Costs of ignoring global warming far steeper than taking action

Fri, 2008-05-23 13:44Bill Miller
Bill Miller's picture

Costs of ignoring global warming far steeper than taking action

In sharp contrast to denier’s claims that action against global warming will trigger economic catastrophe, a new study has concluded it would actually be cheaper to cut greenhouse-gas emissions than to suffer the consequences of a changing world.

In fact, the report by economists at Tufts University warns, “The longer we wait, the more painful and expensive the consequences will be.”

Entitled “What We'll Pay if Global Warming Continues Unchecked,” the study found that by 2100, annual costs in today’s dollars would be $422 billion in hurricane damage, $360 billion in real estate losses (with the biggest risk on the Atlantic and gulf coasts, particularly Florida), $141 billion in increased energy costs and $950 billion in water costs, especially in the West.

Average temperature will increase by 13 degrees in most of the U.S. in the next 100 years, bringing more severe heat waves, hurricanes and droughts. The report also forecasts stronger hurricanes as a result of higher sea surface temperatures, sea level increases of 23 inches by 2050 and 45 inches by 2100 that would inundate low-lying coastal areas, and higher air-conditioning bills in the Southeast and Southwest that wouldn't be offset by lower heating bills in the North.

Frank Ackerman, an economist at Tufts and one of the study's main authors, said the impact of climate change actually would be worse than his numbers showed “because of the human lives and ecosystems that will be lost and species that will be driven into extinction – all these things transcend monetary values.”

The study comes as the Senate prepares to consider legislation next month aimed at reducing U.S. emissions by about 66% from 1990 levels by 2050. Let's hope they read it.

Previous Comments

Just keep on repeating the same mantra over and over again till it come true? “IF” it keep on warming and this whole New study is base on a “IF” ?
What species ?

“Average temperature will increase by 13 degrees in most of the U.S.” How can that be possible at the rate of .4% a year? or 0.33°C between 1990 and 2006.

“45 inches by 2100 that would inundate low-lying coastal areas”… Is that not why these are call “LOW” lying areas?

The IPCC AR4 was what again? A projected a best-estimate rise of less than 2 mm per year.

” “The longer we wait, the more painful and expensive the consequences will be.”… Chuckle! for Whom?

The AGW industry is smelling the rot and decay of their fragile little scam.

They are desperately trying to hang on to the hysteria in the face of a clear and obvious down turn in global temperatures.

Expect to see lots more of these silly fables from those that stand to loose their investments and jobs and credibility.

In some ways I really feel sorry for many of them. They were taken in too.

You should read the absolute nonsense being reported this week from Austrailia’s most famous moron, Tim Flannery. Wow, Talk about nut cases.

Anyway, it will get sillier before snaity returns. Sigh!

This whole debate has the false premise that we can’t do anything on global warming without a big cost. I’m associated with Recycled Energy Development, a company that cuts greenhouse emissions and energy costs at the same time. RED takes heat that would normally be vented and coverts it into electricity and steam – thereby increasing efficiency. Estimates from the EPA and DoE suggest we could cut greenhouse emissions by 20% with energy recycling. All the while, costs would go DOWN. The only problem is that regulations give utilities a monopoly over the production of electricity, making it hard for more efficient alternatives to compete. THAT is what we should be focusing on.

“I’m associated with Recycled Energy Development, a company that cuts greenhouse emissions and energy costs at the same time.”

Right. So, in other words, you have a vested interest in helping propagate Global Warming hysteria for financial gain.

“Estimates from the EPA and DoE suggest we could cut greenhouse emissions by 20% with energy recycling.”

Okay, let’s optimistically estimate 100% market penetration for your product. That’ll never happen, but we’ll pretend for the sake of argument. You say this will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20%, so we’ll say a 20% cut across the board – also a fanciful prediction, but let’s just say.

Now, what actual effect will this have on reducing global temperatures 100 years from now? What if we reduced greenhouse gas emissions 100% in North America? In other words, what if we all just ceased to exist? What effect would that have on global temperatures?

The answer in both cases is none whatsoever.

But hey, if you can make a buck off the hysteria in the meantime … ?

Given that it makes people feel good to belong to a movement to save the planet, the cost is both astronomical and futile.
The warming effect of CO2 decreases logarithmically as the concentration.

This means that we would have to reduce overall CO2 concentration by far far more than the entire human produced contribution to have any measurable effect.

Humans contribute a fraction of 1 percent of the overall CO2 in the air.
Removing all humans from the right now would not make a significant difference.

The only real effects of CO2 reduction plans are:
More taxes for socialists governments to spend on social engineering.

More Wealth transfer to the third world.

More money for Al Gore and his investors.

Quote: - Michael Oppenheimer, Environmental Defense Fund
“The only hope for the world is to make sure there is not another United States: We can’t let other countries have the same number of cars, the amount of industrialization, we have in the U.S. We have to stop these Third World countries right where they are.”

AGW is an idiology, not science.

I plugged your Oppenheimer quotation into google and didn’t get anything that I would consider a reputable location to read up on it. Do you have the original sourcing and context for us? Could you explain what you mean by, “Humans contribute a fraction of 1 percent of the overall CO2 in the air”? Are you saying that human activities have not increased atmospheric CO2 from 280 ppm to 385 ppm over the past couple of centuries? Are you saying that human activity won’t be responsible for further increases?

What he fails to mention is that Oppenheimer was pointing out that the effects of everyone on the planet spewing out as much CO2 as a U.S. citizen would be a disaster of unimaginable proportions.

Here is an even better one from the main instigator of the Kyoto Socialist protocol:

“Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?” Maurice Strong

Idiology, not Science.

I believe that is a misquote from a paragraph or two of Strong describing an idea for a sci-fi novel. It sounded to me much like an Ayn Rand one, though perhaps Strong would be a better writer.

” The only hope for the world is to make sure there is not another United States: We can’t let other countries have the same number of cars, the amount of industrialization, we have in the U.S. We have to stop these Third World countries right where they are. And it is important to the rest of the world to make sure that they don’t suffer economically by virtue of our stopping them.

—Michael Oppenheimer, Environmental Defense Fund”

Note the suggestion that Honesty should be balanced with Hysterical lies.

“To capture the public imagination, we have to offer up some scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements and little mention of any doubts one might have. Each of us has to decide the right balance between being effective, and being honest.” - Stephen Schneider, lead 2007 UN IPCC (United Nations International Panel on Climate Control) report author, who made this statement in 1989. Schneider also wrote one of the reports that led to the global-cooling scare of the 1970s.

Hi Steve:
There are many sources for this quote, finding one on a Pro AGW web site in unlikely however, so I doubt you will find any of them credible to your standard.

Human Co2 Contribution?
I was mistaken however on the CO2 only contribution %. It is actually in the range or 3 to 4 % of the total. I was thinking % of GHG at the time. (Will be more careful in future)

Here is what I was thinking of when I wrote that.
How much of the “Greenhouse Effect” is caused by human activity?
It is about 0.28%, if water vapor is taken into account– about 5.53%, if not.

You ask: Are you saying that human activities have not increased atmospheric CO2 from 280 ppm to 385 ppm over the past couple of centuries?

No. However I am very doubtful that Humans are entirely responsible. Several studies in recent years suggest that a portion of that is simply the result of the oceans outgassing in response to a small natural temperature rise.
This will be better understood in the next several years as the global temperatures drop in response to the PDO, AMO shifts and the effects of solar Cycle 24.

You ask: Are you saying that human activity won’t be responsible for further increases?

No. I am saying it will not have detrimental effects. The overall net effect will be positive.

It may even help to offset (very slightly) the negative effects of the natural cooling we are now experiencing.

One can only hope.

Yes, I saw lots of sites with the same quotation. I’m looking for the one that has the full context and information on the speech, interview, essay, whatever. Wilbert brilliantly just repeated the quotation (didn’t he complain about repetition in his first comment?). I read your comments and think about them, so why do you think I wouldn’t go to an AGW-denier site? I’m not psyched about the prospects for a wild goose chase, though.

The ocean has increased in acidity – from increases in atmospheric CO2 and consequent absorption of carbon into the ocean. This could not happen at the same time the ocean released large quantities of CO2 to the atmosphere.

It has been a while since you made a comment directly relevant to the original post. That’s only mild trolling behaviour; sprinkling misinformation throughout off-topic rants makes it worse.

You sure are hard on my self esteem Steve.
“Don’t satisfy you”. Damn….
You ask: “so why do you think I wouldn’t go to an AGW-denier site”
You might. Most AGW proponents wouldn’t.
The standard on this blog for credibility is usually that they agree.
IE: If you agree with AGW you are credible, if you don’t you are not. More ideology.

You should take another look at the stats on Ocean acidity, I think you will find that CO2 is theorized to be making it less base, not more acidic. Same direction, different conclusion.

It’s only misinformation if it is not true.
It is up to the AGW believers to prove their case or at least show convincing evidence that it is true.
So far it is only convincing to those who are ideologically on side anyway.
Skeptic need only show that it is not a proven fact but merely one theory of many.

How do you account for the MWP and the Roman Optimum cycles?
Also, how do you account for the MORE rapid warming from 1910 to 1940?
Most AGWs just pretend they didn’t happen.

I’m not that concerned about your self-esteem. You’re the one who doesn’t like to be called a troll. Can you back up that quotation or not? Are you just pasting every thing you can find anywhere, spamming this site without checking up on what you’re repeating, just so long as it’s off-topic and supportive of your position?

If you want to talk acidification I’d be happy to. The conclusion is exactly the same. Sea life has evolved in basic water. Adding acid to a base makes the solution less basic = more acid. That change is bad for calcium carbonate shells. Semantics matter little to pteropods. Back to your misinformation … How did carbon rise in both the atmosphere and in the oceans if the carbon in the atmosphere came from the ocean?

What’s this about accounting for past climate? Things besides CO2 affect climate. So? Just because other things affect climate invalidates the radiative forcing of CO2? That’s poor logic. Are you saying all the measurements regarding the greenhouse properties of CO2 are bunk? Do you really want to re-hash all of the arguments (easily found on the internet) supporting AGW? Let’s do something different instead:

You describe what you would consider to be convincing evidence. Please take your time and think about it comprehensively, and write about it well. Then we can focus on something that matters.

I mean, you’re the one who identified himself as a troll.

Hi Steve:… Good Suggestion.
As I see it, there is only one issue to argue about.
Is man made CO2 the main driver of global temperatures?
If it is, the other topics are relevant.
If it isn’t all other issues are merely interesting political views.
So lets talk about CO2.
Please comment on why you believe it is. What convinced you.
I will comment on why I don’t believe it is.
And lets dispense with the silly name calling and “my scientist is better than your scientist” talk.
Lets just look at the statements, not who made them.
How about that? Interested?

But I think we’ll get into problems with phrases like “main driver”. We need to use precise language that specifies appropriate time scales and can be applied to the appropriate time period. Let me make the following proposition: Anthropogenic atmospheric CO2 left to increase unchecked (i.e., BAU) will contribute to deleterious effects over the course of the next 100 years and beyond, including increased global average temperatures of 2 - 4 C. If you strip out all of the subjective language that probably doesn’t help, we’re left with increased anthropogenic CO2 leading to a 2 C or more increase in global average temperature by 2100 than would occur otherwise. Does that statement suit you?

What would you require as convincing evidence that this is the case?

Let me pick it apart a bit. I think that will work, but it seems to eliminate a good part of my argument. IE Historical cycles.
I am not a climate scientist or a math major so it will be a challange. (and time consuming)
What would convince me?
I really don’t know, as I have not seen anything so far I guess it would simply be a good logical argument. Its not like either of us can prove anything, we will both be long dead before 2100.
Lets give it a try anyway.

So my stand say that:
The earth may warm or may get cold. Either way it is controlled by natural forces and not Man made CO2 and I will try to back that up.

Last problem: How do we do this with dissapearing threads and not piss off the other bloggers who don’t care what we think.
Can we continually post off topic comments without getting smacked by the blogmaster?

1. Even if we lived until 2100, we couldn’t ‘prove’ the cause of temperature change. If we’re speaking about CO2, and one party (me) says we should be convinced before something happens so we can act to prevent it, then the convincing evidence should be apparent in the near term. That’s why it’s so important for the naysayers to identify evidence that would change their mind. I’ll try to do the same. But the physics of CO2’s radiative properties is the convincing factor for me, so … I’ll have to think about that would be overturned.
2. I could give you an email address I don’t use anymore and you could send comments there, or we could find an open thread somewhere…. But the usual trend is posts not related to the original post. If we refrain until 20 comments have been made before starting anew, I think it would be alright. Or, I don’t know when these things get shut down, but if you just copy the link to a safe place, you never have to lose this thread.

I hope to be able to post a relevent statement later this week.
I will post on a newer thread and make it clear who it is intended for.
I am looking forward to learning some valuable stuff with this Steve, I appreciate the opertunity.

Hello Steve!

Go read Mont Hieb’s article. He is a mine safety engineer, and is knowledgeable of the chemistry and physics of gases. For his calculations, he used an absolute amount of 1% for water vapor per cubic meter, which is the mean global average.

The conc of CO2 in the atmosphere as determined at Mauna Loa or any site is referenced to “standard dry air” according to WMO analytical protocol. The amount of pure CO2 in standard dry air is 388 ml/cu meter (i.e., 1,000,000 ml).

In real air or everyday air the absolute amount is always less. For example in air at 15 deg C and 1 atm pressure and with 1% abs humidity, the absolute amount is 366 ml/cu meter. In the tropics, air at 30 deg C and 1 atm pressure with 5% absolute humidity (i.e., 100% rel humidity) the absolute amount of CO2 is 330 ml/cu meter. The relative conc, however, would still be 388 ppmv.

GO: for more info about real air, which is term used for air at the intake ports of gas seperation plants and HVAC industries.

“The link you have followed has taken you to a page that no longer exists!
While the page or file, /air_html, was not found, it is quite possible that the information you are seeking is available.”

And what you wrote is relevant? How? Are you saying that human activities have not increased the concentration of atmospheric CO2 (a greenhouse gas) by almost 40%?

Hello Steve!

The link is: htpp://

Sorry about that.

The increase of CO2 is from 0.0280% in 1900 to 0.0388% presently. The percent increase is modest 36%. Even so CO2 is still a minor trace gas in the atmosphere, that mean it is than 0.1% A major trace component is in the range of 0.1-1%.

Significant global warming didn’t start until about 1975.
From that year the percent increase in the conc of CO2 is only This warming due to the PDO shifting into a warming phase so some of the increase is due to a warmng of the oceans. Also starting in 1975 was an El Nino condition that lasted until about 2006.

The absorption of IR light by CO2 depends upon the absolute amount per unit volume and this is quite variable. In fact, absolute amount of CO2 fluctuates over such are large range the models really cannot project future climate with any skill and accuracy that is useful.

Darn it! Hit the post button instead of preview button.

The conc of CO2 was 333 ppmv in 1975. The increase from that year to present is only 16%. Hardly anything to get excited about and certainly not enough to trigger the warming of the last 30 years i.e., the conc of CO2 hasn’t changed very little.

Are you saying that Human activities did? After all it is only a theory. :-)

Yeah, evolution is a theory too. What is the smiley for?

Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA)

On September 9th, two subcommittees of the Congressional Committee on Science, Space and Technology held a joint hearing where they spent the better part of two hours arguing the benefits of moving crude oil by pipeline.

The Republican committee members grilled the representatives from the Department of Energy and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and repeatedly tried to make the argument that pipelines were the safest mode of transporting oil. 

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA...

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