Sunday, December 04, 2005

Plant Some Trees

Nov 29, 2005: Europe is facing the worst climate change in five millennia as a result of global warming, the European Environment Agency (EAA) warned. "Without effective action over several decades, global warming will see ice sheets melting in the north and the spread of deserts from the south. The continent's population could effectively be concentrated in the centre."

Dec. 1, 2005: The transatlantic current which brings mild weather to Western Europe has slowed down by 30% in the last 50 years, according to the UK's National Oceanography Centre, raising fears of rapid climate change within a decade. Cold Canadian style winters could become the norm in Western Europe.

So, esteemed climatologists, which will it be, heat death or ice age?

The message coming from the Montreal climate change summit attended by signers of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Kyoto's parent treaty, is clear and ominous:

This is quite sensational information. It is also an important message to politicians: We do change our climate.”

Ok, but what should we do??

The report from Montreal is that it's not all stuffy high-end delegate stuff. “Each day, a group known as CAN (Climate Action Network) pins the Fossil of the Day award on countries that are considered to be blocking progress on the negotiations. Yesterday, the United States, Australia and Russia took the cake for reportedly prioritizing their own adaptation needs over that of developing countries. Not surprisingly, the US has been the proud recipient or co-recipient of the award every day this week.


Another observer of the Montreal scene notes that the Warmies are “deeply invested in the idea that a human-compounded global climate disaster, which only they can understand, can be prevented only if the world’s taxpayers surrender money and power on a planetary scale, to the care and feeding of themselves and their kind.”

And there you have it, as always it boils down to money. Perhaps some economics will help to clarify the matter.

Since coming into effect February 16, 2005, the Kyoto Protocol has cost the world about $120 Billion while the potential temperature saving by the year 2050 so far achieved by following Kyoto is 0.0012 deg C. Guess that means for the bargain price of just $100 Trillion we could theoretically lower global mean temperature by about 1 deg C.

Where do these fantastic numbers come from?

First, the acknowledged potential "saving" (amount of warming avoided) for complete implementation of Kyoto is ~0.07 °C by the year 2050. Thus our potentially "saved" temperature figure is simply 0.07 °C/45yr or 0.0016 deg C per year.

For the cost values I used the optimistic guesstimate of 1.5% GDP growth restraint of committed countries (Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Canada and Japan) which amounts to $150 Billion per annum.

One should note that the Kyoto target assumes success in the committed countries (impossible), participation by the US (never happen) and gradual participation by China, India and other developing countries (in a pigs eye).

And on the cost side, if the US played this game the 1.5% estimated GDP reduction would cost a whopping $180 Billion per year additional or $330 Billion/year total. When collateral effects (eg. suppression of global trade, damage to developing world economies) are taken into account, estimates are that ending global warming would cost almost half global GDP per year.

I’ll let you in on a secret. Carbon dioxide levels remain significantly below their average for the last 100 million years, and plants love the stuff, trees especially.

So plant a bunch of trees, use the GDP growth to raise the living standard around the globe and get ready for the return of the ice age. There’s not a thing we can do about it.

References: David Warren, “Global Cool,” Real Clear Politics, 12/3/05. Junk Science, “The seemingly interminable Kyoto countdown is over - now we begin to count UP (the cost)” 9/23/05.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post, Bill!!!


12:57 PM  
Blogger fetching jen said...

just like a woman - I'm hot. I'm cold. Can't decide...

(welcome to the WA)

2:47 PM  

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