Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The sea level is rising! The sea level is rising!

Well, I've been meaning to wade into the politically-incorrect waters of enviro-skepticism. Don't really have the time to do the topic justice: I guess reading about it (check out, for instance, Spike Magazine's section on the environment) just feeds my biases and contrarian-ness. I do want to go through the IPCC's report, but that's a rather distant goal given how many other things have priority.

So here's a book that looks promising: Cool it: The Skeptical Environmentalist's guide to Global Warming Must be something that both the NYT ("Feel Good" vs "Do Good" on Climate Change)and the WSJ (Chill Out) ran stories!

And before y'all start rolling your eyes at yet more evidence of my slouching towards the Republican Party, do read along a bit. Lomborg is not a global-warming skeptic. He thinks the science is somewhat clear -- global warming is happening, and there is some human contribution. However, he's a practitioner of the dismal science, and brings its cold, sobering gaze to bear on the problem.
The lesson from our expedition is not that global warming is a trivial problem. Although Dr. Lomborg believes its dangers have been hyped, he agrees that global warming is real and will do more harm than good. He advocates a carbon tax and a treaty forcing nations to budget hefty increases for research into low-carbon energy technologies.

But the best strategy, he says, is to make the rest of the world as rich as New York, so that people elsewhere can afford to do things like shore up their coastlines and buy air conditioners. He calls Kyoto-style treaties to cut greenhouse-gas emissions a mistake because they cost too much and do too little too late. Even if the United States were to join in the Kyoto treaty, he notes, the cuts in emissions would merely postpone the projected rise in sea level by four years: from 2100 to 2104.

“We could spend all that money to cut emissions and end up with more land flooded next century because people would be poorer,” Dr. Lomborg said as we surveyed Manhattan’s expanded shoreline. “Wealth is a more important factor than sea-level rise in protecting you from the sea. You can draw maps showing 100 million people flooded out of their homes from global warming, but look at what’s happened here in New York. It’s the same story in Denmark and Holland — we’ve been gaining land as the sea rises.”
And while we're at it, Spiked's enviro-humorist suggests that it's probably best not give money to charities in Africa (more Africans means a larger carbon footprint after all) and the magazine's editor wonders if all the feel good carbon-offsetting stuff is simply a modern form of imperialist slavery: let the rich in the West work off their eco-guilt by keeping po' brown folk in India away from modern innovations that might actually improve their lot. Rather like indulgences, eh what? [Hmm, Spiked's server is down so I can't link to the eco-slavery article. Maybe it's some protestor's that are doing some eco-hacking?]

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