The Cost of Controlling Climate Change

Apr 3, 2008 2:08pm

A veteran climate scientist, a policy analyst and an economist say it will be far more expensive than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated to cut down on the greenhouse gases often blamed for the problem. They’ve published a commentary in today’s edition of NATURE, saying the IPCC may actually be too optimistic by a factor of four.  (Yes, the IPCC is the organization that shared last year’s Nobel Peace Prize with a certain political figure.) The authors are Roger Pielke Jr. of the University of Colorado, Tom Wigley of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and Christopher Green of McGill University in Montreal.  "Two thirds or more of the energy efficiency improvements and decarbonization of energy supply required to stabilize greenhouse gases is already built into the IPCC reference scenarios," they write, adding that growth in China and India have made things more complex.  "The IPCC plays a risky game in assuming that spontaneous advances in technological innovation will carry most of the burden of achieving future emissions reductions, rather than focusing on creating the conditions for such innovations to occur."  Find the full text HERE. There’s also a news article on it at Nature.com, which you can find HERE. All three men are on record as saying warming is not to be ignored.  "Human-caused climate change is real and requires attention by policy makers to both mitigation and adaptation — but there is no quick fix; the issue will be with us for decades and longer," Pielke wrote in testimony to the House Government Reform Committee in 2006. But the warning in today’s commentary is hotly disputed by Joseph Romm, who worked in the Energy Department in the 1990s and is the author of "Hell and High Water–and What You Should Do."  Romm calls Pielke a "delayer" of action on climate, and calls the commentary "pointless and misleading if not outright dangerous." "Five years ago the American Enterprise Institute “proved” that the lowest IPCC emissions projection is too high, and they backed up their conclusion with actual 1990s data, whereas Pielke, Wigley, and Green have “proven” that the highest IPCC emissions projection is too low, and they backed up their conclusion with actual data from this decade," he writes.  He goes into some detail in his post at ClimateProgress.org; read it HERE. This is dense stuff.  It helps you understand why the climate issue is such a turnoff to a lot of people.  But in the meantime, Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund has, with Miriam Horn, published an upbeat book called "Earth: the Sequel."  In it, they lay out dozens–if not hundreds–of promising ideas which they say will help stop warming…and make their inventors rich in the process.  "Twenty years from now some thirty-five-year-old is going to say the reason he’s a billionaire is that he read this book when he was fifteen," writes Michael Lewis ("The New New Thing") in a jacket blurb.  At last count, the book was number 28 on the New York Times nonfiction-hardcover bestseller list.

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