Sunday, October 21, 2007

Global Warming is Easy to Stop!

According to Sceptical environmentalist is hardly 'even-handed', from Mr Hendrik Van den Berg,, October 18, 2000: “The team of experts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, who shared the peace prize, concluded that emissions could be cut below current levels at a very modest cost of about one-tenth of 1 per cent growth per year for the next 25 years. This cost is not high because there are many damaging things we can stop doing at no real cost whatsoever, such as introducing more efficient engines, insulating buildings and eating less.”

If stopping global warming is so easy, why don’t we just do it? Just stop all the fussing around and get it done!

While we’re doing all the above, while also remembering that we’re part of the one billion people living in the developed world, what is the rest of the world doing? Eating less. Of course!

The world population is 6.55 billion, of which 5.1 billion live in the developing world. Approximately one billion live below the international poverty line, earning less than one dollar a day. About one billion don’t have enough to eat, consuming less than the minimum amount of calories essential for sound health and growth.

In the developing world, 27 percent of children under 5 are moderately to severely underweight. 10 percent are severely underweight. 10 percent of children under 5 are moderately to severely wasted, or seriously below weight for one’s height, and an overwhelming 31 percent are moderately to severely stunted, or seriously below normal height for one’s age.

More efficient engines? How about a lot more engines?

Forinstance, the Chinese industrial miracle has raised 300 million Chinese out of poverty to join the 400 million who already were out. However, that still leaves 600 million Chinese working, hoping, and impatiently waiting to rise out of poverty too.

And what raises people from poverty? I’m sure more efficient engines are better in all ways, but to rise from poverty you need to be employed productively. Increased productivity requires increased consumption of power, and the only way China can meet its burgeoning power needs is by burning coal.

Specifically, by bringing one new coal-burning generating plant large enough to power San Diego on line every ten days.

Insulating buildings? By now aren’t you getting the impression that the easy salvation of the world from global warming is actually only considering changing the evil environmental ways of the developed world?

Apparently it will come as news to the team of experts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that we of the developed world are not the only game in town. Of course we could eat less. A lot of us are too fat anyway.

It would be easy for us to use more efficient engines. We’re doing that already, and replacing equipment is already part of our routine to increase productivity and reduce costs of production.

Since we heat and air condition almost all of our buildings, both businesses and residences, insulating them makes sense. In fact, it makes so much sense that we’ve already been doing it for a very long time. We have consistently added insulation to old buildings, and zoning regulations demand appropriate insulation in all new construction.

I would hazard an observation that in terms of insulating buildings, and improving engine efficiency, we of the developed world have already reached the point of diminishing returns, and that increasing our insulation and engine standards will only bring small increases in energy savings.

In the developing world, I’m sure that their new construction will be well insulated, and new engines will be efficient, because that makes economic sense. But I’m also certain that a lot of new buildings will be constructed, and no matter how well insulated, will require more energy to operate than was needed before they were built.

And a lot more engines will be in use.

The net effect of increased productivity in the developing world will be an enormous increase in energy consumption, and that will be satisfied in the relevant future by burning fossil fuels and increasing, not decreasing, greenhouse gases.

Along with increased productivity will come increased food production, and guess what? More greenhouse gases.

However, according to the team of experts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, cutting emissions will be easy. I would agree, if I only looked at the developed world, and assumed that the inhabitants of the developing world would wait.

They’ve already waited a long time to have long and comfortable lives like we do in the developed world.

Why not tell them to wait a few more lifetimes?

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