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Tackling Global Warming Cheaper Than Ignoring It

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the ounce-of-prevention dept.

586

Coryoth writes, "In a report commissioned by the UK government, respected economist Sir Nicholas Stern concludes that mitigating global warming could cost around 1% of global GDP if spent immediately, but ignoring the problem could cost between 5% and 20% of global GDP. The 700-page study represents the first major report on climate change from an economist rather than a scientist. The report calls for the introduction of green taxes and carbon trading schemes as soon as possible, and calls on the international community to sign a new pact on greenhouse emissions by next year rather than in 2010/11. At the very least the UK government is taking the report seriously; both major parties are proposing new green taxes. Stern points out, however, that any action will only be effective if truly global."

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frost piss (-1, Flamebait)

BlackMacUser (1009741) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636670)

niggers love mexicans mexicans love niggers i am a darkie darkie :(

Re:frost piss (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16636720)

How profound.

Let's get one thing straight first (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16636696)

Before someone brings up the citations in Michael Crichton's State of Fear [amazon.com] , which inevitably happens in global warming discussions here, let's remember that Crichton is not a scientist, he's not competent to judge the strength of the material he was relying on, and you shouldn't be forming your opinion about grave issues from airport paperbacks.

Re:Let's get one thing straight first (2, Funny)

tdemark (512406) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636734)

he's not competent to judge the strength of the material he was relying on

That prerequisite doesn't seem to stop anyone here...

- Tony

Re:Let's get one thing straight first (1, Funny)

bcat24 (914105) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636764)

You shouldn't be forming your opinion about grave issues from airport paperbacks.
Come now, this is Slashdot, after all. ;)

Cheaper for whom? (4, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636788)

Sure it might be goverall cheaper to deal with global warming now than try to fix it later, but the problem is this: The people that would have to pay for it now, are not the people that would have to pay for it later. I can save five bucks now, why should I care about saving five hundred bucks for someone later? That is the mindset you're up against with anything like this. Greed is part of human nature (well at least the consumer driven parts of the human race).

The only way to correct for something like this is through taxation etc, where the law can be applied and force better behaviour.

Re:Cheaper for whom? (1)

Mishotaki (957104) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636950)

If the government make you pay much more money because you have a Hummer instead of a small Echo, it'll save you LOTS of money when you'll see the difference of how much it costs to fill your gas tank and how often you need to...

There you'll see that there is a difference in costs....

Re:Let's get one thing straight first (2, Insightful)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636860)

Before someone brings up the citations in Michael Crichton's State of Fear , which inevitably happens in global warming discussions here, let's remember that Crichton is not a scientist, he's not competent to judge the strength of the material he was relying on, and you shouldn't be forming your opinion about grave issues from airport paperbacks.
In the world of debate, the above would be classified an ad hominem argument. Someone not being an expert in the field is not proof that they're wrong. Debate the man's arguments, if you care so much. Or link to someone who does. There are plenty such sites on the web.

Re:Let's get one thing straight first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16637006)

In the world of debate, the above would be classified an ad hominem argument. Someone not being an expert in the field is not proof that they're wrong.

Science depends on peer review. If Crichton's book hasn't been peer-reviewed before its publication could be permitted, it must be ignored. That's not ad hominem, that's just trying to keep afloat in the sea of crackpottery that results when anyone can get published.

Crichton's state of confusion. (2, Informative)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 7 years ago | (#16637012)

Yes, but most of us already know about him.

The requisite debunking [realclimate.org] and one reason why he does not deserve any respect [realclimate.org] on climate related matters.

To those screaming about their back pocket, how else can we direct the economy away from a destructive path other than taxation and regulation?

Side Note: (3, Insightful)

Ceribia (865793) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636708)

Also of some note is the fact that we are all going to die. ...but yeah, 5 percent, lets do something about that...

Re:Side Note: (2, Informative)

Firehed (942385) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636858)

We'll all die eventually anyways. This is a case of Think of the Children! TM

Of course, this time it's actually reasonable.

Re:Side Note: (1)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636974)

Please.

The idea that we're all going to die is an idea planted by pundits and shills. It's an "idea sabatoge" tactic that functions a lot like a straw man argument. I'm not denying that there will be severe human impact to it, but it's likely to harmful more than deadly.

Re:Side Note: (2, Interesting)

ArikTheRed (865776) | more than 7 years ago | (#16637112)

Don't worry, the Rapture will come way before global warming kicks in. Its coming soon... anytime now... just a few more moments... hold on... it's a comin'... Oh! Is it now? I can feel it! No, no wait... that's just gas.

But seriously, don't worry.

Shocking! (1, Offtopic)

McGiraf (196030) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636716)

Governement thinks new taxes is a good idea!

Lets be friends? (1)

nzMM (1001625) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636718)

We'll also have to figure out how to get along with each other, at least better than we are now. I think the report mentions there could be as many as 200 million refugees as a result of climate change and the various ramifications, that's mind blowing stuff! So taxes are all well and good, but we also need to prime our societies for massive influxes of environmental refugees that will probably be coming from poorer parts of the world, predominantly Africa(?).

Re:Lets be friends? (1)

x1n933k (966581) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636810)

Since most of these replies are found in anything remotely related to environment. Yes you're right there would be a lot of refugees, however I have little faith in most countries even caring. More so in the Americas due to the distance and of course, the self interest found here. You can't find a channel on a Sunday talking about the starving children and poor living conditions, aids and dieases that many countries in Africa suffer from, why would environmental changes change our minds?

Want to see a small scale movement of people, think of Katrina. Think of what happend then initally. I'm not saying I am refusing to change or haven't been doing so but until it is on the front door of all these mansions.

[J]

Re:Lets be friends? (1)

nzMM (1001625) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636908)

You are probably right regarding the caring part, but then again 200 million people could cause allot of trouble if we did just ignore them.

Re:Lets be friends? (1)

sillybilly (668960) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636994)

A lot of trouble starving to death as it happened in Niger and not having the means to put together a boat to come bother us here before the front doors of our mansions? As long as they stir trouble somewhere else and not in my backyard or frontyard, it's like it ain't even happening eh?

Re:Lets be friends? - a blue state problem (1)

Monkeyboy4 (789832) | more than 7 years ago | (#16637030)

Think of it this way - the US will have people moving from the coasts, inland. Coastal areas are high-income and high-rent. What this means is that the affluent should start caring about global warming. NYC is in deep trouble (pun intended) if water levels raise 5 feet.

Re:Lets be friends? - a blue state problem (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 7 years ago | (#16637100)

And the not-affluent dwellers in the interior get to deal with an influx of wealthier people. Some short-term benefits for homeowners who sell to them, but in the long term - well, ask Spanish youth how much fun it is to try to compete with English property buyers when shopping for their first homes.

502 Pro Street Camaro (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16636726)

If you don't know what that is, you are missing out. America rules!

The American Way (5, Informative)

Salvance (1014001) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636732)

Ignoring problems is the new American Way. We're doing the same thing with budget deficits, social security, medicare, and solving the root cause of global terrorism. Since a politician's time in office is typcially short (2-8 years), it's always far less costly during their tenure (politically and economically) to push off problems than to tackle the issue and risk losing voter support.

Unfortunately, global warming is a problem who's impact is even less tangible to Americans than problems like future social security shortfalls. As such, I doubt the government will support action until we're in the midst of cataclysmic environmental impact at a nationwide level.

Re:The American Way (1)

jmv (93421) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636794)

Unfortunately, global warming is a problem who's impact is even less tangible to Americans than problems like future social security shortfalls. As such, I doubt the government will support action until we're in the midst of cataclysmic environmental impact at a nationwide level.

You're optimistic. I say they'll just blame it on terrorism and the Axis of Evil(R).

Re:The American Way (5, Insightful)

cperciva (102828) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636800)

Ignoring problems is the new American Way. We're doing the same thing with [...] solving the root cause of global terrorism.

Nonsense. George Bush was very clear after 9/11 in saying that "terrorists hate the USA because it is a land of freedom".

Assuming that George Bush was correct in this assessment, he has done far more to combat terrorism than any other US President in recent history.

Re:The American Way (1)

Salvance (1014001) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636830)

Darn, I wish I had mod points ... very insightful/funny reply. I honestly wonder if there is some truth to it as well.

Offtopic Bush Bashing (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16636930)

It figures that in a story about UK and global warming, the obligatory Bush bashing starts and even gets modded up.

You people suffer an acute case of Bush Derangement Syndrome. Please seek counseling immediately.

Re:Offtopic Bush Bashing (1, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 7 years ago | (#16637022)

Didn't you know that Bush is the cause of all things bad, even when he's not? The sad thing is it takes away and shred of credibility that his detractors have.

Re:Offtopic Bush Bashing (2, Insightful)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 7 years ago | (#16637104)

Didn't you know that Bush is the cause of all things good, even when he's not? The sad thing is it takes away any shred of credibility that his supporters have.

Re:Offtopic Bush Bashing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16637052)

Given it has been well over a century since we've had a president who has been as deserving of bashing as Bush, you shouldn't be surprised to see people taking advantage of every opportunity to do so.

Osama said it best... (5, Interesting)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 7 years ago | (#16637150)

"I tell you, freedom and human rights in America are doomed," bin Laden said as the U.S. war on terrorism raged in Afghanistan. "The U.S. government will lead the American people in -- and the West in general -- into an unbearable hell and a choking life." linky [cnn.com]

Of course, we should keep in mind that Bush is simply the symbol of this decay. The Administration as a whole is what scares the hell out of me. Add to this the people in Congress who support these shenanigans. And places like the UK have some nasty new laws as well.

Re:The American Way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16636940)

Actually, this gives credence to the (at the time, much-criticized) position of the US during the Kyoto discussions in the 1990s.

The US wanted there to be a global carbon trading scheme, and to see at least nominal limitations on developing countries as well. But unfortunately these were pretty roundly criticized by environmental activists, and did not make it into the agreement.

Re:The American Way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16637046)

Ignoring problems is the new American Way. We're doing the same thing with budget deficits, social security, medicare, and solving the root cause of global terrorism. Since a politician's time in office is typcially short (2-8 years), it's always far less costly during their tenure (politically and economically) to push off problems than to tackle the issue and risk losing voter support.

I disagree. The American way has been to leave it to your children to deal with. cf. Social Security, having W deal with Saddam, etc.

Stephen Hawking (1)

ipooptoomuch (808091) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636736)

I remember Stephen Hawking saying something about global warming. When it starts it will accelerate rapidly, I know this is very vague but can somebody find the direct quote for me?

Re:Stephen Hawking (2, Insightful)

cperciva (102828) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636840)

I remember Stephen Hawking saying something about global warming [...] can somebody find the direct quote for me?

It was probably something along the lines of "Why are you asking me about global warming? I'm a physicist. If you have questions about global warming, go ask an atmospheric scientist."

Note: "smart guy" != "expert in everything".

Re:Stephen Hawking (3, Interesting)

nzMM (1001625) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636854)

James Lovelock in his 2006 book, the Revenge of Gaia (i found it fascinating) mentions that there are at least 6 forms of positive feedback known to science. Ice melting exposing dark soils beneath, ice melting releasing ancient methane, algae and tropical forests dieing, less cloud cover, expanding arctic dark forests -> absorb more heat, as well as others that haven't been identified by scientists.

It was even proposed that cleaning up particulate pollution over Europe could reveal a truer extent of regional warming, by 1-2 degrees. It is thought that pollution across Europe actually causes regional cooling.

Along these lines stop gap measures have been proposed, including adding 0.5-1% sulphur to jet fuel, in the hope the pollution caused would actually cool the planet. Or artificially seeding clouds over the Pacific, or even launching a giant shield into space blocking something like 2% of the suns heat(?). These are serious proposals as far as i could tell from the book.

But the problem with these solutions is that we are undertaking the problem of managing the earths climate, something Gaia has happily managed for the past billions of years.

Re:Stephen Hawking (2, Funny)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636944)

"I'll fucking knock Steven Hawking out of that stupid chair. Then i'll say 'now who's smart? now who's fucking smart?'"

is that the one?

Re:Stephen Hawking (1)

DavidHOzAu (925585) | more than 7 years ago | (#16637002)

can somebody find the direct quote for me?
This is probably not the one you were referring to, but it does come close.
"Stephen Hawking: Earth Could Become Like Venus" [livescience.com]
Asked about the environment, Hawking, who suffers from a degenerative disease, uses a wheelchair and speaks through a computerized voice synthesizer, said he was "very worried about global warming."

He said he was afraid that Earth "might end up like Venus, at 250 degrees centigrade and raining sulfuric acid."
In any case, I think he's referring to an underlying geometric progression [wikipedia.org] in climate models.

Tony needs to talk to George first (1)

linuxci (3530) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636740)

What's the point of the UK political parties talking about all these green taxes when our prime ministers boss, George Bush (well at least he thinks he is), is out destroying bits of the world and the US culture in general is about wasting energy.

We need to encourage our allies to act sensibly, the UK is small and insignificant compared to the US.

Re:Tony needs to talk to George first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16636792)

The UK is small and insignificant compared to the US

Well, at least one thing you said is true.

Re:Tony needs to talk to George first (1)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636870)

"the UK is small and insignificant compared to the US." That right there is why Dubya thinks he can tell Tony how to run the UK. Have some national pride and start thinking like a sovereign nation. As an American I can tell you most of us won't do anything about global warming until DisneyLand sinks. I'm looking forward to it.

Re:Tony needs to talk to George first (1)

sillybilly (668960) | more than 7 years ago | (#16637084)

As far as the UK is concerned, the weather would actually get warmer there, same with Russia Siberia Scandinavia and Canada. The countries really in for it are places like Egypt, Mexico, Brazil, Spain, India, US, China, Japan, etc. Yet Russia was a prominent signer of the Kyoto treaty, Putin mentioning that for his country global warming would actually be beneficial, but still signed it, for probably complicated reasons, including having to care about the rest of the world too other than self somewhere among those reasons, hopefully.

fud (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16636748)

Man, It's like a fud farm over here. You got people fuding eachother, girls fuding with three fingers, ang millions of geeks watching this at home and fuding themselves.

eww! someone just fuded on that ckicks face. lol. she doesn't look too happy about it. Eat it you whore! you have no fuding choice!

Long term solution (4, Interesting)

QuantumFTL (197300) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636754)

I am not an atmospheric scientist, but I have discussed this topic (and this exact issue) with an atmospheric scientist I used to work with when I worked for NASA. The bottom line is that global warming is very real, however we simply don't have good enough models yet to work out the necessary information for making informed policy information - we don't know what the impact on the human race will be if we keep doing what we're doing, because that depends on how well the earth's homeostatic mechanisms will compensate for the additional greenhouse effect. We know it will have a negative effect, that is sure, but we don't know how well cutting greenhouse emissions will help.

Personally I think a long term solution to this will require technology on an unprecidented scale, not merely cutting back emissions. We should be investing in these new technologies and in general scientific and economic progress, and I am concerned that these short-term "band-aid" measures of reducing output could actually increase the amount of time it takes (and thus how bad it gets) before we have the appropriate technology and scientific understanding to regulate the climate of our entire planet.

Of course, if all else fails, there's always controlled stratospheric particulate matter injection, and the US and Russia certainly have enough devices for that...

Re:Long term solution (1)

KingArthur10 (679328) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636874)

Agreed in many respects. Many people do not realize that although requiring green-spending will be a hit to the economy, it will also boost the economy in ways not foreseen. If a country is on the forefront of green-technology, that country will be able to rake in SUBSTANTIAL cash on intellectual property and the facilities to combat poor environmental management. One of the things this study encourages, though, is requiring massive cutbacks on emissions through taxation and governmental policy. This will spawn new technologies to cheaply and effectively comply with regulations which hopefully will spurn further growth in the environmental technology sector. The countries investing NOW for tomorrow will be the ones at the front of the pack; sadly, many do not see it this way. Who would have thought: spending now will save later.

Re:Long term solution (2, Interesting)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636920)

Of course, if all else fails, there's always controlled stratospheric particulate matter injection, and the US and Russia certainly have enough devices for that...

Apparently the cheapest way to put dust in the upper atmosphere is to shoot it up with big naval guns. But aside from that, my favored techniques involve providing tax incentives in cities to paint rooftops white. This results in an increased albedo, reflecting more sunlight (and heat) - not only reducing global warming directly, but indirectly in the form of reduced energy consumption for air conditioning and the like (the urban "heat island" effect). It's a simple, low-impact way to Do Something.

White rooftops are only one thing to do, of course. Planting some pleasant shade trees helps as well, as does the use of recycled glass in asphalt (which roughly doubles its albedo). I understand that about 1% of the nation is covered with some sort of man-made construction, so this could make a decent difference.

Re:Long term solution (1, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636936)

Yeah, I saw An Inconvenient Truth lately. It was a classic failure of salesmanship: the closing. The whole movie presents a bleak picture of the future of global warming. It shows that the problem is real, that is caused by us and that we need to do something about it. Unfortunately, it then goes on to present a "solution" that involves everyone on the planet changing their behaviour or, at least, everyone in the US and China. I walked out of the theatre thinking "greatest problem in the history of mankind and all we've got to fix it is a bunch of fuckin' hippies." Low emission cars are a great idea, but unless they're mandated people are going to continue buying the cheaper cars that are not low emission. The atmosphere is the ultimate "commons".. and our society has no respect for the commons.

So what's the solution? Big artificial carbon converters. It would be terribly inefficient to plant another billion trees, and that's what the planet needs to handle all the carbon that modern human activity spews into the air. So let's make our own carbon converters. 2CO2 + energy -> C2 + 2O2.. it's really not complicated. Even if we were to get all the energy for that equation by burning coal or oil, we'd still be able to keep the carbon in the atmosphere at acceptable levels.. but using nuclear or solar or wind power is a better idea.

Thing is though, who is going to pay for all these carbon converters? Who's going to pay for the power to run then when they are built? Well, we are; that is to say, the government will. To make that happen we need three things:
  1. A working prototype.
  2. A solid plan for deployment with costing, etc.
  3. The political will to make it happen.

Getting the first two is what us scientist and engineer types are for.. getting the last one is the kind of thing Gore is trying to do.. unfortunately, he's trying to do it without the first two. The typical human response to a crisis with no solution is to ignore it. People can't call for "action" if they can't even imagine what that action would be.

Re:Long term solution (1)

QuantumFTL (197300) | more than 7 years ago | (#16637032)

Yes, I also saw the movie, and while I thought it was a good movie and certainly worth watching, I think he totally missed to the boat on the potiental of nuclear energy, and climate engineering. We need better education, more government research, a population that cares about doing the right thing, and a way to take 3rd world countries like china and india on board for a solution.

I'm very skeptical of sociological solutions to problems, I think in the end it's best for everyone to solve this through applied technology. Of course, who knows what problems those solutions will create, but gotta keep our children busy somehow, eh?

Re:Long term solution (1)

Free_Meson (706323) | more than 7 years ago | (#16637118)

So what's the solution? Big artificial carbon converters. It would be terribly inefficient to plant another billion trees, and that's what the planet needs to handle all the carbon that modern human activity spews into the air. So let's make our own carbon converters. 2CO2 + energy -> C2 + 2O2.. it's really not complicated. Even if we were to get all the energy for that equation by burning coal or oil, we'd still be able to keep the carbon in the atmosphere at acceptable levels.. but using nuclear or solar or wind power is a better idea.
Say 'ello to my little friend [wikipedia.org] .

If you just, you know, stop releasing so much CO2 into the air the planet will take care of itself. The environment has a great many carbon sinks that don't require us to violate the laws of thermodynamics.

Re:Long term solution (4, Interesting)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 7 years ago | (#16637158)

So let's make our own carbon converters. 2CO2 + energy -> C2 + 2O2.. it's really not complicated. Even if we were to get all the energy for that equation by burning coal or oil, we'd still be able to keep the carbon in the atmosphere at acceptable levels.
Ummmm....no. The process of reducing CO2 necessarily will release more CO2 than you reduce if you fuel the reaction with hydrocarbons. Nuclear and wind? Sure. But you'd be better off just directly replacing the CO2 producing power generation systems with those than going through the unnecessary steps involved in carbon sequestration.

Re:Long term solution (1)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636972)

We should be investing in these new technologies and in general scientific and economic progress, and I am concerned that these short-term "band-aid" measures of reducing output could actually increase the amount of time it takes (and thus how bad it gets) before we have the appropriate technology and scientific understanding to regulate the climate of our entire planet.

Emissions reductions plans are not about reducing production, but about being more efficient, in terms of emissions, in the production we do. In this article [bbc.co.uk] about the report you'll note that reductions are discussed in terms of reducing emissions per unit of GDP. Certainly such a thing is theoretically feasible, this table [wikipedia.org] demonstrates that each dollar of GDP per ton of emissions can vary dramatically from country to country, and that, significantly, there is plenty of room for improvement from major polluting nations such as the US and China (The US looks positively emissions efficient compared to China).

Moreover, the ideal plan with green taxes would be that money collected from such taxes would then be funnelled back into research into technology to mitigate the problem. Whether that happens in practice, well - I think we all know governments and tax dollars; but that just means it is up to the voters to hold politicians suitably accountable. I think the key point, however, is that it looks likely that doing nothing could be very expensive in the long term, so we really ought to be making the investment of taking action now to try and mitigate that cost as much as possible. A good start would be to try to stop making the problem worse.

Re:Long term solution (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 7 years ago | (#16637108)

technology on an unprecedented scale

to regulate the climate of our entire planet

Science rulez.

Of course, there are no behavioural aspects to ponder about as humans do not behave well.

CC.

Living Planet Report (1, Insightful)

foobsr (693224) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636758)

Valuable footage is given by the WWF [panda.org] . One scenario is that with a "business as usual" approach the planet is eaten up by appr. 2050. So, keeping in mind that there is a time lag from thinking over action until implementation until effect, we may conclude what?

CC.

Re:Living Planet Report (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636846)

One scenario is that with a "business as usual" approach the planet is eaten up by appr. 2050.
Eaten up? Ohmigawd! What would Captain Kirk do? [memory-alpha.org]

Taxes: is there anything they can't do? (3, Insightful)

rufusdufus (450462) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636766)

The primary method of fighting global warming suggested in this article is to increase taxes! Globally! It staggers my mind to think how many people might think this is a good idea. Giving politicians more money will save no one.

Re:Taxes: is there anything they can't do? (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636802)

The idea is generally referred to as a Pigouvian tax [wikipedia.org] . Note one issue with such a tax:
Perhaps the biggest problem with the Pigovian tax is the "knowledge problem" suggested on page 6 of Pigou's essay "Some Aspects of the Welfare State" (1954) where he writes, "It must be confessed, however, that we seldom know enough to decide in what fields and to what extent the State, on account of [the gaps between private and public costs] could interfere with individual choice." In other words, the economist's blackboard "model" assumes knowledge we don't and we can never possess -- it's a model with assumed "givens" which are in fact not given to anyone.

Re:Taxes: is there anything they can't do? (1)

linuxci (3530) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636816)

Some ways taxation may help as long as they reward the responsible as well as punish the irresponsible. e.g. now some councils in London are putting up proposals to double the residents parking permit fees for inefficient 4x4's (nicknamed Chelsea tractors in London) and those with energy efficient cars will have their fees halved. Users with normal cars will pay about the same.

Re:Taxes: is there anything they can't do? (1)

wheelgun (178700) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636862)

You proved his point with your own post. The council considered punishing people for exercising their freedom of choice. This has been the goal of the global warming crazies all along. This is why they talk about taxes and legislation so much.

Global warming has nothing to do with the environment and absolutely nothing to do with science. It is a movement to punish people for engaging in free will and capitalism. It is just Soviet marxism wrapped in a pretty green banner.

Re:Taxes: is there anything they can't do? (2, Insightful)

neonleonb (723406) | more than 7 years ago | (#16637058)

Let's look at it from an economics perspective: A person's choice affects other people. These effects are called "externalities." The first person does not tend to take the other people into account. By using a tax to add the cost of the externalities into the cost of the product, then the Great Big Magical Hand of the Market will cause the consumer to make the efficient choice including the externalities.

So yes, people are punished for making choices that are bad for other people. However, the principles of freedom don't say that everyone should be free from the ill consequences of their decisions, just that they should get to make decisions. So this does not really remove people's freedoms; it just makes people take a broader view when exercising them.

Re:Taxes: is there anything they can't do? (1)

linuxci (3530) | more than 7 years ago | (#16637090)

Cleaner air would be better for everyone who lives in London so why not give incentives for people to drive cleaner vehicles?

I was all against banning smoking in pubs as that limits people's freedom of choice, however, as a non-smoker after visiting Ireland and all the pubs have clean air I'm now looking forward to the england smoking ban. However, if I had to vote in a referendum on the smoking ban I'd probably vote against as it should be upto the owner of the bar to decide on the rules - but as the law is forced on us I might as well look forward to it :)

Driving is different, the effects of pollution and congestion can affect anyone who wants to leave the house, anything to make London more pleasant should be welcome.

Re:Taxes: is there anything they can't do? (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636856)

Giving politicians more money will save no one.

It probably will save the politicians, but for sure their basis, infamous quote (dubya), "the haves and have mores".

CC.

Re:Taxes: is there anything they can't do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16636942)

Clearly you have to concept of basic economics.

The idea of 'taxes' on pollution is to price in the negative externalaties of polluting, because currently there is no monetary cost for me to pour as much shit into the atmosphere as I like.

Re:Taxes: is there anything they can't do? (5, Funny)

argoff (142580) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636996)

What the hell's wrong with you, the government needs those taxes to be proactive about things.

if not for taxes to pay for public education, our kids would be the dubmest in the free world, wiat..... never mind .... well anyhow
if not for taxes, our social security and medicare programs would be bankrupt. wait ..... never mind ..... ok lets try .....
if not for taxes to fight the war on drugs, we would have drug problems in every inner city, uh ..... scrap that one....
if not for taxes, the government would need to go into debt, .... oops, hold on here I'm working on it .....
if not for taxes our medical and college education costs would be out of reach, ..... shit, scratch that ....
if not for taxes to pay for war, we'd be loosing the war on terror, .....@#@#$#$%%%^

Well, FU! you're just not trying hard enough to see how valuable all these taxs are for everyone. We NEED the government to be "proactive"

Re:Taxes: is there anything they can't do? (1)

Mr_Tulip (639140) | more than 7 years ago | (#16637068)

As it stands, there is currently no competition between green and polluting means of production. Pollution costs nothing, and is already implemented. Green methods, on the other hand, require research, implementation and arguably greater running costs.

As a government, they have to make pollution undesirable to companies, and basically have 2 ways doing it:

1. Create legsitlation to prohibit undesirable actions.
2. Place taxes on undesirable actions.

I prefer option 2.

Re:Taxes: is there anything they can't do? (1)

Herger (48454) | more than 7 years ago | (#16637154)

There is a third and perhaps more favorable way: pass legislation to streamline beneficial behavior. For example, make the process for approval of new hydro/nuclear/wind/solar power more streamlined. It's simply easier to build fossil fuel plants; there is less resistance than, say, hydro (because one needs to do extensive environmental impact studies not needed when just releasing CO2!) or nuclear. I say this because taxes and prohibitive legislation are more likely to stifle economic growth. We need to promote solutions, not just punish bad behavior.

Twofer against (2, Insightful)

Varitek (210013) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636780)

This needs extensive scientific research and international co-operation. Unfortunately, the Bush administration is openly hostile to both.

Not Such a Bad Thing? (0, Troll)

Garrett Fox (970174) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636804)

Poster #1 should be banned.

I remain skeptical of the global warming arguments, and divided on what to think of the whole issue. I've seen evidence both for and against the reality and human cause of global warming (see eg. Crichton's propagandistic but informative bad novel State of Fear). It seems as though claims of global warming, even if they're accurate, are an excuse to grant governments even greater power over the economy in the name of Saving the Planet. Because taxation and regulation are undesirable in themselves, I see this movement to create some massively expensive global regulation treaty as a definite harm to the world, being offered as a possible, partial remedy for a problem we're not even sure exists.

We may also be erring on the side of pessimism in judging the effects of global warming (again, assuming it's real). We know there will be problems, but aren't we overlooking some opportunities it will create? In various sources I've heard claims about Scotland's destiny as a premier wine-growing region; easier ice-free shipping lanes through the Arctic Ocean; greening of the Sahara Desert due to increased ocean evaporation; and greater practicality of mining Antarctica's undiscovered resources. Even as we hear about polar bears in trouble, there are also increasing news reports of wolves, manatees and other wildlife flourishing in surprising places. This "crisis" could actually work out better than we think.

Re:Not Such a Bad Thing? (1)

rootEToTheIPi (937469) | more than 7 years ago | (#16637050)

Wolves, manatees and other wildlife are thinking "crisitunity."

Fear itself (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16636808)

The right wants us afraid of terrorists, the Left wants us afraid of global warming.

Suckers and fools. All of you.

How would he know? (1)

anorlunda (311253) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636822)

What's so great about an economist telling us how much to spend to fix the problem? What does he know about what is needed to fix it? Nobody knows that, not even the scientists.

There is no evidence to support the belief that any counter measures we take now will be more than "a step in the right direction." We may need a hundred more such steps to reverse the trends. Even if we instantly wiped out all human life, global warming might continue because of the defrosting permafrost in Siberia plus other sources.

The public naively believes that if we just meet the Kyoto protocol goals, then global warming will go away. I think it supremely deceptive to let them go on believing that.

Re:How would he know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16637070)

"What does he know about what is needed to fix it? Nobody knows that, not even the scientists"

Yes they do. It's simple, put less carbon in the atmosphere.

So it's basically an investment. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16636848)

There's nothing special about global warming, and deciding to deal with it. Businesses and individuals deal with these sorts of issues all the time; they're called investments.

Preparing for global warming reminds me of a story I read about a personal injury that could have been prevented [glennwolsey.com] . In short, some fellow reposted hundreds of blog comments from an old blog to its new location. In the process, he completely fucked up his hand. Had he spent a few moments writing a Perl script to perform the copying for him, he would have likely not harmed himself in such a way.

Today, we have the same attitude as this fellow. Instead of being intelligent, and preparing to deal with certain problems we know will arise, we just forge ahead without considering the consequences.

Worst of all, we will likely see things get progressively worse. We'll see the first "blister" caused by global warming, perhaps extensive droughts in areas that formerly were quite damp. But we'll keep manually coping away, seeing blister after blister develop. Yet we do nothing. And by the time we realize how stupid we've been, we have been completely screwed over.

Better off coping with a warmer planet (2, Interesting)

darylb (10898) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636850)

Assuming global warming is true (a point I will neither defend nor oppose), the money spent on preventing global warming is a waste. The full implementation of the Kyoto treaty will result in a decrease in global warming by 0.07C [cei.org] . That's right, less than a tenth of a degree Celcius, with all the economic and humanitarian harm that Kyoto would impose. And that harm is real: the EU nations are already trying to figure out how to not do Kyoto while still claiming some kind of adherence to the treaty because the economic consequences are disastrous. That, and they're not meeting the requirements. [guardian.co.uk]

Our money is far, far better spent learning to cope with a warmer planet, assuming again that things are getting warmer and staying warmer. Frankly, the technological advances on our planet are going to decrease greenhouse gas emissions without any kind of treaty or government mandate. The rising cost of energy (of all kinds) will lead, quite naturally, to processes that consume less energy, thereby reducing the side-effects like CO2 production. And we mustn't forget that it is industrial processes that create products that consume less energy, like the newly popular compact fluorescent bulbs.

Re:Better off coping with a warmer planet (1)

darylb (10898) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636868)

Yeah yeah. It's Celsius, not Celcius as I have above. So much for previewing.

Re:Better off coping with a warmer planet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16636970)

That only works while our atmosphere isn't like that of Venus. It will be hard to cope when the temperature is 200 degrees Celsius outside. At least we have air conditioning...

Re:Better off coping with a warmer planet (1)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 7 years ago | (#16637044)

That only works while our atmosphere isn't like that of Venus
Given that Venus' atmosphere is 96.5% CO2, and ours is .035% CO2, that's unlikely to happen-- if for no other reason than the 78% N2 would have to be somehow removed.

Re:Better off coping with a warmer planet (2, Funny)

hevenor (931854) | more than 7 years ago | (#16637160)

You're assuming an atmosphere of fixed volume. If I learned anything from University it was that if you start with a 100% solution of coke and add rum you can get a 78% rum solution.

Re:Better off coping with a warmer planet (4, Insightful)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 7 years ago | (#16637126)

Our money is far, far better spent learning to cope with a warmer planet, assuming again that things are getting warmer and staying warmer.

That's an interesting assertion. The point of the report is that this precise question was studied in great depth by a well respected economist (Stern was a former chief economist for the World Bank), and that the results of all that detailed anaylsis is that, in fact, it is far more expensive to learn to cope with a warmer planet. I fail to see how you dismiss that result quite so easily - especially given that you have not read the report (it is not officially released till tomorrow).

Parity, finally (1)

BeeBeard (999187) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636866)

Environmental solutions are often stigmatized as being incompatible with economic issues--that for every spotted owl you save, you put a lumberjack out of work and so on. Similarly, there is an ongoing misconception that money spent on environmental issues does not pay forward in a meaningful way, and that it just means less money for improving education, the economy, or a myriad of other governmental concerns. Finally, we have evidence that a nation need not sacrifice economic growth for the sake of environmental responsibility.

How does it affect this quarter's earnings? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16636894)

That's not how businesses think. It's not "how much is it going to save me in the long run?" but "how much will it impact this quarter's earnings report?"

This comment brought to you, ironically, by the word "lobbies"

This is ridiculas (1)

Gno (970625) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636928)

Global warming doesn't exist. It just doesn't. It's all part of a natural cycle that the earth goes through. The big "Global Warming" thing is all just a load of media crap. Notice how there are no actual quotes or refrences made to or used by any real scientists when anything on global warming is ever done. You know why? Because no real scientist would support something that isn't real. Honestly any high school science teacher could tell you that.

Re:This is ridiculas (1)

Korbinus (589005) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636984)

That's interesting. But can you *prove* what you're writing ? Do you have any documentation supporting you (other than Crichton) ?

Re:This is ridiculas (1)

Gno (970625) | more than 7 years ago | (#16637062)

No, I can indeed not prove what I wrote, But my theory is as good as everyone elses' considering that nobody else has concrete evidence on their theory either. If you study the patterns of ice ages and the handful of "mini ice ages" that the earth has had they seem to always be followed by a warmer period that increases in tempature drastically and then falls again. We had a mini ice age recently enough to explain for the slight increase in tempature. The early humans however, Did burn down huge parts of the amazon with newly discovered and uncontrolled fire. They in fact created way more CO2 than we have ever created in that time period. The earth is still living and well isn't it?

An interesting move (1)

Korbinus (589005) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636932)

If economists start to talk that it will be cheaper to treat global warming sooner than later, we can expect big corps to be more serious about this issue in a near future. It is very positive I think.

Does that mean (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16636952)

We should destroy AMD

Oil Replacement Needed First (1)

JonBuck (112195) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636980)

What we really need, if there are to be any meaningful reductions in CO2 emissions, is a replacement for oil as a transportation fuel. Because of how central fossil fuels in general are to running our economies, even increasing efficiency won't necessarily do any good because of Jevons Paradox. [wikipedia.org]

So, what do we have that can do it? Certainly not corn ethanol, which has a net energy return of 1.2:1, if we're lucky. We can't grow sugarcane in most of the United States, certainly. Cellulosic feedstocks have potential, and the R&D dollars are there. However, there is another option.

Algae as a feedstock for biodiesel, ethanol/butanol, or even Biomass-to-Liquids via a Fischer-Tropsh process. The UNH Biodiesel Group [unh.edu] has outlines what we need to make this happen, at least one way. There are other companies working on this problem.

This story [msn.com] I think has the most exciting developments:

For a year, researchers watched algae multiply in huge, bubbling test tubes beneath the hot Arizona sun so they could find just the right strand of the microscopic single-celled plant.

The experiment has been so successful that it's about to expand into greenhouses on the plant grounds, and in time, be grown in such large quantities that it could be converted into fuel, cutting down on harmful greenhouse gases.


So, it soaks up CO2 emissions from powerplants, resulting in a net reduction of gases that would otherwise come from oil. Since we're not going to stop burning coal anytime soon, we now have a way to use that carbon twice.

I regard the Kyoto Protocol as nothing but a band-aid that puts the cart before the horse. Europe as a whole is not meeting their commitments. The CO2 Emissions Trading Scheme is a failure and will likely collapse. Canada and Spain, whose emissions are 30% and 50% over 1990, respectively, cannot meet their commitments without serious impacts on their economies.

Oil replacement first, then reduction.

Bristish politics positively ablaze! (1)

amightywind (691887) | more than 7 years ago | (#16636986)

British politics is positively ablaze with global warming hysteria. A prominant economist heaps uncertain economic reasoning on top of even more uncertain climate science and you expect me to hand over my wallet to "experts"? My guess is that this kind of buffoonery is now required of anyone seeking higher office in Britain. Is potential warming really your top issue? More than world poverty, your own economy, nuclear proliferation? Do you really think you can beneficially manipulate climate by rationing CO2 emission when you cannot predict climate in the first place? Madness.

Political impetus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16637020)

Hopefully this report will provide the political impetus for governments in the western world to make a serious effort at tackling global warming. I know that in my country (Australia) the government has previously stated that reducing emissions would be extremely costly for the economy.

I'm hoping that our politicians have at least a shred of social responsibility and see this report for what it is: a convenient reason to reverse their initial position without much political pain.

full study (1)

qw0ntum (831414) | more than 7 years ago | (#16637038)

Does anyone know where the full study could be accessed or requested?

If you are Australian... (1)

adamkennedy (121032) | more than 7 years ago | (#16637048)

We may be a small country, but we have a high per-capity contribution.

But there's not reason you can't at least start to do something by cancelling out the effect of the power you use (and it you have a ton of dev servers like me, that's a lot).

The power companies here make the pricing so obscure it's hard to actually know what green power will cost, but you can buy green power via a third party (that is, buy the carbon credits directly).

http://www.climatefriendly.com/ [climatefriendly.com]

I have no affiliation with these guys, but I did use them to buy my own credits.

The best part is you know specifically where the credits come from (i.e. where the money goes) so it works both from thecarbon credit math angle and the "where does the money go at the end of the day" angle.

And if, at the very least, I'm just helping support the development of wind farms in Australia (and New Zealand, damn that place was MADE for wind farms) I'm happy to do that.

More polution can reduce warming (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#16637078)

There is more than one way to do it:
One of the beneficial effects of sulpherous air pollution is a cooling effect. So, to decrease the global temperature, we can just remove the filters from the coal fired power stations and burn more coal. Stimulating a few volcanoes would help too...

If we're serious about Global Warming (1)

Henry V .009 (518000) | more than 7 years ago | (#16637080)

The way to tackle global warming is not through using less fossil fuels.

If we're going to tackle global warming, we need to do it the smart way: Huge man-made carbon sinks. This is an engineering problem, folks. Solving the problem can be done on the cheap.

Re:If we're serious about Global Warming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16637156)

IANAC so this probably is silly but is it possible to use the Bosch reaction or similar to convert CO2 and hydrogen to Graphite and water? I mean, I know the reaction works, at a high temp (about 400-600C I believe) and it's exothermic. Can this be done in a low tech way, that doesn't require shitloads of fossil fuel engery (maybe solar). Just a thought, any chemists or engineers out there know?

Franklin's old adage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16637106)

The old Ben Franklin adage rears it's head again: A stitch in time saves nine.

So who's in? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16637122)

Global warming. First, the ecologists were convinced of it but they were alone. It didn't take long for the scientists to become convinced, but the economists and politicians were still doubtful. Now economists are starting to come round, leaving just the politicians. And I have a sad feeling it's these guys who will be hardest to sell to because unlike science or economics, politics (at least at the highest levels) is by and large more about "charisma", soundbites, spin, dogma etc. than logic. If politics and logic lead to the same conclusions, that's more likely just a happy coincidence.

Don't Worry (1)

Cylix (55374) | more than 7 years ago | (#16637130)

All of the companies we pushed to those "other" nations where labor and emissions laws were significantly weaker are definitely going to listen to us now.

Sure amigo, we are producing less green house gases today! Whatever you say homes.

Muahaha

UK gov hoping for the worse (1)

troll -1 (956834) | more than 7 years ago | (#16637132)

Even if the future consquences of AGW were shown to be minimal, the UK would have to reinvent them as catastrophic in order to fulfill its insatiable desire to raise taxes.

So close, and yet... (1)

Duncan3 (10537) | more than 7 years ago | (#16637138)

"Stern points out, however, that any action will only be effective if truly global."

In other worlds, it doesn't matter, because China and India don't give a damn, and will poison as much of their air/water/land as they have to to make a buck.

At least that is self-correcting, they seem to have reached the point where they are killing themselves off with the toxins at an exponential rate...

Could global warming be good for humanity? (1)

QuantumFTL (197300) | more than 7 years ago | (#16637152)

Global warming will melt ice caps, screw up ocean currents, destroy biodiversity and costal cities, and maybe even toast most of us. But is it possible that having a massive problem that forces humanity to work together as a whole could promote a lasting unity and perhaps end a lot of the problems we currently have with war and poverty in the very long run?
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