Tuesday, August 1, 2017
'Climate Change Isn't The End Of The World' - Total, Absolute Bollocks!
In a WSJ article yesterday (p. A17) by David R. Henderson and John M. Cochrane ('Climate Change Isn't the End of the World') it is claimed that climate change is really no biggie. After all the "costs of moving and adapting are not as imposing as they seem", and besides "carbon dioxide hurts nobody's health" and it's "good for plants".. In fact, it is incredible that such recycled rubbish could even appear in a serious newspaper, but there it is. Climate codswallop is indeed fertile soil for the denizens of the Hoover Institution. They earn their living hawking it.
The formidable problems of trying to adapt I've already dealt with here:
Really choice is the authors' remark:
"It follows that if the future of civilization is really at stake adaptation or geo-engineering should not be unmentionable"
True, which is why I did discuss them in the post associated with the preceding link, especially the latter. I also showed why the various geo-engineering solutions are totally impractical!
None of the problems I examined are in the distant future as the authors seem to believe, but basically right around the corner. For example, the projection by the U.S. Geological Survey for the loss of Florida land owing to sea rise by 2035 - or barely 18 years from now. (This is depicted below.)Estimated economic cost to Florida's economy? Well over $10 billion, and factoring in inflation - probably closer to $20 billion.
As for the claim CO2 "hurts nobody" I wonder where these two Hoover Institution bozos who wrote the piece got that idea or if they ever lived in a dense urban center with thousands of vehicles outgassing CO2 (as well a CO) for hours on the day. But more important and deadly is the cumulative indirect effect of CO2 being added by the gigatons each year to our atmosphere. To put it into quantitative terms, the temperature of the planet is currently out of balance by 0.6W/ m2 and this is almost entirely due to the annual rate of CO2 concentrations increasing. Further, every increase in CO2 concentration by 2 ppm increases the radiative heating effect by 2 W/ m2.
Prof. Gunter Weller (formerly of the Univ. of Alaska Geophysical Institute) estimated the runaway greenhouse effect would kick in when the CO2 concentration level of 600 ppm is surpassed- which seems reasonable. If it is just over 400 ppm now - by many conservative measures - then doing the math (adding 2 ppm per year and 2 W/ m2 puts us in jeopardy by 2100.
The authors claim "typical costs are well blow 10 percent if gross domestic product in the year 2100 and beyond". But they are basing this on way too conservative models that have already been shown not to have reckoned in the expected much more rapid increases. In fact, by 2100, if nothing is done much earlier, economic costs could well exceed 50 percent of GDP for most nations of the planet. These costs will be engendered by:
- Collapse of power grids and energy infrastructure, i.e. from being unable to meet demand in a climate where 130- 140 F is hit in most cities around the world daily.
- Associated collapse of utility electrical pumping stations, i.e. to provide enough water for a much larger population. (because electric power is needed to pump water for use)
- Spread of tropical diseases including cholera, dengue fever and worm parasite infestations, e.g.
Millions more tapeworm cyst infections of human brains in affected areas - perhaps four fifths
of the planet's land surfaces.
Also filiarisis worm infections - as shown on the left. Estimated cost to treat victims, including in North America: over $100 billion per year.
Adapting to worm infestations may be the most straightforward process for some kind of adaptation but require enormous supplies of anti-worm serums, meds such as Ketrax. I recall here my own worm infestation while in Peace Corps - noticed only after being awakened one night by intense itching of my skin, mainly on the inner thighs. As I switched the night light on and spotted definite wriggling movement of the skin, I realized the worms would spread if I didn't act. The cure? Ketrax, prescribed by the spoonful (by a dermatologist) three times a day. After a few bouts of vomiting the vermin out (visible wriggling in the vomit), all had been eliminated. I don't know that people will even be properly diagnosed as multiple worm infestations spread on approaching the cusp of the runaway greenhouse.
We will also have to expect long before the runaway greenhouse kicks in, the spread of antibiotic resistant diseases which will add even more enormous medical costs - and indeed, there may be no way to stem such infections once temperature averages are beyond a certain limit.
Left unsaid, is how increasing CO2 is also altering the composition of our oceans to render them less supportive of life. As recently as 2012 scientists from Columbia University, which led much of the research, have found surging levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that forced down the pH of the ocean by overall 0.1 mean unit in the last century. This is 10 times faster than the closest historical comparison from 56 million years ago. It's deadly serious because - like the margins for ushering in a runaway greenhouse effect, the margins of safety for acidic oceans are extremely low. Hence, one can't tell by the small magnitude of numerical pH that the increment change is nothing to fret over.
As noted in earlier blogs: the seas absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, forming carbonic acid. The particular chemical reaction is:
H2O + CO2 -> H2 CO3
The lower the pH level of the seawater ('7' is neutral pH), the more acidic. This is also worrisome because mass extinctions of marine creatures in the past have been linked to instances of increased ocean acidification. Thus, the current incremental change could also threaten important species. This according to Baerbel Hoenisch, the paleoceanographer at Columbia who was lead author of a 2012 paper that appeared in the journal Science. As he noted:
“If industrial carbon emissions continue at the current pace, we may lose organisms we care about — coral reefs, oysters, salmon,”
By one estimate, at the rate of acidification, the only marine life that will still survive by 2050 will be jellyfish.
As for the authors' claim that "CO2 is good for plants", the response is yes, but WHAT kind? Seven years earlier we learned in The Wall Street Journal (June 4, p A16, 'Superweeds Trigger New Arms Race'; June 21, 2010, p. D1 that at least 40% of U.S. corn and soybean crops will "harbor Roundup resistant super weeds." Indeed, CO2 spiking concentrations have already led to "super weeds" such as a pig weed variant capable of releasing an irritant chemical known as urushiol and resistant to the most toxic weedicides, excepting perhaps the highly carcinogenic agents known as: 2, 4- D, dicamba and paraquat.
Yes, the plants just love the CO2, but not the kind of plants we want!
The two Hoover -based morons who wrote the piece also insist on the ease of moving, but how will they reckon such climate change flight (say away from an area laden with brain -infesting worms) when it is set against similar migrations occurring simultaneously worldwide?
They ought to consult the 'Defense, National Security And Climate Change Symposium' , held in Washington, D.C. At the Symposium, Brigadier General Stephen Cheney stepped up to the podium to discuss 'Conflict and Climate Change'. Cheney, like some other speakers- zeroed in on climate-driven migration, asserting:
"We know for a fact that climate change is already driving internal and cross border migration"
Referencing here, for example, that in Bangladesh - the 'ground zero' of global warming- rising sea levels could displace 15 million by 2050. Oxford University's Norman Myers has projected there could be as many as 200 million climate refugees by mid-century. Cheney's presentation tagged a number of conflicts that climate change triggers, including the desertification in the borderlands between Chad and Nigeria which "has caused a lot of migration". He also indicated that the terror organization Boko Haram "is simply taking advantage of that".
Other aspects of Cheney's talk cited beefing up military infrastructure at home and abroad to be resistant to harsher climate. The army, in fact, has adopted a 'Net Zero' initiative to make its U.S. bases water and energy independent. Supporting the national defense position, nearly all the reinsurance companies (like Munich Re) have climate change factored into their tables, costs, plans.
A vastly more serious voice than the two Hoover Institution clowns is economics and psychology expert George Loewenstein. His take was typical of the risk assessment experts consulted in a recent AP study. He called climate change "a problem that threatens the very existence of the human race and is already having devastating consequences around the world".
Indeed, extreme weather events derived from climate change have killed more than twice as many people in the U.S. as terror attacks in the past 15 years - including the carnage on September 11, 2001. In fact, the slow rolling disaster of ever intensifying climate change can be thought of as a mode of natural terror which we dismiss or diminish at our peril. New research also discloses that the runaway greenhouse isn't as far off or unlikely as some might wish to believe. See, e.g.
But a word of caution: the astronomers who did the research show again why they also need to communicate with climate scientists That is, an increasing solar constant is not required to trigger the runaway, only increasing radiative heating of the atmosphere via added CO2. For every 2 ppm higher CO2 concentration we are registering increases in the radiative heating effect by 2 W/ m2.
Here's a timely heads up when one might encounter articles such as the one from the WSJ yesterday: If it's written by authors based at the Hoover Institution don't trust a word of what is put forward. (And look at the end of such op-ed pieces to see where the tract originated. As we know the Hoover Institution is one of the primary enclaves for climate deniers and skeptics.)