The talk at "Politics in the
Pub" about 22 March
about green. First speaker Professor A Pitman
spoke persuasively about the integrity of the peer review process,
without mentioning some of the controversy surrounding the paper
He cited the facts. CO2 has gone from 0.028 % of the atmosphere
to around 0.038% in the last 60 years. CO2 is a greenhouse
gas. The modelling suggests that the effect will be a warming of
between 2C and 6C by 2100AD. He cited models that indicated a one
meter rise in the sea level by 2100AD. He warned that weather
could become more extreme and violent.
He stated that a rise above 2C might produce a "tipping point" where
the CO2 tied up in marsh tundras is released as the tundras
unfreeze. Or perhaps the Methane Ice in the deep ocean trenches
will come to the surface. All sorts of horror scenarios were (we
were told) possible.
In question time, one member of the audience asked about
geoengineering, specifically sulphur compounds being injected into the
atmosphere. (see March issue of this diary). Professor
Pitman was dismissive. The gist of his response was that "sulphur
compounds and mirrors in space would cut down the light for
photosynthesis by about 1%, and the world food supply would drop
(catastrophically was the implication)". Just think about
that. A 1% drop in sunlight would cause crop failure?
What about the fertilizing effect of CO2? AS a retired farmer, I
am (to say the least) somewhat dubious about that proposition.
Another member of the audience wondered whether perhaps the cost of
slowing warming by reducing fossil fuel use and carbon emissions should
not be optimised against the cost of repairing the damage caused by
warming. Perhaps it would be cheaper to compensate the rise in
sea level by building dykes, and countering extreme weather by
upgrading building codes? Again the Professor was
dismissive. Dykes would not stop the London Underground (electric
train system) from being flooded.
Again. A rather trite answer. As an Engineer I find that
statement unbelievable. Sure, waterproofing or even rebuilding
might cost. But balance the cost of rebuilding the underground
against the damage caused by an exhorbitant CO2 tax of $1,000/ton for
100 years? (whats that, $10
billion to rebuild the underground against say a cost to the economy of
10 billion tons p/a * 100 years * $1,000 = $1 quadrillion tax?
That amount of money would probably buy all of the infrastructure of
our civilization several times over.)
You might think $1,000/ton is excessive. I would respond that it
is miniscule. The Greenies want the Carbon tax to stop our use of
Carbon fuels. And $1,000/ton works out to about $4 per gallon of
petrol. That tax might reduce carbon fuel use, but I would
predict that carbon fuel use would still increase.