Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Cost of "Fixing" Global Warming

Sometimes I run across information that is too interesting to ignore, especially when the MSM has chosen to ignore it or doesn’t see its real meaning. A week or so ago, several members of the MSM were reporting that. . . well, forget what they were saying because it was all garbage. But what was interesting, was that the data they presented gives us a hint of how our economy would look if we “fixed” global warming.

Here’s the deal: the enviro-left has decided that a reduction of 20% in the amount of carbon emissions will save the planet from the evil humans intent on heating it up. Ignore for a moment the fact that they pulled the 20% figure out of each other’s rear ends (and that some are now suggesting 30%). Ignore also the fact that the warming they are talking about would be a boon to the world, particularly agriculture. Ignore also that the temperature of our planet is controlled by the sun, not carbon emissions. Ignore also the fact that mankind produces only 3% of the carbon in the atmosphere -- the rest comes from volcanoes and decaying “biomass” -- and thus, what we do is entirely irrelevant.

Basically, ignore for the moment that this theory is stupider than the idea that evil spirits cause disease and that bleeding someone with leaches will cure them. Instead, let’s just take them at their silly little words this time.

Ok, now that we know the ground rules, let’s get to the point. At the height of the Great Recession in 2008, economic activity slowed because that’s what happens during recessions. This slowing resulted in a reduction in carbon emissions in Europe and America of approximately one third of the 20% that the left is hoping to achieve. In other words, around 6%. That 6% translated into unemployment of 10% in the United States, with real unemployment drifting just above 17%. It also resulted in a dramatically slowed economy -- a drop of 3.9% of GNP, which brought with it a corresponding drop in tax revenues.

If we assume a straight-line effect, then achieving the goal of a 20% reduction in carbon emissions would mean damage to our economy equal to 3.3 times the effect of the Great Recession. That means, to achieve that 20% goal, unemployment would have gone to 21.5%, with real unemployment going to around 36.5%! The effect on GNP would be at least a drop of 12.9%. And that would be a permanent drop, not a temporary drop.

And there’s more to this, because we really can’t assume a straight line effect. Indeed, it’s always harder to squeeze the last few percentage points out of anything than it is to get the first few. So we should expect these numbers to be higher yet.

Moreover, the effects will be disproportionately felt by poor and middle class people as their food, gas and electricity costs will skyrocket. That means less mobility and less flexibility for finding new jobs. It also means a significantly higher cost to government benefits. And all of those things make the numbers worse again.

I would say that a 25% unemployment rate (40% real) is not out of the question based on these figures.

So the next time they tell you about the promise of green jobs or some such garbage, or they try to sell you the line that going green won’t hurt the economy, think back on 2008 and remember that we were only 1/3 of the way to utopia at that point. Anybody want to finish that journey?


ScottDS said...

I'm sure I've said this elsewhere but the sad part about eco-hysteria - I'm a global warming "agnostic" myself - is that it makes the sincere people, the ones who actually care about this stuff (read: not in it for the money or fame), look bad.

And in a political campaign, what will this boil down to: Candidate A says global warming is real, and Candidate B says it isn't?

StanH said...

Global warming is the perfect stalking horse for liberal redistributive policy. The meme goes, by us using less, the world will have more. Off coarse, using liberal mind think, this doesn’t take into account, the world as it is. Most of the third world is ruled by despotism, thuggery, strong man rule, whose populations are lost in ignorance, poverty, with no end in sight. The only thing spreading the wealth to these countries accomplish is to aggrandize the ruling class.

Tennessee Jed said...

The biggest proble I have with global warming policy is that the cries of planetary doom are based on less than credible information. As such, you do not wreck you country's economy just on the say so of those that have a vested economic and political interest in doing so. The credibility of these people is down to zero.

USArtguy said...

If mankind disappeared from the face of the Earth tomorrow, the fact is the planet will still warm--and cool-- because of the sun and earth's movement around it.

In the 1930s astronomer and mathematician Milutin Milankovitch worked out 3 basic movements of the earth now called the Milankovitch Cycles: Eccentricity (the change in the shape of the earth's orbit around the sun), Obliquity (the "wobble" of the earth) and Precession (change in earth's orientation of its rotation axis... think a child's gyroscope slowing down).

Earth's annual trip around the sun is not always a perfect circle. It is a bit of an oval (eccentric). Over a period of about 95,000 years this increases or decreases to make it more oval or less oval.

The tilt of earth's axis, its obliquity, is not static, but rather changes over time. It wobbles and on a fairly regular interval of 42,000 years, it moves between about 22 and 24.5 degrees in relation to the plane of the sun. A lesser angle means less change in the seasons, a greater angle means more (hotter summers, colder winters).

Finally, there's precession. Which, simply stated means the north pole currently points at the Polaris, the North star, but in about 12,000 years it will be pointing at Vega. Eventually and very gradually, the seasons will change. December in the northern hemisphere will be in the middle of summer while July will be in winter.

Milankovitch theorized that over long periods of time, these regular patterns would effect major changes in our climate, including Ice ages. While it is not perfect, it has largely been proven accurate with deep arctic and deep sea core samples taken in the 1970s. These samples are about the closest one can come to what sediment was like during times of extreme climate in the past. Turns out that the number of years between changes in sediment is pretty consistent with the changes in the Earth's movements through space.

In a nutshell, when we're closest to the sun, tilted at the greatest angle and traveling in a more perfect circle, we'll be hotter. When we are farther from the sun, tilted at a smaller angle and our orbit is elliptical, we'll be cooler.


Yet, to ignore this is akin to saying the sun revolves around the Earth.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, That's absolutely true. And that's the problem.

Most people are interested in intelligent environmental policies, i.e. those that make sense and do more good than harm. But the environmentalists groups are making those kinds of distinctions impossible because they're pushing theories that make no sense and solutions that smack of socialism but which obviously cannot solve the "problems" they've identified, and they will not accept any solution that might fix the problem but which won't also push major problems on people and the economy.

Cap and trade is the perfect example of this. Even if we put it in place in full good faith, it would do nothing to stop or slow global warming -- assuming global warming is even real, because mankind does not produce enough carbon to be a contributing factor. Moreover, even if it was a good idea, they bury it in talk about "economic justice" and the such, which is code words for socialism. And that's what almost every environmental policy comes back to these days.

If they truly are interested in environmental causes, (1) they will need to learn to convince the public rather than bully the public, (2) they need to stick to solutions that work, and (3) they need to stop trying to create a socialist utopia in the process.

But honestly, that's always the problem with the left hijacking these groups. The left doesn't like having to convince people, it prefers government force. It also isn't honest about its goals or the tools it intends to employ because it is more interested in its socialist utopian dreams than it is in whatever issue it's adopted. And that breeds resentment, fear and distrust. When that sets in, all chance of rationally solving whatever issue they've hijacked goes out the window.

And that's the problem. As you've put it, it discredits the people with legitimate concerns.

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, The reason the left loves global warming is because they can attack carbon, which is in everything. That gives them regulatory power over everything. And as long as people don't look at the "science" behind global warming, there is no accountability for their theories.

I think the most telling thing is the 20% number, which didn't come from any sort of scientific basis (it was marketing based, i.e. it sounded good), and which they now accept as gospel.

It's the same thing as the landfill argument in the 1980s. Someone said we were running out of landfill space, which is utterly incredibly false, but it sounded good. Add in one barge from NYC and suddenly it became gospel that we were running out of landfill space. Enter forced recycling, which is actually worse for the environment that burial.

All because one guy at the EPA made this claim -- and he admits he had no basis for it, he just "wanted to get people talking."

That's the problem with the environmentalists. They run with anything, no matter how ludicrous, and then they demand that we remake society to fit their delusion.

Anonymous said...

"The left doesn't like having to convince people, it prefers government force".

Andrew, you've said it all in a nutshell. With the left, it's all about control. TJ

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I'd go even further. I'd say it's a matter of faith in search of proof, and that they are willing to falsify evidence, to play up anecdotal evidence that is contradicted by statistics, and to ignore all contrary evidence to try to prove it. That makes it fraud or Voodoo science at best.

There is so much actual evidence that global warming is not real (and none that it's real) that it's stunning that a reputable scientist would even consider that still to be a valid theorum. But then, we aren't dealing with reputable scientists, as Climategate showed us. We are dealing with politicized "scientists" who are pushing various pet agendas.

At some point, it might be worth pointing out the evidence against global warming.

(FYI, expect the theory to switch back to global cooling over the next ten years.)

AndrewPrice said...

USArtguy, Very correct and very well said. But here's the catch. . . if our climate is determined according to the location, spin and angle of the Earth, then we have no reason to regulate American businesses to make them less competitive with foreign countries and we have no reason to force American consumers to stop living the American lifestyle and to instead start living in small groups of communes. Hence, what you say cannot be part of the equation. Sorry.

Seriously, all leftist thought aside, the point you make is extremely valid. And that is precisely what explains why different parts of the planet have had such different climates in the past, and why things keep changing all the time. It also explains things like the Medieval warming period, which was hotter than today -- despite the total lack of any industry by mankind.

The fact of the matter is that the left has latched onto a natural climate effect and is using it as a wedge to try to change America. It would be like arguing that consumer spending on fast food causes darkness because people eat more fast food when it is light outside, which causes darkness, and when they stop eating it around 2:00 am, the light begins to return.

AndrewPrice said...

TJ, Exactly. In fact, I've got an article set to publish tomorrow morning that points out how these leftist "advocacy groups" (like environmentalists) have all ignored their own causes during Obama's term. And the reason is that they care more about supporting a leftist president and having Democrats in power than they do about the causes they supposedly represent.

You can also see this fact from the policies they advocate. Take car pollution for example. 98% of car pollution comes from 5% of the cars on the road. So rather than finding a way to eliminate those by, for example, buying them up and crushing them, the left argues for imposing all kinds of restrictions on new cars -- which produce almost none of the pollution. The reason is that they don't really care about pollution, they care about control and they want to control the automotive and petroleum industries.

USArtguy said...

Hey, hey, hey! Don't confuse the Left with facts! Besides, the only excuse they need to make American business less competitive is "fairness".

The other countries of the world are good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, people like them!

AndrewPrice said...

USArtguy, Isn't that the truth. I'm amazed how often we hear that "we have so much to learn" from some rathole run by a rotten dictator.

And don't get me wrong, I'm all for taking ideas that work well and importing them. That is, in fact, America's strength. But liberals aren't looking for great ideas, they're looking for ideas that change the nature of our country.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: I don't understand why all the Gaea worshipers don't simply wait for mother earth to take care of climate change herself. It would be cheaper, more effective, and would be much less insulting to the gods.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Because that doesn't give them control over the rest of us.

CrispyRice said...

It really is all about control. Ugh. Even if they have to cook up hoaxes to do it.

AndrewPrice said...

CrispyRice, Yep. That's all it is. And looking at the potential effects on the economy, we should be very wary of ever handing these people control over anything.

Joel Farnham said...


Thank you. I blame it on IVY league schools. Actually the reputation of Ivy League schools.

Remember how it used to be, coming from a po-dunk cow college. How demeaning that was? Well, Harvard and Yale and the rest now have the dubious distinction of creating the most inept leaders evah of the free world.

Not only they don't understand simple economics that can be explained by any one who does NOT have a college degree, but they can't even understand when they are being conned about Global Warming.

From now on, I am going to refer to Obama as Harvard-educated Obama.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I would like to say that Obama and his crew are a disgrace to Harvard, but. . . well. . . it's hard to say that they aren't par for the course among Harvard grads.

I had several run ins with Harvard law types right out of law school and I can tell you that I was underwhelmed. I'm not saying there aren't brilliant kids at Harvard -- there are, just like there are at most schools, but they certainly didn't prepare them for the real world.

And it's the real world knowledge that Team Obama really is missing. Even a few weeks running something like a business would have brought a major improvement. As it is, they seem to fall for every scheme that comes across their desks without any thought to whether or not it makes any sense. I almost expect to hear that he's trying to solve the deficit problem by buying lottery tickets.

Ed said...

Interesting thought. That's why I love coming here, you always give us a new take on things. I can't imagine what 25% unemployment would look like in this country in this day and age.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Ed! Tell your friend! :-)

I don't think very many Americans have any idea what 25% unemployment would look like. That would be 1 in 4 Americans. Moreover, the real unemployment rate would be a lot higher -- maybe 1 in 3. That's as bad or worse than the Great Depression level of unemployment. That's the kind of unemployment level that destroyed Germany's government in the 1930s. That's very dangerous stuff.

Individualist said...


I made this point on Lawhawk's post but I will reiterate it here. I think we need to change the approach of our argument with the left. No matter how many times and how much evidence we have Keith Olbermann will just say we are the "Man" keepting the brothers .. er .. well.. the white people at MSNBC down.

I think the better argument is to quetion them. What is the exact level of CO2 on the planet and why is this optimum. Ask them about the increase in biomass from warming, when they talk o Ocean levels rising about the increase in landmass as less land is covered in snow. Let them prove what they say by making them quantify it.

AndrewPrice said...

Individualist, I agree in part and disagree in part.

First, the disagreement: Despite the far left leanings of the press, the majority of the public (60% according to polls) do not reflexively follow or believe what the media is saying. With regard to the 60%, this group can be swayed with logic, fact and argument. So we should continue to make our case to these people, in clear, concise and factual ways.

That said, one thing we do need to do differently with this group is that we need to learn to present our own causes and solutions. Too often people on the right think saying "that's wrong" is enough. It's not.

And that's the problem with just poking holes in guys like Olbermann. All Olbermann has to say to get out of the trap is "I'm not a scientist, I haven't researched this, but reputable scientists have said this is true and I believe it." That will work with the 40% for sure and many of the 60%, unless we can counter the facts.

So while I think this is a good strategy in part, we can't stop presenting contrary facts.

Now the agreement: One of the most effective forms of attack when you are dealing with someone who is propounding a theory is to expose that they don't know what they are talking about. So forcing them to answer questions that they can't answer, i.e. exposing the mindlessness behind their statements, is a great way to convince the 60% people that the left is a collection of Kool-Aid drinking fools who are making it up as they go.

However, that won't reach the 40%, because they simple will not be reached. They want to believe that there is some horrible thing that needs to be fixed and no amount of facts or logic can break that belief. It's become a matter of faith to these people, and you simply can't fight faith with facts.

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