Friday, November 2, 2012

Bloomberg And Climate Change Politics

I hear that New York mayor Mike Bloomberg is endorsing Obama saying that Obama has "taken major steps to combat climate change.."  Huh?   Obama has done nothing on climate change, so I have no idea of what the mayor is talking about.

First of all, blaming a single hurricane on climate change is ridiculous and hysterical.  There has been no notable change in Hurricane frequency or intensity in recent decades. I think most meteorologists would agree.

Second, presumably Bloomberg is endorsing Obama because Obama is friendly to a cap and trade carbon trading regime.   Cap and Trade not only will NOT solve the climate change problem, it's a boondoggle for Big Government Cronyism and would stifle the economy further. Implementing cap and trade would be a huge disaster for this country.

But Cap and Trade Won't Work 

 

Importantly, cap and trade would try to do what it implies: tries to cap carbon emissions at current levels (it won't even do that however).   And it would involve large scale taxation and extra bureaucracy. But capping emissions at anywhere near current levels means that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would continue it's ascent unabated.

Carbon dioxide is accumulating in the atmosphere because the oceans, plants, and the land are not absorbing the emitted carbon dioxide fast enough.  The issue is that man is releasing about 7.3 gigatons per year in total carbon into the atmosphere.  But photosynthesis absorbs 1.7 gigaton/yr and the ocean is absorbing 2.2 gigatons/year.   This means that 3.3 gigatons/yr of carbon is accumulating in the atmosphere.  Ultimately the ocean will absorb all of that carbon given enough time (centuries).   So we have an imbalance between the ocean's absorption and our emissions.

Figure 1.  Worldwide carbon balance in gigatons per year (from Howard Herzog at MIT, 2001)
If you do the math the, to stop the rising accumulation, we must reduce carbon emitted by about 50%.  This amount would steady atmospheric concentration of carbon (not reduce it).   See my blog Global Warming Made Easy for a slew of good graphs and figures for easy reference.    So Cap and Trade would "potentially" reduce the rate of growth of carbon emissions but do nothing to reduce it.

Reducing Carbon Dioxide Emissions Enough to Matter is a Herculean Task


To reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 50% would mean that you'd have to do the following:
  1. Convert all automobiles to electric, then
  2. Build enough additional nuclear and wind power plants to supplement existing power plants to power the electric cars--it's not quite as much as you might think if cars recharged at night
  3. Scrub the flue stacks of all the big existing conventional power plants to remove Carbon Dioxide and inject it in subsurface salt water reservoirs
The cost to do this is extremely expensive!  I figure that it would cost $5 to 10 trillion dollars to do all of the above.  This would have to replicated around the world just to steady carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere at a cost of up to $40 trillion.

After decades of alarm-ism, there is still not one power plant with carbon capture in existence in the world--anywhere in the world! The US has 10,000 power plants alone. We don't even know exactly how best to do it.

It just won't happen. Period.  Remember, after $40 trillion, CO2 in the atmosphere would not decrease---it would remain elevated but theoretically not increase further. So, presumably, and a big presumption, that temperature rises would stabilize at the higher level.

Cap And Trade Taxes Would Fund Obama's Big Government "Trickle Down"


Obama, next term, would LOVE to tax business for "cap and trade" which would increase the size and cost of the Federal bureaucracy to implement the new tax collection.  Then, because you can guarantee that it will be incredibly complicated and onerous, the administration can give "waivers" in exchange for political contributions and support.  Then, they will "redistribute" the tax payer money to money-wasting Solyndra-like entities, political cronies and the politically-connected---especially those outfits with Union labor!  Then the politically "favored" can make campaign donations back to reward the hand that fed it.  It has little to do with reducing greenhouse gases--because cap and trade won't reduce emissions (except that the economy will slump further--which will indeed reduce CO2 emissions)!!   The only thing they care about is staying in power by "redistribution".  It's the most cynical thing in the world.  That's Obama's trickle-down.

Oh, and while taxes go up and government spending continues rising even more, the economy stagnates.  Then, for "some reason" tax revenue "unexpectedly" disappoints and the Bureaucrats will argue that they must raise taxes again.  Rinse, repeat.   How do you think Europe ended up with 50% tax rates, no self-defense (military) and still massive debt and deficits??

Mass Transit Options And Mitigate Effects of Warming


It would make more sense to use US natural gas in a nationwide push for CNG buses and mass transit to reduce our carbon footprint.  It makes economic sense first of all.  If you believe as I do, that if buses came every 3 to 5 minutes, people would use them and relinquish their personal automobiles. This in combination with increased gasoline taxes would be very effective at curbing CO2 emissions. This is much more practical. Where's this debate in the media? Where is our Energy Department on this subject? Why do we even have an Energy Dept? They can't do anything!

It will take billions, not trillions to build seawalls or gradually relocate coastal cities to higher ground. I don't believe there is an immediate panic in terms of ocean levels but it's worth keeping an eye on.

This country needs less hysterical and cynical politicians, otherwise we're going to go to the ashbin of history.  Let's hope nobody does anything on cap and trade legislation either!

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