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June 26, 2008

Arctic Ice Receeding Because of Massive Lava-Flow from Undersea Volcanoes?

It does explain why Arctic ice is receding while Antarctic ice is thickening.

Thanks to dri.

More: Bjorn Lomberg writes that, even conceding that global warming is a problem (which I don't, but I sure would like to reduce dependency on oil), research into new technologies will return far more bang for the buck:

Research for the project was done by a lead author of the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- the group that shared last year's Nobel Peace Prize with former vice president Al Gore -- who noted that spending $800 billion over 100 years solely on mitigating emissions would reduce inevitable temperature increases by just 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of this century. Even accounting for the key environmental damage from warming, we would lose money, with avoided damage of just $685 billion for our $800 billion

investment.

The economists didn't conclude that the world should ignore the effects of climate change. They pointed out that a better response than cutting emissions would be to dramatically increase research and development on low-carbon energy -- such as solar panels and second-generation biofuels.

...

Even if every nation spent 0.05 percent of its gross domestic product on research and development of low-carbon energy, this would be only about one-tenth as costly as the Kyoto Protocol and would save dramatically more than any of Kyoto's likely successors.

A while ago Larwyn tipped me to a review of climate/global warming books by noted physicist and mathematician Freeman Dyson. I got lost in it one day instead of blogging. It's quite long but worth reading in full if you have the time and interest.

The main conclusion of the Nordhaus analysis is that the ambitious proposals, "Stern" and "Gore," are disastrously expensive, the "low-cost backstop" [basically a hypothetical but quite likely technological solution that will mature sometime down the road, such as bioengineering carbon-sequestering trees] is enormously advantageous if it can be achieved, and the other policies including business-as-usual and Kyoto are only moderately worse than the optimal policy. The practical consequence for global-warming policy is that we should pursue the following objectives in order of priority. (1) Avoid the ambitious proposals. (2) Develop the science and technology for a low-cost backstop. (3) Negotiate an international treaty coming as close as possible to the optimal policy, in case the low-cost backstop fails. (4) Avoid an international treaty making the Kyoto Protocol policy permanent. These objectives are valid for economic reasons, independent of the scientific details of global warming.

His conclusion is something most of us have noted, but then, most of us are morons. He's not.

All the books that I have seen about the science and economics of global warming, including the two books under review, miss the main point. The main point is religious rather than scientific. There is a worldwide secular religion which we may call environmentalism, holding that we are stewards of the earth, that despoiling the planet with waste products of our luxurious living is a sin, and that the path of righteousness is to live as frugally as possible. The ethics of environmentalism are being taught to children in kindergartens, schools, and colleges all over the world.

Environmentalism has replaced socialism as the leading secular religion...

Unfortunately, some members of the environmental movement have also adopted as an article of faith the be-lief that global warming is the greatest threat to the ecology of our planet. That is one reason why the arguments about global warming have become bitter and passionate. Much of the public has come to believe that anyone who is skeptical about the dangers of global warming is an enemy of the environment. The skeptics now have the difficult task of convincing the public that the opposite is true. Many of the skeptics are passionate environmentalists. They are horrified to see the obsession with global warming distracting public attention from what they see as more serious and more immediate dangers to the planet, including problems of nuclear weaponry, environmental degradation, and social injustice. Whether they turn out to be right or wrong, their arguments on these issues deserve to be heard.

I do give John McCain some amount of slack, confronted, as he is, with the hard reality of the unreality of this entire debate. He has to make nods towards the God of Nature for the same reason impious politicians have to pretend a belief in the Judeo-Christian God.

Still, the cheapest and most effective method of mitigating "global warming" (even if it's due to carbon dioxide rather than the sun) is research -- and not additional taxes on energy use, whether direct or disguised as in McCain's favored cap-and-trade dodge.

As Michael Crichton has also argued, it's not merely possible but downright likely that an earth 20 or 30 years more technologically advanced than the current one can fix these problems relatively cheaply.


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posted by Ace at 04:36 PM

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