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February 3, 2008

Cool It !

The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming
Bjorn Lomborg - ISBN – 9780307266927

A decade ago Lomborg authored his first “attack” on environmentalism gone amok. Inasmuch as he was one of the founders of Green Peace it carried considerable weight. Predictably, the environmental wackos savaged him mercilessly.

Amongst other things, as I recall, he observed that he had himself been preaching for several decades that the rainforests were being diminished by 5-10% annually. In flying over them at the time he was struck by the fact that despite the alleged 100-200% destruction, 95% remained. How, he posited, could this possibly be correct? How could “they” have been so wrong? This began his quest, and I recommend reading the end result: his treatise on the subject, published as The Skeptical Environmentalist.

He returns now with a similarly bold and brilliant dissection of the recommendations of the wackos. Again, he is being attacked by establishment figures including, but by no means limited to Al Gore; no great surprise there.

While he is an acolyte of the man made global warming hypothesis—with which I vigorously disagree, as is advised by the vast majority of experts who are real climatologists, not just PhD’s, JD’s, MD’s, BA’s and even musicians and academic dropouts—he makes numerous incisive observations and recommendations which deserve serious consideration. Amongst them, addressing the economics of such insane notions as Kyoto and Carbon Credits, he observes that if we are indeed concerned with the earth’s population, instead of just making political points, there are myriad undertakings which would be immediately, as well as ultimately more beneficial at vastly lower costs.

He demonstrates that:

• more people die from cold than heat - so is warming really so bad?

• past centuries have already accommodated temperature increases which exceed those (realistically) predicted for the next.

• planting vegetation, increasing reflectivity, and creating “water features” in urban environments would dramatically decrease temperatures in cities; e.g., Los Angeles would experience a reduction of mean temperature of five degrees F. by planting 11 million trees, re-roofing and repaving in lighter colors, for a one time cost of $1 billion. L.A. would then reap annual savings of $170 million in air-conditioning expenditures and $360 million in smog-reduction costs, not to mention the aesthetic benefits. Oh, yea . . . the temperature in the city of angels is predicted to increase just five degrees over the next century without Kyoto and Carbon Credits, at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars. Another oh, yea . . . it’ll happen anyway in spite of those programs!

• speaking of Kyoto, even the signatories haven’t even tried to accomplish what they promised. Rather, they pile up on the U.S. for not signing. It has “become the symbol of opposition to the United States!” The U.S. isn’t trying (nya-na-nya-na-nya-na.) I submit that the whole program is “trying,” a term my mother used to use when I was behaving like a snot.

• the poor die from floods in hugely disproportionate numbers because they are too poor to protect themselves - so why not encourage global economic growth so there is money enough to manage the problems? Kyoto and Carbon Credits will destroy the world’s economies.

• we have dealt with the addition of 12 inches of ocean water in the past century. Even the worst (and demonstrably overstated) rise now predicted is less than that.

• the Arctic is melting a little, but has done so in the recent past and rebounded. Meanwhile the Antarctic is adding considerably more ice, more than balancing the Arctic losses.

• polar bears are not becoming extinct. In one small, easily accessible Canadian colony the numbers have been reduced by 300 in the past 20 years, but 40 years ago the colony was half the size it is now. If the suggested programs work, there will be an increase in population by 0.06 bears per annum . . . extraordinary when one considers that 49 bears are killed annually by legal hunters. Everywhere else the colonies have doubled, or more!

• storms and flooding are not becoming worse; just more destructive because of what we have built in the way. In Florida’s Dade and Broward counties alone, the population now exceeds the coastal population from Brownsville, TX to Washington, D.C. 75 years ago. More and more expensive stuff, more people, more damage. Imagine that!

• after Katrina an insurance company found that where loss prevention methods had been properly implemented the losses were remarkably few. No surprise there either, but the numbers are flabbergasting: In one area, at a cost of $2.5 million, $500 million in damages was prevented! The costs of Kyoto, to reduce damage by 0.5 %, would run into the trillions “whereas the protective measures would be multiple orders of magnitude lower.” The real lesson of Katrina is that New Orleans wasn’t ready. Whodathunkit? Ya mean it wasn’t Bush’s fault? Nah!

• by reducing the farm subsidies in rich countries we could massively increase farming in poor ones, not to mention saving “rich countries” billions annually . . . the better to afford to help the poor, maybe?

• while true that in sub-Saharan Africa the predicted warming will desertify additional land, increased rain in other areas will considerably increase crop yields by producing more productive land in other places. The problem is getting people to go move to where it rains.

• if Kyoto were implemented—estimated cost, $180 billion annually--it would reduce malnutrition by 2 million persons by 2080. By investing in improved soil health, water management and technological research, coupled with school meals and nutrient fortification that number could be increased to 229 million by 2015. The cost? $10 billion a year. Lunch Money !!

• Kyoto is anticipated to reduce death from malaria by 140,000 by 2110. At 1/60th the cost we can tackle malaria directly and avoid 85,000,000 million deaths . . . a lot sooner.

I could go on . . . but I’ll stop. Suffice it to say that he totally annihilates the wacko/Gore scenarios, one and all, showing that they are exaggerations on stilts . . . and steroids too.

As I have for years, he emphasizes that the wackos are bent on feeling good, not doing good. They may be well intentioned, but they put the em-PHA-sis on the wrong syl-LA-ble. For many it “lifts them out of the tedious bickering of distributional politics and instead allows them to position themselves as humanitarians and statesmen concerned with the grandest issue of the planet’s survival.” (that’s Lomborg’s quote, not mine.)

Fortunately, climate change is not an imminent planetary emergency that will bring down civilization. It is but one of many problems, and not even the most important. There are no short term solutions to this problem. We need support “across parties, continents and generations.” We must cease with “debilitating scares and create a sensible and unbiased dialogue” over goals, means, costs and benefits to this and other of the world’s challenges.

“A world without fossil fuels [even in the midterm] is a world gone medieval.”

SO . . . COOL IT !

Posted by respeto at February 3, 2008 11:26 AM