Thursday, November 16, 2006

Global Warming, My Shiny Metal Arse

This increasing multipartisan consensus that Global Warming is occurring and is a Bad Thing is pushing me more and more into the 'Greenhouse Skeptic' camp.

I predict that the average temperatures in the place where I live now and the average temperature in the place where you live now, gentle reader, for the years 2026-2030, will be lower than for the years 2001-2005.
I'm happy to wager $1000 (in CPI-adjusted 2006 Australian dollars) on this prediction to the first three gentle readers who respond, even if they live in Southern Siberia.

I further predict that the net change in sea-level around the Pacific Ocean, once all local sinkings and risings of the crust are accounted for, will be not demonstrably different from zero over the years 2001-2030.

I predict finally that the relative magnitude of the costs incurred in avoiding global warming and the costs that can be with a reasonable degree of certainty be attributed to global warming will bear an eerie similarity to the 'Y2K' situation.


Marco said...

Even worse, I see many similarities with the Ozone layer hole fear consensus of last decade. When it was seen that the hole was receding, there was plenty of self-congratulation on how environmentalists saved the world, but no mention of the huge cost of CFC replacement, and the actual cost/benefit relationship. I am flabbergasted at the level of public support for alternative energy subsidies, for instance, when this is a very inefficient use of public funds.

Marco said...

This is our place, yesterday morning.
(If you happen to be a random visitor from the northern hemisphere, this is the last month of Spring. And we are closer to the equator than San Diego is.)

Where is this part of the post? I can only seem to see it in the comments section???

Dr. Clam said...

Hi there! I put it in hidden text because I couldn't find the connector to get the pictures of the camera yet- they show about three inches of snow.
And, apropos of the ozone hole, it appears the shrinking still has a ways to go...

winstoninabox said...

But does it really matter if someone does the right thing for the wrong reason?

Sure global warming might be a lot of baloney, but an increased awareness of the environment and cleaner sources of energy have got to be better for all. By the time those energy sources are viable, who'll care that the global warming problem seems to have miraculously cleared itself up.

And really Marco, how can "a very inefficient use of public funds" be an argument against anything the government does. Inefficiency is part and parcel of any government spending. Short of privatizing government itself, it is the inefficiency we have to have, so to speak.

Dr. Clam said...

Of course it doesn't matter if someone does the right thing for the wrong reason! :) Sputnik was not really a sign that the Soviet Union was streaking ahead of the West scientifically, but it gave a salutary boost to scientific development nevertheless. In the same way, I am very hopeful that Global Warming will encourage governments and companies to invest in science.
However, it matters very much if someone does the wrong thing for the wrong reason: if 'reducing carbon emissions' is made a goal of such importance that economic development in the Third World is sacrificed to it, billions of people will die earlier and lead more miserable lives than they would have otherwise.

Andrew Shellshear said...

Global climate change is not a load of baloney, and I'll take that bet.

Dr. Clam said...

Yay! You're on.

Dr. Clam said...

Happy to use the Global Historical Climatology Network, or its heir c.2030?

Dave said...

Just out of interest, is the question whether global climate is changing, or that the causes are predominantly human in origin?

Dr. Clam said...

Er, I actually agree both that Global Warming is occurring and that it is human in origin, I just don't think we should do anything about it. But all the apocalyptic posturing has made me rash and irresponsible!

I still think I have a pretty good chance, since my reading of the historical temperature and carbon dioxide data is that we are near the top of a wobble upwards in temperature overlaid on a more gradual rise, and that we might well be wobbling down to the other side of the gradual rise by 2030. The apparent very strong correlation between year-by-year carbon dioxide levels and temperature is only there since 1980 and I think it is a fluke. The northern hemisphere and southern hemisphere carbon dioxide levels track almost exactly identical, but the post-1980 heating is much stronger in the northern hemisphere, and I am betting it has a lot to do with some specific and temporary northern hemisphere event- e.g., the collapse of particulate-emitting industries in the Warsaw Pact? I don't know.

Howard et al. jumping on the bandwagon particularly irritates me, because it is completely poll-driven politics. ("You say 80% of the electorate are concerned about leprechauns? Get a leprechaun policy on my desk by the morning!")

Marco said...


Carbon trading: right thing for the wrong reason.

In fact global carbon trading might well make up for the disaster of the Doha round.

Solar & Wind subsidies (as practiced by US & Europe): wrong thing for the wrong reasons. Exceptionally market distorting - put a flat global carbon tax and let the market decide. Will achieve more at a millionth of the cost!

Ethanol Subsidies in Brazil: Exception that proves the rule. They got reallly, reallly lucky.

I'm not sure how this will affect overall Global warming, but CFC's are thousands of times more effective warmers than CO2, from memory: Their gradual dispersion from the atmosphere may well offset a chunk of the CO2 increases.

Dave said...

Clam: Agreed re Howard's motivations.

Marco: Not sure about your point on solar and wind subsidies - I see where you're coming from, but as a taxpayer I would prefer these options be given at least the attention and resources offered to fossil carbon research, which continues as a pretty heavily subsidised field itself (unless I misunderstood something I read the other week and can't find now).

Marco said...

Well, obviously I think that there should be no subsidy on either, and I guess part of that is my instincts against a government trying to pick winners with large chunks of discretionary money. My personal experience with applying and getting grants from the government leads me to hope that they will stop grants at least to the textile industries.

Specifically to the solar and wind industries, I actually believe subsidies stifle innovation in concrete but subtle ways. The government should concentrate on how regulation and taxation policies can oil the wheels. The money spent on subsidies would be better spent on carbon-neutral style initiatives. These more directly attack emmissions at least, give a solid price signal, and don't distort investment.

Marco said...

I am betting it has a lot to do with some specific and temporary northern hemisphere event- e.g., the collapse of particulate-emitting industries in the Warsaw Pact? I don't know.
That is actually a pretty safe bet as far as it goes. Particulates from developing Asian countries may well cool the globe by 2030. According to the Milankovitch cycles it is quite possible that in the really long term, we may want to keep the greenhouse effect going to avoid the next ice age. The precautionary principle should dictate that we should keep CO2 levels high to prevent the Earth from going back into another ice age. It is risky to go overboard with our reductions.