mm448: Global warming: real but not catastrophe

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MUDGE’s Musings

Politicians disagree. That’s not news — that’s politics.

Scientists disagree. That sometimes does not make the news. The flaming rhetoric gets the attention; the calm, carefully reasoned rebuttal is buried on page A22.

Or buried in a special interest magazine.

Found another such publication: Skeptical Inquirer.

Al Gore wants this country to totally migrate power generation from coal, like that sooty specimen above, to renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, in 10 years. A very Kennedy-esque proposal. Actually, Kennedy’s inspiration (or, at least, his speechwriters’) might have been Chicago visionary, and leading proponent of the Columbian Exposition of 1892-93, Daniel Burnham, who most famously said: “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood…”

[Editor’s note: the paragraph immediately above is a prime example of this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere©‘s specialty: Sequitur Service©.]

Gore’s proposal of course is the follow-on to his environmental hobby-horse, sound-bit as global warming.

Not so fast, Al…

committeeforskepticalinquiry

Let’s Keep Our Cool about Global Warming

Given the recent debate in our pages over global warming and climate change, we invited Bjørn Lomborg, author of Cool It! The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming, for his perspective. — Editor
When it comes to climate change, we need to cool our dialogue and consider the arguments for and against different policy options. In the heat of a loud and obnoxious debate, facts and reason lose out.
BJØRN LOMBORG | SKEPTICAL INQUIRER MAGAZINE | MARCH / APRIL 2008
Bjørn Lomborg, PhD, is an adjunct professor in the Copenhagen Business School and organizer of the Copenhagen Consensus, a conference of top economists who come together to prioritize the best solutions for the world’s greatest challenges. He is author of The Skeptical Environmentalist and, most recently, Cool It! The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming.

There is a kind of choreographed screaming about climate change from both sides of the debate. Discussion would be on much firmer ground if we could actually hear the arguments and the facts and then sensibly debate long-term solutions.

Man-made climate change is certainly a problem, but it is categorically not the end of the world. Take the rise in sea levels as one example of how the volume of the screaming is unmatched by the facts. In its 2007 report, the United Nations estimates that sea levels will rise about a foot over the remainder of the century.1 While this is not a trivial amount, it is also important to realize that it is not unknown to mankind: since 1860, we have experienced a sea level rise of about a foot without major disruptions.2 It is also important to realize that the new prediction is lower than previous Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates and much lower than the expectations from the 1990s of more than two feet and the 1980s, when the Environmental Protection Agency projected more than six feet.3

We dealt with rising sea levels in the past century, and we will continue to do so in this century. It will be problematic, but it is incorrect to posit the rise as the end of civilization.

We will actually lose very little dry land to the rise in sea levels. It is estimated that almost all nations in the world will establish maximal coastal protection almost everywhere, simply because doing so is fairly cheap. For more than 180 of the world’s 192 nations, coastal protection will cost less than 0.1 percent GDP and approach 100 percent protection.4

As you can see, our Danish expert writes very cogently about the overblown threat of sea level increases. It gets better.

After doing some math and figuring that a $140/ton tax on carbon (a recent Gore proposal) is as absurd as it sounds, he comes up with a fascinating analogy: traffic deaths.

Traffic deaths are a growing problem in the world, as more and more people in the developing world acquire motorized vehicles. Dr. Lomborg tells us that there is a sure fire way to virtually eliminate deaths from such motorized mishaps (which after all kill 42,000 in the U.S. annually, and are on track to become the second leading cause of death globally, after heart disease!): set a mandatory global speed limit of five (5!) miles per hour.

That would all but eliminate traffic deaths, but of course is totally out of the question, everywhere, especially in the developing world, where the animal-cart speed of goods and people has been a limiter for thousands of years.

Same with eliminating the use of fossil fuels. Read on.

Let’s Keep Our Cool about Global Warming (Skeptical Inquirer March / April 2008)

So our sooty friend, and the 100-unit coal railroad trains that feed it, aren’t going away any time soon.

And New York, Rotterdam and Shanghai are not soon to be submerged beneath their oceans.

And, if Al Gore could truly stir men’s blood, he would be completing his second term in the Oval Office, instead of this country’s current and real catastrophe, George III.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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One Response to mm448: Global warming: real but not catastrophe

  1. […] this nation. We can all hope that the new government will be inspired by the words and deeds of Daniel Burnham and John F. Kennedy to grab good ideas from wherever they emerge, even from reconstructed oilmen and unlikely […]

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