Global Warming: A Hopeless Case?

The embattled Los Angeles Times has put a tough reporter on the climate change beat: Alan Zarembo, who in his latest missive on the eve of the Bali conference, lays out exactly how ineffective the Kyoto Protocols has been at reducing carbon emissions world-wide.

All true, which gives certain right-wingers great pleasure. In the National Review earlier this year, David Freddoso wrote:

In Western Europe, among the
original EU-15, emissions have risen by almost 3 percent since 1993,
thanks largely to growing economies in Austria, Ireland, Greece, Italy,
Portugal, and Spain. These six relatively small countries have seen
dramatic emissions increases, all greater than 10 percent and in some
cases greater than 20 or even 40 percent. Belgium, Finland, and the
Netherlands all saw emissions increase modestly, while Luxembourg,
Sweden, and Denmark either flatlined on emissions or had insignificant

Strange how defeatist these alleged conservatives are when it comes to saving the planet, and how eager they are to spend blood and treasure in the Middle East. Which is the greater threat, really?

According to David King, the science advisor to Tony Blair, climate change is a much more serious threat than Islamic terrorism. In a speech delivered shortly before The Stern Review was released, he warned:

In brief, what [Stern’s] review will demonstrate, in the most detailed
economic analysis that has yet been conducted, and it is a global
economic analysis, that first of all, if no action is taken we will be
faced with an economic downturn of the kind that we haven’t seen since
the great depression and the two world wars.

Sounds urgent, no? Nicholas Stern himself laid out his position on Friday in the Guardian:

The overall targets of 50% reductions in emissions by 2050 (relative to
1990) agreed at the G8 summit in Heiligendamm last June are essential
if we are to have a reasonable chance of keeping temperature increases
below 2C or 3C. While these targets involve strong action, they are not
overambitious relative to the risk of failing to achieve them.

But arguably more interesting is an approach advocated by an advisor to newly-elected Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, known as "contraction and convergence":

That is the inconvenient truth that Howard and Rudd avoided in
their election jousting. In 2004, the US and Australia pumped
roughly 20 tonnes per head of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
China produced only 3.6 tonnes per head, Indonesia (excluding
forest fires) 1.4 tonnes, India one tonne and Bangladesh 270
kilograms. If we want an international agreement, that reality has
to be at the centre of it.

[Advisor Ross] Garnaut is attracted to the "contraction and convergence"
approach championed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel: developed
countries should commit to contract their emissions rapidly, while
developing countries would be given some "headroom for emissions
growth", perhaps in the form of "challenging emissions intensity
targets", such as pledging to keep emissions growth to less than
half their growth in GDP.

As their per capita emissions converge with those of
low-emission Western countries (as in Europe or Japan), they too
would then take on emission reduction targets. But be warned: even
for China, that would be 20 years away.

Garnaut’s implied conclusion is that we should not wait for the
world. He says we should move quickly to drive change and not
coddle vested interests — because Australia, as a dry country
with a fragile environment, stands to suffer more from climate
change than any other developed country.

Hmmm. I like the honesty, but obviously, it’s going to be a tough sell.

4 thoughts on “Global Warming: A Hopeless Case?

  1. Re Contraction and Convergence [C&C]

    1. The UK’s High Commissioner to India has been quoted in the HINDU [Indian broadsheet] as “UK wants C&C” [see refs below].

    2. The Australian Government has commissioned a ‘Stern Equivalent’ economic review of climate change. It is conducted by PM Rudd’s former boss and now climate change advisor/economic Professor Ross Garnaut. Garnaut openly favoured C&C in yesterday’s AGE [Australian broadsheet]. [see refs below].

    GCI gave this presentation of C&C [links below] to Minister Hilary Benn at DEFRA [UK Ministry] last week before he left from Bali.

    It includes the Hadley ‘coupled carbon cycle models’ which make it clear that emissions need to go down to nearly net-zero by 2050/60. The C&C component assumes the fossil fuel contect of emissions against the back-drop of all emissions, as per the Hadely modelling.

    The situation is frankly increasinlgy desperate. The ‘coupled 450 Hadley’ is mouse-touch sensitive for emphasis on ‘touch’.

    The ‘carbon-arithmetic’ counting this in the animation is at: –

    or for Macs


  2. Hmmmmm. The first reference is exactly as you promised, but I’m still wary of opening executable files on a PC. I suspect you’re right about the 450 ppm CO2 level, but could you refer me to a site or a source that doesn’t require opening that sort of file? Thanks…


  3. re the pc version of the “*.exe” file – I take the point but you’ll either have to trust me or leave it unopened. It is a self-executing flash file. If its any reassurance to you, DEFRA have been circulating the link as given after having the presentation made for them at DEFRA [Ministry].

    If you are really torn, I don’t know beyond that how to help – maybe open it in an internet cafe first.



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