diet coke for breakfast

Friday, July 11, 2003

Posted by Jake
Analysis: CO2 cap needed to curb warming

I love the unsubstantiated alarmism in this study (by the Pew so what do we expect).

First, even if we agree that global warming is happening, they never really bother to substantiate why it would be bad. Seas will probably rise, and weather will change. This will probably have costs (although estimates vary).

We do on the other hand have very good ways of calculating how much carbon emissions controls would cost: In 1999, a report by the National Center for Policy Analysis examined the cost of meeting the goals stipulated in the Kyoto Treaty, which would slow the rate of increase in greenhouse gases. "Without any offsets or credits, U.S. GDP would be 3.6 percent to 5.1 percent lower in 2010, representing a loss of $330 billion to $467 billion or about $1,100 to $1,600 per capita," the NCPA report concluded. 5% reduction in GDP! These people get pissed when we don't send a tax cut to people who aren't paying taxes.

Second, whether global warming is happing is still sort of debated. Many scientists would argue about this but I think concluding that we are in a warming trend based on a hundred years of information in a 5 billion year old planet is like conclude that nuclear winter is coming by turning your thermastat down -- it may well be but how the hell do you know. Furthermore, I seem to remember learning in school that oceans once covered North America to somewhere around Missouri. Thus, a sea level rise of 100 ft or so would hardly be unprecedented.

But when questioned about the possibility inaccuracy of the studies conclusions Raymond Kopp, senior fellow at Resources for the Future, (defending the Pew study) just writes it off: Kopp said, "This is a great difficulty. You are trying to do this in a world of tremendous uncertainty ... Bad things could happen. Will it happen? I don't know." He added: "What you are buying is insurance. You're paying a little bit now to put in the institutions, and should the science prove to be right, you're in a position to bring the technology in." Well that is one hell of an expensive insurance policy for something that you are sure about. How about this. Let's bomb Western Europe into atomic glass because things are rough in foreign policy right now because hey it could get worse.

Here's a thought: Evironmentalists -- the new reactionaries. Everytime someone in the world wants to build something or do something, there the environmentalists are shitting all over it. "Don't touch! No changing will be tolerated!" Do these people sincerely believe that stasis is possible on this planet considering its evolutionary history. I would instead argue that change -- and sometimes radical change -- is the natural state of the planet and that trying to maintain it as is is both impossible and unnatural.

Remember the video game SimEarth when we were kids (where you go and terraform a little planet). That is what we should be doing. We should embrace the idea that we are inevitably going to change the planet and focus on building bigger and better planet changing technologies. Too warm, sink some CO2 to the bottom of the ocean. Too hot, let's burn some trees. This don't touch attitude to the planet is not only counter to what every other species is doing (trust me there are plenty of examples of non-human species driving others to extinction) but untenable in the long term.

While were at it, let's terraform Mars too...


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