Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Global warming

Real climate notes
The main points that most would agree on as "the consensus" are:

1 The earth is getting warmer (0.6 +/- 0.2 oC in the past century; 0.1 oC/decade over the last 30 years) [ch 2]
2 People are causing this [ch 12]
3 If GHG emissions continue, the warming will continue and indeed accelerate [ch 9]
4 (This will be a problem and we ought to do something about it)

The big problem is however 4 and even more importantly "5" which I will add

First I think (4) is worth expanding on... Do we have a reasonable consensus the effects of global warming?

1) A significant amount of people in cold climates should benefit those in warm climates should be disadvantaged - possibly a little bit of migration as a result.
2) Related to (1) the absolute amount of life on earth should increase (warmer temperatures and more CO2 -> more life generally speaking)
3) BUT the amount of change should increase making it harder to manage - more people will thus fail to do this and there will be more crisis (eg Ethiopian crisis) than there would have been otherwise.
4) And because many animals cannot adapt as fast as humans - the diversity of species should decrease

I think the balance is probably that most people would consider the effects a bad thing but they need to be quantified this is because of question 5...

There is a 5) is global warming worse than what it would take to prevent it.

Most people would say yes - but let us look a little closer - I will offer you a VERY extreme solution that should be about as effective as possible in reducing the effect.

First the aim - "to make a significant dent into global warming one by reducing fossil fuel consumption to zero by 2055 reducing by 2% per year."

The effect of this is probably world wide depression rather like the 1930's (or possibly just like the oil shocks if we are lucky) together with a requirement for an enforcement body and a few wars (since some countries will want to break the rules).

I guess this solution would result in somewhere around a very long term 1 degree rise in temperature using a very rough extrapolating from the standard PESSIMISTIC graphs.
It would be about 3.5 deg by 2100 for doing nothing and I guess about 3 for using Kyoto? Maybe 2 but obviously not less than 1.
The question then is IS THE DIFFERENCE (as opposed to the absolute amount) worth the sacrifice.

This is of course just an example I assumed the pessimistic situation to make the numbers bigger. Probably the statistics are more like .5 degrees (my solution) 1.2 degree (Kyoto) and 1.5 degrees (business as usual) or something similar.


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