Understanding Climate Risk

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Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Revkin

Zombie ping pong at the WSJ

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Last Friday, the Wall Street Journal published a letter from 16 scientists entitled: No Need to Panic About Global Warming: There’s no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to ‘decarbonize’ the world’s economy.

They tried to revivify a number of zombies.

  • Objecting to the statement that  “The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring” from the American Physical Society’s climate policy statement.  Apparently, nothing in science is incontrovertible, not even data trending in one direction. The APS added a commentary “However, the word “incontrovertible” in the first sentence of the second paragraph of the 2007 APS statement is rarely used in science because by its very nature science questions prevailing ideas. The observational data indicate a global surface warming of 0.74 °C (+/- 0.18 °C) since the late 19th century.” Incontrovertible means there is no evidence to the contrary.
  • The lack of warming over the past decade zombie.
  • The CO2 is not a pollutant zombie.
  • The de Freitas / Climate Research affair zombie, where a paper by Soon and Baliunas that de Freitas edited  claimed that the recent warming was not unusual in the context of the past 1,000 years which they called a politically incorrect (but factually correct) conclusion. Unfortunately the paper was not factually correct and should not have been published. The Editor in Chief and three associate editors resigned, leading the publishers to revamp the journal, de Freitas losing his editorial position in the process.
  • The climate change – Lysenkoism zombie.
  • Climate science is at the trough zombie (follow the money).

They also claimed:

A recent study of a wide variety of policy options by Yale economist William Nordhaus showed that nearly the highest benefit-to-cost ratio is achieved for a policy that allows 50 more years of economic growth unimpeded by greenhouse gas controls.

Andrew Revkin of New York Times blog Dot Earth posted a response by Nordhaus:

The piece completely misrepresented my work. My work has long taken the view that policies to slow global warming would have net economic benefits, in the trillion of dollars of present value. This is true going back to work in the early 1990s (MIT Press, Yale Press, Science, PNAS, among others). I have advocated a carbon tax for many years as the best way to attack the issue. I can only assume they either completely ignorant of the economics on the issue or are willfully misstating my findings.

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75 Gigatonnes and counting

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Late last year Andrew Revkin of the New York Times blog DotEarth got in touch with a few people to ask their view of Australia’s carbon legislation. He followed up with a question asking whether the legislation was any good if Australia’s large coal exports weren’t included. Can the  US and Australia slake China’s coal thirst and still claim CO2 progress? He got views both pro and con. I ended up writing a post that was glass half  empty – glass half full.

One of the most vocal critics of the domestic policy was Guy Pearse, author of Quarry Vision and High and Dry, an essay and book about the relationship between Australia’s mining industry, politics, and climate policy. I was interested in how much CO2 Australia was likely to export, but had come up high and dry. So I asked Guy what the numbers were. Coincidently he was putting together estimates for current and future projects for a talk at the Woodford Folk Festival, so I offered to have a look at the temperature and CO2 budget effects. Guy’s estimate is that Australia will export about 75 Gigatonnes CO2 conservatively between now and 2050.  That’s 10% of the total budget estimated by the German agency WBGU (pdf) that can be emitted from 2008 to give a 2 in 3 chance of avoiding 2°C.

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Written by Roger Jones

January 6, 2012 at 1:12 am

Revkin on Australia’s coal exports: the elephant in the national climate policy room

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Andrew Revkin of Dot Earth has contacted a few researchers on both sides of the big pond to comment on what Australia’s national carbon management legislation might mean for the US. The overall view was that Australia’s current situation is affected by our political context, limiting its ability to translate to the US situation, but that the effectiveness of the legislation was definitely improved by the committee process that resulted from the last federal election. He returned last week to ask the question: I find it hard to believe that anyone who cares about GLOBAL greenhouse gas emissions /concentrations could cheer the (Australian) law, and – if so – I’d have to ask why? The motivation for this question was Australia’s coal exports, which are largely untouched by the legislation (a fact, widely touted as a good thing for the economy).

This is a really interesting and difficult question and garnered a range of comments that reveal substantial disagreements between experts. Read all the responses on Dot Earth. I’m torn by this question because I:

  1. Do cheer the legislation for what it can potentially achieve, and
  2. Don’t think it does much for rising international emissions due to the economic boom. The boom has accelerated growth in coal-generated carbon emissions since 2000, mainly growth in China, and affects emission projections out to 2020 and beyond as India and other countries join in.

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Written by Roger Jones

November 19, 2011 at 4:21 pm