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Global warming 5

December 6, 2011

Who should pay?

It’s not just a choice between rich Americans driving smaller cars, or poor Chinese walking to work – it’s a choice between generations.

Some say the rich West should pay, on the grounds that we produced most past emissions.  But that ignores the fact that the ability to deal with climate change also comes largely from Western economic growth. It would also fail to achieve our aims, because most emissions will soon come from the developing world.

But much of the Chinese carbon footprint is emitted while making goods for Americans. Surely Americans should also pay that bit of the carbon tax?  Yes, but not directly. A direct subsidy to dirty Chinese industries would be harmful.  Better that the Chinese raise the price of their exports. The American consumer would still pay, but some manufacturing might find it worthwhile to return to America, whose industries are clean and efficient.

The intergenerational issues are even trickier.

Conventional wisdom says that the present generation should make sacrifices to leave a healthy planet for their children. But money spent now to prevent hypothetical damage in the future might be better invested to deal with what really happens, when it happens. See previous posts, here and here.

There is also every reason to suspect that future generations will be better off than the present. Apart from local wars and pestilence this has been true of pretty much every generation in history. If Victorians had had anticipated global warming, should they have taxed themselves to prevent it?

No-one blames Victorian factory workers for not paying to allow David Attenbrough to enjoy the spectacle of polar bears in the Arctic. But perhaps wealthy Victorian factory owners should have paid then, to help maintain fresh water in India and Pakistan now. That’s a bit nearer to fair, but it’s difficult to see how they could have made a significant contribution without slowing their whole economy and harming their workers too.

A carbon tax that really bites will slow growth for rich and poor alike.

Jim Thornton

Next. How should we best prevent global warming?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 20, 2011 2:32 am

    How to prevent global warming? This Futurama clip springs to mind:

  2. December 20, 2011 2:33 am

    Watch from 1 minute!

  3. Myles permalink
    March 20, 2014 1:44 pm

    No one should pay a cent unless it is actually proven to be Co2.
    This article here says it was the CLOUD COVER VARIATIONS. (Myles.)

    IPCC Finds The Important Natural Climate Driver – Solar Surface Radiation Intensity – But Then Ignores It!
    By P Gosselin on 1. Dezember 2013

    New IPCC report discovers the important climate factor…and ignores it!
    By D. E. Koelle

    According to its own statutes, the IPCC is mainly responsible for anthropogenic climate change – and much less so for natural climate change, which has been around since the Earth first appeared. That could very well be the reason why the sun gets mentioned only with respect to its solar irradiance intensity at the edge of the atmosphere. There the irradiance is 1361 W/sqm and is relatively constant, and so the role of the sun on mid-term climate change is not taken into account.

    However, for the first time in the history of the IPCC reports, the 2013 AR5 report discusses the Surface Solar Radiation (SSR) as a decisively important factor (chapter 2.3.3.). Decisive for the climate and temperature changes is not the solar irradiance at the edge of the atmosphere, rather it is the amount of solar energy that makes it to the Earth’s surface.

    Between the Earth’s surface and the outer edge of the atmosphere we have the atmosphere with its clouds and aerosols, which determine how much solar radiation eventually reaches the surface of the Earth. Since 1983 the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Program (ISCCP) has been measuring global cloud coverage. One spectacular result was the decrease in global cloud cover between 1987 – 2000, from 69% to 64%, i.e. precisely during the period of warming that triggered the CO2 hypothesis.

    Figure 1: Mid-term variation of mean global cloud coverage according to data from the ISCCP for the period 1983 to 2010.

    Of course this finding did not fit well with the current popular narrative and was immediately criticized and doubted. This prevented it being adopted by the IPCC report of 2007. Indeed cloud observation and the evaluation of the data from satellites are difficult and the results are subject to interpretation. But in the meantime we have recognized that there is an objective method of determining the effects of clouds and the impact of solar dimming: by measuring the effective solar radiation at the surface of the Earth. For the first time this is discussed in the new IPCC report in Chapter 2.3.3 and is confirmed by the longest existing dataset from Stockholm. It shows a clear fluctuation of solar energy between 90 and 135 W/sqm. And the range is considerably greater at lower latitudes.

    Figure 2: Effective solar insolation at the Earth’s surface for Stockholm 1922-2010 (59° north latitude).

    The data from Stockholm not only correspond to the ISCCP-results, but also to the global temperature trends. Not only do the rise of global temperature and SSR correspond between 1910 and 1940, but also for the temperature drop between 1944 and 1980, and the rise until 2000. Figure 3 shows a comparison of 10 temperature curves from 10 global weather stations, without the statistical manipulations of a so-called “global mean temperature”.

    Figure 3: Real temperature measurement values from cities on the globe.

    The SSR curve correlates excellently with the original GISS dataset for the US temperature history yin 1999, before it was tampered with.

    Figure 4: The original GISS temperature history for the USA as it looked in 1999. It was then replaced by a new curve which moved the maximum value to the year 1998.

    Even if the important SSR factor gets mentioned for the first time in an IPCC report, this does not mean it was taken into account in other chapters of the report, and especially for the temperature development – to the contrary – it was ignored. Only the CO2 hypothesis is valid. Here the entire 0.8°C temperature rise of the last 100 years, for which part or all of it gets attributed to CO2, can be explained by the impacts of the effective solar radiation at the Earth’s surface without any CO2 effects.

    Already the temperature rise of 0.6°C between 1910 and 1940 cannot be explained by the CO2 effect because the CO2 concentration increased by less than 10 ppm during the period (from 298 to 307 ppm). Then from 1940 to 1975 the temperature fell 0.2°C – and certainly not because of a CO2 drop. The renewed temperature increase of 0.6°C from 1980 to 1998 was the initiator of the CO2 hypothesis. However, the temperature increase can be better explained by the increase in SSR intensity. The fact that the predicted continued temperature increase never materialized, and that there’s been a slight drop since 2000, completely contradicts the CO2 hypothesis.

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