We must turn upside down our approach to fighting GW
It is time to look squarely at Global Warming reality and accept it.
We must turn upside down our approach to fighting GW
because time is of the essence.
I wrote this three years ago and left it in this draft form. I should have published it then. The following posting will give the (draft) background, writen then, supporting these conclusions. Many of these observations led me to my current conclusion (2 posting back) that we can not do almost anything useful to stop, or even slow down global warming. 7/12
Instead of regulating Greenhouse Gases to a level that may have no negative economic impact, we must reduce GHG to the maximum that could be technically and economically implementable.
Preface: GW is unlike any other issue because we have no previous human experience of this magnitude and it is natural to minimize its significance. It is extremely difficult to internalize the danger GW pose to our Earth, even supporters minimize it. Our US culture is based on hope, progress, improvements, and we reject what does not fit our image of the future. Not only that, as we see the sun rising and one beautiful day after another it is natural to inwardly reject that GW is posing a serious danger to the stability of our climate and even, possibly, to human endurance. To paraphrase Neil Bohr, if GW did not shake you up yet, you probably haven't understood it.
1. Most scientific reports tells us that the current impacts of global temperature rise are worse than we estimated earlier, that we are not sure how fast the temperature will rise, and we do not know what is the maximum level of GHG nature can tolerate before a catastrophic tipping point could start. Therefore,we must set the tightest limits on global and national GHG levels that we are able to.
2. Most proposed cuts in GHG are based on IPCC AR4. However, we can not rely on the AR4 to set limits to GHG emissions since it was politically constrained, ignored potential catastrophic events, and some of its negative predictions have already been exceeded. We now have more relevant data and more insight.
3. GHG level is already too high thus increasing global temperatures and damaging global climate. We are not sure at what level we must stabilize GHG to prevent even more severe harm to the world population because the complexity of global climate is beyond our actual knowledge. Modeling is approximation. If we err, we must err on the safe side.
4. The natural self interest of most people distorts their ability to cooperate and follow the need of the larger society. Therefore, there is considerable uncertainty how the laws enacted will effect the actual GHG emissions in the US. And we are one the most law-abiding nations.
5. The self interest of nations and desire for power of the influentials could severely distort the compliance with global GHG regulations. Think of the oil exporting nations, as a minimum.
6. Tipping points: There is some low, but not insignificant, probability that increased levels of GHG could trigger catastrophic, massive, uncontrolled releases of GHG that could cause significant increase in global temperatures. That possible temperature increase, beyond 10 or even 20 C degrees, could cause severe, unmitigated damage to the global climate that could render our Earth essentially uninhabitable.
7. Regarding the risk of Tipping Points; the catastrophic release of stored GHG. Because this is the only home humanity has, we can not take the RISK of destroying our climate. RISK is the probability times the magnitude of the event. Even with low probability, the enormous magnitude of the potential damage to our globe by catastrophic release of GHG makes the risk massive and unacceptable. Therefore, we must dedicate a high percentage of our global resources to reduce GHG as fast as possible and the largest reduction possible.
8. Humanity has never encountered a danger to its existence of this level before. We can not truly grasp the seriousness of GW. Even with all the high levels of scientific and technical powers we have, we are unprepared. We do not know what we do not know or understand.
9. We still operate by "we vs. them" laws. This simply can not work. National and Global cooperation beyond any previous level is mandatory. We depend on one another, especially the US and China.
10. We, the US, will have to "give" more than other nations. We took the "most" to date. US is 4.5% of global population, occupying 1.9% of Earth surfaces, and emitted to date some 30% of all GHG.
11. We have to be more honest and forward in our international dealing re. GW or we will not get the crucial cooperation required. We would not be able to cover up superficial regulations and minimal actions by public relation bluff, so common in our culture and in Congress. Foreign governments are not likely to buy into that kind of thinking that much of our own public does.
12. The complexity of global climate, the significant gaps in our knowledge, the uncertainty of GHG laws, their possible impacts, their compliance, global cooperation required, and potential high risk to our survival, put us in a dangerous territory. We do not know what the results of all GHG curtailment laws and effort would achieve. Therefore, we can not use the usual American approach: "don't worry, everything will turn up right in the end." We must aim towards minimizing global human suffering and maximizing the chance for human survival.
13. The initial GHG reductions that we should take now must be decisive, based on proven technologies and real knowledge, not experimental or unproven; that may or may not work, such as Carbon Capture and Sequestration . We can not take the risks of unproven technologies since the C02 that was not cut will remain in the atmosphere for a thousand years. After we accomplish significant GHG reductions, then we can bring proven new approaches on line too.
14. To paraphrase Jean Monnet: Global Warming can not be reduced without efforts that are proportionate to the danger which GW threatens humanity.
WE MUST CURTAIL GHG TO THE MAXIMUM LEVEL WE CAN POSSIBLY MANAGE
AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
Dr. of Environmental Science & Engineering
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