Friday, January 8, 2016

Are Alarmists Going Too Far About Global Warming?

Global warming denial is shifting to accepting that it's real, but not "civilization-threatening".  The Cato Institute is a prominent Libertarian think tank.  From the Cato Institute's official statement on global warming:
“Global warming is indeed real, and human activity has been a contributor since 1975.
 Fortunately, and contrary to much of the rhetoric surrounding climate change, there is ample time to develop such technologies, which will require substantial capital investment by individuals.” [11]
There will be time to get things back under control.  Global warming people (like me) are "alarmists", exaggerating the consequences.

"Alarmist" means, I suppose, that we are like the boy crying wolf.  Or the chicken warning about the sky falling.  It is certainly true that I have described some very grim scenarios which most assume that we will do nothing to stop greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere.  But there was the recent Paris Conference where 190 nations go together and decided on some action on global warming.  Many have complained that it was too little, too late.  But let's assume here that the Conference is a significant beginning from which the world will finally put together a defense against global warming, that significant movement will be made towards green energy.

What would a best case scenario be?  Scenarios are labelled by the degrees Celsius in the increase in global temperatures since 1880, which right now is about .8 degrees Celsius.  If we were to immediately stop all greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere we will pass 2 degrees Celsius in twenty years or so.  But let the best case scenario be that we'll be limited to 2 degrees Celsius, which will eventually decrease because we will have fully adopted all measures to eliminate greenhouse gases.

This best case scenario, by definition, is not alarmist.  It is the best outcome.  Anything else will be worse.

First of all, we can expect more godzilla El Ninos, more droughts and floods and severe weather, not to mention massive migrations, that we are already experiencing.  We should also factor in the population increase, 8 billion people by 2050.  The best case scenario here is that significant advances in agriculture will allow all these people to be fed.

What is certainly going to happen is very noticeable increases in the sea level.  Right now, we know that the sea level is going to rise nearly two feet no matter what we do.  Goodbye Miami, goodbye New Orleans.  But it's going to be worse,
The melting of polar ice sheets and mountain glaciers will likely continue for thousands of years, causing irreversible sea level rise, even if global warming is limited to 2 degrees Celsius, according to a new report published last week during the climate negotiations in Paris.
"The temperatures that we are reaching even today, let alone in two or three or four decades, could lock in changes that aren't going to be reversible on a human timescale."
The findings show that achieving the ambitious goals set by the historic Paris Agreement won't be enough to avert catastrophic sea level rise and severe water shortages in areas dependent on glaciers.
These increased sea levels mean, in the best case scenario, serious problems for any people living on or near an ocean shore.  Storms will be more damaging.  Many will have to migrate to higher land.  Islands will disappear.  These are things that are going to happen.  It is not alarmist to speak of these outcomes.

In this best case scenario, civilization won't be lost, but it will be severely tested.  Where will all those people go forced away from their land, their homes, by rising sea levels?  Even now migration from Africa, Latin American, the Middle East, has become problematic.  And even now some countries are at starvation levels.  Will we be able to develop the agriculture we need to keep it from getting worse?

Even in our best case scenario we are facing great difficulties.