “provide a rationale for this tendency” to exaggerate for the good of the cause.
The paper was published on February 24, 2014.
The author’s boldly note in the abstract of the study that the “news media and some pro-environmental have the tendency to accentuate or even exaggerate the damage caused by climate change. This article provides a rationale for this tendency.”
“We find that the information manipulation has an instrumental value, as it ex post induces more countries to participate in an IEA (International Environmental Agreements) which will eventually enhance global welfare.”
The authors of the paper are Fuhai Hong, an assistant professor in the Division of Economics, Nanyang Technological University and Xiaojian Zhao is an assistant professor in the Department of Economics, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. (email@example.com)
The complete Abstract of the paper is reproduced below:
“It appears that news media and some pro-environmental organizations have the tendency to accentuate or even exaggerate the damage caused by climate change. This article provides a rationale for this tendency by using a modified International Environmental Agreement (IEA) model with asymmetric information. We find that the information manipulation has an instrumental value, as it ex post induces more countries to participate in an IEA, which will eventually enhance global welfare. From the ex ante perspective however, the impact that manipulating information has on the level of participation in an IEA and on welfare is ambiguous.”
Reaction to the paper has been very critical. Craig Rucker of Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow CFACT (Climate Depot’s parent company) noted in an April 4 blog: “What will shock you is that two professors not only candidly admit it, but published a paper in a peer reviewed journal touting the beneficial effects of lying for pushing nations into a UN climate treaty in Paris next year!”
Rucker added: “The authors not only believe that their dubious ends justify their shady means, they institutionalize ‘information manipulation’ as a tactic, host panels about it at climate conferences and publish it in journals. They’re shameless.”
CFACT Davi’s Rothbard noted: “Global warming skeptics have long charged that alarmists are over-hyping the dangers of climate change. Now comes a new paper from two economists in Singapore and Hong Kong that actually advocates exaggerating global warming fears to get countries on board international environmental agreements.”
According to Kevin Glass of Townhall.com, the paper claims that the urgency of climate change makes it OK to deceive the public about the projected consequences of global warming. They don’t actually use the word “lying,” but by calling for “informational manipulation and exaggeration,” they certainly think the ends justify these very questionable and over-heated means.”
This is not the first time that global warming advocates have been accused of being deceptive.
The late Stanford University professor Stephen Schneider wrote in 1989: “So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This “double ethical bind” which we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.” Discovery Magazine (October, 1989, p. 45-48).
Former NASA global warming scientist James Hansen conceded in a 2003 issue of Natural Science that the use of “extreme scenarios” to dramatize global warming “may have been appropriate at one time” to drive the public’s attention to the issue.
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‘Some of the most formidable opponents of climate hysteria include politically liberal physics Nobel laureate, Ivar Giaever; Freeman Dyson; father of the Gaia Hypothesis, James Lovelock — ‘Left-center chemist, Fritz Vahrenholt, one of the fathers of the German environmental movement’
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EDITORS NOTE: We received the following in an email Fuhai Hong and Xiaojian Zhao:
1. Our paper consists of two parts of messages, one positive (why there is media bias), while the other normative (what is the outcome of media bias). For the first part, media bias emerges as the unique perfect Bayesian equilibrium in our model. This provides an explanation on the phenomenon we observe from reality. Our abstract thus states that “This article provides a rationale for this tendency by using a modified International Environmental Agreement model with asymmetric information.” By the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, rationale means “the reasons and principles on which a decision, plan, belief etc is based.” Our “rationale” is essentially an explanation on why the media has incentives to accentuate or even exaggerate climate damage. It belongs to the approach of positive economics and is value neutral, up to this point.
2. Then we do have a “normative” analysis on the media bias. The main difficulty of the climate problem is that it is a global public problem and we lack an international government to regulate it; the strong free riding incentives lead to a serious under-participation in an IEA. We show that the media bias may have an ex post instrumental value as the over-pessimism from media bias may alleviate the under-participation problem to some extent. (In this sense, we are close to Dessi’s (2008, AER) theory of cultural transmission and collective memory.) Meanwhile, we also address the issue of trust/credibility as people have Bayesian updating of beliefs in our perfect Bayesian equilibrium. We show that, ex ante (when there is uncertainty on the state of nature), the media bias could be beneficial or detrimental, due to the issue of credibility; as a result, the welfare implication is ambiguous.