Sunday, July 16, 2017

The moral hazard of climate change.

I write about this because it is one of the most important issues of our time.

I agree with the basic premise of the article that a completely unregulated capitalism could lead to some bad consequences.  However, some things not covered by the article are ....

1.  The government's major role in creating the financial crisis of 2008.

2.  The moral hazard of publicly funding science to the tune of tens of billions of dollars per year to tell us that there is a problem.

3.  The positive benefits of increased CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

4.  How nuclear fusion will allow us to start replacing fossil fuels (if necessary) by mid century.

5.  How predictions of large climate sensitivity, which is how much the atmospheric temperature will go up every time you double the level of atmospheric CO2, are not supported by current temperature data, which shows the climate sensitivity to be about 1.1 degrees celsius.  Many climate scientists have noted this.  Climate alarmists are worried about a climate sensitivity of around 5 degrees celsius.  

6.  How there will be ways to remove CO2 from the atmosphere (if necessary).  The most cost effective method is Iron Fertilization.

Yesterday, I watched several videos talking about Climate Sensitivity in general.  The biggest concern is about positive feedback, such as increased water vapor acting as a greenhouse gas.  However, we have seen no evidence of positive feedback over the last 137 years where the CO2 levels have gone up about 75%.  I have no doubt that some positive feedback does exist, but if the feedbacks were more forcing than the CO2 is forcing then we would have seen runaway greenhouse by now.   In order for this to happen, the feedbacks would need a multiplication factor greater than 1.  Yesterday, I saw one lecturer claim that the feedbacks are only about 0.6, although we currently see no evidence of even this level.  If he is correct then we could expect a climate sensitivity of about 2 degrees.  Even the climate alarmists say that this doesn't lead to disaster, although they do claim it would be inconvenient.  However, some skeptics note that the the temperature change in a typical day can vary by as much as 30 degrees celsius, so a 2 degree change in the average is nothing to get our underwear in a knot about.

I have put much faith in the current temperature data in estimating Climate Sensitivity.  One of the arguments against this is the claim that the oceans have been absorbing much of the recent warming, acting as a buffer against Climate Change.

CO2, which is necessary for all life on earth, is a trace gas that we measure in parts per million.  It is a weak greenhouse gas compared to other gasses.  It has also been on a major decline over the entire history of the earth because it gets sequestered by natural processes.  During the last period of glaciation it was dangerously low, almost to the point where terrestrial plant life would start dying.  We have been running out of CO2.  Only in recent history have humans reversed the decline.

We have technically been in an ice age for 3 million years.  All of human civilization arose during a brief 10,000 year period between glaciations.  The next period of glaciation is expected in another 10,000 years, although some have speculated that global warming may delay this.  Others have said that we can't prevent it.

I tried really hard to find data about what past temperatures were when the CO2 level was last about 800 parts per million, but this information is hard to find.  This is the level of CO2 that we expect to have around the year 2100, which is double of what we have now.   If historical temperatures were to show much higher temperature than we have now then I would be more concerned.

What past temperature and CO2 data do show is that there is not a clear correlation.  Sometimes they can be opposite of each other.  I saw multiple people claim that orbital variation (of the earth) is the by far the biggest driver of temperature.  If anything, CO2 increases usually follow temperature increases, instead of the other way around, because higher temperatures cause the oceans to release more CO2.  What is likely happening here is that first the temperature goes up, which causes CO2 to increase, which then in turns adds to the temperature.

Plants benefit from increased levels of CO2.  Crop yields are up and are continuing to increase.  As a result of man's activity, there has been a greening of the earth.  However, there should be some limit to how far we want to go with this.  The earth has not seen a CO2 level of 1,200 parts per million in 60 million years.  I believe that technology at some point in the 21st century will allow us to stabilize the level.  We will move to nuclear fusion and sequester CO2 as necessary.


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