ARCHIVES 1997-2007  --- ARCHIVES 2007 +
APRIL 2013


The talk at "Politics in the Pub" about 22 March was 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 selection process.

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 the underground 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.