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Is it cheaper to just let the planet heat?

Before getting into the debate that Jim Manzi and Brad Plumer are having on the costs of mitigating global warming, it's worth highlighting this bit from Manzi, which is slightly off-topic to the actual disagreement, but could be the most important thing you'll ever read:

The consensus scientific estimate is that there is a 1-in-10,000 chance of an asteroid large enough to kill a large fraction of the world’s population impacting the earth in the next 100 years. ... The U.S. government currently spends about four million dollars per year on asteroid detection (in spite of an estimate that one billion dollars per year spent on detection plus interdiction would be sufficient to reduce the probability of impact by 90 percent).

Why aren't we spending this money? Are we really that good at interdiction? If so, is it because of technology, or because of Bruce Willis?

As for the actual debate, Manzi argues that the likely costs of substantially reducing global warming emissions over the next century outweigh the likely costs of global warming over the next century. Plumer is less convinced, citing the possibility that global warming will be far worse than Manzi's numbers suggest; noting that environmental regulations have frequently been much more effective and less costly than naysayers predicted; and arguing that the distributional reality is that the costs of doing something fall heavily on developed nations but the costs of doing nothing fall heavily on undeveloped nations, and as such, we who've created the problem have a moral obligation to do something about it.

But they both ignore a point that's central to Manzi's argument: What happens after 100 years?

Letting greenhouse gases build in the atmosphere is a bit like letting a tree grow roots beneath the foundation of your house. It may not be that bad this year, or next year, or even the year after that. But with each year that goes by, the problem becomes incrementally more severe, and harder to reverse. So even if Manzi is right that the costs are manageable into 2100 -- a century, after all, is a long time for a human, but not for the atmosphere -- what does that do to our descendants who have to deal with a scorching planet between 2100 and 2200? And then into 2300, and then 2400?

I think Manzi's answer is that technology will save us by then. And maybe he's right. But maybe he's not. And if he's not, then we've let the problem become unimaginably bad for our descendants. If you bet on technology and you're wrong, it's not like we've got another of these planets waiting in the back somewhere.

The appropriate technological approach, it seems to me, is to pair a strategy of aggressive emissions reduction with a huge effort to develop technological solutions. Then, if the research begins to pay off, we can transition over to those technologies and ease up on the regulations. But if we don't so mitigation and instead trust in technology, we may let the situation get so bad that by the time we're ready to do mitigation, the problem is essentially irreversible.

By Ezra Klein  |  July 6, 2010; 9:38 AM ET
Categories:  Climate Change  
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saying we should use "a strategy of aggressive emissions reduction with a huge effort to develop technological solutions." is a bit like saying we should do everything. I mean sure we should do everything if there's an non-constrained amount of money to be spent. There isn't though. And virtually everyone agrees that the steps taken to reduce green house gases will effect the economy.

Posted by: conor1971 | July 6, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

You know what else will affect the economy? Unrestrained greenhouse gas emissions.

Posted by: simpleton1 | July 6, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Warming or cooling the climate of the Earth is controlled by natural forces,mainly the Sun's activity,not by mankinds activity.The global warming debate is just that,a worthless babbling debate,that means nothing.Climate is not controlled by humans but by nature.

Posted by: fcs25 | July 6, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

All well and good. Now look up "mid-ocean conveyor."

Posted by: ostrogoth | July 6, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

"arguing that the distributional reality is that the costs of doing something fall heavily on developed nations but the costs of doing nothing fall heavily on undeveloped nations, and as such, we who've created the problem have a moral obligation to do something about it."

Good luck with that.

Posted by: jnc4p | July 6, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Framing the argument in terms of costs is - and has always been - misleading. There are quite conceivable conditions in which only a small fraction of today's human population might survive. Certainly there are conditions which may arrive from global warming which could radically alter the kinds of agriculture, settlement patterns, manufacturing and other human-related activities. We look at costs in terms of what must be spent without considering what other use of resource is affected by such "cost."

The most cost-effective solution is ALWAYS to stem or curb the problem at the outset. Arguing technologies to patch the damaged natural earth-maintenance systems is going to be expensive whether it is effective or not.

Posted by: Jazzman7 | July 6, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

The asteroid collision scenario is an argument for keeping Chuck Norris alive artificially for an indefinite period, since asteroids are known to be frightened of and repelled by Chuck Norris.

Posted by: gagkk | July 6, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

There is nothing remotely original about the Manzi argument--this is simply one of the garden variety libertarian arguments for doing nothing about global warming. First there's the it'll just make things better argument--with all that hot air we can grow strawberries in May in Greenland (won't that be a gas). Secondly, there's the it will just cost too much, so lets do nothing. What we are really seeing here is a strong argument for the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of contemporary libertarian thinking. If libertarianism cannot acknowledge the reality of global warming, and the severity of the threat and advance a credible remedy than maybe what we are really finding out is that libertarianism has little useful function.

On the severity of the threat, the post seriously underestimates the short-term and medium-term consequences. If you are reasonably young and even in the early middle aged years you too can live to see your planet fried, though it is true that your grandchildren will be even worse off.

Posted by: bdlieberman | July 6, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

To Ezra's question about asteroid detection. My guess at the answer is that money for space stuff isn't very popular right now paired with the likely reality that even if we could detect an asteroid headed towards Earth, there's probably not a lot we could do about it. As the constant failure of missle defense shows, we simply aren't very good at hitting small, fast targets with small ammunition, and an asteroid millions of miles away from Earth and moving at thousands of miles per hour is a very small, fast target indeed. Pair that with the fact that early detection likely means that we'll have early panic and anarchy in the populace. It's pretty much an "ignorance is bliss" scenario. It's very unlikely that an asteroid will get in Earth's path, and the negative consequences of knowing aren't balanced by an ability to address the problem once we know about it.

Posted by: MosBen | July 6, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

As for the climate change issue, well, I'll try and sum up my too-long posts from Wonkbook succinctly:

There are non-economic results from climate change that I don't think are taken into account in Manzi's economic analysis. That economic activity from skiing in Washington State is balanced by better farming in Canada doesn't change the fact that there's a bunch of people unemployed and a massive recreational loss in the skiing area. And as Plumer suggests, while countries which cover a lot of degrees of latitude (us) might fair ok in a globally warmed climate, there are going to be whole countries whole economy is decimated while other countries have thier economies massively expanded.

Also, Manzi's arguing with Al Gore, but though I tend to agree with Gore, there's a spectrum of action we could be taking. And bdlieberman, I understand from Plumer's piece that Manzi does support some level of action to combat climate change, even if it doesn't come through in this piece. The problem is that there's a significant swath of conservatives who are so hostile to efforts to curb climate change that they won't even participate in the debate. We are really inefficient in energy use and there's a lot of low hanging fruit we could be getting if conservatives would come onboard. Improvements to the power grid, investments in new power sources, replacing dark roofs and road surfaces with lighter materials, retrofitting old an inefficient buildings; there's a lot we could be doing that would help, but instead we're doing almost nothing and hoping that future generations will bail us out of the problem. Frankly, simply hoping your kids will figure it sounds an awful lot like criticisms leveled by conservatives on the deficit. But rather than participating in this process and trying to find some compromises (I highlighted a suggestion Kevin Willis made here a while ago to reduce the corporate tax in exchange for closing corporate tax loopholes and instituting a carbon tax), the majority of conservatives, or at least their legislators, shout down guys like Manzi that want to engage in the debate.

Posted by: MosBen | July 6, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Whenever I hear the argument that future technology will save us, the image of this story comes to mind:
A fervent believer in Divine Intervention was at his house when the nearby river rose to flood-stage and threatened the community. A sherriff's car came to his house and told him to evacuate immediately. "No," the man said. "I have faith in God that He will save me." He refused a ride in the car.
Soon, the water had risen all around his house and he was forced to the 2nd story. A boat came by pleading the man to get in and get to safety. "No," the man said. "I have faith in God that He will intervene and save me." He refused a ride in the boat.
Now the water had reached the second story of the house. The man was forced to the roof. A helicopter arrived and pleaded for the man to get in. "No," the man said. "God will intervene and save me." So he refused the helicopter.
But then the water did overcome him and the man drowned.
The man reached Heaven and met God. Incredulous, the man said, "But God, why did you not save me from that flood." And God replied, "But I sent a car, I sent a boat, I sent a helicopter..."
The thought that some future, unknown technology will instantly save us is the height of naivete and juvenile fantasy. Where do these folks think this magical technology will come from without investing money, developing it, testing it, implementing it, and refining it?? The effort has to start sometime or it will always be something for the future.

Posted by: chip8 | July 6, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Warming or cooling the climate of the Earth is controlled by natural forces,mainly the Sun's activity,not by mankinds activity.The global warming debate is just that,a worthless babbling debate,that means nothing.Climate is not controlled by humans but by nature.

Is that how it works? You just declare what you want to be so? That's great, but why stop there!? Getting fat is controlled by natural forces, not mankind's [sic] activity. Soups on! Getting rich is controlled by natural forces, not my activity. I'm going to Disneyland!

You know what's controlled by natural forces, not mankind's activity? Natural forces. So if you fart in a room it'll stink even if you don't want it to. I know it sucks, but you can't just wish greenhouse gases away.

Posted by: dfhoughton | July 6, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

@MosBen: "As the constant failure of missle defense shows, we simply aren't very good at hitting small, fast targets with small ammunition, and an asteroid millions of miles away from Earth and moving at thousands of miles per hour is a very small, fast target indeed."

The more time you have to aim, the more likely you are to hit that target. If there is an extensive time for multiple devices to home in, even missile defense systems work well. It's just you don't normally have several days from launch to impact to take out an incoming missile. Asteroids? We would have much better luck taking out asteroids. But there's never going to be much motivation to do so, until an asteroid strikes the earth and causes a lot of damage. Afterwards, most major governments will have Departments of Asteroid Interdiction.

"We are really inefficient in energy use and there's a lot of low hanging fruit we could be getting if conservatives would come onboard."

This is true. However, there's an awful lot of stuff that gets mixed in, a lot of accusations, a lot of talk about how greedy people--"Like you!"--(with pointing fingers and angry looks) are destroying the world with your driving to work and having a house. Now, let me take my private jet to a Global Warming conference that will burn more electricity in 3 minutes than you will in my entire lifetime. It's become a highly charged political issue (without a lot of blaming and recrimination) with a lot of apocalyptic talk that, frankly, sounds at best disingenuous and at worst almost crazy to folks who aren't deeply indoctrinated in the First Church of Climate Change.

When, in fact, alternative energies and radically improved efficiencies (in energy use, generation, and transmission) have benefits far beyond a reduction in greenhouse gases. There are lots of solid arguments to be making, that can resonate immediately. Not the least of which is that high-efficiency appliances and good insulation and whatnot lead to lower energy bills. The more productive output you get for more energy input means better things for everybody, and greenhouse gas reductions are a bonus.

Also, for many in America, threatening that New York will be under water if we don't change our ways now just isn't motivating. ;)

One way, we can agree to disagree on a highly contentious issue (the imminent end of the world via global warming) while getting together on issues of lower utility bills, higher productivity per energy input, less pollution, cleaner air and water, energy independence, etc. The other way (the way I think we'll take) is we can insist that anthropogenic global warming is an unquestionable and undebatable scientific fact (and those who disagree are heretics and blasphemers--I mean, "deniers") or that global warming is a complete hoax being foisted on us by Enviro-Statists and the American Communist Party and unless you accept that into your heart (pick your poison), we won't do anything, and nothing much changes.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | July 6, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

The efffects of global warming are going to be very uneven, but even the clueless should be able to see that one consequence is a rise in sea level which is going to greatly affect Florida and the Gulf Coast and parts of California (SF Bay Area), along with low-lying areas around the world. These massive displacements of populations and distruption of seaports will be very consequential. In addition, even if new crops can be grown in Canada, the Southwest US will become something like Baghdad in the summer, especially with insufficient power and water.

It really doesn't matter if it is God or human generation of heat-trapping gases. If a hurricane is coming one moves inland to higher ground. One builds for the possibility of earthquakes. At least people do if they are intelligent and care about their own and their family's and society's survival. Which may be the real problem here.

Posted by: Mimikatz | July 6, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

What happens in 100 years? By then, we will have exhausted all of the greenhouse-gas-producing fuels we currently use. This has the positive effect that if these fuels are indeed contributing to climate change, their effect disappears: it also has the effect of eliminating all technological advances related to the fuels themselves.

So, if the exhaustion of fuel predicted by fuel producers takes place before the climate catastrophe predicted by the Chicken Little squad, we really don't need to spend much money propping up the falling sky.

Posted by: rmgregory | July 6, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Kevin, those are good points on the asteroid issue. My followup question is that both Armageddon and Deep Impact have led me to believe that simply shooting a missle at an asteroid is unlikely to either deter its course or blow it up. Now, yeah, those are not the basis for any kind of belief, but it's what I've got, so do you have any idea as to their accuracy? Maybe we could hit an incoming asteroid, but could we actually blow it up or change its course?

To climate change: Your points about other benefits from increasing our energy efficiency and relying less on carbon-based power are well taken, and I agree that they should be a larger part of the argument. I do think you overplay the amount to which people who support climate change legislation are sanctimonious jerks about it. Now, if you said that people who agree with Al Gore's take can be rude, then sure, I think that's a likely outcome in any debate about which people are passionate, though that's not an excuse for such behavior. But at the same time, I don't run across people that are as hypocritical as your example, and I run in some pretty liberal circles. I think most people on my side of the debate recognize that in our country some level of driving is necessary as are other activities which produce carbon emmissions, which is why the consensus on the Left seems to have coalesced around pricing carbon emmissions into the market. People still need to do what they need to do, but they can now pay for it more directly.

And I still think it's unhelpful to describe either the pro or anti climate change legislation camp in religious terms, except when it's literally true. Though there may be some liberals so wedded to the "Truth" of anthropogenic climate change that they would cling to it outside of credible supporting evidence, many or most on that side of the debate find themselves there after careful consideration of the facts.

Posted by: MosBen | July 6, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Of course the real problem with Manzi's argument is that he uses GDP as the only unit of impact. Not once does he even consider the possibility that other metrics might be more impacted - or more impactful - than "economic output." For someone who prides himself on rational analysis, reliance on a single metric belies the shallowness of his analysis.

In fact, I have no respect for Jim Manzi as an intellectual. He merely uses a calculating, reasoned tone to mask the shallowness of his ideas. True, he accepts the science regarding global warming, but the fact that this might qualify someone for "respect" is more a testament to the intellectual degradation of conservatism than it is to Manzi's credentials. Will we soon reach the point where when a conservative says, "I believe in the scientific consensus of gravity," we start thinking, "there may be something to this guy"?

Posted by: akent07 | July 6, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

The asteroid issue and global warming are clearly unrelated or rather they are related only in the way that any two possible threats are related. If an earth-destroying asteroid poses some plausible risk then some research into possible action on that risk would certainly be warranted. OK--what's the connection to global warming. What is remarkable and striking about the global warming issue is how little acrimony it has generated so far: what response would normally be expected to people who chose to expose everyone on the world to an immense risk simply because they wish to cast there lot with the vanishingly small number of actual climate scientists who doubt human caused global warming. If I worked to prevent someone in my community from getting chemotherapy because I personally believed that talk show hosts knew more than oncologists what would you say about me?

Posted by: bdlieberman | July 6, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

rmgregory, I'm glad you brought up "peak oil" since that's what I wanted to mention, but I think you've got the analysis wrong on a couple of counts. First, carbon dioxide (and methane and etc) in the atmosphere doesn't stop having an effect once you stop adding more of it. That's part of what makes global warming a big problem--the warming we're already experiencing is due to the greenhouse gases that were emitted in decades past. They stay in the atmosphere for a long time and continue to promote heat gain for the duration. In other words, there's a lot of inertia to the greenhouse process. If all emission of ghg were halted today, the climate would continue to warm for decades to come. The force of that kind of inertia will only be that much greater if we go ahead and burn all accessible fossil fuels before turning to alternatives. In short (not my strong suit), there's no "positive effect" to having "exhausted all of the greenhouse-gas-producing fuels we currently use."

The other issue is that diminishing relative availability of fossil fuels will be severely harmful to the economy as it is currently constituted. You write as if future generations will say, "we don't mind that our cars, trains, airplanes, and ships don't work, or that we're down to 1/5 the electricity we used to have, or that farms can only produce 1/2 the food we used to eat, as long as the planet hasn't totally fried it's party time!"

Oil is the first in line, but natural gas (base component in production of synthetic nitrogenous fertilizer, which is the basis for something approaching half of all protein consumed by humans in the world today) isn't that far down the line. Those peaks by themselves are good reason to be investing heavily now in alternative energy research and deployment, as well as conservation measures to smooth out the transition. Frosting on the cake: a livable planet.

Posted by: JonathanTE | July 6, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Mimikatz, I think issues like the effect on global shipping are economic issues, so it's something Manzi would consider in his analysis. EXCEPT! As Plumer points out, the report Manzi's relying on explicitly didn't take costs due to sea level rise into its analysis. So it's really an unanswered question. If we take Manzi's 6% figure as the cost of addressing climate change, the cost from rising sea levels could destroy up to 3% of global GDP and still come out even with the costs of avoiding it. Now, the reason the report left sea change out of the equation is that, at least in 2007, we didn't understand how sea levels really would be affected or what the associated costs would be. I don't have any information on that, but it is possible that moving ports further inland or to other cities would still be cheaper than the 6% number. I don't necessarily think "cheaper" is the only factor here, but it's what Manzi's really talking about.

rmgreggory, again, I'm not an expert, but my understanding is that at some point you reach a tipping point where the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere creates a feedback loop such that things continue to get worse even if no more carbon is put into the system. At that point it doesn't help that there's no more carbon fuel to use because the damage is done, and then the only solution is some technological revolution to mitigate or reverse the damage. I think, as others have pointed out, that relying on a hypothetical technological marvel is both irresponsible and extremely risky.

Posted by: MosBen | July 6, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

@MosBen: "And I still think it's unhelpful to describe either the pro or anti climate change legislation camp in religious terms, except when it's literally true"

Oh, all right. A valid point. It's the Crichton argument adapted for an environment where skeptics are called "deniers". But I'll grant your point.

"Kevin, those are good points on the asteroid issue. My followup question is that both Armageddon and Deep Impact have led me to believe that simply shooting a missle at an asteroid is unlikely to either deter its course or blow it up"

I don't expect we know, having not diverted an asteroid before. However, a great deal of time to apply to an engineering problem--whether it's a targeting issue or something else--increases are likelihood of success a great deal. It's easier to interdict a long-range missile than a short-range one if for no other reason than the time window gives you more attempts to knock it out, as it were.

Of course, if we find out about the apocalyptic asteroid only days before it strikes, then we're sunk.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | July 6, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Kevin, just so I'm clear, I don't think "deniers" has the Holocaust implication that some conservatives do, but I don't think it's a ridiculous objection. And since I don't appreciate the implication that my position is some kind of uncritical religious position, I think it's only fair that I try to find something other than "deniers" for people who deny the validity of anthropogenic climate change. (I do think that the usage in that last sentence is substantively different than applying the term "denier".)

Posted by: MosBen | July 6, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Kevin, re: asteroids: But we know the yields of our missle technology and we know the range of masses for the asteroids in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, which is where an asteroid in Earth's path is likely to have originated. So I think it's certainly possible to predict whether we'd be able to deflect or destroy an incoming asteroid, though building on what you said, the earlier we hit it, the less we need to affect its trajectory for it to miss Earth.

Posted by: MosBen | July 6, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

I appreciate the exchange between Kevin Willis and MosBen above. Mos is right that KW's references to the anti-GW movement (as it were) as a quasi-religion is a slanderous, politically driven meme that has no basis in fact (unless you redefine "religion" to exclude any reference to deities, universal morality, and the like).

On the other hand, KW is right that this is America, in all of its diversity, and the practical, non-ideological solution is going to be more successful than endless recrimination back and forth. The low-hanging fruit is efficiency, both in terms of placing it into effect and seeing tangible rewards on an individual level. You don't just expect a majority of Americans to agree to turn over a global project to the government with a blank check. You start on a medium if not small scale, and wait to see if the feedbacks amplify into support for a more coherent large-scale government intervention.

Addressing global warming must be incremental, and must overlap with the related goals of reduced energy dependence, reduced pollution, and lowering energy costs at the individual level. Attempting it otherwise is reminiscent of the Underpants Gnome plan:

1. Govt' creation of overarching, artificial carbon "market".

2. ??? (10 years)

3. Global warming reduced!

Posted by: biwah | July 6, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

biwah, the potential problem is than an incremental approach may be insufficient or too slow to avert lasting damage. Still, like with healthcare, the solution which may be what we need may be politically impossible at this time no matter how much I wish it weren't so. Rather than wish we had 60 votes to make all of Al Gore's proposals a reality, we should be able to negotiate some kind of compromise solution like Kevin and I have been talking about. Unfortunately, that still requires 60 votes in the Senate, and it seems that the Republicans in Congress have no interest in participating in any kind of discussion on a compromise measure.

Posted by: MosBen | July 6, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Here's what you left out of your worst case 'in a hundred years' argument:

Strangling the world economy now may be what pre-empts remediation in a hundred years.

Posted by: DaMav | July 6, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

It's already too late.

I apologize to your descendants (I choose not to have any of my own) for the selfishness of those of us who could have sacrificed momentary pleasures in order to leave a better legacy.

Posted by: awerhane1 | July 6, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

The late Stephen Jay Gould once noted that "Nature does not exist for us, had no idea we were coming, and doesn't give a damn about us."

Our global warming may yet prove him right, with our extinction.

Posted by: tomcammarata | July 6, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

"Our global warming may yet prove him right, with our extinction."

Not going to happen. We may not be as populous as cockroaches, but I think we'll prove to be even more tenacious. Killing us off will require complete planetary destruction, and it has a relatively short window--perhaps as long as 1000 years (not that long, geologically) and perhaps as short as 200. At which point we will be capable of colonizing the rest of the solar system, and eventually beyond, and only the end of the universe will put a stop to our willful ways.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | July 6, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

This whole argument is being framed as emission reduction vs. geoengineering. The problem with this is that emission reduction **is** geoengineering, albeit one of the strategies least likely to have an impact on the problem.

Granted, it's the only thing that's even remotely within our competence to do right now. Or maybe not--my best reading of the current green energy market is that it can't possibly mature fast enough to support both a transition away from carbon and the explosive growth in energy demand from the developing nations. And if that's the case, then there is simply no way that emissions caps are going to work. Trading a poorly understood set of consequences from climatic effects for the lives saved and quality-of-life improvements that are guaranteed to come from lifting a couple billion people out of poverty is a pretty easy bargain to understand--especially for the impoverished.

Maybe putting the screws to the industrial economies will spur scaling advances in green energy that will enhance the impact of future geoengineering solutions. Or maybe we're just trying to force stuff that needs a bit more time to mature. Either way, emission reduction is not going to be the way this problem gets solved in the long term.

Posted by: theradicalmoderate | July 6, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Oh Kevin, poor optimistic Kevin. We don't have nearly 200 years before we invent the artificial intelligence that will rule over us all. If we somehow survive that and do manage to get out into space, we can expect a quick subjugation under a superior alien civilization. We'll be the Tatooine of someone's Galactic Empire.

Posted by: MosBen | July 6, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

The free market will provide an answer along with upholding private property rights and full liability. We got to this problem in the first place partly because of regulations against alternative energy and coal/oil tax incentives.

Posted by: WillBee | July 6, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

The true tree comparison would be if somebody said a tree might start growing near your house, though the acorn hadn't yet definitely sprouted so you ought to immediately demolish your house & move elsewhere to some place where trees don't grow. There simply is no "scientific consesnsus" on catastrophic warming & nobody, not selling snake oil, says there is.

A minor secondary point is that as CO2 rises plant growth (including trees) increases thereby absorbing more CO2. It is therefore virtually impossible to get beyond 400 parts per million of CO2 which, even in theory, couldn't raise temperature beyond what we had during the medieval warm period.

Posted by: NeilCraig | July 7, 2010 8:26 AM | Report abuse

NeilCraig...nothing personal...but please borrow a book or two from the library (I suggest James Hansen's "Storms of my Grandchildren" as a starting point)read them and then come back to the issue. Plant food....please.

Posted by: Doug40 | July 7, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

We can start shipping GMOs derived from the domain Archaea to Venus and in 50,000 years Venus will be a paradise worthy of its namesake....then the rich can leave their heatproof domes for a lavish spaceship to Venus.

Posted by: zosima | July 7, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Doug40 ... I note you make not even a token attempt to dispute the facts here merely engaging in personal rudeness. I do indeed take this as nothing personal since it is the way warming alarmists virtually always behave. This is fairly strong evidence they ahve nothing truthful to sell.

PS I am certain that any remotely honest & informed alarmist, in cluding Mr Klein, on here will be willing to tell Doug that the fact that plants grow faster with enhanced CO2 is a thouroughlt experimentally verified scientific fact. Of course if there is no such thing as an honest & informed warming alarmist, including Mr Klein, then they will not educate Doug - we shall see.

Posted by: NeilCraig | July 8, 2010 7:18 AM | Report abuse

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