17 February 2010

Retreating to a Comfort Zone

With prospects for U.S. cap and trade legislation now completely extinguished, it is interesting to see some of the most vocal supporters of cap and trade silent on the implications of its failure and what should be done next on climate policy. Instead, Thomas Friedman and his favorite climate expert have decided to fall back onto debating the science and increasing emphasis on warring with the "deniers." Friedman writes today:
It is time the climate scientists stopped just playing defense.
Do we really need a further politicization of climate science? Haven't we had enough of that already?

Friedman's emphasis on stirring up the climate science wars is a shame because it obscures a really important point that he makes:
Even if climate change proves less catastrophic than some fear, in a world that is forecast to grow from 6.7 billion to 9.2 billion people between now and 2050, more and more of whom will live like Americans, demand for renewable energy and clean water is going to soar. It is obviously going to be the next great global industry.
What is this? There is good reason to decarbonize the global economy independent of uncertainties about climate change? You'll be hearing much more about this from me in coming months.

24 comments:

  1. "Do we really need a further politicization of climate science?"

    That is how the NYT sells papers by triggering an emotional response.

    Your picture of Napoleon is apropos. The winter, not heat, mainly destroyed his army.

    "There is good reason to decarbonize the global economy independent of uncertainties about climate change?"

    Of course, but it is not sexy enough. Must break out the threat of climate banshees to scare the peasants. Fear can be manipulated.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Friedman writes
    "renewable energy and clean water is ... obviously going to be the next great global industry."
    If so, can't we leave it to the free market? What is the problem?

    ReplyDelete
  3. He kind of lost me when he mentioned Joe Romm's Climate Progress for a listing of the best scientific papers on climate change. I don't think I could think of a more divisive and biased person in the climate debate.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Friedman's column was hilarious on so many levels.

    "Skeptics cite extreme weather events as evidence that the climate isn't getting warmer. They're stupidly confusing weather with climate. By the way, extreme weather events are evidence of anthropogenic climate change. "

    (Of course, Joe Romm, a 'physicist ', well past the expiration date of his physics credentials, whom Friedman cites, was also loudly proclaiming that the mid-Atlantic blizzard was evidence of AGW.)

    ReplyDelete
  5. "...demand for renewable energy and clean water is going to soar. It is obviously going to be the next great global industry."

    I agree that demand for energy will soar. I don't agree that the demand for "renewable" energy will soar. The demand will instead be for inexpensive, low-polluting energy. (Note that "low-polluting" does not just mean greehouse gases, but even includes such aspects the "visual pollution" impact of a windfarm on the countryside or shoreline.)

    ReplyDelete
  6. If "renewable energy and clean water" is the objective then policies should focus on those directly.

    It is rediculous to obsess about CO2 and then use secondary objectives to justify the obsession.

    Many have said the emphasis on CO2 is killing many more worthy environmental causes. I would rather see CO2 emitted freely from coal plants if that meant more money could be spent cleaning up the waterways.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Roger said:What is this? There is good reason to decarbonize the global economy independent of uncertainties about climate change?

    Well played, sir. You called the shot.

    ReplyDelete
  8. "Even if climate change proves less catastrophic than some fear, in a world that is forecast to grow from 6.7 billion to 9.2 billion people ."


    That's just another lie to promote carbon trading, like peak oil. Population will start reducing in 2050. He forgot to mention that.

    Anyone who thinks that reducing Co2 will be carried out in any other way apart from carbon trading is almost certainly wrong. This is who is promoting carbon trading. They are literally the largest corporations on earth. Resistance is utterly futile.


    International Emissions Trading Association (IETA)

    The biggest lobbying group at Copenhagen was the International Emissions Trading Association which was created to promote carbon trading more than ten years ago.

    Its members include :-

    BP, Conoco Philips, Shell, E.ON AG (coal power stations owner, EDF (one of the largest participants in the global coal market), Gazprom (Russian oil and gas), Goldman Sachs, Barclays, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley..

    http://www.ieta.org/ieta/www/pages/index.php?IdSiteTree=1249

    Their aim

    the objectives of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and ultimately climate protection;

    the establishment of effective market-based trading systems for greenhouse gas emissions by businesses that are demonstrably fair, open, efficient, accountable and consistent across national boundaries; and maintaining societal equity and environmental integrity while establishing these systems.

    http://www.ieta.org/ieta/www/pages/index.php?IdSiteTree=1248


    FOE on the IETA

    http://www.angrymermaid.org/ieta

    ReplyDelete
  9. The fundamental problem with de-carbonizing the Global Economy is that the economics of to decarbonize are uneven, therefore unfair. BooHoo, BooHoo.

    The folks in Gillette, Wyoming have enough coal to supply cheap plentiful electricity to their residents and industry for all intents and purposes forever.

    If one uses just a slightly high coal transportation cost of 3 cents/ton mile. That $10 a ton Wyoming Coal costs $51/ton to ship to Athens,Georgia. So the industry and residents in Athens,Georgia have to pay more and are competitively disadvantaged.

    With or without cap and trade, the Electric Utilities in Georgia have decided that nuclear is a better option then coal. Georgia gets 25% of it's power from nuclear and electricity costs 7.6 cents/KW. Their neighbor South Carolina gets 50% of it's power from nuclear and they pay 7 cents/KW.

    Transportation costs is something the 'Climate Community' neglects in their calculations.

    The worlds remaining big piles of coal are a very long way from where most of the world lives.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Friedman is a buffoon. Something happens to these hacks when they get interviewed on public radio/television too many times. The urge to bloviate becomes overwhelming.

    Friedman wouldn't know a hypothesis from a hypotenuse. Any scientist who's ever been interviewed by a newspaper reporter knows how disasterous it always becomes. They invariably scramble the message, no matter how hard you try prevent it. And the reporter walks away from the experience thinking he/she now understands science.

    ReplyDelete
  11. We can never have enough rich elitists like Thomas Friedman musing to the peasantry as to how evil they are for not supporting Al Gore's and Goldman Sachs' ventures to make billions on carbon cap and trade. Yes it is time for TF to become more offensive. :*)


    http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.mnftiu.cc/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/blog_house1.gif&imgrefurl=http://www.mnftiu.cc/2009/01/16/thomas-friedmans-house/&usg=__JVxwzu7HC9_JEAPk40Q7C-fSB88=&h=356&w=500&sz=118&hl=en&start=1&um=1&itbs=1&tbnid=C-qxrxy2H1u4qM:&tbnh=93&tbnw=130&prev=/images%3Fq%3DThomas%2BFriedman%2Bhouse%26hl%3Den%26rls%3Dcom.microsoft:en-us:IE-SearchBox%26sa%3DN%26um%3D1

    ReplyDelete
  12. Roger, Friedman said:

    "in a world that is forecast to grow from 6.7 billion to 9.2 billion people between now and 2050, more and more of whom will live like Americans, demand for renewable energy and clean water is going to soar. It is obviously going to be the next great global industry."

    How do you get "There is good reason to decarbonize the global economy independent of uncertainties about climate change" Out of this? Apart from Friedman's (fallacious) use of "renewable" (a more populous world with more American lifestyle will have higher energy demand period) Increasing population with more American lifestyle needing more energy has nothing to do with how much carbon that energy emits. If we can supply those people with carbon based energy and that doesn't lead to climate catastrophe, what is wrong with that?

    ReplyDelete
  13. Roger, if you haven't heard of him, I recommend Peter Tertzakian. He is the first person that I heard very clearly describe the numbers behind why technologies must be developed that move North America beyond profligate energy use. In the first part of his latest book, _The End of Energy Obesity_, he describes "WeatlhyWorld" (56% of the global economy, and only 800 million people) and "WantingWorld" (the other 5.9 billion, over 4 billion of which reside in emerging economies). If the 4 billion pursue "the American Dream," as opposed to the "Denmark Dream" or "Japanese Dream," the 21st century may be a bumpy ride of high energy prices and negative environmental impacts.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Eric144-

    It seems the result of the UN Framework Convention is to reduce nations to mere supplicants to a Suzerain body, not unlike the EU crack of the whip on Greece.

    ReplyDelete
  15. That could be a "climate adaptation strategy" move people from Arizona to Wyoming..;)

    Also, Roger is the political scientist here, but you don't have to be one to wonder:

    what groups are empowered by framing the issue as "responding to climate change" compared to "decarbonizing the economy"?

    Scientist vs. engineers? the financial sector compared to the technology sector? Academics vs. businesspeople?

    ReplyDelete
  16. Friedman says, "In my view, the climate-science community should convene its top experts — from places like NASA, America’s national laboratories, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford, the California Institute of Technology and the U.K. Met Office Hadley Centre — and produce a simple 50-page report. They could call it “What We Know,” summarizing everything we already know about climate change in language that a sixth grader could understand, with unimpeachable peer-reviewed footnotes."

    Oh yeah? Then I would find my own set of experts, peer reviewed literature, and sixth graders to refute everything his team had to say.

    Friedman could use a dose of Sarewitz.

    ReplyDelete
  17. "There is good reason to decarbonize the global economy"

    It is not the first time you claim that. What is(are) exactly this(ese) 'good reason(s)'?

    ReplyDelete
  18. @Pasteur01:

    Ironically, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is home to (arguably) the world's leading climate change skeptic.

    I refer of course to Professor Richard Lindzen.

    ReplyDelete
  19. BP, ConocoPhillips, and Caterpillar have left USCAP, a cap&trade lobbying organization:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/16/AR2010021605543.html

    ReplyDelete
  20. TSL

    I suspect winners like BP and Conoco Phillips don't want to be associated with losers, like Barack Obama and his Cap and Trade bill !



    Craig said

    "It seems the result of the UN Framework Convention is to reduce nations to mere supplicants to a Suzerain body"

    The phrase 'global governance' certainly featured a great deal before Copenhagen from leading politicians. For example, the ingoing and outgoing Presidents of the EU, the UN Secretary General and the leader of the free world, Albert Gore Junior.

    ReplyDelete
  21. @copner

    Our host has me convinced that the (A)GW believers are engaged in a futile match of scientific tic-tac-toe. Cats got it every time. If they want to further their agenda they must consider a new game.

    The irony here is that the people who doubt (A)GW seem to embrace Dr. Pielke more than the climate change activists who are in desperate need of the strategy he has espoused for quite some time.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/2000/07/sarewitz.htm

    ReplyDelete
  22. Pasteur01- Thanks for posting! I wasn't involved in those days so had never seen it.

    For a practical approach to adaptation see Trout Unlimited's "Protect, Reconnect, Restore ."
    http://www.tu.org/atf/cf/%7BED0023C4-EA23-4396-9371-8509DC5B4953%7D/final_climate_change_report.pdf

    In my view, it is still true that we should have a conversation about what we are losing in terms of real improvements to the environment by the current framing of the climate change issue, and why it is seldom OK to ask this question out loud.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Sharon F.
    Your regrets notwithstanding, contextualize any conversation in climate change and it becomes a debate. (A)GW is controversial.

    Yes, let’s discuss the merits of protecting wildlife and unanimously conclude that salmon populations and healthy streams are together a worthy cause. Add some money to the U.S. federal budget to prepare salmon habitats for climate change and witness vanishing unanimity.

    Can’t you just see ex Gov. Palin standing in an Alaskan stream with hip high waders and a fly rod mocking the liberal attempt to waste money protecting fish from Al Gore’s airplane exhaust? Publish those “Ten Steps” in Field and Stream magazine sans “climate change” and those salmon will be swimming in pork. Mission accomplished.

    ReplyDelete
  24. The point is that in the real world, the "good things to do" to make ecosystems and communities resilient to climate change, whether human caused or not, are the same good things that would be good to do for a variety of other reasons.

    Not buying oil from other countries - good to do.
    Wildlife corridors- good to do.
    Protecting watersheds from catastrophic fires (induced by climate change or not) good to do.

    I think you see where I'm going. There are a lot of things that are good to do that would also help with AGW if it is real, or plain old GW or Gcooling if they come about, regardless of causes.

    Why our public policy wouldn't focus on those things is rather a mystery.

    ReplyDelete