Posted by: graemebird | August 16, 2007

The Summary Of All Fears

Its been brought home to me that even folks who know that the energy-deprivation-crusaders arguments are stupid when they see them…. well even these folks still harbour nasty fears about global warming. They may be on your side. But it will set their minds to rest to know there is a carbon tax because they see this as a risk management issue.

It may be that folks think I’m thinking about one or two individuals only. But it strikes me that nearly everyone is like that even in the skeptical camp.

Well this is no time for the-late-night shivers to get the best of you. A carbon-tax must be resisted every minute of the day and if enacted the efforts must be for repeal.

Peak-Oil is upon us and we have no time for any of this nonsense. Plus we need to get infrastructural charges happening. And infrastructural investment…. in roads for example…. well the maintenance and investment must come from the revenues received from drivers at peak-time. After that the government Georgist charges have to be deducted…. then the profits are what must pay for the infrastructural upgrades.

Thats a lot of money. And any taxes on diesel… or income taxes on commercial drivers and people who do tunneling and road-building for a living have to go.

Plus all oil wells that are in the later stage of their development…. They will be dropping off in terms of how many barrels a day that they can produce. This is a crisis situation. And more exploration must be accomplished post-haste. Red Tape must be crusaded against. Investors must be found for tar sands extraction. And coal-liquification.

Having a carbon-tax might seem less onerous then other taxes. But only in some naieve steady-state economic model that neoclassicals carry around in their head.

Models frozen in time like a cave-man in a glacier.

The fact is that there is so much to be done urgently and a carbon-tax will screw everything up.

Imagine talking to truck-drivers about congestion charging. Think of all the taxes these poor buggers pay already. A carbon-tax will make congestion taxes implausible. Rather all other taxes ought to be removed and so the high revenues are brought in for the road investor at peak-time.

“Out, damned spot! out, I say!”

We must send all the myriad fears that the PUNDITTI has injected into you to another place. The Banditti used to steal stuff OFF people. But the Punditti inject crazy nonsense INTO people (comparison from Mailer).

What are all those things about global warming that you fear?

Well one gentleman summed up this motherload of worries in a post over on Roger Pielkes site.

And here is my response to his summary of all fears. I went through all his points one by one:
73. Lets go through this one at a time.

“While we’re on the subject of feedbacks we should also consider ice-albedo and deforestation and saturation of CO2 in the ocean….”


My contention is that the oceanic-atmospheric system would be almost perfectly dominated by negative feedbacks but for two factors .
And this is the position of Antarctica and the fact that the North Pole is surrounded by land.

You see I see sea-ice as the NEGATIVE feedback par excellence. Its the great insulator.

The wind blows hard along the water and can assist evaporation even when the water is cold. That has a refrigerant effect and if the water vapour later becomes rain…….. the act of going from vapour to ice will transport much heat out into space.

Only when the Northern Ice gets so far as to inhibit the Gulf Stream would I consider that oceanic ice becomes (for a time) a positive feedback. The rest of the time its about the most magnificent negative feedback there is.

Sea ice stops all that wind-assisted evaporation. Insulates warmth. The thinner ice even lets the suns warmth through and locks it in. Perfect negative feedback.
Its a magnificent planet we are on really. Way too cold in this time period. But truly magnificent.

As to positive feeback via melting ice on the very high mountains I would see that as small potatoes. Because its high up. And so the extra energy that the mountain absorbs… Well thats not going to make much difference in terms of the extra energy retained making it all the way down and lodging itself in the oceans.

A bit like lighting a candle on the top of the Empire State Building and worrying that the basement will overheat.

But ice accumulating on land is an whole other matter. This is a heat regulation fault with Gaia I think. Simply that the land is so near the Poles.

2. Deforestation.

Let not your heart be troubled. We are REFORESTING. Such is the power of CO2 that as many trees as we bulldoze and burn in the tropics far more is growing back elsewhere. So the net effect is that the total weight of biota is growing at a magnificent clip.

3. Saturation of CO2 in the oceans.

I’ve never seen this mentioned in terms of greenhouse before. But liquid water is such a groovy greenhouse substance that I cannot imagine it making a difference.
But what good news if true that CO2 is saturating the oceans. So much more life. The tropics particularly are starved of life since the water is usually too warm to hold that much CO2 and O2.

I’d be interested in anyone coming up with information as to whether extra CO2 in the water can have some sort of enhanced warming effect.

A wonderful thing if true for our typically frozen planet. But since liquid water is itself a magnificent greehouse substance I just cannot see the extra CO2 absorbed in it making any difference. Am willing to be turned around on this.

” I see no reason to doubt water vapor exerts a positive feedback and also that under specific conditions with respect to precipitation and changes in cloud cover, and generally at a regional scale, cooling can occur. Another feedback to consider now-”

Well in the immediate sense water vapour is the chief warmer of the lower troposphere. But in terms of heat accumulating over decades IT TOO is a negative feedback.

Short-term its positive yes.

But long-term it has to be negative since when it rains all that latent heat released when water vapour turns to ice…… well much of it will be radiated up and will be lost in space.

Its halfway out of the troposphere already. Its up where the air is thin. So one just has to assume that though the latent heat radiates in all directions most of it will quickly be lost to space.

This is why I see water vapour as the oceans sweating. And the positive feedback being short-term only… so that long-term extra water vapour is not an accumulator of energy but a dissapator.

“Apparently there has been little study thus far to the effects of increased tropospheric ozone on plants, which in turn has implications for land-carbon storage.”

Thats not a big problem. We can reduce ozone release from industry without destroying industrial civilisation. Its restrictions on CO2-release that are crazy and unnaceptable since CO2 is a postivie externality and its production is central to wealth-creation.

“The new study by Sitch et al. (2007) shows the impact of the biosphere from increased O3 could double the effective radiative forcing as CO2 accumulates and the land-carbon sink is suppressed.( Nature 448, 791-794 )”

Just not relevant to what we are talking about. A conflation of issues to confuse people.

“With respect to observation, as I continue to see reports coming in current “projections” which are off seem to be replaced by more alarming rather than more conservative estimates. See here for example-″

Yeah. Just leftist energy-deprivation-crusade crazy-talk. Science-mag is notorious for this. Its science is so bad you wonder if its even a magazine.

“Antarctic ice melting faster than predicted-”

The Antarctic is ACCUMULATING ICE.

Antartica is such a drain on the energy of the planet entire in my view.

That we have been systematically cooling for 55 million years makes me think that the position of Antarctica is actually robbing the earth of heat and probably all the way down to the core.

“Arctic ice retreating more rapidly-”

True enough. Sadly its not going to last. Its related to the systematic increase in the oceanic heat budget throughout the twentieth century thanks to the most active period of solar activity for likely 8000 years.

But its also related to the oceanic rythms. You can trace the Northern ebb and flow of ice on the decadal level by sussing out which PHASE the North Atlantic Oscillation or alternatively the Pacific Decadal oscillation is in.

And its a very sad thing but once this changes phase again the hurricanes will die down in the Gulf and the ice will thicken and expand up North.

It would be good if we were rid of that North Pole ice for quits.


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