The EU and Global Warming

Ran across an article titled “A Foolish Overreaction to Climate Change” in the Financial Times (a European publication) in which Lord Nigel Lawson discusses the economic impact (or suicide) of the EU in embracing Global Warming at all costs. The article is below:

Over the past five years I have become increasingly concerned at the scaremongering of the climate alarmists, which has led the governments of Europe to commit themselves to a drastic reduction in carbon emissions, regardless of the economic cost of doing so. The subject is such a complex one, involving science, economics and politics in almost equal measure, that to do it justice I have written a book, albeit a short one, thoroughly referenced and sourced. But the bare bones are clear.

First, given the so-called greenhouse effect, the marked and largely man-made increase in carbon dioxide concentrations in the earth’s atmosphere has no doubt contributed to the modest 20th century warming of the planet. But what remains a matter of unresolved dispute among climate scientists is how great a contribution it has made, compared with the natural factors affecting the earth’s climate.

The majority view among climate scientists, as set out in the most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is that “most” of the slight (0.5ºC) warming in the last quarter of the 20th century was “very likely” caused by man-made carbon dioxide emissions. On that basis, and relying on computer models, its “best guess” of the likely rise in mean global temperature over the next 100 years is between 1.8ºC and 4ºC.

These projections were made, incidentally, before the recent acknowledgement that so far this century there has been no further global warming at all – in spite of a continuing rapid rise in carbon emissions.

Be that as it may, the IPCC goes on to estimate what the impact of the projected warming would be. It does so on the explicit basis of two assumptions. The first is that, while the developed world can adapt to warming, the developing world lacks the capacity to do so. The second is that, even in the developed world, adaptive capacity is constrained by the limits of existing technology – that is to say, there will be no further technological development over the next 100 years.

The first, distinctly patronizing, assumption is almost certainly false. But even it were true it would mean only that, should the need arise, overseas aid programmes would be tailored to ensure that the developing world did acquire the necessary adaptive capacity. The second is self-evidently absurd, not least in the case of food production, given the ongoing developments in bio-engineering and genetic modification.

It is, however, on this flawed basis that the IPCC reckons that, if the rise in global temperature over the next 100 years is as much as 4ºC, it would be likely to cost anything between 1 per cent and 5 per cent of global gross domestic product, albeit much more than this in the developing world and less in the developed world.

Even if that were so, what would it mean? Suppose the loss to the developing world were as much as 10 per cent of GDP, then – given the IPCC’s economic growth assumptions, on which its emissions assumptions, and hence its warming assumptions, are based– it would imply that, by 2100 or thereabouts, people in the developing world, instead of being some 9.5 times as well off as they are today, would be “only” some 8.5 times as well off – which would still leave them better off than people in the developed world today. This, then, is the scale of the alleged threat to the planet – based, to repeat, on the IPCC’s grossly inflated estimate of the likely damage from further warming, arising from its absurdly gloomy view of mankind’s ability to adapt.

Indeed, given that warming produces benefits as well as costs, it is far from clear that for the people of the world as a whole, the currently projected warming, even if it occurs, would cause any net harm at all. By contrast, slowing down world economic growth, by shifting to much more expensive non-carbon sources of energy, would be massively costly, as Dieter Helm, Britain’s foremost energy economist, has recently spelt out.

That is one good reason why the sought-after global agreement to cut back drastically on carbon dioxide emissions, embracing China, India and the other major developing countries, is not going to happen. But two very real dangers remain.

The first is that the European Union, which already has the bit between its teeth on this issue, will severely damage its own economy by deciding to set an example to the world. And the second is that it will seek to limit that damage, as President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and others are already urging, by imposing trade barriers against those countries that are not prepared to accept mandatory cuts in their emissions.

A lurch into protectionism, and the rolling back of globalization, would do far more damage to the world economy in general and to the developing countries in particular than could conceivably result from the projected resumption of global warming.

It is high time this folly ended.

Lord Lawson was the UK’s chancellor of the exchequer, 1983-89. His book, An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming, will be published by George Duckworth on Thursday

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008

Lord Lawson brings up many points that many others (besides me) have that defy common sense. Among them:

  • If Global Warming is so important, then why should developing countries be given a free pass not to cut back or develop other less or non-polluting means of industrialization?
  • To embrace Global Warming without facts and only assumptions is a recipe for economic disaster.
  • Global Warming may not be happening as the “experts” are predicting.

The proponents of Global Warming are looking to impose their “reality” upon the rest of the world. In doing so, they are in the position of causing great economic harm to the world’s economy. Considering the latest blow to the American economy (which is rippling across the world as well), this is not what is needed.

While I agree that more environmentally friendly sources of energy should be developed, I disagree that Global Warming should be the sole reason for doing so. Such sources should be developed because it would be economically feasible to do so, not because the sky is falling.

Is there a real need for developing this technology? Yes, I believe there is. The dependence of the world on the Middle East for the majority of its energy needs is almost reason enough for developing energy efficient technology and the development of alternate forms of energy. While there are many different opinions on what is the right technology to pursue, no one seems to dispute this need.

Lord Lawson said it best in regards to the blind worship at the alter of Global Warming It is high time this folly ended.


About Tom Roland

EE for 25 Years, Two Patents - now a certified PMP. Married twice, burned once. One son with Asperger's Syndrome. Two cats. Conservative leaning to the Right. NRA Life Member.
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2 Responses to The EU and Global Warming

  1. Seth says:

    The anthropogenic global warming myth is more a global political ploy than anything else: The politics involved, as you point out, require developed nations, as opposed to developing nations, to make whatever sacrifices are required to satisfy the conditions considered necessary (reducing greenhouse gas emissions) to combat AGW.

    The “ploy” would essentially level the playing field for developing countries at cost to industrialized nations: Countries like the U.S. and E.U. members would have to curtail large segments of their (our) industries, laying off millions of workers in order to accommodate directives such as those of compliance to the Kyoto accords, and rather than dumpsterize profits, the leadership of our industries would outsource the balance of those lost jobs to developing nations excluded from sacrifice requirements.

    This is an abtuse scenario: The beneficiary countries are on the same planet as we are, and as they would pick up the slack in greenhouse gas production with their inherited industrial activity, there would be little if any difference in so-called effects on the amount of CO2 being produced. The only appreciable difference would be the millions of unemployed citizens of western countries and the damage this would do to the well being of themselves and their families.

    That said, one of the observations of scientists who are ignored, for political reasons, by the AGW obsessed mainstream media is that CO2 production in the atmosphere increases AFTER temperatures increase, not the other way around. Historically, CO2 volume in the atmosphere has increased on an average of 40 years AFTER planetary temperatures have increased.

    So the AGW mongers are putting the cart before the horse, in a manner of speaking, yet their lobby is aggressive enough (consider the numbers of “scientists” in their camp whose sustenance is directly related to government grants that would dry up if they simply said, “man is not responsible for global warming and anyway, the degree of warming is not only negligible, but it ceased occuring a decade ago”) to sway people who are 100% politician, 0% scientist, 100% eager to be reelected.

    I’ve read statistics that show that EU countries, even while subscribing to some of the Kyoto idiocy, have increased their greenhouse gas emissions well above that which the United States, which hasn’t kow-towed to same, has. In fact, ours have decreased to some extent.

    Perhaps this is due to the fact that we permit every kind of dissenting opinion to count in our country: Even when our environmentalists exaggerate the effects of such items as DDT, etc, they are listened to, and curbs are instituted. We clean up the environment hereabouts, but according to the balance between capitalism and environmentalism (compromise), we do so in a gradual manner so that we don’t imbalance our economy in the process. People don’t lose their jobs while we clean up a lake or a river, or while we find an alternative to smoke stacks spewing toxins into the air, or while we manufacture spontaneous combustion powered vehicles that emit less harmful quantities of exhaust fumes. For that matter, in the latter case we create jobs: People who do smog checks on cars in order to satisfy state regulations.

    In short, we here in the United States are doing just fine as is, we don’t need to severely damage our economy by complying with regulations based on what amounts to a politicized myth.

  2. Tom says:

    Seth, I fully agree with you. Posts that I have written and comments in other blogs touch upon many of your points. In addition, your April 1 post also sums up the idiocy that we put up with while those opportunistic charlatans deceive the masses to make a buck.

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