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back to article Doing the maths on Copenhagen

Copenhagen is dead. Hurrah! And I say that as someone convinced that climate change is happening, we're causing it, and we need to do something about it. However, what we don't need to do is the ghastly mess that was being cooked up in Denmark. They've essentially agreed to, um, well, try - and they'll think a little bit more …

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Stop

Don't confuse pollution with climate change

There is no scientific link between carbon emissions and temperature change. While reducing real pollution is a good idea, carbon dioxide is not pollution. There is no science to show it is.

Taxing people on dodgy science is quite simply fraud.

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You keep bleating, I'll keep pasting

``There is no scientific link between carbon emissions and temperature change.''

http://www.skepticalscience.com/How-do-we-know-CO2-is-causing-warming.html

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Grenade

@Baying Lynch Mob

Well, quite. It says so on the internet, it must be true.

Consensus (especially among politicians) != scientific proof.

Hard evidence == scientific proof.

Hard evidence: There is no scientific link between carbon emissions and temperature change.

Merry Xmas, AC.

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RTFA

Did you even read the linked article? You only have to get to the fourth paragraph to see that it uses real results (recorded from satellites) to show that CO_2 (along with other gases) stops radiation from escaping.

Is that evidence not hard enough for you? If you're going to complain that there's no evidence for the effect on the global climate as a whole, then you should remember that nobody has a spare set of planets on which to run controlled experiments of the sort that you'd get with eg. drug trials.

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Your ignorance is showing

>Hard evidence == scientific proof.

There is no such thing as 'scientific proof'. You have just excluded yourself from serious consideration.

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Linux

Turn the heating up

One thing I'm sure of is that methane from steak production is not man made. It comes out of a cows arse.

As for the rest of the article, Bollocks, it's bloody penguin weather out there.

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eh?

Who's growing all the cows and eating all the steak?

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Try using your brain a litttle

Who is farming all those cows and cutting down the rainforests to make more pasture?

Do you understand the difference between weather and climate?

If we heat up the poles, there is every chance that the gulf stream will stop flowing, and Britain will get far colder as a result of global warming.

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Chuck another...

....sense of humour on the fire, Rizla

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Gulf Stream

The gulf stream reverses regularly over geological time. That is without human involvement.

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Such ignorance

>The gulf stream reverses regularly over geological time.

Oh, really? Which denialist blog fed you that bunch of horseshit?

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Gulf Stream

the geological record (that's rocks to those of you will little hard science), clearly shows some interesting major events having occurred without the assistance of man. The drastic shifts of the currents in the north Atlantic is one, the reversal of the magnetic poles is another. Both of these were well documented in the literature before it was unfashionable to do so.

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Gulf stream myth

That nonsense was debunked long ago. Carl Wunsch says that a gulf stream reversal would only happen if the planet stopped spinning. Richard Seager is even more scathing here:

http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/res/div/ocp/gs/

Yes you have to sift through a lot of nonsense from over-eager media-hungry scientists these days so the best rule of thumb is - if it sounds totally dumb then it probably is. And the idea that warming causes cooling is the dumbest idea that ever came out of the department of dumb ideas - yet you swallowed it didn't you. This kind of tripe presented as beef is exactly why people are skeptical.

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Interesting Times

That's about the best, (or maybe the only) analysis I have seen of the economics of climate change.

No doubt the deniers will be out in force here, I wonder do any of these guys have kids?

It looks to me like our governments are taking the same approach here as they do with fisheries management.

Professing to believe what the scientists are saying, then taking totally inadequate measures because they are worried that their mates the industrialists will go bust if they do what is actually required.

Here is where we get to find out if we really are as intelligent as we like to claim, or did we just get lucky with using cheap energy for a while.

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Ah....

....the obligatory "Won't somebody think of the children!!!!1!!!1!!" argument.

Fail.

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Not the same.

This is not randomly shoving children in to an argument (E.G. ID cards stop pedos), but arguing agains people whos pasic attitude is "im alright".

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Ah...

I am totally humbled by theincisive wit of your intelligent and informative comment.

You are quite right, fuck the kids, let's not leave them a habitable planet.

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Re Ah

I am thinking of the children. I want them to have enough electricity to power their laptops, Ipods, computer games, etc thirty years from now.

I'm not convinced that climate change is down to us, but I do want a massive shift from burning fossil fuels for power, while still living in a high tech world.

We have nuclear power stations. Fusion power probably isn't far away, especially if we treat it as a priority. To say nothingof the fusion reactor 93 million miles away that could provide all the power we will ever need.

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climate change does not equal man made

It takes an arrogance only found in grant seekers to assume that all of the geological evidence for climate changes in the past millennia mean nothing when there is some one to blame and some grant money to be found (for without blame the grants are few and far between)

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Megaphone

Cost of polution

I've got a simple question for you, but it is not simple for me to work out.

The article says about the "cost of polution" and puts a currency value to it. What this value is, and how it is worked out is beyond the article, and I'm OK with that, but for there to be any cost, someone must have worked out where that cost needs to be spent to offset the polution (e.g. the cost to plant enough trees to counter the 1 tonne of CO2).

The "tax the poluter the cost of the polution" idea will only work if that tax is paid to whoever the cost is imposed on (e.g. tree planter). If the tax is just used to boost governments spending on CCTV or ministry of love databases, IT WILL NOT WORK.

If you take money to pay for the polution, it must be used to pay for the polution.

Who do I write to with my suggestion?

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Anonymous Coward

Yeah, but no, but yeah but...

It would be great if simple tax and trade worked, but unfortunately, people, or rather, entire countries, will cheat. And if say, China cheats, while holding most of the US's money, how do you sanction them? Let the market do it? Not going to happen because you won't be able to keep emissions trading separate from the rest of the economy. Tax and trade may well work within economic blocks like the EU, but I'm highly doubtful about its chances at a global level, and that's really the whole point isn't it?

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Don't agree at all

Nice fancy footwork and maths, and rightly enough why should the UK tax payer bear an even heavier load, but entirely misses the point altogether.

America alone is responsible for nearly 25% of the greenhouse gases, followed by China and India. Now some make the point that India and China are developing countries, and as such need quotas/relief etc,etc anything but capping,because they are expanding economies, America claim because they are the powerhouse economy they should be excempt.

This where I get lost in all the economics/politics/corruption, i don't understand why Gordy is insisting I bear the weight for those countries, I'm already upto my neck in taxes bailing him out for 15 years of fiscal abuse.

America,China and India are the main causes of the problem (Yes, I know we all are really, buying cheap Chinese tat,etcetcetc), so make them solve their issues with pollution before coming to me asking for another x£ to bail out some idiot who can't put his own house in order.

And equally, China and India are both awash with the yankee greenback, put some of that to good use first maybe.

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Real cause missed

Population.

Needs to be reduced.

Example : Recently, the Bangladesh finance minister warned that 20 million might be forced to leave the country due to climate change in the next 40 years.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/nov/30/rich-west-climate-change

This is less than the expected growth in population, which has nearly doubled in the last 30 years

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bangladesh-demography.png

Est 156 million now

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bg.html

Time for (more?) state-sponsored contraception

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real cause != over-population

It's commonly stated as a fact that the world is over-populated. The world population is in excess of 6.7 billion (1) and I'll happily agree that's a staggering number of people. But it means nothing without context.

North Yorkshire (2) has an area of 8,654 km^2. If all the people of the world were to stand next to each other in 1m squares, we could assemble in an area the size of North Yorkshire and still have room to spare.

The total surface area of the world's continental land mass is 510,065,600 km^2. If we were to distribute the gobal population evenly across this area there would be ~13.3 people per km^2. Admittedly this includes Antarctica, the Sahara, the Himalayas and some other pretty inhospitable areas that aren't really fit for human habitation but the mean population densities in the EU and the USA are 114/km^2 and 32/km^2 respectively (4 & 5) and I'm not sure either of these are over-populated.

IMHO the world is not overpopulated. The world is under-developed. If our experiments into new energy sources (fusion, geothermal, wind and wave) are successful and if we can get over our dark-ages fear of technology, I believe we can easily support a global population of 58 billion. This may sound extreme but this is simply the population density of the EU applied globally.

References :

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population

(2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Yorkshire

(3) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continents

(4) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eu

(5) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usa

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you want context?

OK, here's some context.

In my lifetime the number of people living on the planet has trebled. It doesn't matter what resource you look at, when the number of consumers increases to 300% of what it was 50 years ago, it will be depleted a lot faster. Same goes for producers: although everybody produces different amounts of greenhouse gases, there's no way that having 4 billion more of 'em won't change the balance.

The other thing to bear in mind is that this growth hasn't stopped, or even slowed. Whether you think that population growth is a factor in climate change or not - just wait until the water shortages start up, that'll make our current problems look like a picnic.

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What a load of rancid dingo's kidneys

I am in awe of your ability to fill the world with humans at the expense of just about everything else. I'm a science fiction fan myself, but this is akin to turning Earth into Trantor.

I am not by any stretch of the imagination a greenie, but what you're proposing just beggars belief. Have you considered that most of the land on the planet that can support people already does?

Do you think that getting over our "dark-ages fear of technology" will give nomadic people in the Sahel or the Namib or Patagonia or Central Australia a lifestyle the same as yours?. Have you possibly considered that they may not want to live like everyone in the EU? We have enough problems feeding and providing health care to the world's population as it is. A suggestion to fill the planet to an average of 114/sq km would remove most wilderness, and with it, most of the habitat for wild animals that need these areas. Might I suggest that humans also need wilderness?

What of the resource requirements to maintain your 58 billion? We do a really good job of polluting own nest right now; care to extrapolate that by a factor of 10? I'm assuming you want them to live to a Euro/US/1st World standard of income and health?

If you wish to stand shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the world's population in North Yorkshire, then that's great, but PLEASE leave some wilderness for me to commune in.

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Pirate

Agree to Disagree

True it is not necessarily overpopulation. It is the standard of living REQUIRED for that population. Personally, I enjoy living in and with Nature - yurts or other sustainable (and natural!) housing, renewable energy sources, everyone growing personal crops, etc.

The problem is that the "Western" lifestyle of excess and waste has become some kind of idealized "utopia", and it has a hugely lopsided resources per captia ratio that is UNSUSTAINABLE to keep up with the current population, never mind a possible "58 billion".

We could provide everyone with the same lifestyle, across the planet, and it would be even, fair, and balanced... but would also be unacceptable to everyone in equal measure.

Is the best we can hope for our species actually to crush ourselves into an identical mold of "poverty" (by Western standards)?

Fat chance getting those "in power" to agree to that, eh?

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Grenade

Population predictions and balancing the resources budget

It's true, the population of the world has grown from 2.52 billion in 1950 to 6.7 billion today (1). This growth has not been distributed evenly. Much of the growth has happened in Asia where the population has grown by 2.3 billion in this time. The population density here has jumped from 31.4/km^2 to 81.5/km^2. In China (2), the life expectancy at birth has risen from 35 years in 1949 to 73.18 years in 2008 and the infant mortality rate has dropped from 300 per thousand in the 1950s to 23 per thousand in 2006. The Chinese government is addressing this with a one child per family policy (3).

So far as the use of fossil fuels is concerned, the reserves of these fuels are limited and as time passes it will become harder to access and exploit these resources and eventually they will run out anyway. As this happens we will either develop new sources of energy or we won't.

If we don't develop these new energy sources all of our attempts to sustain our current level of technology will be thwarted. We will not have the capability to mine new ore or recycle existing scrap metal. We will not have the capability to move foodstuffs cheaply and quickly around the world. We will not have the capability to purify water and to distribute it nationally let alone globally. In this case I believe that disaster will be inevitable. Whatever we do, we'd be doomed. There would be too many of us in the western world to be able to support ourselves in a low-tech pastoral life style.

If we do develop new energy sources, as other natural resources become harder to obtain, there will be a growing market pressure to develop better recycling techniques. This will apply to all sorts of resources from plastic to scrap metal to paper and even to water. Just as we have national and international electricity grids and oil and gas pipelines in Europe today, I believe we will begin to develop global electricity grids and water pipelines in the future. The demand for water will on one hand drive us to be more sparing in our use of this recource and on the other will drive the development of better desalination and water recycling techniques.

At the end of the day, I think we are too far down the road of transforming our planet to turn back now. We have been cutting down forests to develop arable land, damming rivers, draining swamps and making all sorts of changes since before the Romans. There are 6.7 billion of us on this planet which is probably about 5 billion more than we can support pastorally (I have no source to cite for this. I am guessing that the population of the 1900s is our likely pastoral limit).

I think we have crossed the Rubicon already. We are unlikely to be able to persuade the other peoples of the world to forgo the benefits of our technologies. So far as I am aware, these benefits are unachievable without the associated costs. Our partner nations are going to industrialise and their populations are going to grow inspite of all our attempts to restrain them. Any efforts we make to do this will be resented rather than respected. The only way IMHO is the way forward.

References

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population#Population_figures

(2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People%27s_Republic_of_China

(3) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-child_policy

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Population is ALSO a big problem.

Please don't mention shitholes like North Yorkshire or people will WANT to destroy the planet!

I used to live in the UK. I now live in Alberta. It's like the UK used to be before we cut down every tree, wiped out every species, concreted over what was left and put up large power stations by the motorway to look at on the drive to f'ing N Yorkshite.

Joking aside. Population IS a BIG problem. We should work on that too.

Just for the sake of argument: If there were 1m people on the planet, they could run their SUVs on tiger-fat and detonate a nuclear weapon every bonfire night without any major environmental problems.

I think the number 6.8Bn doesn't bring it home to some people. Maybe 6800million is better to emphasis the massive number and how much of the land they need to exploit so fill their needs.

Now there are 6.8Bn (prob 7Bn next year) people and rising fast, we can't even grow enough food to keep them all fed and/or extract enough raw materials to build all their consumer crap without chopping down the forests and stripmining what's left of the world. The oil sands up here are an absolute global crime. http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2009/03/canadian-oil-sands/kunzig-text.html

We only do it cos our neighbour wants the oil to feed their outrageous habits (Canadians are bad too in terms of emissions per capita, but that's cos we just get all the same stuff they do down there - sort them out and you sort us out - and there's 10x more of them and they're 5x as stupid/selfish). They only want the oil cos they want security of supply. It's expensive and sour. If we'd all just use alternatives, we wouldn't need to do this (as much). Part of the beauty of renewables is security of supply. In a large country like the US or Canada with LOADS of coastline, the wind is always blowing somewhere and the waves and tides are moving everywhere. Add a bit of geothermal. Improve efficiency of all goods/services and you've got a better world for everyone without having to stripmine stuff or fight wars over resources that are going to run out ANYWAY!

And the lower the population is, the easier it is to do ANYTHING. Even to get a hotel/lounger on your shitty spanish package holiday favoured by tards in that part of the world.

The UK might get a lot colder BTW when the arctic becomes ice free in summers and the gulf stream becomes intermittant. And when all those cities get submerged due to Greenland cap melting, do you think it's possible that any pollution may be released into the seas?! Lol. Or do you think they'll move all the filth to higher ground too?! I'm not sure many people would want to pay to have the landfills dug up and moved nearer to where they want to live. Or that having more people and less land with the same waste issues will make anyone v happy either. Esp if it was avoidable.

There are many costs of inaction. Sadly too many think it's just fine to let their kids deal with them. That's why we're dealing with this now. Cos the boomers caused the problem and just passed it to us. Let's sort it.

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Excellent

Absolutley spot on Tim. You have not only hit the nail on the head but so eloquently set out the critical decisions needed of our generally pathetic politicians.

The only weakness that I would like to point out is that it is for more attractive for politicans to slap on green taxes on to everything without calculating the true costs of carbon damage and then going a step further to reduce other taxes. Can you really see them reducing taxes elsewhere especially when they have a ballooning deficit? No.

What they are more likely to do is to enjoy sticking their fingers into free market regulation to make it more robust and less prone to causing problems such as the credit crunch. In fixing the markets, at least one small step at a time, increases the prospects for ETS / Cap and Trade schemes to work well. At least they allow the markets to determine the most effective reductions and what should be cut and where....albeit with the right targets and equal across all sectors.

In fact, if you took a closer look at Copenhagen then you'd have noticed that the much pilloried aviation sector has proposed a global "sectoral" approach for aviation in favour of the EU ETS. Firtly that makes a lot of sense because in aviation many / most flights and therefore emisions are truly global. They go on to propose that the sectoral scheme should not be enclosed with its own permits but interchangeable with other schemes. Whether this proposal would then truly allow the market to correctly price aviation emissions, then the answer is of course no, since it is sectoral. But at least, as a first step, it introduces the concept of a global cap and trade in favour of the EU ETS.

A global cap and trade would be a great idea, but again, can we really imagine 190 countries agreeing? It was hard enough to do with the EU 27. How is it really going to happen? Only when New York, LA, London, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Bombay and St Petersburg are under several metres of water will these politicians finally wake up and then it will be too late.

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Oh dear.

You might have taken a good look at the existing trading schemes to make sure that it actually works in the Real World as well as in the Magic World, where economics works the way it should, without those nasty, greedy people around.

The scheme suggested will absolutely have unintended consequences, as we have seen with the existing schemes. Think those through and maybe, just maybe,* such a scheme will work.

* - with the probability of a lottery win.

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You are making some big assumptions here about CO2 etc...

We have been told, almost non-stop for the last 20 years CO2 is the cause of the planet heating up, then nature throws a curve ball and starts cooling down for the last 10, so if CO2 is still going up why is global temp going down and we're still being told CO2 is causing us to heat up?

Also Hansen has just done an about face almost, he's gone from singing the CO2 song, to now claiming soot is responsible for at least 50% of melting slabs of ice. So again if CO2 is such a boogyman why are we suddenly being told it mostly isn't any more?

I agree we need to clean up our activities on this planet, but targeting CO2 probably won't have any effect what so ever, in fact some are claiming the increased CO2 has increased plant diversity and all the wonderful things that go with it, like potentially less people starving.

The planet will be here long after we're gone, something else will evolve to be the dominate species on the planet so we need to be honest what we're doing here, saving our selves, not saving the planet.

Then of course there is the little matter of SO2, which has the opposite effect to CO2 by cooling the planet, but they aren't properly measuring most emissions so we don't really know what is going on here, just a lot of people jumping up and down crying wolf. All they really care about is their on going funding to further research things that may be of no consequence.

If these politicians were serious about saving people on this planet why are they doing nothing about funding people starving? A sub-org of the UN was asking for 45billion to feed the starving, but no one gave a cent. What about all the curable dieses in less wealthy nations, how much is being done about that to save the 1-3 million or so people that die just from malaria a year?

Copenhagen failed for the same reason it existed, it was created out of greed and the lure of billions if not trillions of fresh tax dollars, but no one trusted anyone else with the money so it fell over.

All the politicians are greedy hypocritical sods that shouldn't be given a cent more in money while they keep lying to us about caring about people and/or "the planet"

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Absolute codswallop!

Might I suggest that you engage brain before opening mouth. There is more and more research coming out, both peer reviewed and not (disregarding that the peer review system has been seriously abused), that the data provided via CRU and IPCC and the "consensus" opinion arising from it is wrong. It has been generated through politics and not science. Whenever rank amateurs investigate critical details the doubts multiply until they exceed any reasonable doubt.

Examples:

The US climate records are claimed to be the worlds best, but their measuring stations fail the minimum standard in 89% of cases, merely for siting. They do not adequately account fot Urban heat Island effect, but "adjustments" are made that always give a rise in temperature that raw data ( if available) does not. Upward adjustments without adequate explanation have also occured in Australia and New Zealand and these adjustments account for all of the claimed temperature rise in the stations investigated. In fact it was pointed out in a paper published in 1980 that NZ data was not suitable for long term monitoring or for temperature trend analysis.

The infamous Mann "hockey stick" graph was invalidated by McIntyre and McKitrick in 2003 but is still often seen, including in IPCC publications and presentations. The Medieval Warm Period which was warmer than today definitely existed otherwise how were grapes grown in Northumbria, Greenland and Newfoundland?

The Briffa tree ring analysis from Yamal, Siberia has been shown to depend upon cherry picking of data and ignoring the majority of the data points, and even then *one* tree skewed the results towards the desired end. If either this tree was excluded or all of the others were included then the temperature series changed character completely. There was also the infamous "Mann 'Nature' trick" of not including in the graph data that did not conform to the required result and hoping that it would not be noticed in the spaghetti graph.

I could go on but enough is enough but the present warming trend, assuming that it is still with us as there has been no warming for 9 years, cannot be put down to anthropogenic causes as both temperature rise and rate of rise are not uncommon in recent geological history.

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Sweet Jesus

Look, this has been going on for years. It works roughly the following way.

1. Scientist with years of experience working with climate change says "it's humans wot done it"

2. Person with some scientific training, invariably in an unrelated field, thinks they've spotted something missed by peer-reviewing and writes a blog which says "Aha, what about this". This always involves overlaying one graph on another. One of the lines is in red.

3. Scientist refutes point 2 using "science". Usually this involves complicated discussion about samples, curves, statistics, adjusting factors and other sciency stuff.

4. Punter looks at both of the above and finds step 3 too complicated, so stops at 2 and repeats.

You, sir, are the Punter.

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Fallacy

"the present warming trend ... cannot be put down to anthropogenic causes as both temperature rise and rate of rise are not uncommon in recent geological history."

This argument is incomplete / fallacious.

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Muppet

Look, let us just take one issue - the hockey stick graph - and walk through your process.

1. Scientists with loads of experience of climate change (and paleoclimatology) produce the hockey stick graph.

2. Person with a vast amount of statistical training (Wegman) studies the hockey stick graph and finds that the statistical methods are rubbish. In fact, the misapplication of Principal Component Analysis used by Mann et al will produce a hockey stick shape from any auto-correlated data (the climate is always autocorrelated). Furthermore, they point out that the peer review process in climate change is so nepotistic as to be almost a joke.

3. Mann cries, and then tries to attack Wegman for ridiculous non-scientific reasons.

4. Punter looks at both of the above, and realises they have been conned. Hence why so many people are switching off to so-called anthropogenic climate change.

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Pollution Taxes <> Environmental damage fixed

The snag with the idea of taxing polllution or polluters is that the problems remain unless the money collected is spent fixing the damage done - and that won't happen.

If the politicians gave shit about the environment, they would have held a huge video conference, instead of flying halfway around the world at tax payers' expense, each with a bunch of hangers-on.

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Haven't we had enough economists already?

After the financial crisis I thought economists would be listened to less, since greed is good and all, how does that help me?

Also before making sweeping statements did you notice the corruption in Denmark from their cap and trade system?

Basically it doesn't matter what happens going forward someone will game the system, especially because of so much money being involved.

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Anonymous Coward

Simplistic

Both your "simple" solutions penalise those countries that are currently going through something like our industrial revolution.

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Flame

The TPA has already done the math....

The Case Against Further Green Taxes - Report and Poll

GOVERNMENT RAISING £10 BILLION MORE FROM GREEN TAXES THAN REQUIRED TO COVER COST OF UK’S CARBON FOOTPRINT

EVERY UK HOUSEHOLD ALREADY OVER-PAYING GREEN TAXES TO THE TUNE OF MORE THAN £400 A YEAR

NEW POLL SHOWS BIG MAJORITY BELIEVE POLITICIANS ARE USING GREEN TAXES AS A REVENUE RAISING MEASURE

FIRST EVER AUDIT OF UK GREEN TAX POLICY REVEALS EXCESSIVE BURDEN OF ENVIRONMENTAL LEVIES THAT FAIL THEIR OBJECTIVES

http://tpa.typepad.com/research/2007/09/the-case-agains.html

That is all.

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Pint

*applause*

A sane and rational article on climate change. Thank you, sir.

Although these days I take exception to the claim that economists know anything about anything. Economic models may be appealing, but there is no proof that they match reality to any meaningful extent, and plenty of indication that they don't.

OTOH, this article doesn't use anything very contentious from economics to make its point.

All round good show.

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Unhappy

I don't really care whether climate change is real/man-made or not

It seems to me that regardless of whether it's happening and regardless of who or what is causing it, if it is, it is just plain common sense to stop raping the planet and polluting our environment.

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FAIL

Or.. as discussed elsewhere on the interwebs

Lets spend $180 Billion a year to slow down global warming by 7 years by the end of this Century.

Or lets spend the $180 Billion each year on trying to fix the here and now problems so that there might actually be some people left that global warming may affect. You know, Aids, Cancer etc.... it's all well and good stopping global warming but if there is no-one left alive it's a bit of a waste isn't it.

Why don't they try having these conferences via web conferences as well, rather than having to fly in 1000 extra limo's to ferry the diplomats around... cos that's helping isn't it.

It's all utter, utter bollocks.

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Best El Reg Climate Change Article Ever

That is all.

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A tax reduces consumption, does it?

So tell me - to what extent did the 23p Kyoto levy affect petrol usage in the UK? Approximately 0%?

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Stop

But there was no universal tariff

I think it probably did affect petrol usage; more people use public transport now than they used to 10 years ago.

Besides which, there is no universal tariff: tax went up on petrol, but didn't go up on beef, or plastic, or cement, or most of the other carbon intensive elements. Furthermore, 'green' petrol has the same duty as fossil-fuel petrol. So fuel duty tells us nothing about where people want to use fossil-carbon, which is really what the point of the article is - he freely admits that people may prefer to use their cars than eat beef.

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maby not yet but it is starting

pepol are now seriousley concidering that te hassle of buyign and keeping an electric car it tearms of there time (keeping ti charged etc) is worth te savings in petrol as the proce of petrol gose up this equation will keep going in favor of other typrs of transport

personal example when I bought a new house 2 years ago it was a serious concidration if I could walf to te train station to save me the petrol cost of driving to work every day

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a conflict of interests

The basic problem is that you (whoever that is, exactly) can't "solve" climate change within the span of a parliament - or presidential term. Politicians think in terms of short-term steps. Ones that will increase their chances of getting re-elected. Occasionally they think in terms of leaving the other lot a poison pill as a present. Neither of these strategies is compatible with a process that will take one or two generations to resolve. (Other examples are: poverty, crime, education, overpopulation).

In addition, you're asking people to pay for the cost of fixing climate change. However the ones who pay aren't the people who are most affected by it - so to yer average voter (innit?) there's a cost but no benefit. Since Y.A.V. doesn't think in abstract terms the persuasiveness of rational arguments are lost. The best you can hope for is to get some luvvies involved and have them make it all trendy (possibly with the carrot of recognition, arts funding or nobel prizes for their efforts) so that the reality-watching masses will take up the cause.

The additional problem with using taxation as a means of restricting consumption is that it isn't very equitable. The rich can carry on polluting, while the poor have to walk. What will happen to our system of near-identical political parties as soon as someone uses this as an angle? You'll have a revolution in the making (though it will be a very british revolution; letters to the Daily Wail and lots of "tutting", maybe even a 15 minute programme on BBC4 at 3 a.m.) Sadly, the only way to level things out is to start banning: but not in a tokenistic way, for show but by looking at the top (say) 10 carbon emitting activities and saying STOP..

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Re: conflict of interests

I think you've hit the nail on the head. The "not during my watch" attitude means that as long as you *look* like you're doing the right thing for the long term, you can make it through the next election. Fixing climate change is going to involve some unpopular choices, and nobody wants to be the group that has to impose these on the voters - especially when a scary amount of the voters think it's all a hoax.

And once you're fining or taxing people for doing something bad or wrong, it becomes a source of income, so there's less of an incentive to stop them from doing it.

Also, Copenhagen was severely bogged down by quibbling over small print. It's a wonder the conflict of interest problem was even reached.

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Whatever happened

To the carbon cycle that we learnt at school?

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