Friday, June 15, 2012

On the Road to Rio - Distractons

Bjorn Lomborg has been the vilified scourge of the “warmist” environmental lobby for some time – ever since he wrote The Skeptical Environmentalist.  His point has been simple – given the uncertainties of climate data and the dubious value of climate modeling (for more, see Ross McKitrick’s piece here), why would we risk the economic future of nations on policies focused on CO2 reduction and a dramatic change in the energy economy of the world.

In a new contribution, posted at the Project Syndicate web site (here), he looks at the agenda for RO +20 and is very critical (read here). His basic point is that CO2 is not at all the largest threat to the environment and its people – the lack of clean water and air quality are. He puts it simple. If we made the bizarre assumption that all natural disasters were caused by climate change (the evidence is that it has no impact on such disasters), then just 0.06% of all deaths in developing countries are caused by such disasters. In comparison, 13% of all Third World deaths result from water and air pollution. For each person dying from a natural disaster, 210 people die from polluted water and polluted air (CO2 is not a pollutant).

He also makes other points. For example, that a focus on organic food supplies in Africa is a major cause of death from malnutrition – what Africa needs to do is shift from small scale organic farming to industrial scale farming so as to massively increase food supplies.

He makes the same point about energy. The RIO +20 agenda wants the developing world to make extensive use of wind and solar energy – known to be less reliable, more expensive and problematic than fossil fuel based energy. Why would they promote a more expensive, less reliable energy source for the poorest nations on the planet? Is it naiveté, ideological blindness or something more sinister? In terms of air quality, a great many of the deaths occur from burning dung (an organic commodity). Would they be better served by natural gas based energy (in liquid form)?

A focus on green transport – especially electric cars – ignores the fact that most of these cars are fuelled by coal and natural gas. At $50,000 each they are unlikely to provide a solution to the transport challenges of the world.

It is well worth a read.

On a different tack, but still focused on RIO +20, the developing countries are asking for an annual fund of $30 billion to pay for global governance and their green economic development. They want this to come from the tax on GDP from the developed world – 0.7% of each countries GDP. What they don’t seem to realize is that the other policies they wish developed nations to pursue – especially the 95% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 – will have such an impact on GDP (economies would literally collapse) that they will not be able to pay the 0.7% of GDP. It’s a recipe for international economic depression.

Next week is likely to be a talk-fest without consequence. The organizers have so far failed to secure basic agreement on anything, despite several days of preparatory meetings. It will be a failure, but one at our expensive.

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