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Milton J. Madison - An American Refugee Now Living in China, Where Liberty is Ascending

Federalism, Free Markets and the Liberty To Let One's Mind Wander. I Am Very Worried About the Fate of Liberty in the USA, Where Government is Taking people's Lives ____________________________________________________________________________________________ "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice. Tolerance in the face of tyranny is no virtue." -Barry Goldwater-

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

My 2 Cents On Global Warming......

The swarm on global warming continues and drumbeat of 'news' and the shrill voice of politics is raising its ugly useless head through the recent report issued by that ridiculous organization, the UN.

Supposedly, as the UN report claims, that 90% of all scientists agree that human intervention is the cause of global warming. 4 out of 5 dentists also supposedly agree that Sugarless Trident Gum whitens teeth or is better for your teeth but also, 1 out of 5 dentists don't agree. Maybe the 1 didn't understand the question or didn't think that it was the most important reason or a major factor in teeth whitening or tooth health. Sugary gum is probably is a contributing factor to tooth decay but probably not the primary reason for trouble and it is difficult to prove the sugar/sugarless gum theory since there are probably very few controls to testing and controlling the theory. This is a problem with climate change. It is difficult to conclude without question that changes are completely due to human activities, what can be done about it and what the level of intervention should be used to achieve the most desirable impact. But thank you Al Gore for inventing the Internet and inventing climate change.

I guess that I am 1 out of the 5. Or maybe Dentists are smarter than scientists. So what? You may ask, Glenzo, you are a white conservative and tool of big business and all you care about is money and business, blah, blah, blah. Yes, I am, but geography is one of my hobbies and I kind of minored in geography in school. Its not all memorizing the capitols of countries and where the 'stan's are but of weather systems ocean dynamics and applied physics in astronomy and the like.

So lets look at this interesting ice core data.....

Yes, over the past 140,000 years, higher temperatures are coincident with higher atmospheric levels of methane and carbon dioxide. And I have to speculate the increases and decreases in the 'greenhouse gases' were not influenced by human activities for most of the period. Unless of course early humans were much more technically advanced than we currently believe with large fuel burning SUVs and other energy inefficient lifestyles back in cave dwelling days.

Also, we can conclude that the temperatures that we are at now are not unusual, even in recent earth history. and do note, that most of the increase in CO2 and methane happened much before the last 150 years. But lets not allow this information get in the way of a good leftist shrill argument.

So, lets assume that there seems to be evidence that rising temperatures and the increase in 'greenhouse gases' of methane and carbon dioxide cause or are coincident with rising temperatures. So lets also assume that increases in these gases do cause higher temperatures (but where did they come from 18,000 years ago?). Lets see what happens.....

Yes, since the last ice age 18,000 years ago, ocean levels did rise dramatically, but this has been what we have to define as a "natural occurrence." Imagine if we were living 18,000 years ago how screwed we would be. And it is written....
Sea level has risen around 130 metres (400 feet) since the peak of the last ice age about 18,000 years ago. Most of the rise occurred before 6,000 years ago. From 3,000 years ago to the start of the 19th century sea level was almost constant, rising at 0.1 to 0.2 mm/yr. Since 1900 the level has risen at 1 to 3 mm/yr;[1] since 1992 satellite altimetry from TOPEX/Poseidon indicates a rate of rise about 3 mm/yr.[2]
So, let review the numbers...the sea has risen 130,000 millimeters over the last 18,000 years, or 7.22 millimeters a year. So we are still lower than average over the past 18,000 years. So what is the big deal?

One of the problems is that despite the rise in the ability of measuring many things much more accurately, we are like the blind men trying to describe an elephant, each one describing the part they touch, one describing the tusks, one the trunk, one the legs, one sides, etc. We really only have accurate and voluminous data as of late and do not have voluminous and detailed yearly data nor had the tools to take such specific measurements over thousands of years previously. But lets assume that the data since 1900 DOES represent a material man-made change in environment and that the rising temperatures are caused by increases in 'greenhouse gases.' So what is the damage that will result? An interactive map, here, shows that someplaces will be impacted more than others. For example, Florida will largely disappear but other places will be unaffected. The disappearance of Florida is a true disaster since the US won't have a place to put their old people and Disneyworld will be underwater. Disneyworld, surprisingly is not a UNESCO world heritage site. See, the UN is worthless, they don't know quality if it bit them on the elbow.

Additionally, it seems to me, that scientists are convinced that so much damage has been done, that there will be an inevitable sea-level rise. So be it. There will be sea-level rise irrespective of human intervention to reduce emissions now. Lets assume that for the next 100 years the sea levels will rise and there will be hundreds of billions worth of damage. There is little that we can do about that today. So the investment that we make now will only be felt maybe 100 years from now. And lets say that the potential damage that we can reduce is worth $1 trillion dollars on average 150 years from now. $1 trillion dollars due 1 year from now using a 5% discount rate is worth $950 billion today. $1 trillion due 150 years from now is worth only $45 million. Really, it is not too clear to me that we can make such a long-term investment without clearly knowing that the investments that we are making today is worth it. That case has not been made as-of yet in my mind or amoung the 4 out of 5 dentists surveyed on climate change.

Of course, the discount model I have presented does not take into account inflation since the cost in future dollars could be much higher in nominal terms. But also, what the discount rate does not take into account, is technological change, specifically, it has been technological change that have created the current 'situation' to start with. So, it is possible, that the whole debate is just silliness since technology is changing so dramatically, so quickly that this may only be a Maltusian problem.
Maltuse thought that the ability of the earth of support population was limited He even went so far as to specifically predict that this must occur by the middle of the 19th century, a prediction which failed for several reasons, including his use of static analysis, taking recent trends and projecting them indefinitely into the future, which often fails for complex systems.
The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race. The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation. They are the precursors in the great army of destruction, and often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence, and plague advance in terrific array, and sweep off their thousands and tens of thousands. Should success be still incomplete, gigantic inevitable famine stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow levels the population with the food of the world.
This Principle of Population was based on the idea that population if unchecked increases at a geometric rate (i.e. 2, 4, 8, 16, etc.) whereas the food supply grows at an arithmetic rate (i.e. 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.).
The current climate debate seems somewhat similar to the flawed but sensible hypothesis put forward by him. what he missed was technological change and the ability of people to solve problems and to use ingenuity to meet changing demand.

On climate change, it appears as if there is little that we can currently do to impact the change that is already 'baked into the cake.' But the only real changes that we can make are to slowdown the growth of greenhouse gases with only a marginal impact on sea-level change over the short and intermediate term. Or that technological changes coming, given the large savings to be had in reversing the climate change will solve the problem at a much lower cost than the ridiculous solutions being fleshed out infront of us now.

Wake me up when its all over.


At 3:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it goes far beyond sea level changes,and you already know this.

At 5:02 PM, Blogger Glenzo said...

Of course, but the most measureable direct impact on global warming has been the rising sea levels over the past 18,000 years. Any other weather changes that have been experienced in the past, are difficult to attribute. These weather systems are impossible to model and attribution for weather is difficult to model too. But my argument that some level of climate change is already 'baked in the cake,' what do you propose that the impact will be and what is the proper level of investment should be for these unknowns.

Color me unimpressed with the arguments to date. I believe in God, not Al Gore. Ha ha.

At 1:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The latest United Nations declarations on global warming are to do only with establishing an international law on the profitable trading of carbon credits. In the absence of a consensus global warming there is no money in carbon credits because there is no market.


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