The Earth has been getting warmer — but how much of that heat is due to greenhouse gas emissions and how much is due to natural causes? A leaked report by a United Nations’ group dedicated to climate studies says that heat from the sun may play a larger role than previously thought.
While the IPCC settled on 3C per doubling of CO2, it strongly implied that all the risk was to the upside, and many other prominent folks who typically get fawning attention in the media have proposed much higher numbers.
NY Times climate writer Andy Revkin has quite an article recently, finally acknowledging in the paper of record that maybe those skeptics who have argued for a lower sensitivity number kind of sort of have a point.
“Worse than we thought” has been one of the most durable phrases lately among those pushing for urgent action to stem the buildup of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.
But on one critically important metric — how hot the planet will get from a doubling of the pre-industrial concentration of greenhouse gases, a k a “climate sensitivity” — some climate researchers with substantial publication records are shifting toward the lower end of the warming spectrum.
By the way, this is the only metric that matters. All the other BS about “climate change” and “dirty weather” are meaningless without warming. CO2 cannot change the climate or raise sea levels or any of that other stuff by any mechanism we understand or that has even been postulated, except via warming.
Ronald Bailey over Reason’s Hit&Run:
President Obama committed after the United Nations Climate Change conference in Copenhagen in 2009 that the United States will cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent below their 2005 peak by 2020. In fact, thanks to the recession and the replacement of coal power generation with the flood of cheap natural gas released by fracking, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are already about 9 percent lower than they were in 2005.
So, you have two ways you can save the planet. One, let the free market develop innovative new technologies that reduce emissions. Or two, use government to strangle economic development until everyone is so poor that energy usage begins to drop. Save the planet while improving living standards, or save the planet by worsening living standards?
Here, Coyote blog draws attention to the extent to which climate change alarmist Kevin Drum is also a federal debt ‘denialist’.
In response to this statement by Drum:
Rising U.S. debt hasn’t caused inflation. It hasn’t sent interest rates skyrocketing. It hasn’t reduced Chinese demand for American bonds. It hasn’t reduced demand for long-dated bonds. Really, it hasn’t done any of the things that conservatives have been predicting with apocalyptic fervor for the past four years.
I am left agog at the incredible blindness of this position, and find it intriguing how it contrasts with Drum’s position on rising atmospheric CO2 levels. In the latter case, he constantly argues that lack of warming today is not an excuse for inaction, that CO2 is dangerous and its production must be greatly curtailed. He takes this position despite any real historic evidence of harm from CO2 levels — ie future harm is hypothetical and without precedent. But still he wants action now.
Can I generalize here that climate change alarmists are more likely than average to also be federal debt skeptics, and vise versa?
here is but one anecdotal example of why government solutions to the problem are to be avoided:
When the United Nations wanted to help slow climate change, it established what seemed a sensible system. Greenhouse gases were rated based on their power to warm the atmosphere. The more dangerous the gas, the more that manufacturers in developing nations would be compensated as they reduced their emissions.
But where the United Nations envisioned environmental reform,some manufacturers of gases used in air-conditioning and refrigeration saw a lucrative business opportunity. They quickly figured out that they could earn one carbon credit by eliminating one ton of carbon dioxide, but could earn more than 11,000 credits by simply destroying a ton of an obscure waste gas normally released in the manufacturing of a widely used coolant gas.
That is because that byproduct has a huge global warming effect. The credits could be sold on international markets, earning tens of millions of dollars a year. That incentive has driven plants in the developing world not only to increase production of the coolant gas but also to keep it high — a huge problem because the coolant itself contributes to global warming and depletes the ozone layer. That coolant gas is being phased out under a global treaty, but the effort has been a struggle.
So since 2005 the 19 plants receiving the waste gas payments have profited handsomely from an unlikely business: churning out more harmful coolant gas so they can be paid to destroy its waste byproduct. The high output keeps the prices of the coolant gas irresistibly low, discouraging air-conditioning companies from switching to less-damaging alternative gases. That means, critics say, that United Nations subsidies intended to improve the environment are instead creating their own damage.
From Profits on Carbon Credits Drive Output of a Harmful Gas, an August 2012 piece in the NYT by Elisabeth Rosenthal and Andrew Lehren.