The UnAustralian

Friday, August 01, 2003
Speaking of Global Warming

Brad Delong has an interesting section of an article on global warming from The Economist on his site.

Essentially, it deals with what should be done to avert global warming (or rather, limit the damage which it causes). The following points are made:

* "that is why the long-term objective for climate policy must be a transition to a low-carbon energy system. Such a transition can be very gradual and need not necessarily lead to a world powered only by bicycles and windmills"

* Coal is a big problem, as it's cheap and there's lots of it. So it's very attractive for poor countries + plus it will be around for eons.

* The net emissions of CO2 must decrease, or global warming will go on forever (or at least until it's ir absorption band increases to the point where it's transmission is effectively 0 - ok, the bit about the absorption bands isn't in the article, it's a free bonus from me).

* One option is to remove CO2, by methods such as plants, or hiding it underground.

* With regards to future policies, the following principles should be applied: a) "governments everywhere (but especially in Europe) must understand that a reduction in emissions has to start modestly. That is because the capital stock involved in the global energy system is vast and long-lived, so a dash to scrap fossil-fuel production would be hugely expensive. However... that pragmatism must be flanked by policies that encourage a switch to low-carbon technologies when replacing existing plants", b) "governments everywhere (but especially in America) must send a powerful signal that carbon is going out of fashion. The best way to do this is to levy a carbon tax. However, whether it is done through taxes, mandated restrictions on GHG emissions or market mechanisms is less important than that the signal is sent clearly, forcefully and unambiguously", and c) "The third pillar is to promote science and technology. That means encouraging basic climate and energy research, and giving incentives for spreading the results. Rich countries and aid agencies must also find ways to help the poor world adapt to climate change. This is especially important if the world starts off with small cuts in emissions, leaving deeper cuts for later".

Articles like this, are really good, as it focuses on what should be done. Personally, I'm more interested in the science underpinning global warming (my obsession started after I saw a lecture by F. Sherwood Roland on atmospheric science), but I'll happily blog about any interesting article such as this one.
| 12:49 AM