Saturday, December 19, 2009

Global Climate Deal

Well this hardly needs me to say it, but what a farce. Did it really take thousands of people showing up for two weeks in Copenhagen to decide that we ought to limit future temperature increases to 2C? This could have been done by email. While they were at it why didn't they just agree that all future hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and droughts would be canceled? To make this happen they are adding an appendix of what everyone is agreeing to, which will not be binding and in any event wouldn't get close to limiting emissions enough to meet the temperature goal.

Of course a six year old could have predicted this outcome. Since all these world leaders aren't that stupid they must be incredibly cynical to let this circus continue. Whoever thinks these negotiations are going anywhere doesn't seem to grasp that there is no we. It is not in the interest of any one country or block of countries to do this, so it simply won't get done. They can meet until the cows come home and it still won't get done.

And as an aside where in the world did these payments to developing countries get to be a main topic. I'm sure it is a very nice thing to do, and all those leaders like Mugabe are looking forward to their new cars and airplanes, but in what way does that lower planetary emissions? It sure looks like guilt money to me. And it has the advantage of being something that the leaders of the developed countries could possibly do, probably by just redirecting other aid.

The only way we could possibly limit emissions to the levels needed would be by shutting down trade with the developing nations until they would agree to stringent limits on emissions produced by their exports. Trying to do this would likely destabilize the planet politically, which could lead to war. Read up on the origins of world war two, both in Europe and Asia. Now that everyone has nukes this cure might be worse than the disease, but who knows. In any event I don't think anyone has the stomach for it. Especially since the developed countries probably don't have the will to put up with the economic hardships that would be required to switch off of fossil fuels fast enough anyway.

So the only possible answer is a massive effort in new low carbon energy technology along with figuring out some way to suck all this extra carbon out of the atmosphere. The sooner we realize that "joint self control" is a failed strategy, the sooner we can get on with doing something useful.


  1. Nicolas - sorry for the off-topic posting, I was wondering if you were aware that the BBC re-ran Earth: Climate Wars episode 1 last Tuesday (they ran all three episodes in the run up to the end of Copenhagen), and repeated the erroneous claim about your father being selected by President Reagan?

    Their re-run was somewhat "lower key" this time, I figure someone in the UK (!) might have already informed you. It can still be viewed on BBC iPlayer only for people in the UK, but I think the 7 day catch up facility expires at midnight UK time (GMT) tonight.

  2. Nicholas, I have to disagree.

    You write: "So the only possible answer is a massive effort in now low carbon energy technology along with figuring out some way to suck all this extra carbon out of the atmosphere."

    Have you not been reading about Climategate? Climate scientists closely associated with CRU are claiming this scandal does not affect the science, but it is not true. The emails show the paleoclimate papers are trash. Even Keith Briffa believes the MWP was as warm as the present without anthropogenic CO2. And there is evidence of fudging the ocean temps which would bias the surface temp trend so many science papers are based on. Have you thought about this at all?

    The UK Met Office is now releasing some of the "value-added" data (because someone deleted or lost the raw data). A new era of openness should lead to less skepticism and more realism. The next assessment report by the IPCC should have dramatically different and less catastrophic conclusions.

  3. Ron,

    I know a lot of people feel that way, but the science underlying predictions of CO2 warming go back way before any of these paleo records. You can find the 1977 NAS report on the subject, the 1979 JASON report on the subject, the 1979 NAS/Charney report on the subject as well as the 1983 NAS report chaired by my father. The fundamentals of the issue have hardly changed since that time.

    When those reports were published it was conventionally believed that the MWP and LIA existed. I believe they may well have been as warm as today. It didn't change the conclusions.

    I feel that scientists have gotten caught up in trying to make the story perfect, and the effect has been the reverse of what they wanted. By publishing and then sticking to shaky conclusions come hell or high water they have distracted people from the core issue.

  4. Another solution would be a one-world government with real powers to crack down not only on the Mugabes of the world but also the polluters. As all of our fates are increasingly tied together via globalization, it makes more sense for some functional supranational body with power to enforce the rule of law even in failed nations.

  5. Yes a true world government could potentially solve this type of problem. But I think there are few Americans and Europeans who would agree to be outvoted by the folks from China, and India.

    So the trend of thought here is towards a true world government, that is not a democracy. In fact run by people who agree with whoever the person is with this idea.

  6. It's a thankless job, but I'll do it.