4.24.2006

global warming stuff

Hey, I just finished my global warming debate. Andrew, I used some of your old arguments about bias in academia to show how a consensus among scientists doesn't neccesarily mean they're right, so thanks for the help!

My conclusion after the whole thing...human-induced global warming due to greenhouse gas emissions is probably part of the reason that temperatures are increasing, but not all or even most of it. The consequences are really hard to predict, but will probably be some degree of rise in sea levels, obviously increased temperatures, and generally increased rainfall. If people can continue to develop better technologies, we very well may be able to adapt to the worst of it. Some species of plants and animals will suffer a lot, and some will migrate to better climates, and some we might be able to help with the aforementioned technologies.

Because the system is so complex and hard to predict, though, it may be much, much worse. So, the question is, which scenario should we use for policy decisions. The worst case, the best case, or something in-between? I think it may be wiser to make policy based on the worst case scenario, especially if this involves investments in alternative energy, which would have lots of other benefits too.

4 comments:

Andrew said...

Oh damn! Global warming denial and academic bias? I bet you were a crowd pleaser. You should have worked in affirmative action for the hat trick.

I’m with you 100% on pursuing alternative energy generation so long as it makes economic sense. For example I’m dumbfounded that Indiana doesn’t have more wind farms. You’d think flat cornfields would be great for them. Some of the new, giant GE wind turbines are reaching cost efficiencies greater than coal (3.5 cents kw/hr). Greater supply, whatever the source, is good.

What I’m against are policies designed to artificially curb energy demand like Kyoto. Like socialism the aims of such policies may be noble but I believe the only thing they will achieve is greater human misery. Sorry, but I don’t know of a single scientist advocating massive curbs in CO2 emissions that seems to know dick about economics. However I do think they are correct that as things stand there simply are not enough resources on the planet to support everyone, long term. This leaves policy makers with two choices: 1.) Characterize the industrial advance of human civilization as bad and regress back to the Eden that never existed allowing millions to die to reduce demand. 2.) Let the market do what it’s always done better than any scientist, political system, or think tank: create ever increasing supply of everything. As with most things I choose the option that keeps the most people alive; capitalism.

Andrew said...

This is the best tear down of the current hysteria over global warming I've yet seen.

Joe said...

One of the more important things I've learned in my time at school this year has been the concept of "market failure" and "externalities." These are fairly obvious concepts, but they're also pretty powerful. The extraction and burning of fossil fuels creates externalities (i.e., pollution, health problems, etc) that the market does not take into account.
So, I generally agree that markets are the best allocator, but I think that they need to be tweeked to account for negative (or positive) externalities. I.e., fossil fuels should be taxed more than they are. Higher prices will create the "natural" incentives for private industry to pursue alternative energies.

Andrew said...

Not to mention the many costly superfund sites extraction of coal from the ground has left behind or the many subsidies fossil fuel industries still receive from the government. It’s hard to calculate how much more fossil derived energy would be if these externalities were factored in but I believe it would add enough cost to make alternative sources more competitive. I believe the path to environmental salvation lies in making the market more rational not less through the implementation of arbitrary, draconian caps on consumption through emissions limits.