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Worse than nothing

January 12th, 2006

It’s pretty clear that the “Asia-Pacific partnership on clean development” is simply a front for inaction. Apart from Howard’s promise of $20 million a year for research (apparently the meeting itself cost about as much as the first year’s budget) none of the participants made any concrete commitment. The US representative took the opportunity to plug nuclear energy, rather laughably since the US hasn’t commissioned a new reactor since 1978, the year before Three Mile Island. Some recent initiatives might lead to a handful of plants being constructed in the next decade or so, but even this is far from settled.

This farcical episode was a demonstration that, as far as responses to global warming are concerned, Kyoto is the only game in town.

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  1. Ian Gould
    January 15th, 2006 at 10:43 | #1

    >As for a democractic approach to the issue of global warming we seem to repeatedly elect naysayers.

    People regularly elect governments which enact policies which the majority of electorate disagree with.

    If the Australian government acted asolely ccording to the popular will we’d immediately decriminalise marijuana and reinstate the death penalty.

    You also need to qualify “naysayers” – the position of both the Bush and howard governments is that AGW is real and requires a response from government. They are more accurately described as Kyoto naysayers than global warming naysayers.

  2. Michael H
    January 15th, 2006 at 11:28 | #2

    Ian,

    Is their position really that AGW is real?

    They advocate doing not much, and not doing it with much sense of urgency. The overall plan of the AP Partnership, is to let GG emisions continue to rise, with some small reduction in future increases dependant primarily on the convenience of business.

  3. Simonjm
    January 15th, 2006 at 13:05 | #3

    Terje Petersen “As for a democractic approach to the issue of global warming we seem to repeatedly elect naysayers.”

    That’s what you get from democracy short term expediency over long term vision. Great during the good times any mediocrity will do, but throw in a long term crisis beyond the short term electoral cycle with spin, bias, denial and unaccountability and the electorate will do nothing.(doesn’t help to have a piss poor opposition)

    Just like the health system in this country-more so for mental- politicians can still get away with doing nothing if the media and the electorate allow them to do so.

    When the shit hits the fan over AGW and the climate refugees start sailing up to our shores we as a nation deserve everything we cop. You will guess which side of the political divide will welcome them due to our nations GW stance and which one will want to turn them away.

    I was more proactive on eco matters some years back but dropped out –other family reasons as well- when I knew until we hit the wall there won’t be any substantial movement on the environment. So whether the sceptics like it or not they will live a eco lifestyle in the future whether they want to or not.

  4. Bob Foster
    January 15th, 2006 at 19:56 | #4

    Of course I am a hack – as my wife tells me from time to time. But with a sheep-like cough of dissent, let me say (without having done the numbers) that not all hacks have published in “Nature” on palaeoclimatology; and of those who have, not all have published single-author papers. We are talking science here – the mesage, not the medium – remember. Happily, in science, my signal lack of personal qualities is irrelevant.

    What I am saying is that, climate-wise, Earth is not autonomous. What follows is not about ethics; it is about science. I will leave ethics to those more expert in that field than I.

    Let’s take another example contrarian (some might say, Lavoisian) to IPCC’s people-driven climate. Changes in the trend of rate-of-change of length-of-day (LOD) are inertially-related. Angular momentum must be preserved – so that if LOD changes, something else also changes. Several factors spring to mind: minor changes in Earth’s axis of rotation, launching of continental ice into the sea (nowadays, particularly from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet), or an interchange of momentum between lithosphere and mobile overcoat of ocean/atmosphere.

    The trend in change of LOD reversed in about 1870, 1905, 1940 and 1970. One interesting correlation is with variable upwelling of cold deep water in the equatorial eastern Pacific. Within a few years of 1940, upwelling increased, and Earth began 3 decades of (modest) cooling. Then, within a few years of 1970, upwelling abruptly reduced and Earth experienced the most prominent climatic event of the 20th Century – the Great Pacific Climate Shift. This warm-climate regime continues to today.

    The REALLY interesting thing is that reversals of LOD trend coincide with zero phases in the Sun’s variable motion around the solar system’s centre-of-mass (barycentre). It is much more likely that Sun is influencing Earth than vice versa. Hence, we have here further evidence for a variable Sun-Earth connection – so vehemently denied by the Great, the Good, and the Wise.

    Let me repeat: the advancement of scientific understanding is not a matter of voting.

  5. Hermit
    January 15th, 2006 at 21:49 | #5

    Ian the connection between high fuel prices and GW is both tangible and intangible. Expensive petrol will compound nagging anxieties over adverse weather events. A similar conflation is the way many Americans still believe Saddam must have been involved in 9/11. The tangible connection is the growing use of GHG intensive fuels, such as coal-to-liquids, as a substitute for dwindling oil. Right now Canadians are in a quandary over tar sands development having signed Kyoto. Before long the public will want a clear path away from the twin problems of peak oil and GW. Since this is a tough call I suspect Howard will retire before it all gets too hard.

  6. Seeker
    January 15th, 2006 at 22:22 | #6

    “Since this is a tough call I suspect Howard will retire before it all gets too hard.”

    And not just with peak oil and GW, there will be some nasty consequences from other Howard policies such as health, industrial relations, anti-terrorism and anti-sedition laws, etc, which he will not wish to deal with. I will be suprised if he contests the next election (though I am not offering bets on that prediction).

  7. Stephen L
    January 19th, 2006 at 11:40 | #7

    Bob Foster, if you are a real person not a sock puppet I challenge you to this bet (for any amount you like up to my ability to stump up the funds).

    I bet that between now and 2010 there will be a continued warming trend (I actually suspect it will accelerate, but I won’t bet on that).

    This bet is on offer only if a reputable third party is willing to hold onto the money (held in term deposits or some similarly low risk investments) and adjudicate.

    If you won’t take the bet, come up with one paper in a peer reviewed journals that back up your claim and has not been shreeded in subsequent feedback.

  8. Crispin Bennett
    January 19th, 2006 at 12:13 | #8

    Bob Foster,

    ‘Consensus’ might be a cop-out for scientists talking about an issue they are competent to judge. But what about the rest of us? What choice to laypeople have other than to rely on some kind of consensus amongst those scientists our most-respected institutions deem ‘experts’.

    The ‘cop-out’ for most lay people (with typical amounts of available time) would actually be to try to follow the science in detail and make their own independent judgement (however much this is the official post-enlightenment doctrine of how the citizenry should act). There’s little serious chance of most people amassing and understanding evidence relating to specialist fields with enough coverage and detail to reliably assess their own prejudices and assumptions. No-one can bear to admit that they’re out of depth on a particular subject, of course, but it’s a daily reality.

    Isn’t it the most rational policy for a non-specialist in a given field to (rather provisionally) accept the consensus of that field’s experts? (obviously we tend not to do only this because there are often conflicts with imperatives other than rationality).

  9. Steve Munn
    January 19th, 2006 at 12:17 | #9

    Stephen L says: “Bob Foster, if you are a real person not a sock puppet…”

    Bob Foster is on of the inmates in the Lavoisier Society old folk’s home. Unfortunately he has gone walkabout.

    Bob, are you there mate? Please come back. Its time for your pills and nappy change.

  10. Ian Gould
    January 21st, 2006 at 07:37 | #10

    Another possible market-based alternative to Kyoto:

    http://socialgoals.com/ieakyototext.html

    “Internationally backed Climate Stability Bonds would be issued by open tender, as at an auction; those who bid the highest price for the limited number of Bonds would be successful in buying them. A fixed number of Bonds would be issued, redeemable for, say, £10 million each, only when climate stability, as certified by objective measurements made by independent scientific bodies, has been achieved and sustained. Once issued, the Bonds will be freely tradeable on the free market.

    What will determine the price of the Bonds? Most obviously, the market’s assessment of how close climate stability is to being achieved. Interest rates on alternative investments will also be a factor. The Bonds would sell for small fractions of their issue price if people thought there were virtually no chance of climate stability being achieved in their lifetime. People will differ in their valuation of the Bonds, and their views will change as events occur that make achievement of a stable climate a more or less remote prospect. They would also change as new information about climate, and about the causes of climate change, is discovered. But the Bonds, once issued, would be transferable at any time. Bondholders, having done their bit to achieve climate stability, could sell their Bonds, realising the capital gain arising from the higher market price of their Bonds. These market prices would be publicly quoted, just like those of ordinary bonds or shares.

    Assume that Climate Stability Bonds, redeemable for £10 million each, have been issued, and that they each sell for £1 million. People, or institutions, now hold an asset that can give them a return of 900 percent once a stable climate has been achieved. It is this prospect of capital gain that gives bondholders a strong interest in bringing about a stable climate, as cost-effectively as possible.”

  11. Will De Vere
    January 21st, 2006 at 16:49 | #11

    Ian Gould has said

    ‘Assume that Climate Stability Bonds, redeemable for £10 million each, have been issued, and that they each sell for £1 million. People, or institutions, now hold an asset that can give them a return of 900 percent once a stable climate has been achieved. It is this prospect of capital gain that gives bondholders a strong interest in bringing about a stable climate, as cost-effectively as possible.â€?’

    God Zooks, Odd Boodkins! They’ve stolen my idea of the ‘gamble’ on Greenhouse Bonds!

    I hereby claim priority on the idea. I’ll see you in court.

  12. Will De Vere
    January 21st, 2006 at 17:03 | #12

    Ooops! I withdraw that! They had a good idea. I only came up with it too late.

    But it’s still my idea…

    %—)

  13. January 30th, 2006 at 14:57 | #13

    I think he is right…

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