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From my reading of the scientific literature (another past-time this summer along with reading all of those ecology books), the damage to the earth from Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) is expected to be cumulative over time.

  1. Is this correct?
  2. If this view is correct, and I see that claim in virtually every publication I have, then doesn’t it follow that it does not matter whether a particular unit of GHG is released in 2011 or 2021 or 2031?

If it doesn’t matter whether we mitigate a molecule of CO2 today or in 10 years or more, doesn’t this contravene the standard case for spending trillions (check this out, HT: Alex R.) today to mitigate GHG emissions when it is virtually certain that:

  1. Our energy production will decarbonize on its own, and probably sometime after mid-century.
  2. The costs of competing energy technologies are expected to fall in the coming years. Therefore a given dollar spent on, say, wind power today will get us far fewer GHG reductions than that dollar in five years.
  3. We will be richer in future years.

And no, I am not interested in hearing about the precautionary principal. We’ll post on that in a little while – for a nice description of it, check out Beckerman’s A Poverty of Reason.

3 Responses to “Their Models Seem to Tell Us to Sit Tight, Don’t They?”

  1. Harry says:

    I just read in the Journal that the CPSC wants to lower lead standards for children’s toys from 300 parts per million to 100 parts per million. I am not sure about the unit of measure — per toy, or per square inch of chewable toy, or per square inch chewable.

    I have read that CO2 is roughly .035 percent of the atmosphere, and have heard earnest advocates on NPR worry about it going to 0.04 percent, causing the ice caps to melt, pushing the Gulf Stream south, and flooding Florida and destroying the West African anchovy fishery.

    That’s 350 to 400 parts per million. No one, as they say, who has a basic understanding of particle physics, can say the carbon dioxide molecule does not have a greenhouse effect. The question is whether the solution proposed, to bring western civilization to heel, will have any affect.

    Do not assume that arguing that we, even the world, will be a persuasive. Moderate progressives want to make us equal, not richer. Peter Singer worries about the rights of rocks.

  2. Harry says:

    Meant to say that they are not interested in our being richer.

    Steve Jobs made me write nonsense.

  3. […] week, I asked the question of whether it mattered whether a ton of CO2 emitted today was any different than emitting a ton of […]

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