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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Bill Hare and Stephan Singer agree

According to Bill Hare, one of the lead authors of the report, the cost is manageable:

HARE: Well, over the period to 2030 it’s going to cost about, maximum, I would say about 0.1 percent loss of annual GDP growth globally. I’m not sure that would really be detected in terms of the year-to-year variations in global growth.

“It has been shown for the first time that stopping climate pollution in a very ambitious way does not cost a fortune,” said Stephan Singer of the World Wildlife Fund.

0.1 % of GDP growth less per year is not a "fortune" since it dwarfs the wealth of, say, Bill Gates. I'd say Mr Singer should be more careful about his choice of words.
He's getting damn close to "a trillion here a trillion there and soon your talking real money."

I'm sure it's worth the cost, but it's a lot of money and there is no point pretending otherwise.

(I assume Hare means 0.1 percentage points a year not 0.1 percent of gdp growth of 3-5% in which case it would take a while to dwarf Gates's fortune).


Anonymous said...

May 5, 2007

The Warming Challenge

Yesterday's report on global warming from the world's most authoritative voice on climate change asserts that significant progress toward stabilizing and reducing global warming emissions can be achieved at a relatively low cost using known technologies. This is a hugely important message to policy makers everywhere, not least those in the United States Congress. Many of them have been paralyzed by fears — assiduously cultivated by the Bush administration — that a full-scale attack on climate change could cripple the economy.

The report was the third this year from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The first report, in February, blamed humans for rising atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. A second report last month warned of famine, floods and other ecological disasters unless emissions were brought under control.

The new report deals with remedies. It warns that over the course of this century, major investments in new and essentially carbon-free energy sources will be required. But it stresses that we can and must begin to address the problem now, using off-the-shelf technologies to make our cars, buildings and appliances far more efficient, while investing in alternative fuels, like cellulosic ethanol, that show near-term promise.

The report also made clear the risks of delay, noting that emissions of greenhouse gases have risen 70 percent since 1970 and could nearly double from current levels by 2030 if nothing is done. For that reason, it said, it is vital for policy makers to discourage older technologies — coal-fired power plants with no capacity to store carbon emissions, for instance — so as not to lock in further increases in emissions, which would make the task much harder and more expensive down the road.

From a political and legislative perspective, the report could not have been more timely. A run of fortuitous events — including the panel's first two reports, increased agitation at the state and local level, and the recent Supreme Court decision authorizing the government regulation of carbon dioxide — has elevated the warming issue in the public consciousness and on Congress's list of priorities.

Moreover, many of the report's proposals have already found a home in pending legislation. Bills to increase fuel efficiency in cars and trucks have been introduced in both houses; Jeff Bingaman, the Democrats' Senate spokesman on energy matters, is drafting a measure that would require utilities to generate 15 percent of their electricity from wind and other renewable sources; Barbara Boxer, head of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has offered an ambitious bill to greatly increase investments in alternative fuels.

None of these bills are surefire winners. But by showing that the costs of acting now will be trivial compared with the price to be paid if we do nothing, the report can only improve their chances....


Anonymous said...

May 4, 2007

As the Climate Changes, Bits of England's Coast Crumble

BECCLES, England — This winter a 50-foot-wide strip of Roger Middleditch's sugar-beet field fell into the North Sea, his rich East Anglian lands reduced by a large fraction of their acreage. The adjacent potato field, once 23 acres, is now less than 3 — too small to plant at all, he said.

Each spring Mr. Middleditch, a tenant farmer on the vast Benacre Estate here, meets with its managers to recalculate his rent, depending on how much land has been eaten up by encroaching water. As he stood in a muddy field by the roaring sea recently, he tried to estimate how close he dared to plant this season.

"We've lost so much these last few years," he said. "You plant, and by harvest it's fallen into the water."

Coastal erosion has been a fact of life here for a century, because the land under East Anglia is slowly sinking. But the erosion has never been as quick and cataclysmic as it has been in recent years, an effect of climate change and global warming, many scientists say. To make matters worse for coastal farmers, the government has stopped maintaining large parts of the network of seawalls that once protected the area.

Under a new policy that scientists have labeled "managed retreat," governments around the globe are concluding that it is not worth taxpayer money to fight every inevitable effect of climate change.

Land loss at Benacre "has accelerated dramatically," said Mark Venmore-Roland, the estate's manager. "At first it was like a chap losing his hair — bit by bit, so you'd get used to it." But in the past few years, he said, "it's been really frightening." ...


Anonymous said...

May 1, 2007

Arctic Sea Ice Melting Faster, a Study Finds

Climate scientists may have significantly underestimated the power of global warming from human-generated heat-trapping gases to shrink the cap of sea ice floating on the Arctic Ocean, according to a new study of polar trends.

The study, published online today in Geophysical Research Letters, concluded that an open-water Arctic in summers could be more likely in this century than had been estimated in the latest international review of climate research released in February by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

"There are huge changes going on," said Julienne Stroeve, a lead author of the new study and a researcher at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo. "Just with warm waters entering the Arctic, combined with warming air temperatures, this is wreaking havoc on the sea ice, really."

The intergovernmental panel concluded that if emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide were not significantly reduced, the region could be end up bereft of floating ice in summers sometime between 2050 and the early decades of the next century.

For the new study, Dr. Stroeve and others at the ice center reviewed nearly six decades of measurements by ships, airplanes and satellites estimating the maximum and minimum area of Arctic sea ice, which typically expands most in March and shrinks most in September.

With an expert from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, also in Boulder, they then compared the observed trends with the projections made for the climate panel's review using the world's most advanced computer models of climate.

Dr. Stroeve's team found that since 1953 the area of sea ice in September has declined at an average rate of 7.8 percent per decade. Computer climate simulations of the same period had an average rate of ice loss of 2.5 percent per decade.

The finding implies that the Arctic ice may be quicker to respond to warming as concentrations of heat-trapping gases rise in coming decades, said Marika Holland, an author of the new paper and a computer modeler at the Boulder climate center....


Anonymous said...

May 3, 2007

Feeling Warmth, Subtropical Plants Move North

ATLANTA — Like a true belle, this city flounces into bloom when the weather turns, its redbuds, azaleas and forsythia emerging like so much lace on a bodice.

But in recent years, plants that thrive in even warmer weather have begun crashing the ball. At the Habersham Gardens nursery, where well-heeled homeowners choose their spring seedlings, a spiky-leafed, sultry coastal oleander has been thriving in a giant urn.

"We never expected it to come back every year," said Cheryl Aldrich, the assistant manager, guiding a visitor on a tour of plants that would once have needed coddling to survive here: eucalyptus, angel trumpets, the Froot Loop-hued Miss Huff lantana. "We've been able to overwinter plants you didn't have a prayer with before."

Forget the jokes about beachfront property. If global warming has any upside, it would seem to be for gardeners, who make up three-quarters of the population and spend $34 billion a year, according to the National Gardening Association. Many experts agree that climate change, which by some estimates has already nudged up large swaths of the country by one or more plant-hardiness zones, has meant a longer growing season and a more robust selection. There are palm trees in Knoxville and subtropical camellias in Pennsylvania.

But horticulturists warn that it is shortsighted to view this as good news. Warmer temperatures help pests as well as plants, and studies have shown that weeds and invasive species receive a greater boost from higher levels of carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping gas, than desirable plants do. Poison ivy becomes more toxic, ragweed dumps more pollen, and kudzu, the fast-growing vine that has swallowed whole woodlands in the South, is creeping northward.

Already, some states are facing the possibility that the cherished local flora that has helped define their identities — the Ohio buckeye, the Kansas sunflower or the Mississippi magnolia — may begin to disappear within their borders and move north....


Anonymous said...

Notice, by the way, how radical conservatism (is there any other kind these days?) combines so many similar threads; global warming does not exist, war is fine and occupation especially colonial occupation in Iraq is better, war and occupation are especially fine because they do not need to be paid for ever, social benefit programs are bad, let us now pray or prey whichever....


Anonymous said...

We are, by the way, spending $3 billion dollars on energy research and development, with a small portion of that on alternative energy. This compares with $7.7 billion in 1979. Say what?

Anonymous said...

October 30, 2006

Budgets Falling in Race to Fight Global Warming

DENVER — Cheers fit for a revival meeting swept a hotel ballroom as 1,800 entrepreneurs and experts watched a PowerPoint presentation of the most promising technologies for limiting global warming: solar power, wind, ethanol and other farmed fuels, energy-efficient buildings and fuel-sipping cars.

"Houston," Charles F. Kutscher, chairman of the Solar 2006 conference, concluded in a twist on the line from Apollo 13, "we have a solution."

Hold the applause. For all the enthusiasm about alternatives to coal and oil, the challenge of limiting emissions of carbon dioxide, which traps heat, will be immense in a world likely to add 2.5 billion people by midcentury, a host of other experts say. Moreover, most of those people will live in countries like China and India, which are just beginning to enjoy an electrified, air-conditioned mobile society.

The challenge is all the more daunting because research into energy technologies by both government and industry has not been rising, but rather falling.

In the United States, annual federal spending for all energy research and development — not just the research aimed at climate-friendly technologies — is less than half what it was a quarter-century ago. It has sunk to $3 billion a year in the current budget from an inflation-adjusted peak of $7.7 billion in 1979, according to several different studies.

Britain, for one, has sounded a loud alarm about the need for prompt action on the climate issue, including more research.

President Bush has sought an increase to $4.2 billion for 2007, but that would still be a small fraction of what most climate and energy experts say would be needed.

Federal spending on medical research, by contrast, has nearly quadrupled, to $28 billion annually, since 1979. Military research has increased 260 percent, and at more than $75 billion a year is 20 times the amount spent on energy research....


Anonymous said...

How far, then, does $3 billion a year take us in Iraq where we are spending about $15 billion a month direclty? War and occupation, after all, are always costless for radical conservatives.

I know, I am being mean, but before the war and occupation Unviersity of Chicago economists showed that Iraq really would be costless and with a little effort possibly profitable. Yes; they did.


Anonymous said...

Always be fair, Steven J. Davis, Kevin M. Murphy and Robert H. Topel of the University of Chicago were the "Iraq will be cheap at twice the price" folks. I still find conservatives telling us how little of the budget is taken up by war and occupation and the very military. Why look to the Korean War for portion of national income given to the military, they cry. Say what?


Anonymous said...

Also, notice doing a cost-benefit study on war and resisting like heck ever doing it on ecology or the environment let alone peace. Forgive me, I am being chewed on by a conure.