NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

LIVING WITH CLIMATE CHANGE

February 2, 2007

Global warming is "very likely" caused by man, concludes the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 21-page summary for policymakers.  Hotter temperatures and rising sea level will continue for centuries no matter how much humans control their pollution, says IPCC. 

Despite the bleak outlook, should we actually "do something," asks Patrick J. Michaels, senior fellow at the Cato Institute?

Consider:

  • The journal Geophysical Research Letters estimated in 1997 that if every nation on Earth lived up to the United Nations' Kyoto Protocol on global warming, it would prevent no more than 0.126 degrees farenheit of warming every 50 years.
  • Global temperature varies by more than that from year to year, so that's not even enough to measure -- Climatically, Kyoto would do nothing.

In the past four years, the Senate has voted twice against "cap-and-trade" legislation that would set quotas on carbon emissions and let companies buy and sell them.  If adopted, their cap-and-trade law would reduce emissions by less than the Kyoto Protocol specifies -- in other words, the Senate has been loath to even adopt something that does less than nothing, says Michaels.

The stark reality is that if we really want to alter the warming trajectory of the planet significantly, we have to cut emissions by an extremely large amount, and -- a truth that everyone must know -- we simply do not have the technology to do so, says Michaels.  We would fritter away billions in precious investment capital in a futile attempt to curtail warming.

Consequently, the best policy is to live with some modest climate change now and encourage economic development, which will generate the capital necessary for investment in the more efficient technologies of the future.

Source: Patrick J. Michaels, "Live with climate change," USA Today, February 2, 2007.

For IPCC summary:

http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/docs/WG1AR4_SPM_PlenaryApproved.pdf 

 

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