The Evidence for Rapid Climate Change

 

My last post, “Why We Badly Need a Revenue Neutral Carbon Tax” makes the case for combatting global warming with a sensible free market mechanism such as a carbon tax rather than a hodge-podge of arbitrary national and state regulatory actions. Since many of the Facebook responders to this post deny the reality of global warming in the first place, I have decided to present the overwhelming evidence for its existence.
When ninety-seven percent of climate scientists worldwide agree that climate change is real and they have assembled a massive amount of measurement data to back up this claim, I think we have to take them seriously. For example:

  • The Global Surface Temperature is Rising. Global average temperature has risen 1.4 F since the early 20th century as shown in the chart just below which also shows the close correlation with carbon-dioxide concentration.
    Capture2
  • The Sea Level is Rising. It has risen at an average rate of 1.7 mm/year over the last 100 years and at the rate of 3.5 mm/year since 1993 which is equivalent to one inch every seven years.
  • Global Upper Ocean Heat Content is Rising. The top 700 meters have warmed by .3F since 1969. Thermal expansion of the ocean water as it warms contributes to the sea level rise.
  • Glacier Volume is Shrinking Worldwide. Just Greenland and Antartica alone have lost at 150 cubic kilometers of ice annually in recent years.
  • Declining Artic Sea Ice. Both the extent and thickness of artic sea ice has declined rapidly over the last several decades (see chart below).
    Capture1I accept the reality of the scientific evidence for global warming but I am certainly no “alarmist” in terms of what our response should be towards addressing it. It will be many, many years before renewable energy sources like wind and solar are able to make a substantial dent in worldwide energy needs.
    The best thing to do in the meantime is to attempt to decrease carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels through carbon capture and storage. A carbon tax would create a huge economic incentive for the coal and oil industry to solve this problem. If and when they figure it out, it is likely that the technology involved would rapidly spread around the world.
    This would represent a real solution to a very serious problem.

Why We Need a Carbon Tax IV. The Economic Risks of Climate Change

 

I have now posted more than 200 entries on my blog.  I have discussed a wide variety of fiscal and economic issues in the last year and one-half.  But there are really, in my opinion, just a fairly small number of basic themes in my posts, such as:

  • Eliminating deficit spending so that we can shrink our national debt over time to a substantially lower level than the current 73% of GDP.
  • Boosting our economy in order to put more people back to work as well as bringing in more tax revenue.
  • Maintaining an activist foreign policy including a sufficiently strong military force to protect our free and democratic way of life.
  • Maintaining high citizen morale by addressing other critical domestic issues such as economic mobility and increasing income inequality.
  • Addressing natural threats to our way of life such as global warming.

Capture Today’s New York Times has an excellent article on global warming “The Coming Climate Crash” from a surprising source, former Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson.  He was in office when the credit bubble burst in 2008 and is therefore an expert on crisis management.  His argument is that global warming presents a strong economic threat as well as an environmental threat.  It therefore should be addressed by an effective economic policy, such as a carbon tax.  He points out that:

  • Global warming is a far more intractable problem than a credit bubble, not at all amenable to a relatively quick fix by government action.
  • A threat from nature like global warming is not an ideological issue because it affects all of us in the same way, conservatives and liberals alike.
  • A future with more severe storms, deeper droughts, longer fire seasons and rising sea levels creates huge economic risks which we ignore at our great peril.
  • A carbon tax doesn’t outlaw the use of fossil fuels but rather creates a huge economic incentive for developing carbon sequestration when fossil fuels are burned.

Government regulation of fossil fuels by the Environmental Protection Agency represents a timid and arbitrary half measure that won’t have nearly the impact of a sound economic incentive like a carbon tax.  Let’s get serious and do things the right way!