Climate Change Discussion
Though David Roberts from the Grist once called me a “troll” via twitter because of my perceived different opinions– I don’t mind subscribing to his twitter and viewing his works. Mr. Roberts self-professed in the video below that he is just a blogger. I am: a beginning blogger, but a recognized and an accomplished prognosticator of the commodity markets (1998 crude oil collapse – noted in USA Today among the many other publications), employed for many years on a management team of one of the largest utilities American Electric Power, served on multiple committees from the National Petroleum Council to the National Renewable Energy Laboratories, rated as one of the best speakers in multiple energy conferences, and more importantly a successful family man who has been with his wife for over 20 years and has five wonderful kids. So perhaps next time Mr. Roberts would come up with a better adjective for me than a “troll” just because of some differences. Nonetheless, I don’t see the value of surrounding one-self with liked minded individuals -where is the fun and the learning experience in that? Mr. Roberts recently did a TEDx video, which I thought was very well done and intelligently articulated about the concerns of climate change.
Personally, I do believe with a statistical odd that climate change is real and that it could have significant impact to society. Mr. Robert is correct to point out the 2C is likely past. The odds of this occurring are very high. The depth of the problem is very large. Using the mathematical models and running my own simulations, I showed that de-carbonizing both the US and Europe would amount to a delay of 30-50 years in hitting the same level of ppm. Without worldwide effort, the problem is almost futile to solve.
The problem is more than an economic question, it is a philosophical issue. Our society, particularly in the US, is hell-bent on living for the now – Carpe Diem. Many people are not properly planning for retirement. Our political leaders, rather borrow from the future than to have a recession on their watch. In fact, one could probably plot the growth of credit/debt along with the global climate problem, which Mr. Roberts presents in the video; it would be a similar story to global warming. We have a refusal to change the financial path, since it is much easier to see that borrowing now makes us feel better. Likewise changing our energy consumption would take “work” to say the least. Many politicians have little regards for future consequences much like their statement for climate change as Mr. Roberts points out. Therefore in order to solve this problem, we need to change society and its view on planning. Taking near term pain maybe what the doctor is ordering for long-term survival. If we can’t do it in the financial world, I am afraid we cannot do it in the real world for energy.
Beyond our own societal sentiment for Carpe Diem, we need to contemplate balancing all our concerns/special projects. We cannot solve everything equally – capital allocations are a necessity. I don’t see a way out to have social security, medicare, our policing of the world, and then add more expenses for global climate change. Money is really not just paper. Something needs to give. Our attitude to be able to fund everything is due to society being used to living on debt. We need to start making some tough decisions and ultimately sacrifices will be made. Very similar to families on a budget, one cannot spend on everything even if the desire is great.
Adding to the complexity, some of these special projects also include projects that for 100% certainty can save millions of lives at a discrete cost – as proven by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as they try to eliminate polio and malaria. Where is the humanity balance between saving lives now or for some statistical probability saves lives later? Perhaps this brings me to a very interesting possible paper on human behavior action – if someone hasn’t already written one. I would hypothesize one could mathematically derive that the level of certainty must approach infinity as time goes beyond a few years for action to occur. Meaning I believe the way we are wired is to act on known issues, but when there are unknowns the greater the time the greater of increased probability is needed before we act. Given this thesis, I find our ability to react to global warming very minimal at this time – even though it may be the correct thing to do.
Mr. Roberts alludes to the point – it would seem adaptation is inevitable. Personally I wish it wasn’t the case, but wishing doesn’t usually solve problems. It may be more appropriate to start making decisions on the adaptation level e.g. building near or below sea level seems to be very short sighted. Perhaps one should contemplate redirecting existing mitigation research to proactive ways to modify the climate via geo-engineering since by the time we act; mitigation will not be an option. We certainly need to be more open minded – myself included – in viewing these issues in multiple lenses. The problem is a lot more complex than what a single individual can comprehend.
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