“The evidence before the Committee leads to one inescapable conclusion: the Bush Administration has engaged in a systematic effort to manipulate climate change science and mislead policymakers and the public about the dangers of global warming.”
Liked the article which had mercifully few numbers for a simple soul like me.
But Ray could you give us some numbers based on the statement “that could raise sea level far beyond the projections given in the IPCC”?
Not that I’m into masochism but I think a lot of viewers would be interested in those figures.
I’m simply curious about Climate Change. I live in France and I prefer when you write “la langue de Molière”.
Is it possible to translate this article ? “Les chevaliers” were written also in French language, perhaps to allow Claude Alègre’s friends (or opposing them)understanding something about your pleasant discussion ! May I hope a French version ? (You can see by yourself that my English is not “at the top”…)
Thank you for your patience,
Comment by Jean-Pierre EMILE — 11 Dec 2007 @ 4:08 AM
Great report, thanks! Is there someplace we can read the abstracts or presentation info?
Staggering but typical and at least now we truely know the stance of the current US administration in this regard. However seeing as how some of the largest companies in the world are in the automative and oil/gas sectors and lobbying is the means to seduce politicians then it comes as no suprise. Targeting the banks is the way to tackle climate change, force them (somehow) to not back fossil fuels projects but alas it is probably too late for 2C, but we could stop 3C.
The US sponsors China too so I guess that there will be no change there either and Russia is making a comeback due to fossil fuel revenues too.
Always interesting as well is to get some info regarding Pres Bushs science advisor. The White House, and all its advisors, always read from the same hymn sheet, even if the hymn sheets contains falsified information. As long as this administration is still in the W H, there will never be a change of policy. Its just a matter of more coal on the firs and to hell with the world, we, the USA will do just as we please.
Comment by George Robinson — 11 Dec 2007 @ 5:56 AM
Mr Marburger’s focus on adaptation is inappropriate. The disintegration of ice sheets that is being driven by human activities leads to damages which are highly quantifiable.
I’m not sure I understand your comment about the current temperature not being a local record for Greenland. Doesn’t that assume that the ice is in equilibrium, or least, not more out of equilibrium than it was during the Viking settlement? That seems unlikely.
[Response: Yes--this is a clear problem with the interpretation offered above. Its tantamount to the problem discussed by Gavin in the "Past Reconstructions" post below where workers sometimes sloppily interpret the terminal end of a low-resolution proxy record as "modern day" even when the implicit averaging processes involved may mean that it really only measures mid or perhaps even early 20th century. As we know, that makes all the difference. I would certainly have hoped that the speaker would have acknowledged this issue. Perhaps Ray can comment on whether or not that was the case. -mike]
The A.D. 800-1014 timing for retreat of glaciers on Greenland seems a bit earlier than one usually reads for the “Medieval Warm Period.” I would be interested in learning whether Lowell thinks that the global MWP ages need to be revised or if Greenland is leading it for some particular reason. It does seem that Lowell is inclined to link the glaciation and deglaciation on Greenland to global change.
[Response: What global Medieval Warm Period? There is no such thing. --raypierre ]
“It is impossible to adapt to a continuously moving target”
Comment by John L. McCormick — 11 Dec 2007 @ 9:48 AM
Actually, I enjoyed this one yesterday:
Abrupt climate change and collapse of deep-sea ecosystems during the last 20,000 years”
It shows the abrupt climate changes that have occurred with regularity throughout earth’s history and the numerous and cyclical changes that are natural and not driven by man. There are numerous other posters and papers at AGU this week that show the same things in the paleoclimate section. It would benefit the meteorologists and climatologists, who routinely ignore paleo data, to educate themselves about earth history. If they were to listen, they might not be so certain man is causing all warming during the last, tiny time period of a few decades where they focus all their efforts.
[Response: Oh please. Half the authors here publish paleo papers all the time, dealing with Snowball Earth, to the PETM, to abrupt change in the glacial, to the 8.2kyr event, to the mid-Holocene, to solar and volcanic forcing in recent millennia etc. etc. This claim of climatic myopia is itself very short sighted. - gavin]
Good morning, I am Mr. Broken Record, here to tell you the same thing I have told you several times (cue laugh track):
Marburger’s stance, while unappealing, has one thing going for it: reality.
Can somebody point me toward a cost analysis for any carbon-taxing scheme? What will be the impact to the consumer?
Given that consumer prices for oil have essentially doubled in two years, have we seen an assessment yet of the impact of that increase on the working poor in this and other countries? Are we prepared to continue to increase that cost?
Of course the cost will continue to increase due to scarcity and demand, and of course this will have the eventual, beneficial effect of bringing other sources of energy into some sort of economic equilibrium (first up: coal). But what is being discussed, quite seriously, is some combination of schemes to artificially inflate the cost of fossil fuel.
That sounds great – look! aren’t we so concerned? – but I’m probably not wrong about this: those involved in such discussions are not among those who will most likely be crippled by the increased costs.
So, once again: Anybody got any numbers on that?
As to Marbuger’s underlying point that adaptation strategies will be needed anyway, he’s right. As to his point that we will exceed the tipping point no matter what we do, he is almost certainly right.
In the end, we will need geo-engineering strategies. If some of these turn out to be highly effective, we may not have to pay the procrastination penalty, and we may not have to pay the mitigation tax. Since we will need these solutions anyway, why aren’t we being more aggressive in developing them?
Walt Bennett, Sorry, but the cost of fossil fuel is actually subsidized. We subsidize it by practically giving away drilling and mining leases. We subsidize it by maintaining a foreign and military policy predicated on access to Middle East Oil (or do you think anyone would care about Saudi Arabia if it weren’t an island of kitty litter floating on a sea of oil?). Let Exxon pay for the Iraq war and see what that does to gas prices. The cheapness of fossil fuels–especially petroleum–has distorted the global economy. I can buy tropical fruits like durian and longan and mango more cheaply (per pound) than I can buy locally produced apples (assuming I can even find local produce in the stores). Look, don’t get me wrong. I like tropical fruits. I like being able to get oranges in the winter. But doesn’t it strike you as odd that it is cheaper to make something in China, transport it all the way around the world and be able to sell it for half what it would cost to make here. Got news for you: It’s not just the cheap yuan. It’s cheap oil that is distorting the economy. We are subsidizing conditions that are actually detrimental to our competitiveness.
A few words on Marburger’s talk. The dichotomy between mitigation and adaptation is false. We do not have a choice. Rather we must mitigate so that we will have time to adapt. Indeed, since our ability to mitigate now is very limited (unless somebody can figure out how to build a few hundred square km of solar collectors or open up a few hundred nuke plants), for now our best bet is conservation. Those like Marburger who caution against the economic dislocation caused by reducing consumption are ignoring the economic dislocation that will occur as a warming climate starts to impact the complex infrastructure on which that economy depends.
The medieval warm period was a regional phenomena, so Greenland and bits of Europe and Asia may have been near-warm or as warm as today; however the point is that the global temp (if you factor in the southern hemisphere, the tropics, etc) was cooler than today with a good deal of confidence, though the error bars prevent us from saying for sure. See the NAS report at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11676 for further info
thanks for the updates. Is there a URL which goes over all of the latest AGU stuff so we can see it in more detail? Thanks
It’s a mystery why people will downplay climate models, which seem to have a pretty good record on the whole, but swallow without salt any economics 101 model of the future, which have a proven track record of being terrible at predicting even what will happen next week, never mind next year.
As Daniel Gross wrote on Slate this morning:
“Economic forecasting is exceedingly difficult. The consensus estimates compiled by the Wall Street Journal and other outfits on measures like GDP growth and unemployment are frequently incorrect. As a profession, economists project growth when a recession is about to start and project recessions when the economy is poised for continued expansion. And as stand-up economist Yoram Bauman puts it, ‘Macroeconomists have successfully predicted nine of the last five recessions.’”
Great post, Ray, on both the scientific and political: more of the same, pse, but esp. on the science! The stability of the Greenland ice sheet has been a concern for some time (I remember colleagues discussing it over a decade ago), so it’s good to see the attention being focused on the topic, although I suspect none of the news is going to be ‘good’. Regarding the politics, I fear that we are moving inexorably to ‘geo-engineering’, with it’s fairly simplistic approach to the climate change problems; the potential that such engineering will be used as an excuse for humans to pollute and alter the planet *even more* is pretty scary.
RE #13 [Walt Bennett] Rather than a carbon tax, which could well hit the poor harder than the rich, go for a carbon emissions ration – the same for everybody. If you need or want to emit more than your ration, you can buy from someone who is able to make do with less. Hence, your mitigation scheme also has a redistributive effect favouring the poor. Google “contraction and convergence” for more detail. Somehow, I suspect the Bush administration would regard the redistributive effect as an additional drawback rather than an advantage.
I was happily surprised with his grasp of the scientitic and engineering problems at stake – proving one more time that the only real turkey in the White House is the president (save thanksgiving day !), while the rest of his staff is more than decently educated. The problem is the dark aims they apply their brains to.
He did acknowledge the premise of Anthropogenic Global Warming, and to my amazement he also recognized that adaptation and mitigation go hand in hand (“you cannot do one without the other”), further emphasizing adaptation as a short-term strategy, while curbing emissions is the only sensible thing to do in the long run.
So that was very good rhetorics, and that almost convinced that maybe this administration is finally taking climate change seriously. Of course, the illusion dissipated when he was asked a few hard questions (as the one you quote) and made evasive answers.
For #^#$’s sake, he even admitted that his blaming Congress for the absence of legislative action on carbon emissions was “not serious”. He was chuckling. Seriously !!!
I left the room when he conceded he wouldn’t discuss any more politics : since i hadn’t heard anything new about the science (other than he KNOWS it, but will do anything to justify its ignorance in the oval office), politics is the only area where he could enlighten me. Needless to say, he had not come for that.
It left me somewhat sad, because it is rather clear that he knows what really needs to be done, but the duties of the job involve him ignoring his basic convictions, and parading his PhD to excuse the scientific illiteracy of his administrative superiors. Pretty disappointing.
Funny, Chris Mooney has a great article in Seed on why the next president would be well inspired to choose his science advisor wisely article ….
“Since we will need these solutions anyway, why aren’t we being more aggressive in developing them?”
maybe because these geo-engineering strategies are foolish ?
“Are we prepared to continue to increase that cost ?”
this is not the right question: the cost will eventually greatly increase anyway. the question is how this increase is going to take place.
carbon tax (that is, a steadily, starting low but ever-increasing, tax (at least in the near future) on fossil fuels) is useful because it gives a slow, stable and foreseeable price signal to society, on which companies and consumers can adapt and rely to reorganize themselves, make plans, etc… while the market doesn’t: on the oil market it goes up, and down, then up, …- probably with the american recession coming over it will go down again, somehow, in the coming months – before it finally suddenly soars when everyone realizes supplies are running out.
Market doesn’t send any long-term signal: the time scales of market and “society decarbonization” are therefore fundamentally incompatible, so you need something to correct that.
[the question you could ask is wether or not it is to late for such a system to be useful, if you believe that Peak Oil is going to happen really soon, and oil prices sky-rocket anyway in the very coming years - my answer on that is very probably yes , but one should still try]
adaptation, adaptation… i wonder if those supporting adaptation realize that adaptation means anticipation, and thus requires far more a detailled projections of future climate than mitigation. you don’t adapt sort of instantaneously. if you want to build stuff not to far from the coast you’ll need to precisely know by how many dozens of centimeter or meters sea level will rise – or you need precise forecast of what future water supplies will be, of what lowest temperatures will be, etc…
so those saying “we’re not sure about all that, its too expansive, let’s do just nothing now and adapt later” are indeed being really confident in climate science…
by the way, did mr Marburger attend any of the talks on greenland that you first mentionned ?
These strike me more as opportunities for investment, with the risk absorbed by those who hope to strike it rich when their ideas emerge as having merit. Consumers are insulated from these costs, which are borne by investors. Also bear in mind that we are in the “talking about it” phase of geo-engineering. When you ask about costing, it’s not clear which costs you mean. Cost of implementation? We’d need concrete ideas before we could discuss concrete costs.
My twin points are not addressed by your question: (1) artificially inflating the cost of energy will whack the poorest immediately, not down the road; (2) we will almost certainly need alternative strategies anyway, so playing the cost of one off of the cost of the other is a valid approach to choosing a path.
Re: #15, when you’re dirt poor and somebody doubles the cost of a basic necessity that already eats up a large chunk of your available monetary resources, it’s a little hard to get worked up about “the economic dislocation that will occur as a warming climate starts to impact the complex infrastructure on which that economy depends”.
Re: #18, that gets us back to who can afford the carbon, doesn’t it?
RE #20 (Walt Bennett) “Re: #18, that gets us back to who can afford the carbon, doesn’t it?”
I don’t understand what point you are trying to make. You said (correctly) that a carbon tax would tend to hit the poor. I offered an alternative which would also reduce emissions, but does not have this drawback. Would you please try to clarify?
13# Any numbers on what it cost to loft a huge mirror into space, to build a sea-wall around NA?
I thought not. Anyone who thinks adaption will be cheap is smoking something.
Oh yes, and geoengineering solutions have to be international in scope or they won’t work. You think the U.S. will be allowed to loft a giant mirror into space unilaterally, assuming they can find a means of squeezing enough in the way of tax $$$ out of their citizens to build it? You are witnessing in Bali how unwieldy reaching any kind of international agreement can be. You think it will be any easier in the case of a geoengineering scheme?
Re #18: [Rather than a carbon tax, which could well hit the poor harder than the rich...]
Is this really all that different from .e.g Marburger’s suggestions of reducing carbon intensity (carbon per GDP dollar), in that it’s putting socioeconomic goods (albeit different ideas of what those goods are) ahead of doing something that might actually reduce CO2 emissions?
Isn’t it obvious that anything – either doing something, or doing nothing – is going to affect the poor more than the rich, just as for instance sea level rise will affect lowlanders more than people who live in the mountains? I suggest that we need to accept this, and get to work.
I posted an extract on the Patrick O’Brian Forum which has elicited this enquiry: ‘ . . If someone thinks Greenland’s “contribution to sea level” has doubled, that means someone thinks they know how much Greenland contributes to sea level and that in turn implies someone thinks they know whether the sea level is rising or falling and by how much. Right? Yet I’ve never yet heard anyone quote a figure for actual, current change in sea level. There’ve been plenty of confident predictions for rising levels over the next decades or centuries but nothing going on now (so far). Are Leigh Stearns and collaborators blowing smoke, or are there measurements I’ve missed? Those of us who live on the ocean: Has anyone looked out the window recently and noticed that the tides in your neighborhood are higher than ten years ago? . . ‘http://tinyurl.com/yuh2tu
Comment by Chris Squire [UK] — 11 Dec 2007 @ 12:31 PM
RE # 15
Ray, you said
[Those like Marburger who caution against the economic dislocation caused by reducing consumption are ignoring the economic dislocation that will occur as a warming climate starts to impact the complex infrastructure on which that economy depends.]
Those who ignore the economic dislocation of global warming include day traders and CEOs focused on next quarter earnings. Maybe shop owners, tourism industry and oil, gas, coal producers have the same affliction.
Being someone who believes all I am reading about the accelerating system changes outpacing modeled projections by decades, I have begun to recognize humankind is at the dawn of a new era; the collapse of capitalism.
Capitalism cannot survive a three meter sea level rise.
Virtually all of the world’s oil terminals, refineries and petrochemical facilities are at sea level and there is virtually no inland to which they can be relocated.
Mention that in a Chamber of Commerce meeting and hope you get a response.
Comment by John L. McCormick — 11 Dec 2007 @ 12:35 PM
re #23 (James) “Is this really all that different from .e.g Marburger’s suggestions of reducing carbon intensity (carbon per GDP dollar), in that it’s putting socioeconomic goods (albeit different ideas of what those goods are) ahead of doing something that might actually reduce CO2 emissions?”
If you mean contraction and convergence then it could hardly be more different. You start by deciding on the level of emissions you are trying to enforce – presumably, planning to reduce this level year by year. Then you divide the total emissions by the size of the population you are concerned with, and allocate each individual the same amount. You could then just say anyone who goes over is not allowed to drive, fly, or heat their home, but as well as being politically tricky, this would fail to give any incentive to those who can get under the limit without difficulty, to reduce their use further if they can. If they can sell this to those who need or want to go over their share, they have this incentive, so you are likely to be able to get greater reduction for the same amount of political pain and enforcement costs. The redistribution is a side-effect.
Re: “…response of El Nino to warming.” BTW: has anyone noticed that recently the expected SW U.S. rainfall response to El Nino/La Nina seems to have come off the rails. It seems to me that recently El Nino conditions have been resulting in drought and La Nina conditions have been ameliorating that. This is backwards from the expected (the maps indicate an ongoing relief of drought under increasing La Nina conditions). Check out the Climate Data Center’s Palmer Drought Severity Index maps. To me this indicates that the underlying response of the SW U.S. region’s climate to ocean temps isn’t well understood at this point. I’m not defending Marburger, just pointing this out.
Re #20: Geo-engineering is truly a last resort given the irresolvable uncertainties associated with large-scale tinkering with the climate. There are numerous, relatively easy major steps toward conservation and efficiency that could be taken but aren’t even planned yet. Has the U.S. e.g. banned incandescent bulbs or sprawl development yet? Didn’t think so. Even regarding a carbon tax, bear in mind that they could do quite a lot of good even if revenue-neutral. For example, the price of gasoline could be doubled (to levels that many in Europe are already paying, BTW) and then rebated back via income tax credits. That would result in in a substantial reduction in gasoline usage, choices of more fuel-efficient vehicles, etc., without actually costing anyone anything (albeit on average). In sharp contrast, Marburger’s boss threatened an energy bill veto in part because Democrats wanted to include a repeal of tax breaks granted to the oil companies a few years ago. These are the same oil companies that are presently enjoying historically-high profits.
“These strike me more as opportunities for investment, with the risk absorbed by those who hope to strike it rich when their ideas emerge as having merit. Consumers are insulated from these costs, which are borne by investors.”
Could you please explain your business model a bit more. Who would the customers be, buying this product, so that the investors can confidently expect a decent profit? Profit being the price for absorbing the risks.
“Investment” is just another fancy name for borrowed money. “Investment” is not grant money.
Comment by Pekka J. Kostamo — 11 Dec 2007 @ 1:18 PM
Perhaps I am not as confident as you are that the “allocation” will meet minimum needs. To the extent that a typical consumer might need to acquire extra carbon on the open market, we are still discussing artificial inflation of the cost of a necessity. In other words, your suggestion is too pretty to work. To the extent that you are attempting to shift the main cost to those who are presumably more able to pay, I think that concept needs further exploration. However, other paths hold more promise, I think. Those include: conservation and efficiency improvements; lowering the cost of alternatives, especially those which do not require an infrastructure and are micro-scalable; and mitigation strategies which include geo-engineering to reduce the warming effect and/or remove carbon from the atmosphere. None of those will have a direct cost impact on the poor.
I categorically disagree with “geoengineering solutions have to be international in scope or they won’t work”. On the contrary, these can very easily be private enterprise on a “several nation” scale. You might make a fair point if you say that China, for example, would stand to benefit from a solution they did not pay for. Of course. that’s one useful implementation of tariffs. Furthermore, I am not thinking of anything as grandiose as giant mirrors. Sulfur infusions or something similar, perhaps, without the acid rain effect. Over oceans moreso than land, perhaps. I am thinking of targeted, practical and manageable solutions. I am thinking we could be there in 20 years if we put our minds to it.
Certainly the cost of doing nothing will whack the poor. But it is fundamentally dishonest to make the poor pay ANY share whatsoever of the cost of correcting this problem. These are the people on whose backs the burdens of building this infrastructure were borne; these are the people whose health is blithely disregarded by these energy producers until the government steps in. These are the people who are at the very bottom of the food chain already. They are not the cause of this problem, and they cannot afford to be directly taxed in the name of chasing a “solution” which has dubious prospects anyway. This is the left’s big idea? Tax the poor? We can and we must do better.
” I have begun to recognize humankind is at the dawn of a new era; the collapse of capitalism. Capitalism cannot survive a three meter sea level rise.”
I have said something similar, that AGW is capitalism’s biggest challenge. The capability to solve an international problem without war and without crushing the poor has yet to be demonstrated. Failure to do so this time will, as you anticipate, create a world of chaos. What results from that will likely be extremely violent for several generations, at least.
Raypierre – EUROPEAN Warm Period!!! gotta choose your words carefully (although Medieval refers specifically to a period of european history the usage has corrupted the meaning)
[Response: Actually, this further exposes the problematic nature of these broad-brush terms. European proxy evidence suggests that the regional European warming doesn't even time w/ the peak Greenland warmth (which as noted, appears to have occured a century or two earlier). -mike]
John McC – Like yours too. Face it, you gotta have sound bites, cause a lot of folk are out shopping.
Ray Ladbury wrote: “Those like Marburger who caution against the economic dislocation caused by reducing consumption are ignoring the economic dislocation that will occur as a warming climate starts to impact the complex infrastructure on which that economy depends.”
The “economic dislocation caused by reducing [fossil fuel] consumption” that Marburger’s employer, the Cheney/Bush administration, is worried about is the transfer of wealth from the ultra-rich fossil fuel corporations to other sectors of the economy.
The Cheney/Bush administration’s agenda is to prolong the gluttonous consumption of fossil fuels, particularly oil, and the associated trillion dollar profits flowing to the giant fossil fuel corporations, for as long as possible, until the supplies are depleted to the point where they are not economically recoverable (ie. when it takes more energy to extract them than the extracted fuels yield when burned and fossil fuels are therefore no longer an “energy source”).
The ultra-rich cronies and financial backers of the Cheney/Bush administration expect to become so unimaginably wealthy during the post-peak-oil era of skyrocketing demand and dwindling supplies that they will be able to insulate themselves from the “economic dislocation” resulting from anthropogenic global warming.
They simply don’t care if hundreds of millions of people, particularly poor people in the developing world, die from loss of fresh water supplies, famine from the collapse of agriculture due to mega-droughts, inundation of populous coastal regions by rising seas, etc. They expect to be living luxuriously in their nuclear-powered climate-controlled domed cities protected by private mercenary armies, watching billions perish on TV (or more likely, changing the channel).
That’s the point of view that drives the Cheney/Bush administration’s climate policy, and underlies the rubbish that Marburger was spouting.
Re: #24 The upper coast of Texas has experienced about 4″ of relative (regional subsidence plus global) sea level rise since 1990, the year I started working on tidal salt marsh restoration (we lost many of our tidal marshes from a now past acute episode of subsidence caused by groundwater extraction). The marshes inundated by daily tides are the most valuable for supporting fisheries. Where I do my work (Galveston Bay) these exist within an 8″ elevation range. That means we’ve burned through about half of the working life of my oldest projects and I’m not close to retirement. Also, we experience about 1,500 feet of beach movement inland for each foot of sea level rise. Those 4″ since 1990 mean that Galveston Island’s beach front will need to move 500′ inland to come into balance just for those 4″ of sea level rise. A big deal as the Island is only a mile wide and hasn’t yet come close to stabilizing from the previous subsidence event. Some areas along Louisiana experience 10,000′ of shoreline movement per foot of sea level rise.
John L. McCormick, actually, I don’t know of any -ism that will fare any better than capitalism. We’re in terra incognita here–we’ve never before been able to alter the climate, and alter it in a way where we trigger unknown positive feedbacks at some point (and we’re not sure where that point is). Humans do a poor job at predicting risk. We exagerate risks we perceive as immediate and downplay risks that manifest gradually. The challenge here is overcoming our own human nature.
So on the one hand you say that it is unfair that the poor should pay any costs of mitigation. Well, the only way to alleviate that burden is by assistance to alleviate the added costs for them. How much faith do you have that such a system could be administered fairly and without corruption?
OTOH, we know that the poor will suffer disproportionately from the effects of climate change. What to do?
I’ve said before that what we have here is not a dichotomy, but rather two facets of the same problem–sustainability. We have to decrease ghg emissions while bettering the lot of the poor. Failure to do either will ultimately mean failure at both.
[[Being someone who believes all I am reading about the accelerating system changes outpacing modeled projections by decades, I have begun to recognize humankind is at the dawn of a new era; the collapse of capitalism.
Capitalism cannot survive a three meter sea level rise.]]
Such things have been confidently predicted before. Actually, I expect that it’s socialism that can’t survive a three meter sea level rise, since it’s a much less flexible system. Capitalism can adapt pretty quickly. Not painlessly, but quickly.
#28 Crutzen’s sulphur injection schemes involving injecting sulphur into the atmosphere somewhere and it coming down again as acid rain…somewhere else. So Canada, Mexico and the U.S. agree to such a scheme and wind up polluting China and Japan. How well do you think that will go over?
With K.Z. House’s “electrochemical weathering” idea, which seems to me the least airy fairy of what may be termed geo-engineering schemes, you trade local pollution for a global reduction of CO2. But of course the plants have to be carefully located, and presumably the nations where they are located must be brought into negotiations even if they aren’t one of your “several nations”.
Finally, yeah, lets get going and spend the billions needed to started up a geo engineering scheme. In the U.S. context, that means probably raising taxes or cutting spending. Mention that and watch you
pols crap their pants. What ever makes you think that would be easier than complying with a post-Kyoto (mitigation) treaty?
It’s clear that both adaptation and mitigation require significant outlay for implementation. Either way the emission of carbon has a price which is not currently being paid by those responsible. The straightforward and immediately available solution is a fee for carbon dioxide (and other GHG) emission.
The other factor in global GHG emission is the delicate question of population; and how to set policy that is most likely to produce an early stabilisation of world population. The key goals of education of women and alleviaton of poverty will require an enhanced energy infrastructure in many parts of the world. Avoiding (as far as possible) the emission of GHG in this would require a monumental effort which at present is being totally ignored.
It’s a fair question. The straightforward answer is, governments. I expect the best ideas to be reasonably affordable. For example, far cheaper than waging the “War On Terror”.
There will be costs to individuals in some form or other, but they can be administered in politically feasible ways.
We have to dance with somebody, right? My twin points remain: a direct tax will clobber the poor, and will almost certainly not solve the problem alone anyway. This implies that we need other strategies, and calls into question how much and how soon we actually will need to reduce emissions. This creates a whole new opportunity to compare solutions and evaluate costs.
What we have now is a single solution: reduce emissions. As has been said here and elsewhere, that only begins to deal with the many facets of this problem and is much more a political solution than a scientific solution.
I think that the US administration has made the cold calculation that adaptation costs to the US are low especially compared to political cost of mitigation. I cant see the US putting up its hand to accept a few million refugees from sealevel rise or drought. I sadly think that the world will pay the cost of adaptation, even if much higher than mitigation, because of the imbalance in the distribution of the costs for mitigation and adaptation.
The reality is that there is no evidence that various types of mitigation measures will halt or significantly slowdown warming. I understand that a dramatic reduction in anthropogenic CO2 emissions, which realistically cannot be achieved, will limit projected warming by a small fraction of one degree C.
China, India and Brazil emissions will result in a net increase even though the developed nations spend a few trillion dollars limiting their emissions and ruin their economies in the process.
To reject adaption as the main strategy for dealing with anthropogenic emission impacts is irresponsible. We need to learn whether the current phase of climate change is warming or cooling before major making expenditures to curtail CO2 emissions.
Our 2006 net reduction in anthropogenic CO2 emissions by voluntary conservation and alternative energy sources proves that the market place rather than through a bloated dysfunctional UN bureaucracy is the obvious short term solution while ongoing empirical research provides better answers about current climate change.
One might better understand, with the recent Greenland study results, why it was that the Norse travelled to North America long before 1492. ie because the climate allowed them to do so ie because it became physically possible for their boats to move and that there would be food to eat from the sea and from the land, ie in “Vinland”.
Marburger says we must adapt because the behemoth that is industrial man cannot be slowed meaningfully but, in advising this as being cheaper than mitigation, he is, of course dreadfully wrong. The Bush admin and the Harper Gvt in Canada have agreed to push this “intensity” line at Bali if the third world does not fall into line and agree to caps on their own emissions soon. But this is the spoiled brat approach and must be condemned. At the same time they are saying mitigation hasn’t got a prayer and that it is far too late to act. They are talking out of both sides of their mouths and should not be allowed to get away with it.
At the same time, I agree with Marburger if he said the people who want emission caps must put equal emphasis on adaptation and that they can be logically criticized for not doing this. Having said that though, if any ocean-front property owners wish to sell me their property at a reasonable cost I am willing to buy if only because higher humidity is good for my sinuses.
Also, you seem concerned about flaws in or limits to solutions which have not yet been invented, or at least not developed to the point of practical use.
My suggestion: let the markets go to work. A little encouragement that govts are seeking solutions, will be enough to foment investment.
Forcing emissions reductions sounds good. I am suggesting that the details are extremely difficult to pound out, and I am worried about who ultimately will pay the cost of this approach. I am convinced that this solution, alone, will be inadequate. I am convinced we will need bolder strategies than this, and we will need them much sooner than an emissions reduction strategy will take to implement and to see results.
I’d like to know how any rational person with a basic grasp of the situation could place all their faith in emissions reduction. I, for one, place very little of my faith in that solution.
What I want is for the discussion to turn to practical aspects before we inflict harm on people without actually solving anything.
I am prepared to be a lone voice for the time being. I know that chucking the left’s prize idea is not popular.
[The challenge here is overcoming our own human nature.]
Advertisers believe the message must be broadcast at least 13 time before the buyer gets the signal to buy whatever is being offered.
Maybe the corporate world will have to hear the message a thousand times until the Business Section of major newspapers begin writing of the prospect that capitalism cannot survive unconstrained global warming. The more we tell them, the greater the liklihood the private sector will begin to act in ways to promote its survival.
Hello CEOs. Listen up! Unconstrained global warming will destroy the global market. And, you can bet on that.
999 messages to go.
Comment by John L. McCormick — 11 Dec 2007 @ 4:29 PM
Walt Bennett, you wonder why the emphasis is on emissions reductions? Well, let’s list the viable “adaptation” strategies for a 20 meter sea level rise, collapse of agriculture, increased disease and increased severe storm activity in a world with 9-12 billion people, shall we?
Hmm, can’t think of many. Can you?
OK, how about we think of all the off the shelf technologies we have for sucking carbon dioxide out of the air and avoiding the onset of positive feedback mechanisms that will take the situation out of our hands?
Drawing a blank, how about you? The fact of the matter is that we don’t have the political or technological infrastructure at present to adapt to the changes that will likely result, and we don’t have the technology to geoengineer our way out of the problem. Decreasing emissions is simply how we buy the time to develop those solutions before natural feedbacks kick in and render our efforts futile.
Dr. Marburger’s contribution to the meeting is very disappointing. When he speaks of ‘adaptation’ I wonder if he’s talking about it in a Darwinian sense. Maybe the White House hopes we ( and other flora and fauna) will evolve into species that can withstand the draconian climate changes to come.
Strange that he should mention fresh water problems while the Himalayan glaciers, that feed major rivers that supply fresh water to hundreds of millions of people,in China and India, are disappearing. Perhaps those affected will adapt by evolving into camel like life forms that can do without water for relatively long periods.
He has a fine resume as a scientist and I believe that Gavin commented at one time that he “gets it”. But, I suppose, like other political appointed advisors to the narcissist in this White House, he needs to be a little bit sycophantic to remain in his post.
John 25 mentions the sorry fact that most oil terminals are located at the water’s edge. Relocation to high ground while sustaining production will be a truly fascinating engineering challenge. Since the seas will continue to rise from today’s level until all ice is gone and all thermal expansion is done the safe level is above 100 metres above present sea level.
During that not-inconsiderable time we will need to somehow maintain production, sequester all emissions (which entails handling almost twice the volume of CO2 in the direction of ‘away’ as the volume of fuel extracted) and provide the port facilities to ensure cartage of near normal levels of fuel to end users.
So for poor Mr Marburger to ‘adapt’ he is going to need the enormous production capacity of a fairly conventional industrial base to sustain the adaptation effort, but (even ignoring peak oil) his efforts will be stymied – still-born.
I certainly support the carbon-rationing approach (Nick 18), as only by giving (affixing to) each citizen her uniform global entitlement of carbon credits (the new inflation-proof global currency – no less! “…and that’ll be 40Cs thank you madam!”) can we send the correct signals. Using add-on pricing to influence emission behaviour simply redistributes wealth and is unlikely to make any significant impact on emissions. Witness the various fuel price hikes – the poor travelled less and suffered more from cold and the rich didn’t care as for them increased cost of energy is a tiny part of their outgoings.
But my view is that the individual’s carbon credits should NOT be tradable or transferable. You get a smart-card (a C-Card) and if you want us a GHG emitting device you put it in the slot and your emissions are debited at the rate allowed. The ‘ration’ is a rate of emission not an annual allocation that one could use up in a week. For example it should take at least three C-Cards in the slot to make a conventional car run. Not quite sure how to ration a jungle-dwelling farmer’s torching of a rain forest to grow palm oil – but that’s another matter..
#15, Ray Ladbury: I agree. Conservation is something we all can do now. I assume we all know how to do it. I’ve cut 7.5 tons/yr off my footprint. It cost $7500, and the payback will be about 7 yrs. Not bad. As soon a the cost of solar panels comes down, I can consider putting them in my backyard to power my house, and hopefully, a plug-in hybrid car.
The “adapt, don’t mitigate” argument simply fails to engage with the issues. There are thousands of possible mitigation strategies – everything from efficient appliances, to re-afforestation schemes, to re-invigorating nuclear power, to nitrification inhibitors in agriculture. Each demands a separate debate – is it worthwhile, or not?
Even if you think none of these things are worth doing, you still have to argue each point separately. Can you make the case that nuclear powerplants won’t help? Great, I’ll listen – but don’t expect your argument to carry much weight when we’re discussing rainforest conservation. You’ll need a completely different argument for that.
Comment by Geoff Pritchard — 11 Dec 2007 @ 6:24 PM
Regarding the above posts on costs of mitigation, did you see the recent studies from McKinsey on global warming and energy efficiency?
Energy Use Can Be Cut by Efficiency, Survey Says
“One of the great mysteries is why the public has not shifted faster to fluorescent bulbs,” said Alexander Lidow, a Stanford-educated physicist and the chief executive of International Rectifier, a maker of power management equipment for energy-efficient appliances.
Such shifts might well go more quickly if electric utilities were encouraged to promote efficiency. Under state rate regulation, utilities are compensated for producing energy, but rarely for conserving it. A few states, notably California, allow electric companies to pass through the costs of energy-saving programs, but they are the exceptions. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/29/business/29energy.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
I’ve simply never understood the logic behind large scale geoengineering. Specifically, this is what’s gotten us into the trouble we’re in! What are the ancillary impacts of large scale geoengineering projects? Of pumping large volumes of liquified CO2 underground? Of pumping large volumes of deep ocean water to the surface? Of coating the southern ocean’s floor with massive amounts of iron? I’m guessing there significant side effects.
Meanwhile, we know what the problem is: burning fossil fuels (to oversimplify just a bit). We know the solution, in large measure, involves common-sense based carbon sequestration – i.e., leave the oil and coal and gas in the ground. Why is this harder than convoluted, expensive, uncertain and probably dangerous geoengineering?
Are there any updates to ocean heat content measurements since the problem with the Argo floats was discovered earlier this year?
Also, are there any presentations on updated measurements of trends in sea-level rise from the Jason-Topex satelittes? Have these been correlated with the GRACE measurements of mass loss from Antarctica and Greenland?
[I am prepared to be a lone voice for the time being. I know that chucking the left’s prize idea is not popular.]
Strange but I thought cap CO2 and let the market value the CO2 credits that you need to offset emission was a right-wing idea. ie let the market do the job with trading between emitters and sequesterers. The “tax” is what emitters add to product price to cover the cost of the credits. And yes, the poor could go cold and lightless because they cant afford products while the rich can still jet around and drive SUVs because they can afford. On other hand, the cost structure will surely favour carbon efficiency and alternative energy sources.
The left’s solution is surely just cap and hand out ration cards.
At the risk of straying on-topic (not a specialty of mine), I would like to second the request of commenter #1 and ask for some quantitative guesses about Greenland and sea-level rise from attendees. I realize RC is not in the business of passing on unsubstantiated claims, but in view of Hansen’s assertions that (I paraphrase) you can get much scarier predictions about this privately than publicly, I wonder if just this once raypierre could pass on some unattributed information to give us a sense of what the experts might be willing to say to friends over a glass of beer.
[Response: I was a bit reluctant to quote specific numbers because these talks go by fast and the author disappears into the primordial ylem of the other 17000 attendees never to be seen again (sometimes). If I get a copy of the presentation I can check, I'll try to post some numbers. Meanwhile, I did snag some numbers from Mark Serreze's talk, which are mentioned in Dispatch #2. These are numbers for now, but the problem is that nobody knows how high they may go in the future. Only a relative few outlet glaciers are surging now, and I'd guess if they all started to surge you might multiply Mark's number (see Dispatch #2) by a factor of 4 or 5, just to get a ballpark estimate. I wouldn't bank too much money on an estimate like that, though. --raypierre]
Re Walt Bennett @ 13: “In the end, we will need geo-engineering strategies. If some of these turn out to be highly effective, we may not have to pay the procrastination penalty, and we may not have to pay the mitigation tax.”
But you are overlooking the impact of increasing ocean acidity, yet another effect of increasing atmospheric CO2.
And the impact that lower global insolation caused by deliberate injection of sulfate or other aerosols into the atmosphere will have on world-wide agriculture yields.
The trouble with broken records is that they tend to skip over important parts of the song.
I share your concerns. But answer my question from above: do you have complete faith in emissions reduction as an adequate strategy?
I do not, and thus I believe that geoengineering strategies will be necessary. The blind spots you mention are of great concern; at least we know enough to be asking the questions. That was not always the case.
As I see it, man has made his bet: we will engineer our way forward, and when we screw up, we’ll engineer a solution. I see that as much more likely than any nation reducing its energy production in order to reduce emissions.
If I’m right about that, then in the next couple of decades it’s a race between carbon capture technology and geoengineering. That is a good race because both solutions are needed.
The left is behind “make carbon more expensive.”
That is the crux of the issue. change “could” to “will” if that happens.
Ray: thanks for the info, and since you’re at AGU, that reminds me:
Just in case, on Friday afternoon, if you have nothing else to do :-), you (or any other RC reader attending the AGU meeting) might want to check out one of the Hydrology sessions, H53F-1489:
“A Comparison of Soil-Water Sampling Techniques”
J A Tindall, M Figueroa-Johnson, M J Friedel
People may recall the exciting discussion in RC in June of:
“Part 1: Magnetic Intensity and Global Temperatures: A Strong Correlation”
Edward Moran, James Tindall Ph.D
“…Regarding the paper, I would invite any and all Scientific Comments, especially since the full report will be released soon….. Also, I invite all to drop by our presentation at the AGU meetings in San Francisco in December. I would enjoy discussing what I am sure will be many differences of opinion…”
Coauthors M Figueroa-Johnson, M J Friedel are also on the GSAAJ editorial board.
As I see it, man has made his bet: we will engineer our way forward, and when we screw up, we’ll engineer a solution. I see that as much more likely than any nation reducing its energy production in order to reduce emissions.
You know what this sounds like to me? If I get lung cancer, we’ll engineer a cure — but there’s no way I’m gonna quit smoking.
If we could be spectators to all this it would be funny, eh.
Talk of adapting is as useful as talk of sequestering 99% of GHG emissions. We don’t know how, and we won’t get around to it in time. We’ve bought the ticket – we gotta take the ride..
The sequence of events is going to be something like:
1 Continued rise in emissions over the next decade as third world consumption gets up to western levels
2 Token improvements in efficiency in developed countries but continued net increases in emissions
3 Confirmation of the practical impossibility of sequestration
4 Abandonment of bio-fuels as a practical alternative
5 Lack of consensus on geo-engineering reaches a crescendo.
6 Peak oil bites hard in 10 to 15 years
7 Cuba-style major societal disruption due to energy shortages for industry and living
8 Numerous major cities virtually abandoned due to drought and high temperatures. Includes loss of Himalayan water supplies to Asia. Southeast (Florida to Georgia) and southwest USA in dire straights.
9 International Space Station abandoned due to re-distribution of resources towards earth-based social survival
10 Space-based geo-engineering developments halted due to loss of funds for build, launch or operation
11 Major reductions in global food production and distribution due to climate and fuel difficulties
12 Reduced uptake of GHG by biosphere hastens AGW
13 Loss of coastal living and food production areas due to sea rise and storm surge (New Orleans (why did we bother), lower London, Bangladesh, Holland etc…)
14 Enough GHG ‘in the bank’ to spin CO2 through 550ppm and temperatures through the roof.
15 Major reductions in human emissions due to reduced availability of fossil fuels – although China and other countries with major coal reserves will continue to emit strongly regardless until water shortages or population reduction reduce operations.
16 Consequent spin-down in global production, demand and commercial activity due to energy supply issues and relocation of displaced populations
17 By the year 2100 it will be every man for himself…
Now the optimists will say the cup is half full – I’m with them because this is a time of immense potential for the development of our human-ness over our industrial capability. We will again become much more responsible for the destiny of ourselves and our local tribes than we have been for millennia (or at least since taxes were invented!). For the pessimist the cup is indeed half empty and draining fast – and there is plenty to get paranoid about if you like.
My overall view, however, is that expending effort to prove that either AGW is indeed Anthropogenically-driven, or (even more pathetically) to show that global warming is a reality is like wasting time telling people that Christmas is coming. RC gives us a good idea of what to expect and what we need to do and where we should build our arks. Beyond giving us that strategic and tactical information I don’t think RC should spend too much time pandering to the perhaps understandable state of denial evident among the great un-washed!
Re Walt Bennett @ 49: “The left is behind “make carbon more expensive.”
That is the crux of the issue. change “could” to “will” if that happens.”
It’s always so touching when someone who advocates “let the markets go to work” expresses such concern about the plight of the poor…,
at the same time that they contend that there is no need to address the root cause of the current warming, of course.
Seems to me the choice between mitigation and adaptation is a false one. Adaptation isn’t even a choice, its just more of the same. That means GHG emissions keep going up as the second and third worlds hurry to catch up. Eventually you’re asking for an unlivable planet, even with adaptation.
Let me analogize mitigation in this context to one I am more familiar with, wetland mitigation. The somewhat sensible model we are currently functioning under is that, through regulation, we stop development in the high quality wetlands, try to restore degraded wetlands to their former glory and allow mitigation for development in low quality wetlands. Mitigation even in this context doesn’t work very well. To gain equal quality for what is lost requires a larger mitigation area than what is lost. But, in the final analysis (ignoring the loss of wetlands that are filled under the radar) it’s a system that works OK.
However, in the context of AGW, we don’t have the luxury of protecting the high quality earth and allowing mitigation of the low quality earth degraded by AGW. We only have one earth, and its all being degraded. You can’t successfully mitigate for that, you have to stop it.
This notion of geoengineering is, at best, something to be considered only in the direst circumstances. Anytime you impose an engineering solution on a problem, you run into unintended consequences that inevitably also have to be engineered for. It’s a never ending daisy chain that doesn’t offer a final solution, just more problems.
The obvious solution is stopping the emissions. That means replacing fossil fuels with clean energy. Even if we can figure out how to create so-called clean coal technology, you still have the problems created by cutting the tops off mountains in Appalachia, poisoning streams and losing habitat to the decidedly unclean technology of mining it.
There is no one solution, but the easiest and most readily doable is conservation. We need to take it seriously. The latest goal of achieving 35mpg cars by 2025 or whatever the goal date is, is laughably inadequate. We need to rethink our current transportation system that is so heavily reliant on cars. It will take major cultural shifts that I don’t hear anyone talking about. I think the argument over whether there is AGW or whether it is worth fighting is nearly over. It’s time to talk serious solutions.
Comment by weather tis better... — 11 Dec 2007 @ 10:44 PM
Too bad you had Marburger for your Union Agency Lecturer. I don’t want to gloat, but at my American Society of Criminology Conference in Atlanta this November, we had President Jimmy Carter give the keynote speech. It was great. One thing he said is that when he took office he promised always tell the truth to the American people, and he kept that promise.
As I mentioned here in an earlier post, in the ASC critical green criminology section, a paper was presented on “Global Warming: A State Crime Against Humanity,” discussing how the Bush administration has rewritten global warming science, silenced scientists, and just out and out told bald lies.
I agree with Ray (#15) & “The dichotomy between mitigation and adaptation is false.” The way I see it, the only realistic way to raise enough money for adaptation (which will be needed since there is already lots of harm in the pipes, because we’ve been dragging our heels on this for over 20 years) is a vigorous mitigation program of energy/resource conservation/efficiency and alternative energy that should save us A LOT of money, especially if they get rid of all those tax-breaks and subsidies on fossil fuels.
I say give life a level playing field at least.
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 11 Dec 2007 @ 11:01 PM
# 51 Tamino: “If I get lung cancer, we’ll engineer a cure — but there’s no way I’m gonna quit smoking.”
All too common a response, I’m afraid. As has been pointed out here time and time again, a significant aspect of the problem in dealing with AGW is the lack of rational thinking. For instance:
Understanding public complacency about climate change: adults’ mental models of climate change violate conservation of matter
John D. Sterman and Linda Booth Sweeney [no relation]
Climatic Change Volume 80, Numbers 3-4 / February, 2007
Abstract: Public attitudes about climate change reveal a contradiction. Surveys show most Americans believe climate change poses serious risks but also that reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions sufficient to stabilize atmospheric GHG concentrations can be deferred until there is greater evidence that climate change is harmful. US policymakers likewise argue it is prudent to wait and see whether climate change will cause substantial economic harm before undertaking policies to reduce emissions. Such wait-and-see policies erroneously presume climate change can be reversed quickly should harm become evident, underestimating substantial delays in the climate’s response to anthropogenic forcing. We report experiments with highly educated adults – graduate students at MIT – showing widespread misunderstanding of the fundamental stock and flow relationships, including mass balance principles, that lead to long response delays. GHG emissions are now about twice the rate of GHG removal from the atmosphere. GHG concentrations will therefore continue to rise even if emissions fall, stabilizing only when emissions equal removal. In contrast, most subjects believe atmospheric GHG concentrations can be stabilized while emissions into the atmosphere continuously exceed the removal of GHGs from it. These beliefs – analogous to arguing a bathtub filled faster than it drains will never overflow – support wait-and-see policies but violate conservation of matter. Low public support for mitigation policies may arise from misconceptions of climate dynamics rather than high discount rates or uncertainty about the impact of climate change. Implications for education and communication between scientists and nonscientists (the public and policymakers) are discussed. http://www.springerlink.com/content/f367413412565006/
I had occasion, 5 or 6 years ago, to look at how the Japanese reacted to the 1973 oil shock. After realizing that they were an energy-poor set of islands, MITI called a conference of their leading industrialists. They decided (or MITI dictated) that they would abandon energy-intensive industries such as aluminum smelting. Other industries were required to become more energy efficient. Ten years down the road, Japan had steel mills that ran entirely on the energy from the coke oven.
IIRC, in the ten years or so that it took for Japan’s GDP to double, they reduced they energy consumption by a third. In a decade they tripled their energy efficiency!
From Japan’s example, it seems that mitigation is adaptation.
Bush, Marburger & Co. have their hands tied. The United States still believes in individual freedoms, and a ‘carbon tax’ is as laughable as an ‘earth-destroying-meteor tax’, or evangelicals imposing a ‘morality tax’. I have no right to tell you what to do and you have no right to tell me what to do (even if you reeeeeeeeally believe in your cause). Participation in emissions reduction has to be voluntary.
If you penalize the fossil fuel companies, they will change, and that can be rewarded. This is the beauty of capitalism. It just needs a good swift kick in the keister every now and then. Now would be one of those times.
Re:#54. I have found one unintended consequence of pumping cold deep water to the surface in the Caribbean Sea: it adds to the inflow to the Gulf of Mexico and will raise its sea level. To avoid this, it will be necessary to install turbines in the passages between the Antilles Islands to create some back pressure. This will cause some Equatorial Current water to divert around the Caribbean and flow directly into the Gulf Stream north of the Bahamas. Now we have two enormous projects to fund, but in addition to surface cooling and nutrient upwelling, we gain pollution-free electric power for consumers and desalination plants on the Antilles Islands, as well as reduced Loop Current strength. This can reduce interference with drilling operations in the Gulf and reduce the amount of warm water collected inside the Loop to energize hurricanes that pass through the Gulf.
get rid of all those tax-breaks and subsidies on fossil fuels.
People who talk like this seem to imagine civil servants and others who live by cashing government cheques see fossil fuel interests crowding up to the trough and say, welcome, there’s lots for everyone.
This is not in keeping with the nature of civil servants as I know them, and tax takers as I know them. I expect their attitude to be more like that of housecats who see a stranger cat at the food dish. When a government dependent sees a speeder on the highway, does he say, “burn all you want, the extra subsidy you’re taking from me is OK if it makes the drive less dull”?
Obviously fossil fuels bring in a lot more special tax revenue than they take out in subsidy. That’s the problem. The civil servants at Bali aren’t trying very hard, nor very shrewdly, to thwart the oil and gas interests because they are the oil and gas interests.
An insightful person would call for the special taxes on fossil fuels to be discontinued, or for their proceeds to be promptly divided back out to the population, and would understand that when this is done, government would promptly lose interest in giving relatively small amounts of money to the fossil fuel industry.
Re. #20, carbon taxes would only be regressive by definition if they were not tax-neutral. If they were tax neutral and if the tax raised was used in ways that kept the living standards of the poor the same as before (e.g. by subsidising renewable energy) then your argument falls down.
Re. Walt, #34, you’re using a straw man argument: no one here is putting their faith on mitigation ALONE. You, on the other hand, seem to be putting your faith in adaptation alone (without saying, incidentally, who will pay for countries like Bangladesh to adapt).
Hasn’t anyone read George Monbiot’s book “Heat”? He goes through lots of information and calculations covering what needs to be done to reduce CO2 output, and concludes that we can cut it by 90% and maintain living standards similar to todays developed country averages, if we are willing re-arrange things.
This includes replacing mass transit by car with mass transit by bus, generating electricity from sunlight in the Sahara and transferring it via a Europe wide DC power cable network, which also ties together offshore wind and wave. Also we need stricter regulation on new housing efficiency standards, to force developers to build new houses with better insulation.
There are a bunch of other things in the book. I’m sure some of you will find stuff to argue with, but as far as I can see, he is fairly even handed in his treatment of the topic. Therefore, his bok is required reading.
>Also, you seem concerned about flaws in or limits to solutions which have not yet been invented, or at >least not developed to the point of practical use.
No kidding. So what? Crutzen has pointed out, and its obvious anyway, what pumping sulphur into the atmosphere will do. House also points out the downside to his ideas. When you talk of sulphur
infusions but without the acid rain, as you do in #28, thats dreaming of a magic pony and hoping that
“engineering” will bring you one.
Walt Bennett, In a free market, the price of goods must reflect their full cost–and that should include the cost to the environment. Cheap energy has distorted the global economy to a ludicrous extent. I can buy tropical fruits grown in Southeast Asia more cheaply than I can buy locally produced apples (if I can even find local produce)! A carbon tax or cap and trade scheme is merely a mechanism for attempting to capture the costs that the current market does not reflect.
I think that it is very unlikely we will see significant cuts in energy demand. I do think that it is possible to begin meeting energy demand via means other than fossil fuels–especially now that oil is becoming less economical. A carbon tax could tip the balance in favor of renewable energy and perhaps nuclear power and away from coal. However, it will take time to develop the necessary renewable/nuclear infrastructure, and so we have to fill the gap with conservation. Are you going to tell me that there is no fat left in US energy consumption that we could trim? And I know we can increase efficiency in developing countries. It is not a choice between geoengineering/carbon sequestration/adaptation and conservation and new technology. We will need all of these solutions. However for now conservation is critical while we develop other solutions. It is a fatal mistake to rush ahead blindly and assume technology will save us.
[John 25 mentions the sorry fact that most oil terminals are located at the water’s edge. Relocation to high ground while sustaining production will be a truly fascinating engineering challenge. Since the seas will continue to rise from today’s level until all ice is gone and all thermal expansion is done the safe level is above 100 metres above present sea level.
During that not-inconsiderable time we will need to somehow maintain production, sequester all emissions (which entails handling almost twice the volume of CO2 in the direction of ‘away’ as the volume of fuel extracted) and provide the port facilities to ensure cartage of near normal levels of fuel to end users.]
This is just silly.
With current consumption trends oil will be virtually gone in a small number of decades. In this time, barring the truly unexpected in Greenland, the sea level will rise a few inches to (worst case) maybe a foot.
I think the current infrastructure will handle that just fine.
We have sufficient problems to tackle between AGW and replacement of a fossil based energy supply that we don’t need to make up silly ones:)
Whilst I agree in part with Ray I think there are one or two subtleties he is perhaps neglecting. I’d suggest strongly that what we require is a carbon ENERGY tax rather than a carbon tax. There is a significant difference. As an organic chemist, carbon is pretty much the main element that I’m trained to understand so I have a slightly different perspective.
I think what we need to do is to look at ways of reducing the use of carbon fuels in industrial energy production. However, the carbon economy is not going to go away. Every single item of clothing you are wearing has a synthetic dye that is petrochemical derived. Many of the fibres will be syntetic and petrochemical derived. Your computer; all those plastics and then all the organometallics used in chip preparation. Paint on your walls, It’s absolutely everywhere. There is virtually no aspect of life where a petrochemical product is not used. Plastic and it’s derivative are ubiquitous. Fortunately, most of it isn’t going anywhere, or at least not in the form of carbon dioxide. All those plastics in the ground and sitting in your house aren’t about to degrade anytime soon in most cases. And that’s the point, the vast majority of oil is not burned as CO2. Only the highest quality crudes end up as a tiger in your tank. Now that doesn’t mean the oil companies get away scott free. Far from it. Oil refinning is energy intensive and that energy should become non-carbon too. I think it is shocking that gas fired power stations are being built in Canada to heating water to extract oil from the oil sands. Total waste of resource. But expecting our carbon based economy to disappear is simply science fiction. We just need to access all that carbon for the really useful stuff a little more intelligently.
I still end up in the same place as yourself Ray in that I believe that renewable and nuclear probably are the way forward and we simply have to get away from fossil fuels as energy sources. But oil is here to stay. I’m really hoping, to be honest, that long term the JET and ITER folks can get a more sustainable fusion reaction going that lasts for more than a few seconds but I rather fancy that fusion, being the best solution, is going to be a harder to get too. Always the way eh!
So please folks try to look as carbon as much as your friend as well. It does actually have it’s uses. We are, afterall, carbon based life forms so it isn’t all bad.
Regarding adaptation, and crocodile tears for “the poor” so often shed by opponents of mitigation:
United States negotiators have objected to language in the draft Bali Roadmap text on “sufficient, predictable, additional, and sustainable” adaptation funding for vulnerable countries … the latest draft of the Bali Roadmap text strips out that language, undermining negotiations and condemning poor and vulnerable people to deepening poverty.
The need for adequate and rapidly scaled up sources of adaptation funding is clear. The World Bank has estimated the annual needs of developing countries to adapt to climate change is up to $40 billion, Oxfam puts this figure at a minimum of $50 billion annually, while the UN Development Program said last week that the costs are $86 billion a year.
Despite being the world’s largest historical emitter of global greenhouse gases, the US has contributed exactly $0 to the multilateral funds created under the UNFCCC.
Now, US negotiators are saying “NO” to the idea that it’s time for developed countries to fulfill their commitments under the UNFCCC by making sure that developing countries receive adequate funding.
So, the Bush administration’s negotiators at the Bali conference are not only adamantly opposing any binding targets for emission reductions as “unrealistic and unhelpful”, they are also opposing any binding commitments for adaptation assistance to the developing world. In other words they oppose both mitigation and adaptation.
Re # 58 Michael: “Bush, Marburger & Co. have their hands tied. The United States still believes in individual freedoms, …”
Except that the U.S. Supreme Court seems to think GHG emissions can be regulated:
High Court Faults EPA Inaction on Emissions
Critics of Bush Stance on Warming Claim Victory
By Robert Barnes and Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, April 3, 2007; Page A01
“The court ruled 5 to 4 that the Environmental Protection Agency violated the Clean Air Act by improperly declining to regulate new-vehicle emissions standards to control the pollutants that scientists say contribute to global warming….”
Keith, Your added precision–carbon energy tax–is appropriate. WRT fusion, remember the words of the wag who said, “Fusion is the energy source of the future…and it always will be.” Fusion is highly problematic for a number of reasons. First, there is the difficulty of controlling the plasma in the first place–as anyone who has experience with very-low-density plasmas in accelerators could attest. However, the neutrons are murder! They steal much of the energy away from each fusion and also complicate the containment and safety issues. They also limit the lifetime of the containment vessel. I don’t think I’ll see commercial fusion in my lifetime, and I am not yet an old man.
Conservation is the best option–every unit of energy we don’t use saves 3. It is also something we can probably get the utility companies behind, since it means they don’t have to increase plant capacity.
I disagree that the comparison is apt. In the case of a smoker, an individual is making decisions which affect only that individual. In the case of AGW, an elite group will make decisions which affect perhaps every person in the developed world, and maybe more. These elite will be making decisions which directly affect the availability and cost of energy. Without access to energy, any human is instantly transformed into a primitive being.
My biggest fear is that this “solution” of artificially inflating the cost of energy will not be sufficient to avoid catastrophic warming, but it will inflict immense pain on vast numbers of the poor while failing. So, we will end up with the worst of all worlds: a planet on its way to overheating; an impoverished class vastly larger than today’s; and many years wasted that should have been spent engineering our way forward.
“The markets” are currently constructed to provide cheap energy. The changes being discussed will end that. Energy will be made more expensive artificially, in order to promote social change. In simple terms, make it unaffordable and they will use less of it.
This implies that consumers have disposable income sitting around, available to spend on higher energy costs. I cannot afford to have my energy costs double; can you?
As for dealing with root causes: you imply that if I do not promote full-scale emissions reduction, I am ignoring root causes? Let me ask you this: what are the root causes? Which of those are addressed by emissions reduction?
You seem to believe that emissions reduction is the cure. I consider that view to be naive in the ways I have previously expressed in this thread. It is also quite clear to me that the politics of this is simple: the left sees a chance to control enormous political power, and they are seizing that opportunity.
“This notion of geoengineering is, at best, something to be considered only in the direst circumstances.”
In my view, we’re there. That’s exactly what I’m saying, in fact: there is no way that emissions reductions will actually solve the problem. I agree with the rest of your paragraph. Of course, that is the challenge whenever there is large scale technology change, such as, for example, the switch to fossil fuels over 100 years ago. We did a poor job of anticipating those consequences. We must improve our abilities to do so.
My point is, we’ve already made that bet.
“I think the argument over whether there is AGW or whether it is worth fighting is nearly over. It’s time to talk serious solutions.”
You and I agree, and that is exactly what I am doing. Emissions reduction, alone, is not a serious strategy. It is a political power grab.
I’d like to see some specifics as to how we avoid whacking the poor with higher fuel costs. Whatever offsets you envision would have to immediately lower that cost, or they wouldn’t do much good.
You say that “no one here is putting their faith on mitigation ALONE”. I disagree and I’ll go further than that: many here and in the broader community are placing their full faith in exactly one form of mitigation: emissions reduction.
If what you say is true, where is the discussion of (a) broader mitigation strategies and (b) additional strategies for reducing the impact of the warming which is now in the pipeline and will continue to be added to the pipeline in the next 30 years?
My position is much more nuanced than you perceive. Please re-read my prior posts in this thread.
Let the better ideas come. They will.
“Walt Bennett, In a free market, the price of goods must reflect their full cost–and that should include the cost to the environment.”
Ray, I am well aware of that argument and I agree. However, we are past the point of rationally building in that cost. We are at a point where that cost must be backloaded to achieve the intended effect. Tell me how we avoid whacking the poor with that “cost adjustment”, or else tell me why it is fair to let that happen.
“It is not a choice between geoengineering/carbon sequestration/adaptation and conservation and new technology. We will need all of these solutions.”
We quite agree. That’s exactly the discussion I am trying to have.
“However for now conservation is critical while we develop other solutions. It is a fatal mistake to rush ahead blindly and assume technology will save us.”
I also completely agree with that. If we continue on the current course (which means, relying heavily on the political solution of emissions reduction), we will find ourselves in even more dire circumstances, making it more likely that we will “rush blindly ahead.”
RE #23 [James] “Re #18: [Rather than a carbon tax, which could well hit the poor harder than the rich…]
Is this really all that different from .e.g Marburger’s suggestions of reducing carbon intensity (carbon per GDP dollar), in that it’s putting socioeconomic goods (albeit different ideas of what those goods are) ahead of doing something that might actually reduce CO2 emissions?”
I tried posting a response to this yesterday, but for some reason it did not appear. James, if you are talking about “Contraction and Convergence” it could hardly be more different from Marburger’s tosh. As the name might hint, the main aim is “contraction” – sustained reduction in emissions; the secondary aim is “convergence” – sustained movement toward a position in which every individual gets a right to an equal share of what GHG emissions can be permitted at a given time. Those who cannot manage within the current limit must buy rights to emit from those able to do with less than that limit – hence, since the former will generally be the rich and the latter the poor, an increase in economic equity as a side-effect – a welcome one from my point of view, but I am sure an additional disadvantage from the point of view of George Bush.
Re #28 [Walt Bennett]
Perhaps I am not as confident as you are that the “allocation” will meet minimum needs. To the extent that a typical consumer might need to acquire extra carbon on the open market, we are still discussing artificial inflation of the cost of a necessity. In other words, your suggestion is too pretty to work. To the extent that you are attempting to shift the main cost to those who are presumably more able to pay, I think that concept needs further exploration. However, other paths hold more promise, I think. Those include: conservation and efficiency improvements; lowering the cost of alternatives, especially those which do not require an infrastructure and are micro-scalable; and mitigation strategies which include geo-engineering to reduce the warming effect and/or remove carbon from the atmosphere. None of those will have a direct cost impact on the poor.”
The level of the allocation should be set in the light of the need for rapid reduction in emissions, but so as to avoid hardship as far as possible, and to share out what hardship there must be, fairly. I agree that conservation and efficiency improvements and investment to lower the cost of alternatives are essential – but they are not enough. In particular, efficiency improvements can have a perverse effect – by lowering the cost of particular activities, they can lead to an increase either in those activities (keeping your house warmer, driving further) and/or a diversion of funds to even more GHG-intensive activities (what is saved on heating may be spent on extra flights). This is far too important to be left to the vagaries of markets; the allies in WW2 did not leave it to markets to ensure that the necessary numbers of tanks, planes, bullets etc. were manufactured and transported to where they were needed, and we are now in a situation of comparable peril. Moreover, as you must surely be aware, reliance on markets inevitably means that the rich have a greater say in what happens than the poor – simply because they have more to spend or to invest. For that reason, I find your expressions of concern for the poor somewhat implausible.
I do not deny that geoengineering approaches may at some point be necessary, but at the moment they are little more than “smoke and mirrors”. As for saying that geoengineering will not “have a direct cost impact on the poor” – these are weasel words. It will certainly have a cost impact – someone is going to have to pay for geoengineering projects, and paying for public goods is an activity from which the poor are not generally excluded by the jealous clamour of the rich for the honour. Such projects may also have serious environmental side-effects, and if they do, it will of course be the poor who suffer first and most – as they will if we abandon or go easy on emissions reduction, then find that none of the geoengineering approaches is both practicable and effective.
Finally, you have several times identified carbon taxes as the preferred solution of “the left”. In Europe at least, my impression is that leftists who address the issue generally advocate contraction and convergence or something close to it – but are certainly not alone in doing so. If your concern over AGW and for the poor are real, have a look at http://www.gci.org.uk/contconv/cc.html, where the idea is described in more detail than could be included here.
“There’s a question mark of how long is it going to take the bigfoots to step forward and do what they need to do, or will that happen in 2009 with the right leader?” Kerry said. “You need to believe in this issue. You can’t just do it on the side because it’s an obligation that somebody throws at you. This has to become a crusade, a passion, a monumental undertaking.”
I consider it important that we do not pre-judge a political view, simply because it seems to be a stonewalling maneuver. For many reasons, it is not clear today what specific actions must be taken, by whom, at what cost and how soon. The U.S. does not want to lock in vague commitments which may fail to adequately address the situation. To the extent that this is an effort to be more concrete in establishing and achieving specific goals, I agree. If it turns into an excuse to do nothing, I disagree.
The Bali conference is one step in a process which all parties hope will lead to an agreement in 2009. We should not get overly worked up about negotiating positions at this point. We should be paying strict attention to any commitments which are made now and in the future. Are they adequate? Are they achievable? Are they fair?
As we inch toward the day – which will be here soon – when nations are committed to climate stabilization in concrete ways, we need to pay very careful attention to the details.
To the extent that U.S. negotiators want more detail and more concreteness, I concur. Without those, the only goal likely to be achieved is the leftward political reconfiguration.
Your greatest leverage in any negotiation is before you commit. It would be a weak stance to commit to specifics this early in the process.
And let’s not assume that those who want the money are in this for the good of humanity. Many of us are old enough to recite a long list of international relief efforts that succeeded only in enriching an elite few and further destabilizing the conditions of the masses they were intended to help.
Re #73, Ray Ladbury — I inquired about net metering at First Energy, which supplies electricity here in the Toledo, OH area. I told them that if I were to install solar panels in my backyard, I would install more than I need for my own use, and sell the excess to them. Their reply was that their net metering program is for an individual’s use only. They are not interested in me making money by selling electricity, in competition with them. They also told me that they’d compensate me for small excesses at their generating cost. They quoted that at 2 to 3 cents/kwhr. However, right on my bill, their generating cost works out to about 5.5 cents/kwhr. How about that for talking out of both sides of their mouth?
So in reply to your guess that power companies should see customers generating their own power as reducing their future need for more generating capacity, I can say that for First Energy, that’s not a consideration. Very short sighted in my opinion.
A local company, First Solar, is working overtime, supplying their thin film panels to Germany, and other European countries, who pay individuals 50 cents/kwhr for excess electricity pumped into the grid. Government subsidies pay most of that, however.
First Solar is also building 4 new plants. They’re not the only one expanding their capacity.
Jack Roesler, While I sympathize, I was talking more about conservation–e.g. not consuming. There are plenty of examples of utilities giving away CFLs and otherwise engouraging conservation. I agree that utilities are more than a little peevish about people generating their own electricity with PVs/wind/etc., especially when they are mandated to buy the excess.
And while the growth in renewables has been impressive, we need to remember that generating impressive growth numbers is easy when you start from a small base. Even if they were to maintain these impressive % growth numbers, it will be a long while before they make much of a dent in overall energy consumption.
Re #58: [Bush, Marburger & Co. have their hands tied. The United States still believes in individual freedoms, and a ‘carbon tax’ is as laughable as an ‘earth-destroying-meteor tax’...]
Apologies for a short digression into politics, but “the US believes in individual freedoms” as an argument from Bush & company – the same people who give us the “War on Drugs”, the Patriot Act, and so much more – is so far beyond laughable as to recall the classic definition of chutzpah: murder your parents, then ask for mercy because you’re an orphan.
As for a carbon tax, why is it any more laughable, or impractical, than a sales tax, a property tax, or an income tax?
Re #74: [...sustained movement toward a position in which every individual gets a right to an equal share of what GHG emissions can be permitted at a given time.]
Two problems with that. The first, that emissions are a “right” that has to be distributed equally, is of course political, so I won’t go beyond saying that I disagree.
The second is the assumption that there’s some permissable level of emissions that can be set by government fiat. To me that assumption is a major mistake. The goal should be to reduce emissions as fast and as far as possible. Setting some permissible level creates more incentives to game the system to get a bigger share than it does to actually reduce one’s emissions.
Re Jack Roesler @75: “A local company, First Solar, is working overtime, supplying their thin film panels to Germany, and other European countries, who pay individuals 50 cents/kwhr for excess electricity pumped into the grid. Government subsidies pay most of that, however.”
Here in Ontario I believe the current rate is 42¢/kw for wind or solar generation into the grid, but much of that is clawed back by monthly administrative fees on the individual homeowner level. It is the 42¢/kw that is the subsidy, btw.
Ray. Indeed, fusion seems nothing more than a pipedream. A very expensive one at that. But, hey you never know. Sometimes breakthroughs can be very small and make a huge difference. But I understand the tremendous problems. And yes, i too doubt that it will be a reality in my lifetime and like you I am less than halfway through my life (I hope).
Conservation of resources and energy. Agreed. Seems like a good plan.
[[The United States still believes in individual freedoms, and a ‘carbon tax’ is as laughable as an ‘earth-destroying-meteor tax’, or evangelicals imposing a ‘morality tax’. I have no right to tell you what to do and you have no right to tell me what to do (even if you reeeeeeeeally believe in your cause). Participation in emissions reduction has to be voluntary.]]
By that logic, if I want to dump potassium cyanide into your artesian well, you have no right to stop me. I have no right to tell you what to do, and you have no right to tell me what to do. My stopping has to be voluntary.
re: #75, #76
Many of us believe that the best watts are negawatts, and ther are a lot tobe had. The Sovacool/Brown book, “Energy and American Society- Thirteen Myths” has several good chapters on energy efficiency.
However, the *key* to Jack’s specific problem is the rules that the local PUC sets. If those rules incent a utility to sell more pwoer, that’s what they’ll do. If they incent the utility for overall efficiency, they will act different.
Nothing much will happen until the PUCs in all states get with it … or so sayeth the CEO of our local (California) utility PG&E: http://www.pge.com
Jack: go start chasing your PUC to start looking at CA rules.
[[With current consumption trends oil will be virtually gone in a small number of decades. In this time, barring the truly unexpected in Greenland, the sea level will rise a few inches to (worst case) maybe a foot.
I think the current infrastructure will handle that just fine.]]
A foot of sea level rise is enough to poison aquifers and back up sewers in parts of some coastal cities. It would cause billions of dollars worth of damage.
Are you saying you don’t believe in individual freedoms? Do you realize if one group has access to the US governments regulatory powers and restrictions, that you have to allow all groups that same privilege. Dominant religous groups would like to see condoms taken off shelves, heavy taxes and restrictions on ‘sin’, womens rights revoked. And many AIDS advocates could find better uses for GW funds, for instance. The list of causes in need of your money and freedoms is endless. I support a government that defends individual freedoms, and I think you do to, you just don’t know it.
Michael #58, It would appear that in the face of a serious perceived threat (be it terrorism or climate change), the American people develop a degree of elasticity about their personal liberties. Indeed, it is because we wish to avoid the sort of ill advised, draconian measures the people may demand in times of fear that we need to begin acting now while the light of reason still prevails.
I believe Jim Hansen has published initially that sea levels could rise by two meters or six feet in the next 100 years if events really go badly…but that is of course only preliminary results in Environmental Research letters, May 24, 07 and a few other publications he did..but it is really questionable, in my opinion, to put out numbers at this stage.
Well “left” and “right” mean different things to you obviously. I’m not American. What has to happen is a cap on carbon. This is not a left/right issue. How you implement a cap on is. A carbon tax is a central government solution. Buying credits to offset emissions is another. Or is the “right” in America simply in denial and incapable of a solution at all? Carbon emissions cost plain and simple; adapt or geoengineer the trick is get the costs paid for by emitters and not the say the poor in Bangladesh. In absense of any geoengineering scheme shown to work, you need cap until you have found one.
Reducing GHG emissions to the atmosphere is necessary but not sufficient because atmospheric GHG concentrations will still increase, albeit at a slower rate. Solar input to Earth already exceeds IR radiation to space, so the oceans will continue to store heat. Ice melting will continue to accelerate.
We need additional help, like pumping up deep cold water and distributing it at the surface at the rate of one million cubic meters per second. In addition to surface cooling, the up-welled water will supply nutrients to increase food production and slow down ocean acidification.
Hoh boy! Michael, you seem to believe that anyone can do whatever the hell they want, no matter the consequences for others.
Nigel (#52) I think you have really hit the nail on the head. There is no reason to believe that the world is going to respond to our situation in a adequate manner. So it would seem there will be a very great deal of disorder and disruption ahead before the seriousness of the issue sinks in.
I do keep trying to raise the point that you cannot seperate climate science from climate politics or climate policy, much as RealClimate tries to stick to the science alone. The people best equipped to inform climate politics and policy are climate scientists themselves. (Another example might be HIV. How can a moral individual who knows the science of AIDS not call for policy change in the face of government denial of the science.)
From what you say I would describe the talk by John Marburger, President Bush’s Science Advisor, as a justification of the administration’s policies, rather than an apology. His approach sounds very much like that advocated by Bjorn Lomberg in the Sceptical Environmentalist: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bjorn_Lomberg
Basically it’s too expensive to reduce carbon emissions, so we should look at adaptation. (This is a slight caricature of his position as he does emphasise the need for doing a cost-benefit analysis.)
The “aspirational goals” you refer to sound suspiciously familiar too. In Australia our former Prime Minister John Howard was famous for talking about aspirational goals,targets etc. I remember a Newspaper cartoon by Alan Moir. On the left was the heading “Target” with an archery target standing in a field. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Archery_Target_80cm.svg
On the right was the heading “Aspirational Target” with the same target painted on the side of a flying pig!
Re #80 (Barton Paul Levenson) “How do you convert hydrogen to boron?”
First the hydrogen must show a genuine desire to change. Then I believe there’s an intensive instruction course, followed by some sort of ceremony, the details of which the convert is sworn never to divulge.
“Are you saying you don’t believe in individual freedoms?”
I don’t think I said that, did I?
“Do you realize if one group has access to the US governments regulatory powers and restrictions,…”
It’s called lobbying, and I’m quite sure it is going on every day in the halls and offices of the U.S. Congress – surely this is no surprise to you?
“… that you have to allow all groups that same privilege.”
Unfortunately, no – it is the special interests with the big buckes that can afford lobbyists (some of whom are former government officials) to argue their cause to members of congress – it is often quite difficult for ordinary citizens to argue their cause – surely this is not surprise to you, either?
“Dominant religous groups would like to see condoms taken off shelves, heavy taxes and restrictions on ’sin’, womens rights revoked. And many AIDS advocates could find better uses for GW funds, for instance. The list of causes in need of your money and freedoms is endless.”
Yes, and they are often successful at the local and state level, less often at the federal level, though they keep trying. That’s why their is a ban on using federal money for most embryonic stem cell research. Please don’t tell me you didn’t already know this?
“I support a government that defends individual freedoms, and I think you do to, you just don’t know it.”
Of course I do, but sometimes we have to put up with the tyranny of the majority.
I don’t see how any of this is relevant to my point that the U.S. EPA has a mandate to regulate the introduction of pollutants into the environment. Protecting us from environmental pollutants is, I think, a proper role for the federal government, as is protecting our borders against those who might harm us.
The key to preserving individual liberties is having a population that regulates its own behavior so that no one infringes on anyone else’s liberty or rights. Know of anyplace answering to that description? Neither do I.
“The good news, I suppose, is that he at least stated that he accepted the established physical connection between CO2 increase and warming — the inhibition of infrared emission by CO2, amplified by water vapor feedback.”
A skeptic I’ve been discussing the IPCC with points out that there is no section on IR absorption by CO2 (and, importantly to him, water vapour). My reply was that this level of detail is too technical for a tertiary document, and that he would find what he wanted in the studies referenced.
There followed a few days days with he and I combing through the studies listed in the 2007 and 2001 IPCC reports. I pointed him to GEISA and HITRAN databases, but he was not satisfied. I cited Weart’s online history on the subject – not good enough. I’ve been wondering if the 1990 and 1995 reports went into more detail on the optical properties of CO2 and how that validates radiation budgets, but what I’d gratefully appreciate is some study references directly from the IPCC reports on this subject (and where in the IPCC reports those studies are cited).
Not sure if this is off-topic – is there an open thread for miscellanea?
[Response: Try Clough and Iacono (JGR, 1995). - gavin]
The challenge is, can we solve the climate change problem faster than we are creating it?
This is ‘the battle of the rates’.
C&C has been mentioned in the exchanges above and it helps to resolve this challenge with reference to the actual numbers [rates of contraction and convergence - C&C] that are relevant, rather than the to-and-fro of left-right analysis.
It gives the numerate but perhaps painful truth of our climate change dilemma vis-a-vis future fossil fule consumption and what it probably takes to win the battle of the rates.
Rates of C&C that are still relevant don’t really provide the amount of time that is needed to conduct all the fruitless allopathic argument that academics, bureacrats and [even still] some campaigners imply is still available and still needed for the detailed arguments they still make.
Dodo (126): I suspect that in this case being “happy to tell [someone]” is a reflection of Tom’s disposition and his willingness to share his research and is not necessarily a reflection on Tom’s feelings about the past climate or a measure of how happy he is about it.
Thank you for the response. If I understand it correctly, the article you linked to shows that the variability in model outputs ranges all the way down to predicting virtually no tropospheric warming and even cooling above the 200mb pressure level. Is that correct? Am I interpreting that graph with the revised +/- 2sigma limits correctly?
Re #121 [Re 86. Or is the “right” in America simply in denial and incapable of a solution at all?
I am totally baffled by the fact that the subject of AGW is for so many on the right seen as a partisan political issue rather than a scientific question with real-world consequences.]
No need for bafflement I think, at least so far as two sections of the right are concerned:
1) The “fossil-fuelled right”: hirelings of those large corporations that stand to lose a lot if serious action to avert AGW is taken. I use the quoted term because the most obvious members of this are corporations with large interests in fossil fuels, or items such as autos and air travel that use a lot of fossil fuels, but the category could be broadened, since really serious action will involve encouraging a reduction in overall consumption, and few corporations will do well out of that. The big reinsurance companies (e.g. SwissRe, MunichRe) are probably the best friends we have among large corporations.
2) The “free market right”: ideologues convinced that the “free market” can solve anything. Since AGW is a clear counterexample on a vast scale, they have to deny it is happening, or abandon their worldview.
Other segments of the right may be more amenable to reason on this issue – for example, as I understand it, parts of the US “Christian right” are now calling for action, and in Europe the leaders of some right-leaning political parties are at least saying some relatively sensible things about the issue. As a dyed-in-the-wool socialist and atheist, on this issue, I’m prepared to work with (almost) anyone!
In context, I would assume that “the Middle Ages were not as generally warm as the present” is a way to briefly state although particular regions may have seen temperatures similar to what we’re seeing now at times during the Middle Ages, the average global temperatures now are higher than they appear to have been at any one time during the Middle Ages. I don’t believe that Ray used “generally warm” as some operationalize-able construct that would be meaningful out of context, and it surprises me that you seem to have read it that way.
Also, regarding you quote-attribution challenge, Ray did not say ‘Tom said X.’ Ray said ‘Tom would tell you X,’ implying that Ray believes that Tom believes it. So of course it’s not a quote from Tom, and no one has said so. It’s Ray’s understanding of Tom’s position. Is your understanding of Tom Lowell’s position different? If so, what is your understanding, and why?
Dodo, in your last two posts you have parsed other people’s statements differently than I would have, and from the responses to your comment about Tom Lowell’s happiness and historical climate, it seems that some others here parsed those statements differently than you did as well. Perhaps this should just be a reminder to us all to be as unambiguous as possible when we communicate. But ambiguity cannot be reduced to zero, at least not in vernacular communication like this. So the reader should take some responsibility for interpreting what is said in the proper context, IMO.
We got be careful with those CEOs on Wall street. One of my friend on his flight to China overheard a conversation between two business men. Their idea was to purchase some chinese factory which could not meet the CO2 emission standard and then use this to get “carbon money” from UN (or some European country), and then they will destroy the company and keep the money!
What an idea!
[Response: Any scheme can be abused. Good accounting and enforcement is critical to any emissions trading scheme, no more nor less so than any other public endeavor. --raypierre]