Monday, December 05, 2005

Carbon Dioxide is Good

I had such fun with the cost-benefit analysis of the Kyoto Accord in yesterday's post (Plant Some Trees) that I decided to do a little more research. I found an interesting blog called Asymmetrical Information where Jane Galt analyzes the relationship of economic growth and energy use.

Let's look at the growth in emissions of Carbon Dioxide (CO2), the dreaded greenhouse gas (much loved by trees), due to energy use in the US compared to the growth of the economy measured by the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). To factor out the growth of population we will use per-capita numbers.

The economic data come from the National Bureau of Economic Research and the CO2 emission data from the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center.

So let's look at the numbers from 1900 to 1998 (from Jane Galt).

1900------------$2,400 --------------2.4 metric tons
1950------------$11,100 -------------4.5
1998------------$30,800 -------------5.3

Pause a second to feast your eyes on our wealth that has grown, in real terms, by 12.8 times since 1900 and by 2.8 times since 1950. Note that inflation has already been baked into these numbers. Just imagine trying to live on $2000 today! Things were not so great in 1900.

Then note that Carbon Dioxide (CO2) grows along with GDP since it takes energy to make things. Also appreciate that the CO2 growth has been slowing as we develop more efficient sources of energy. Now if we could just exploit the heck out of nuclear.

Obviously we need energy to fuel economic growth and new technology to generate the energy ever more efficiently.

The United States and several wise allies (including Australia, Japan, China, India)are taking the right approach. Rather than destroying developing economies through limits to growth imposed by CO2 restrictions, we aim to improve those economies and boost living standards through the use of more energy. Wealth, after all, makes health and as a nation gets richer, it gets cleaner.

Poor farmers in China, India and Africa burning dung and charcoal are releasing not just CO2 but real pollutants into the air. The role of rich nations should be to transfer technologies that produce cleaner energy more efficiently.

And what of the global warming hysteria?

Richard Lessner in Human Events (12/5/05) notes that human beings, afflicted with temporal myopia, habitually view their immediate circumstances as “normal” and look upon any departure from the perceived “norm” as abnormal, something extraordinary to be feared.

Perhaps all we need is a dose of historical geophysical perspective.

Did you know that the Earth is in an interglacial (warm) period in the midst of a 100,000 year ice age; that 12,000 years ago the ice was a mile thick from the Northern US to the pole; that the interglacial period had a long hot spell that lasted from around AD900 to AD1300; that around 1350 the Earth was plunged into a bitter Little Ice Age lasting until around 1850; that agriculture and living standards have blossomed during the warming period since the late 1800s; that a return to the major ice age is expected within 2000 years but that the onset is unknown and can occur in only a few decades; that a single large volcanic eruption can lower global temperature by several degrees and even trigger an ice age? And then there are sunspots, and their cycles.

Once people blamed such natural events on devils or demons; now we blame Big Oil and the family mini-van. The environmental whackos need to get a life!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well actually sometimes those enviro wackos act like demons or devils...

Dori Medina

8:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Bill:

A much more sinister phenomenon is completely overlooked which is a process now well under way referred to as "flipping" of the earth's magnetic core and the possibility of the earth's nuclear reactor in its core shutting down, resulting in a "mars phenomenon."

For starters, some scientists attribute the melting of the polar ice caps to this phenomenon instead of the greenhouse effect. This isn't likely to have a significant impact in our lifetimes (other than more intense weather,) but immediate future generations may be at significant risk.



11:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...



11:56 AM  

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