Keeping Global Warming in Perspective


The evidence for man-made global warming is now overwhelming. For example:

  • The extent of artic summer sea ice is steadily shrinking.
  • The world’s oceans are getting warmer.
  • Spring in the U.S. is coming sooner each year on average.

The three biggest carbon emitters in the world are China, the U.S. and India in that order. But what is also true, and not sufficiently well appreciated, is that carbon emissions in the U.S. are dropping while they are still increasing in China and India:

  • In the 2015 Paris climate agreement, China pledged that it would start reducing carbon emissions by 2030 but, in the meantime, is still continuing to open coal burning power plants.
  • In the U.S. carbon emissions have been steadily decreasing since 2000 (see chart).
  • In India the economy is growing at 7% per year and 240 million people still lack electric power. This means that carbon emissions from coal burning are likely to double in the years ahead.

Coal use in the U.S. will continue to drop with or without enforcement of the Obama era Clean Power Plan because natural gas is now so plentiful and so much less expensive than coal. The best way for the U.S. to continue showing leadership in combatting global warming is for it to adopt a revenue-neutral carbon tax.  This would let the market sort out which type of energy is the cleanest and most efficient in meeting our country’s growing energy needs.  In fact a carbon tax might even be beneficial for the coal industry by creating a strong incentive to develop carbon capture and storage technology.
Conclusion. Most Americans now agree that global warming is real and that this presents a huge threat to human civilization.  It is likely that a revenue-neutral carbon tax will be adopted by our country in the near future.

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4 thoughts on “Keeping Global Warming in Perspective

  1. Jack,

    When I moved into the Country Club area of Omaha in 1975, our Crab tree in back always flowered around the 10th day of May. Beginning around 1985, the flowering date slowly occurred earlier to around April 15 by 2014. The tree finally fell apart in 2014, but I don’t think that the date has changed much in the last 3 years. Its hard for me to connect that sequence totally to world-wide atmospheric carbon release. I suspect there are significant cosmological issues that are totally unrecognized and have been largely going on for millions of years. It all pretty murky. Unfortunately, the “social capital” required to initiate a world-wide collective thrust project for mitigating the over-all effects of global warming does not exist (as evidenced especially by the lack of involvement by either China or India).

    Thinking of all this, I continue to be reminded that our nation does really have a national risk management planning process. There are certainly elements of it at all levels of government, i.e., FEMA. Most disaster risks are known. We just don’t know when. But, an over-all plan that is periodically updated and tested does not exist. I am thinking of an influenza pandemic or our nation’s power grid (do you have a generator at home?). Then, We would really face the problem of limited resources. As you might have guessed, its always been on my mind as an underlying issues because our nation’s healthcare lacks the resilience to accommodate major change: as in the next recession, possibly soon.


    • What would a risk management planning process look like? Are there examples out there that could serve as a guide in thinking about how to approach this important issue?

      • It a concept that is based on an organizational development concept that most disasters occurring to an institution are known. Their specific timing and individual character is not. Identifying these and planning their detection and their effects then leads to the ability to arrange the response to more carefully mitigate the effects of the disaster beforehand, during as well as immediately or delayed afterward. The planning process would further document the institutions and individuals involved, especially the decision process while the disaster is evolving. Many issues for the leadership process are defined and assigned, with flexibility given that each situation will be unique and require deviations. With documentation during the event, a review after the event could be the basis for improving the Risk Management Plan. For a community, there are state and national issues as well as its own related city planning (of probably highly variant character).
        My own unceasing concern is the occurrence of an influenza pandemic. We would then evolve into a resource-poor situation probably involving a disproportionate number of children. For the hospital Emergency Departments, a risk-management plan should provide a nationally sanctioned, decision process for the allocation of of artificial respiratory machines at each hospital. For 3 persons in the ED in respiratory failure, who is most likely to use and benefit from the last respirator? We have NO nationally sanctioned and supported process to even think about these issues.
        As a side-note, the last catastrophic earthquake on the western usa fault lines occurred 1-26-1700. These apparently occur historically every 240 years. They are estimated to be every 240 years, now 75 years overdue for Southern California. The experts predict a 40% chance of the “big one” within 50 years similar to the earthquake in Japan that caused a nuclear plan melt-down. ( See “ArcUser: The Magazine for Esri Software Users, Winter 2017)
        I have also developed a slowly evolving belief that the cost of our nation’s excessively expensive healthcare, may be driven partially by the adversities inherent in each community. For instance, a State’s excess level of maternal mortality is highly related to the State’s level of poverty.
        So, we need a nationally sanctioned process to assure the “community driven” means to 1) promote the resolution of its deficiencies in equitable and accessible Primary Healthcare, 2) assess the local adversity determinants of unstable health and the options for their control, and 3) annually revise a local Health Disaster Plan.
        The Design Principles for this endeavor have already been identified and verified by the professional career, including many associates, of Elinor Ostrom. She received a 2009 Nobel Prize for her research.

  2. Just to be specific, let’s focus on risk management for an influenza pandemic. Is there a national plan for such an event? If so, is it public information at least in a general sense? It would be interesting to see what is involved in such a plan.

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