Some thoughts on global warming…

I replied to a friend’s blog when he asked why global warming is “still political.” He was referring to the humorous energy gluttony of Al Gore, whose household apparently consumes 20 times more energy than the “average” home. I don’t see this as political, but he does. I’ll lay out my ideas here on why the issue of political warming is a real political issue.

First off, let me say that I am not convinced one way or the other that man made CO2 is the reason that the planet’s temperature is rising. No one has explained to me how our CO2 production rose for 40 years and our temperature dropped (from the 30’s through the 70’s I think). Does anyone have any links that might explain this? I am also under the impression that warming due to CO2 buildup is a logarithmic, NOT additive. That means that if you double the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, you do not double the temperature increase, it is much less, and each doubling contributes less and less to warming. It isn’t clear to me where we are in that series, are we towards the end of the CO2 concentration effects, in the middle, or at the beginning? Solar radiation is another possible explanation that doesn’t get much press. It’s variations match the earth’s temperature variations much better than the CO2 models.

Graph from Hall of Record

The only reason that any of this is important is that so many people are clamoring for the government to step in and do “the right thing.” That’s a little scary considering we don’t really know what would change the warming, if anything at all could. The other scary thing about that is how much money would supposedly be needed to “solve” the CO2 problem. The numbers I have seen are between 3%-5% of global GDP per year. Folks, that’s a large part of the economy and an almost impossible to imagine number of dollars. It is so large that there is considerable debate among economists whether it would be worth it to do anything. The last report that came out of the UN used a technique that made the cure much more expensive than the estimated cost of global warming. The idea is that if we spent the money that the report says is necessary, we would do more damage to the economy (and people’s lives) than if we did nothing at all and allowed the economy to continue on its current course. Like I said, there is debate, and nothing is settled yet.

One thing I’ve earned from living in Yemen is that poverty is much worse than just about anything else. Yes, worse than less land and fewer farming areas. Anyone that assumes that we can make the kind of cuts in our economy that the doom sayers are purposing and not even notice it are dreaming. There will be incredible consequences and it’s very important that if we choose to go after the problem in this way that we do it in a way that minimizes the effects to not only ourselves, but to other (less developed) countries as well. There are potential really bad consequences if we do nothing, there are definite really bad consequences consequences to doing what the UN report says to do. it isn’t clear what the probabilities are in either case, but there is a hell of a lot on the line in both cases…


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