'Something must be done!!!' ... even though climate change is irreversible


"Many damaging effects of climate change are already basically irreversible, researchers declared Monday, warning that even if carbon emissions can somehow be halted temperatures around the globe will remain high until at least the year 3000."

That was the lede paragraph on an essay by AP science writer Randolph E. Schmid, moving on the wires this morning.
 
"People have imagined that if we stopped emitting carbon dioxide the climate would go back to normal in 100 years, 200 years; that's not true," climate researcher Susan Solomon, at right, said in a teleconference.

Solomon, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo., is lead author of an international team's paper reporting irreversible damage from climate change, being published in Tuesday's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

She defines "irreversible" as change that would remain for 1,000 years even if humans stopped adding carbon to the atmosphere immediately.
 
The findings were announced as President Barack Obama ordered reviews that could lead to greater fuel efficiency and cleaner air, saying the Earth's future depends on cutting air pollution.
 
Said Solomon, "Climate change is slow, but it is unstoppable" — all the more reason to act quickly, so the long-term situation doesn't get even worse.
 
Alan Robock, of the Center for Environmental Prediction at Rutgers University, agreed with the report's assessment.

"It's not like air pollution where if we turn off a smokestack, in a few days the air is clear," said Robock, who was not part of Solomon's research team. "It means we have to try even harder to reduce emissions," he said in a telephone interview.

Pardon me. Can we hold it right there, for a second?

Didn't they just say that nothing we can do — up to and including shutting down our entire industrial economy, dynamiting every smokestack and power line, banning both internal and external combustion engines, throwing us back onto horse-drawn transport and sailing ships at sea, even if we started doing all this yesterday — to stop global warming?

So what is this "all the more reason to act quickly" nonsense?

We should proceed to lay on more heavy-handed government interventions in the market, increasing costs to auto manufacturers and power companies — costs they will have no choice but to pass along to already struggling consumers, assuming they don't go belly-up, entirely (HOW many more layoffs did General Motors announce, today?) — even though the government 's own experts have just said it CAN'T DO ANY GOOD?

"Before the industrial revolution the air contained about 280 parts per million of carbon dioxide. That has risen to 385 ppm today," science writer Schmid explains.

And is that the highest it's ever been? Or do ice core samples show it was higher long ago, many times, when there were no man-made smokestacks or highways, at all?

Look at those numbers again. They're infinitesimal. There's 100 times more water vapor — another "greenhouse gas" — than carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. So cutting carbon dioxide in half would reduce greenhouse gases by one-half of 1 percent, at max. Nor has anyone ever been able to show that the majority of (the tiny amount of) carbon dioxide in the atmosphere comes from man's industrial activities, anyway. And even if Americans went back to riding horses and heating our homes by burning firewood, you think that would make India and China feel so guilty that they'd stop building a new coal-fired power plant every couple of days?

Not that there's any reason to believe a global temperature rise of 1 or 2 degrees per century — even if the modest warming of the past three decades hasn't ended, which it may have — would be catastrophic. Far more traumatic would be a global COOLING which threatened to bring back the glaciers, though mankind has survived several ice ages when we were far less technologically prepared than we are now.

(And why do I think this gang's proposals to fight global COOLING would involve the same heavy-handed government interventions — almost as though theirs is an agenda in search of a crisis?)

Read the AP story and try to find a single dissenting voice pointing out that, "Since nothing can be done, by definition it would be silly to further cripple our economy by continuing to insist that 'Something must be done.'"

— 30 —