13 years to turn round global warming


Financial Times Deutschland – May 15, 2007

Interesting article on the estimated costs of reversing the human induced effects of greenhouse gases that appear to be causing global warming. I would like to see some more data, specifically:

  1. What is the range of costs that were estimated for this mammoth effort?  Does anyone ever believe these “low” cost estimates when government agencies put them out?  I remember the original cost of the “Big Dig” in Boston at about 10% of the actual expense when it was all over.  Should we be safe and multiply these numbers by 10 to get a real cost?
  2. What is the cost distribution per nations?  My guess is that it is not equally loaded across all the GDP.
  3. How confident are we that these levels are enough?
  4. I am assuming that if we find that we need to take an additional 100 PPM out of the atmosphere it would cost more than the first 100 PPM. So what is the cost if we have to further tighten our belt? I point this out since the article says that this cost is to limit our increase to 1.3 deg C over the existing .7 deg C we have already seen. If we don’t endeavor on this reduction the estimate is that we will zoom all the way to another 2.3 deg (total of 3 deg C). Is that 1 degree delta enough to do the job?
  5. What is the lost opportunity cost of limiting the increase only 1 degree? If we get motivated to save the world with a reduction of GDP, how many lives would we save by focusing on AIDS, cancer, nutrition, smoking, alcohol, etc instead.  I am writing this sitting in a Starbucks and they have a great program with their bottled water where they donate money to help with fresh water in impoverished areas of the world.  Would it be better to give Starbucks that money?

The world has until 2020 to reverse the trend of rising greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change, the world’s top climate scientists have warned. Achieving this would reduce the world’s annual gross domestic product by 3 per cent in 2030, the UN expert panel concluded. Emissions have been rising for the past 150 years.

Cutting greenhouse gas emissions to the required level can be achieved with today’s technologies but bringing them into widespread use is likely to require extensive changes in public policy

Most of the technology needed to achieve the necessary cut in emissions is already commercially available, including nuclear power, renewable energy generation and measures that promote energy efficiency.

If emissions were to peak in 2015, which is viewed as unlikely to be achieved, and thereafter fall by about 50-80 per cent over the next several decades global warming would be limited to about 2° Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the IPCC report found. The world has already warmed by about 0.7°C in the past century. But if emissions continue to grow until 2030, which is widely viewed as more likely, temperatures would probably rise by 3°C above pre-industrial levels.

Read the rest of the article here.

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