Category Archives: Uncategorized

Cooler but Poorer Gets You This

This is what we will continue to get by sharply reducing world economic growth, particularly growth in developping nations, to reduce CO2 by a few increments:

Military ships and helicopters were trying on Saturday to reach thousands of survivors of a super cyclone that killed more than 1,600 people and pummeled impoverished Bangladesh with mighty winds and waves.

Cyclone Sidr smashed into the country’s southern coastline late on Thursday night with 250 kph (155 mph) winds that whipped up a five meter tidal surge. It was the strongest cyclone since a 1991 storm that killed some 143,000 people in Bangladesh.

143,000 dead from a hurricane?  This is not global warming, this is poverty.  The death toll from the worst storm in the US in recent history was well under a hundred.  Because even our poor are rich compared to the rest of the world.

Let’s All Be Like India!

Never have I seen a global warming catastrophist help make it clear what potential costs were are facing in trying to roll back CO2 emissions (emphasis added):

Mr Stern, the former chief economist of the World Bank, sends out a very clear message: “We need to cut down the total amount of carbon emissions by half by 2050.” At current levels, the per capita global emissions stand at 7 tonnes, or a total of 40-45 gigatonnes. At this rate, global temperatures could rise by 2.5-3 degrees by then. But to reduce the per capita emissions by half in 2050, most countries would have to be carbon neutral. For instance, the US currently has, at 20-25 tonnes, per capita emissions levels that are three times the global average.

The European Union’s emission levels stand at 10-15 tonnes per capita. China is at about 3-4 tonnes per capita and India, at 1 tonne per capita, is the only large-sized economy that is below the desired carbon emission levels of 2050. “India should keep it that way and insist that the rich countries pay their share of the burden in reducing emissions,” says Mr Stern.

It is fabulous to see a global warming action supporter making my case for me.  In short, he is saying that India should stay the way it is (poor) and everyone else in the world needs to devolve until they are just like India (poor).  I have often said that aspiring to a slightly cooler but substantially poorer world makes no sense, and here we see the choice starkly.

By the way, it is always worth a moment to reality check any warming forecast you see in print, in this case a forecast of 2.5-3 degrees C by 2050.

Historically, we have seen a rise of 0.6 degrees at the same time CO2 concentrations have risen by 100ppm, though not all of this 0.6 degrees is due to CO2.  Recently, CO2 has been rising at 1.5-2 ppm per year.  Let’s assume that from now until 2050, it accelerates and rises on average 3 ppm per year, which is probably high.  This gives us a high-side estimate of 3 x 42 years = 126 ppm more.  So historically, 100 ppm caused something less than 0.6 degrees but going forward, 126 ppm more will cause 2.5-3 degrees?  Do you see how crazy and unsubantiable this is?  Particularly since the relationshio of CO2 to radiation absorbtion, and thus to temperature, is a diminishing one, such that the next 100 ppm should cause less warming than the last 100 ppm. 

Yeah, I know, it’s more complicated (dimming and feedback, etc).  But the ultimate answer considering this greater complexity is still the same.  The more complex answer is discussed in slightly longer form here, and in much longer form in my film and my book (both free online).

Warmer but Richer

James Pethoukokis via Cafe Hayek

In one of its occasional assessments, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—the cowinner with Al Gore of the Nobel Peace Prize—posited a scenario in which the global economy would grow at about 2 percent a year for the next 100 years (it’s growing at more than twice that pace currently) with "fragmented" and "slow" per capita economic growth and technological change.

Indeed, it is just this scenario that was used by the influential Stern Report on the economic impact of climate change. By the year 2100, the size of the global economy would be $243 trillion. However, there is another IPCC scenario. It imagines "a future world of very rapid economic growth, low global population growth that peaks in mid-century and declines thereafter, and the rapid introduction of new and more efficient technologies." According to this story line, the global economy would grow at 3.5 percent per year, giving us a $550 trillion global economy in the year 2100, more than twice the size of the economy assumed in the first scenario.

I don’t know about you, but give me a century of accelerating technological change and $300 trillion to pay for it, and there are few problems that would keep me up at night. So the question is: Which policies will get us there?

A couple of years ago, people were all asking themselves what the world could do to avoid catastrophes like the Indonesian Tsunami.  I argued the best thing to do was to help poorer countries to develop as fast as possible. 

Ironically, the primary way to avoid such disasters is not by reversing human technology (as global warming activists want to do), but by increasing it, in the form of warning systems and evacuation routes.  Global warming advocates actually want to keep everyone poor – they blame wealth and progress for global warming, but note that wealthy countries like the US (the global warming great Satan) has had the technology and the wealth to afford to put systems in place that would have prevented such a huge death toll.  Wealth, prosperity and technology are what would have averted this disaster, and it is just these things that global warming advocates oppose for Southeast Asia.

The Cost of CO2 Abatement

I had an argument about global warming the other night with a couple of friends.  I achnowleged that the world was warming somewhat and some of that was due to man, but said that any rational estimate of future warming due to man’s efforts yielded forecasts far below the catastrophic levels espoused by Al Gore (and for which he will apparently win the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday).  Their response, which I have found to be typical, was 1) it doesn’t matter how much the warming is, it is bad to change the earth at all and 2) we need to aggresively fight CO2 "just in case" there is some catastrophic tipping point lurking out there.

The problem is that the costs of abating CO2 to any levels that might make a difference are both enormous and certain  (vs. global warming costs which may or may not be large and are uncertain).   Since fossil fuel production is intrinsic to economic growth, at least at current technology levels, large cuts in fossil fuel productions mean large cuts in world economic growth.  A reduction, for example, in economic growth by must 1 percentage point a year would reduce the size of the global economy by 2.5 times in a century.  And a one percentage point reduction is surely less than the true effect of the levels of CO2 cuts that catastrophists are petitioning for.

In particular, what is seldom mentioned, is that CO2 cuts of the kind suggested in Kyoto-type protocols are likely to lock over a billion people into poverty, just at the time when they are beginning to get their first experiences with prosperity.

In 2007, human beings will consume roughly 15 terawatts of energy worldwide. That level of energy use will rise rapidly over the next 100 years due to population growth and increasing living standards, especially among the global poor. By the year 2100, humankind will need to produce and consume roughly 60 terawatts of energy if every human on earth is to reach the level of prosperity enjoyed today by the world’s wealthiest one billion people. Even if economies were to become much more efficient, the total terawatts needed to bring all of humankind out of poverty would still need to roughly double by 2050 and triple by century’s end.

Trillions of Dollars, Tenths of a Degree

One of my frustrations in arguing that anthropogenic global warming forecasts are exaggerated is that people usually respond, "well, we should do something anyway just in case."  As if the cost of abatement were nearly free.  But the one thing we know is that any meaningul abatement of CO2 production will be extraordinarily costly to the world economy, and will have real and predicatable impacts on poverty and development. 

We are perhaps fooled by past efforts at reducing pollution, where we have greatly improved air and water quality when we wanted to.  The elimination of SO2 pollution is one example.  But the difference is that these ancillary pollutants were not fundamental to the combustion process.  Hydrocarbons + O2 ==> CO2 + H2O.   Key pollutants we have fought in the past — ozone, SO2, NO2 — are not core to the combustion process.  They can be managed through cleaner fuels, some filtering, and better control of the combustion process itself.  CO2 is different.  There is no practical way to filter it cheaply.  The only real way to eliminate it is not to burn hyrdrocarbons.

As a result, small improvements in CO2 levels require enormous investments:

Last July, this column reported that the latest global warming bill — the Low Carbon Economy Act of 2007, introduced by Sens. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M. and Arlen Specter, R-Pa. — would cost taxpayers more than $1 trillion in its first 10 years and untold trillions of dollars in subsequent decades.

This week, the EPA sent its analysis of the bill’s impact on climate to Bingaman and Specter. Now we can see what we’d get for our money, and we may as well just build a giant bonfire with the cash and enjoy toasting marshmallows over it.

For reference purposes, the current level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is about 380 parts per million. The EPA estimates that if no action is taken to curb CO2 emissions, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 would be 718 ppm by 2095.

If the Bingaman-Specter bill were implemented, however, the EPA estimates that CO2 levels would be 695 ppm — a whopping reduction of 23 ppm….

Although the EPA didn’t pursue its analysis that far, figuring out the implications are readily doable using the assumptions and formulas of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Under the no-action scenario (718-to-695 ppm), the IPCC formulas indicate that the multitrillion-dollar Bingaman-Specter bill might reduce average global temperature by 0.13 degrees Celsius.

Under the maximum regulation scenario (514-to-491 ppm), Bingaman-Specter might reduce average global temperature by 0.18 degrees Celsius. Actual temperature reductions are likely to be less since these estimates rely on the IPCC’s alarmist-friendly assumptions and formulas.

By the way, the figure of 718ppm by 2095 is wildly overstated.  CO2 increased about 90ppm in the last 120 years, and it take wildly aggresive forecats to have it increase by 340ppm in the next 75-80 years.  More on that topic here.

We’re All Saved! State Treasurers Are on the Case

Thank God, we are now going to all be safe from global warming.  From a speech to the National Association of State Treasurers:

Continued leadership from state treasurers on global warming will be essential to ensure that we address the scale and urgency of climate risk—and capture the vast economic possibilities that lie ahead as the world transitions to a clean energy future.

Translation:  Expect global warming to be used an the new excuse to raise taxes. 

Actually, the speaker is referring to an action by the NY Attorney General demanding certain companies put disclosures in their investment materials about the future economic harms from global warming.

Court Throws Out California Global Warming Suit

Via Q&O:

A federal judge on Monday tossed out a lawsuit filed by California that sought to hold the world’s six largest automakers accountable for their contribution to global warming. District Judge Martin Jenkins in San Francisco handed California Attorney General Jerry Brown’s environmental crusade a stinging rebuke when he ruled that it was impossible to determine to what extent automakers are responsible for global-warming damages in California. The judge also ruled that keeping the lawsuit alive would threaten the country’s foreign policy position.

I would also add that it is impossible to determine how much CO2 has affected warming, or what weather effects might be the result of such warming or just from normal variation.  Further, while areas like the Arctic are clearly warming, it is not at all clear that the US has experienced much warming in the last century.