TCS Daily


Climate Change and the Demographic Shift

By Tim Worstall - September 22, 2006 12:00 AM

A great deal of ink and electrons have been wasted in trying to explain what it is or is not that we should do to try and reduce emissions of CO2 in the United States. One fascinating paper just published provides perhaps the simplest answer of all: just wait for the Baby Boomers to get old.

Given that, past a certain age, virility now comes in blue pills rather than by racing muscle cars, that shuffleboard uses rather less gas than water skiing and the general environmental impact of a generation hobbling towards death is rather less than that same group in vigorous youth, the authors, led by Michael Dalton, seem to think that (along with a few other assumptions), the simple passage of time will reduce CO2 emissions in the US by as much as 40%.

Now of course, one single paper isn't quite enough for us to simply go "Phew!" and declare the issue closed but this is, I hope, the beginning of the next stage of research into the whole area of climate change.

Just to reiterate (before the usual trolls arrive) I am largely Lomborgian in my view of climate change. It's happening, we're at least partly to do with it and the important questions are all to do with what we do about it. In common with Bjorn Lomborg my worries about the science of the issue are nothing at all to do with computer models, satellite measurements or anything of that nature. They are about the economic models (in the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios, or SRES) which provide the data which is then plugged into those models.

One area that has always puzzled me deeply about those SRES models is that population was treated as endogenous to the models. In plainer speech, what the population level was going to be was simply a given, not something that came about from the interactions within the model itself. Which, as I say, is puzzling, for the interactions of population size and the economic wealth of that population are the very things which determine the level of emissions (as moderated by the technology used, of course). Further, some of the population estimates for the SRES were especially commissioned from experts in endogenous estimates (that is, ones that do come from the interactions within the models) but they were not asked for such endogenous ones, but for exogenous ones.

Ok, sorry, I'll stop using $10 words for a bit. Why this is important is because we think we know a few things about what drives shifts in population size. At the heart of it is wealth (as defined broadly, not in purely monetary terms). As increasing wealth leads to better sanitation and medicine, as it has over the past century and more, there is a huge fall in the death rate, most especially amongst children and the women giving birth to them. This leads to a surge in the population and along with the increased life spans in general gives us the "demographic shift". What we think moderates this over time (and why we don't end up with ever accelerating population growth, unlike what Paul Ehrlich has been preaching for decades) is that the very wealth that allows this to happen changes people's behavior.

If, as Darwinian theory would have it (if you prefer Genesis "go forth and multiply" is subject to the same constraints), the aim and purpose of life is to have grandchildren who then go on to have more of the same themselves, then when most children die before they reach maturity then you'd better have a lot of them to ensure your lineage. If almost all will survive to breed themselves, as is true now (more accurately, survive to be capable of breeding, if they should so wish) then you need to have far fewer: the opportunity cost of having few children has fallen. Further, our new found wealth offers (women especially) many more choices than just pumping out the next generation. The opportunity costs of having many children have risen, as a large family inevitably chokes off some of those other opportunities.

It might be worth noting here that it is not just the invention of modern contraception that has led to these smaller family sizes. Not only were effective contraceptives known long before the pill (effective if inconvenient) all the surveys done have shown that it is desired family size that has fallen. It is attitudes that have changed, the new technology most certainly helping in reaching the desired goals, but it isn't the contraceptive pills and salves that have changed that desired family size.

So if we, as we think we do, have a direct relationship between the wealth of a society and the growth or shrinkage of the size of the population, if we were trying to find out what the world was going to be like in a century's time, we'd rather like our models to include that relationship, would we not? Which, as noted above, the SRES models do not.

This is why I very much welcome this paper in Energy Economics. It isn't directly to do with the impact of wealth upon population, rather, the impact of an ageing population upon energy demand. The inclusion of demography into our models of the future, something wholly to be desired. As the abstract states:

Changes in the age composition of U.S. households over the next several decades could affect energy use and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the most important greenhouse gas. This article incorporates population age structure into an energy-economic growth model with multiple dynasties of heterogeneous households. The model is used to estimate and compare effects of population aging and technical change on baseline paths of U.S. energy use, and CO2 emissions. Results show that population aging reduces long-term emissions, by almost 40% in a low population scenario, and effects of aging on emissions can be as large, or larger than, effects of technical change in some cases.

You will, if you read around the internet and the newspapers, see repeated protestations that the debate over climate change is now over, that the science is settled. I'm afraid that I don'tthink that's actually true: I agree that the climate models are getting better, that previously noted anomalies are being resolved, but not that science is either over or stopped.

Rather, that we now need more such science as this paper, to refine the numbers we feed into those computer models.

The author is a TCS Daily contributing writer living in Europe.

Categories:

97 Comments

Under new management? Aarrgghh - - - - -
Trolls, Tim, trolls? I sincerely hope the quality of this piece isn't representative of what's to come. You claim not to be interested in science. This is obvious. Your quoted source apparently isn't either, it says that CO2 is the most important greenhouse gas, which is way off the mark. I'd tell you what it is, but you'll learn more if you look it up yourself, if you can.

While you're at it; have a look at the satellite data to see if the major increase (about a third), that has occurred in the tiny fraction of 1% of the air that is CO2, in the past half century, is actually causing "global warming", or not. Then give the whole subject some thot.

How much is partly?
"It's happening, we're at least partly to do with it and the important questions are all to do with what we do about it. "

And what can be done?

TCS
They have gone over to the dark side.

Place to start
" * The estimated warming for the 19th and 20th Centuries is ˜ 0.6 ± 0.2 °C.
* Possibly one quarter of that warming might be due to increased downwelling infrared radiation from increased atmospheric carbon dioxide. The remainder, if real, is mostly from a combination of increased solar activity and land use changes, irrigated agriculture and the like, which we would not undo even if we could (mostly because people have an aversion to starving).
* Thus ˜ 0.15 ± 0.05 °C warming is from accumulated atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions since the Industrial Revolution (from ˜ 280 to ˜ 370 ppmv).
* This represents roughly 75% of all possible warming from a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide post Industrial Revolution (from ˜ 280 to ˜ 560 ppmv).
* ˜ 0.05 ± 0.013 °C warming potential remains from elevating atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from ˜ 370 to ˜ 560 ppmv.
* These trivial amounts are the only potential available for humans to constrain carbon dioxide-driven warming.
* No amount of restraint on human emission of carbon dioxide will make a difference in global mean temperature of sufficient magnitude for us to actually measure.
"
http://www.junkscience.com/

Illegal aliens and Muslims
Baby boomers are being backfilled by illegal aliens. Many from countries with traditionally high birthrates.
Muslims also have a tradition of many children and can have as many as 4 wives. Muslims populations are growing in Europe and the Middle East has it own baby boom generation in its 20s-30s.

Once again, the USA baby-boomers believe they are so important that it they would just hurry up and retire and die global warming will be solved.

Read the report
http://iussp2005.princeton.edu/download.aspx?submissionId=52096#search=%22michael%20dalton%20report%20emissions%22

Turn to the graphs of the results starting on page 27.

p. 27: these show decreasing per capita income. One of the hypotheses of this model is that the economy will stop growing and start a significant decline.

p. 28: They make a range of forcasts. The most optimistic has declining CO2 emissions. The most pessimistic has huge growth.

p. 30: again shows a range of possibilities ranging from little growth to disasterous growth.

And you guys who complain about forecasting the atmosphere over the next century are willing to accept economic forecasts over the same period. Like, economic forecasting is easier??

Err, Don?
Don, I've been writing here at TCS for 2.5 years now. My view of climate change hasn't changed all that much in that time. I've always been interested in that part of the process that I can actually contribute to, that part involving economics. The climate models and so on I'm simply not competent to comment upon: I don't have the scientific training.
In fact, the very first piece I submitted here was very closely related to this one: bemoaning the fact that the SRES relied upon exogenous population estimates.


Water vapour is the major greenhouse gas, of course. There are myriad others, methane and so on as well.

Trolls
As to trolls, that was aimed at those who call any piece here about climate change denialism.

Hmmm...
>"And you guys who complain about forecasting the atmosphere over the next century are willing to accept economic forecasts over the same period. Like, economic forecasting is easier??"

Absolutely not. Both are extreme shots in the dark. So tell me LGM, are you willing to declare both bunk?

denialism
As an empirical fact, most of the posts on climate change on tcsdaily are denials of one fanciful sort or another. Your post that Americans suddenly will turn 80 and stop driving (OK, a little hyperbole, but not that much) is high in the "fanciful" category.

I'm not an economist, but I know enough of them to know that there are lots of detailed predictions of economic activity for the next century that take age structure into account, and these do not predict a drop in oil usage.

Sure
My complaint, in as much as I have one, is that the SRES, which is what hte IPCC estimates of climate change are based upon, does not use those demographic projections.

Technology and Models
There are many events and technologies that could lead to the revision of current climate models. An unexpectedly accelerated release of methane from the oceans and the Artic is an example of a high impact event. Technology examples include engineering advances in alternative energy and transportation. And then there are technologies that directly impact human lifespan and fertility. If the human fertility period could be extended(currently 60 year olds are having babies) for a significant portion of the world population, the current assumption of declining population by mid century might be obsolete. In addition, technologies could accelerate life expectancy well beyond current assumptions...more tweaking of the models. And finally, technology could enhance the health of the elderly, resulting in a more active lifestyle. Every year the number of 70+ year olds in my golf group increases. And as the economies of China, India and other developing countries improves, it is likely that improved health care will follow and lead to dramtically extended life expectancy for close to half of the worlds population.

It is almost certain that the assumptions in the current climate models will crumble under the weight of unpredictable events and advancing technologies. To base policies and/or investment on these assumptions alone is likely to be a mistake.

"Limits to Growth"
MIT did a great job with their predictions 30 years ago.

You believe because proof is difficult to obtain
"The reason that a debate even exists is because it is so difficult to tie observed warming to human activities, versus other, natural causes of warming. Uniquely attributing some observed effect (e.g., warming) to a specific cause is the kind of conundrum that scientific research must continually struggle with. We might all agree on the observations, but what the observations mean is an entirely different matter."

http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=092206E

You assume a human cause and proceed on that basis to your econimics.

What if your underlying assumptions are incorrect? How will that affect your economic theories?


But must not all economists have an underlying belief in an economic system and then proceed to tinker with the knobs?

Real science starts with observation. From an economic perspective, observation should suggest that free market economies and low taxes create the most wealth, yet many persist in socialist views when they have demonstrably failed.

I guess that is why economics is called 'soft' science?

Waytogo, T - - - - - !
Tnx for the comment. Glad to see your search was successful (except for the 'u' in vapor, we take points off for misspellings). 2.5 yrs eh? Well you're a little slow, but you're coming, keep up the fair work. Remember, economics rests on science. Myriad? Cheers, Don V.

Flash, pot indicts kettle - - - -
Only a true lefty-control-freak could bring himself to concieve of "disastrous growth". You can never be too rich, or too thin.

Both forcasts require a disabling level of conceit. Hang on to reality, be satisfied with the facts in evidence and the truth, otherwise politics and human cussedness will carry you away.

Brit spelling
Ah, well, I do edit for Brit spelling in the pieces but not here in the comments. Colour, license, realise, yes, I'm aware of the differences but apologies, I do find them hard to remember in a quick note like this.

I agree, but not relevant
The entire point of the post was not to argue about the science, or lack there of, behind the global warming scare, it was to point out another flaw in the economic model that is used to generate the CO2 estimates that are fed into the defective GW models.

Tim has written in the past on other glaring problems with these economic models.

recognizing reality is now a form of denial. That's a cute bit of redefinition
...

not quite true
He clearly states that he doesn't know what percentage is human caused, and what percentage is natural.

He then points out that if it is human caused, that ongoing societal changes may solve the problem without any extra govt action.

Boomers - the insignificant generation
and, sadly, I'm one of them; though at the very tail end of the demographic and depending on whose defination you use. This generation has long been about excesses, attitude and indulgance. While there are many in this group who do not fit this stereotype, this is about the group and not the individual.

And, as a demographic group, our kids will probably cheer when we are gone.

There are many among us who have achieved great things, been great parents and adhered to the ethics of our fathers and gandfathers. Those people will be greatly missed by those who knew them; but this group has been a plague on our country since about 1965.

You are so right-on with this post it is scary.

models
All models are subject to pertubation from unexpected interactions.

This is a known factor. Any model that fails to include all known factors, is a defective model.
The models used by the IPCC do not include this factor.
This makes the IPCC models even more defective than previously acknowledged.

I think it's more that
LG is afraid that other people will benefit from the growth. Therefore it should not be permitted.

Wading through the debris
I too have been wading through the debris of the baby boomers.

Brokaw called the WWII generation the greatest.

I would submit the one just before that. Those who were born just before WWI, 1910-1915. They survived the depression.

Those who sired the baby boomers forgot what their parent taught them.

Good parrys, guys - - - -
Bon touche's, une, deux et trois; thotful comments. I admit defeat.

Can't we just all get along?
Kumbayah my Lord, Kumbaya ...

Some truth to that
The generation who fought WWII came home to heady times. They were heros during the booming, and often fearful, times of the very end of the 40s and through the 50s. They got caught up in it all and forgot to teach the kids the lessons they learned.

The boomers than went through life with an entitlement attitude, creating havoc and setting up the world the present under 40 crowd is going to have to wade through. FDR may have began the major era of over-spending, but the boomers made it an addiction their children will have to deal with.

Think about it; the federal debt was just $3 billion before the U.S. entered WWI then ballooned to 27.4 billion by the end of the war. Paid down to $16.2 billion by 1930, then ballooned to 49 billion during the depression. During WWII the defecit climbed to 269 Billion and was paid back to 259 Billion during the Eisenhower Administration. Since 1953 it has climbed steadly. It crossed the $1 trillion mark in 1981, was $2 trillion by 1986, reached $3 Trillion by 1990 and immediately went to 4 Trillion by 1992. Rose to 5 trillion by 1996 and crossed the 6 trillion barrier in 2002. It is now over 7 Trillion and rising steadly.

Number of wives matters in pop. growth?
A muslim with 4 wives can't have any more children than 4 other men with one wife each. It is the number of women that are the limiting factor.

Maybe I am wrong. Assuming all cultures have the same percentage of beauty impared women, it does make more sense that you could get a higher percentage of the women married in a culture that hides the women's faces behind veils or under burkas.

Speaking of 21st century economics...
Hi Tim,

You write, "I've always been interested in that part of the process that I can actually contribute to, that part involving economics."

Well, if you want to contribute to the economics component of the debate about what will happen in the 21st century, don't miss this aspect (certainly no one at the IPCC has tuned into this) (amateurs!):

http://markbahner.typepad.com/random_thoughts/2004/10/3rd_thoughts_on.html

http://markbahner.typepad.com/random_thoughts/2005/11/why_economic_gr.html

http://markbahner.typepad.com/random_thoughts/2004/10/implications_of.html

:-)

Mark








Climate change
Guess what? Climate change happens. It's not the Boomers'(yes,I am one) It's not even the carbon dioxide although it may (Or not) contribute. The earths' climate is cyclical, there is little or nothing we as a species can do about it except adapt. We and thousands of other species will adapt,others won't. Such is life on this planet.Maybe we won't be able to adapt if change happens suddenly. I expect we will however, we are an amazingly versitale animal. All the hysteria is for naught. Change will happen whether we like it or not.

Agreed
But it is pretty arrogant of Boomer's to think their demise will bring about massive reductions in GHG production. No matter wat the issue, it seems someone (usually a boomer) makes it all about them.

Changes
"It seems that at least in the North Atlantic region, and possibly globally, there was a warm-cold cycle with a periodicity of around 1500 years (Bond et al. 1997). In the north Atlantic region, and probably adjacent oceanic areas of Europe, the change from peak to trough of each period was about 2 deg.C , a very substantial change in mean annual temperature (though only a small fraction of the change between glacial and interglacial conditions). The cold phases seem to have been relatively abrupt, and each lasted several centuries before an apparently rapid switch back to warmer conditions. on this approximate periodicity are dated at 11,100 10,300 9,400 8,100 5,900 4,200 2,800 and 1400 years ago; they include the 8,600 y.a. and 2,600 y.a. events which seem to have been the most extreme in terms of showing up in terrestrial records around the world.

The unstable nature of the Earth's climate history suggests that it may be liable to change suddenly in the future. By putting large quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, humans are exerting pressure on the climate system which might produce a drastic change without much prior warning. As the geologist W.S. Broecker has said, "Climate is an angry beast, and we are poking it with sticks"."

http://www.esd.ornl.gov/projects/qen/nerc130k.html

Prior to the last paragraph, significant climate changes are noted to have occured in the past with no mention to a cause, just the observation.

In the final paragraph human produced CO2 is implied to be the culprit.

Evidence the earth was warmer before humans arrived exist and that the earth was cooler when humans were expanding exists.

So as you say, humans should respond as they always have, adapt or die.

How to increase population
1. Prohibit abortion.

2. Encourge women to stay at home to care for children.

3. Encourge extended families to stay together to care for children.

4. Encourge mulitiple wives keeping 5-10 years separation in ages. Wives and older children make caring for more children easier.

Veils
From what I observed about women in Saudi Arabia, women were veiled so any raiding party would have a difficult time ensuring they would kidnap only the pretty ones.

Dear Tim...
Dear Tim-- I have a few questions for you. The first, of course, concerns your feeling that we have not ended up with ever accelerating population growth, as Paul Ehrlich warned us about.

What do you think is going on right now? You don't recall that we only hit the six billion mark on the eve of the milennium (1999) and that now, seven years later, we're already at 6-1/2 billion? And you don't think we're headed toward the nine billion mark around 2040? That's the general consensus among demographers.

More to the point, the problem of emissions has to do with energy use, not mere population numbers. You don't think the trend is toward more energy use per capita, as time goes on? That has certainly been about the most obvious trend in all of technologic advancement.

Further, you don't think that as time goes on, more of those starving billions in the fourth world, and underemployed billions in the third world, won't be getting richer and thus entering the cash and energy economies? What kind of future is anyone envisioning, if it doesn't include everyone continuing to get wealthier and having access to more products fabricated and distributed by energy?

The article you cite appears to make the assumption that immigration into the US will somehow cease, and that the only event that will occur is the gradual aging and dying off of the present population. At least the abstract makes no mention of population replacement, but states it assumes a closed economy. From the historical record of American population increase, this would render the argument so seriously flawed as to make any conclusions irrelevant.

Plus which, finally, the important factor is what happens in the world, not just inside the US. The atmosphere and the oceans know no national boundaries.

Any way you cut it, there's a lot more energy in our future. And that means a lot more processes that emit greenhouse gases.

The SRES scenarios
Tim, I don't see the argument. In the SRES scenarios, the A1 story line is the most likely one.

http://sedac.ciesin.columbia.edu/ddc/sres/

We will see a near future world (the next 35 years) with rapidly increasing population, until it reaches the maximum carrying point for the planet and the technology. This will place such a strain on energy demand that any and every means of energy production will be used to the maximum-- and will still fall short of demand.

This will place unimaginable quantities of GHGs into the environment. Take, for instance, the GHG emissions involved in mining coal, transporting it and burning it to make electricity. The world's nine billion future people won't be using electricity? They won't be making most of it from coal?

Or how about the energy demands involved in converting oil shales, tar sands and other low grade petroleum deposits into marketable fuels? Do we expect this process to suddenly become energy efficient? It's certainly on its way to becoming a bigger slice of our energy pie.

Or how about just our fertilizer requirements. More mouths to feed worldwide, plus more money to buy food, will mean less acreage available to commit to biofuel production and more food acreage in need of constant replenishment-- via energy-intensive fertilization. When we take the crop out, we do have to put something back in.

In the coming generation or two energy demand will continue to go straight up. New technologies are at least as likely to exacerbate the trend (historically this has been the case) as surmised new efficiencies are to abate it. So where do we put the emissions?

Limits to growth
"Or how about just our fertilizer requirements. More mouths to feed worldwide, plus more money to buy food, will mean less acreage available to commit to biofuel production and more food acreage in need of constant replenishment-- via energy-intensive fertilization. When we take the crop out, we do have to put something back in."
Assertions?, predictions based upon...?

"Relying on a computer model developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Limits to Growth predicted that world population would hit 7 billion by 2000 and set into effect a deadly chain reaction. The world would begin to run out of farm land in a mad scramble to feed everyone. The price of natural resources such as copper, tin, silver and oil would climb through the roof as the world began using them up.

Inevitably, no matter what sort of technological innovations or changes in the rate of population growth were made to the MIT model the result was always the same -- the collapse of industrial civilization sometime in the 21st century.

The only solution to avoid this horrible outcome? Strict government-imposed controls on just about everything and a restriction of "average industrial output per capita at about the 1975 level." Failing to act immediately would result in disaster. "Every day of continued exponential growth brings the world system closer to the ultimate limits to that growth," the report claimed. "A decision to do nothing is a decision to increase the risk of collapse."

Of course the Club of Rome’s predictions were far off the mark. World population will barely hit 6 billion by 2000 and total farm land has increased by only 5 percent. Although the world economy has doubled since Limits to Growth was published, natural resources remain abundant and cheap. Known oil reserves have doubled since 1980, for example, and the cost of finding each additional barrel keeps dropping."

The final lesson is that for at least some environmentalists, evidence does not count as much as faith in the evils of industrial society. Despite having many of their predictions invalidated, the authors of the Limits to Growth are still convinced they were correct -- civilization is doomed to collapse without the sort of intervention they propose. All of the improvements since 1972 are merely temporary. Someday the world really will run out of oil, and famine and pestilence will ravage the globe."

http://www.overpopulation.com/faq/natural_resources/limits_to_growth.html

"The third attack reviewer is John Bongaarts, a vice president at the Population Council. Like Holdren, Bongaarts essentially concedes that Lomborg is right. Bongaarts notes that "people are living longer and healthier lives" and "women are bearing fewer children," among news highlighted by Lomborg. Bongaarts even admits that "environmentalists who predicted widespread famine and blamed rapid population growth for many of the world’s environmental, economic, and social problems overstated their cases."

Bongaarts also concedes that "Lomborg correctly notes that poverty is the main cause of hunger and malnutrition" and that despite an increase in world population from 1 billion in 1800 to 6 billion today, "diets have improved. Lomborg and other technological optimists are probably correct in claiming that overall world food production can be increased substantially over the next few decades. Average current crop yields are still below the levels achieved in the most productive countries...."

Yet Bongaarts makes the unsupported claim that future increases in food supplies will cost more, even though food prices have been declining steadily for two centuries. The fact is that all leading agencies, such as the International Food Policy Research Institute, project lower food prices. Sadly, Bongaarts cannot resist deploying the inflammatory accusation from Paul and Anne Ehrlich that humanity is "turning the earth into a giant human feedlot." That is simply not true. Most global food agencies project that the area of the earth’s surface devoted to agriculture may grow from 11 percent to 12 percent by 2030. Other analysts, such as agronomist Paul Waggoner, believe improvements in agricultural productivity may be so rapid that less area will be devoted to farming and more land will revert to nature."

"Holdren starts by claiming that Lomborg is "asking the wrong question" about energy. "The energy problem is not primarily a matter of depletion of resources in any global sense but rather of environmental impacts and sociopolitical risks," he claims. Holdren further asserts that "few if any environmentalists" believe "that the world is running out of energy." Earlier in his career, Holdren wasn’t so sure. In his 1971 Sierra Club book, Energy: A Crisis in Power, Holdren declared that "it is fair to conclude that under almost any assumptions, the supplies of crude petroleum and natural gas are severely limited. The bulk of energy likely to flow from these sources may have been tapped within the lifetime of many of the present population." Oil and gas are not "energy," but they are the cheapest and most easily transportable sources for it. Nevertheless, Holdren now concedes that Lomborg is right: The world is not running out of energy."

http://www.reason.com/0205/fe.rb.green.shtml

Communist were and are wrong.

Environmental socialists, those who demand force be used to stop some catastrophe 30 years from now, were wrong and are wrong.

try reading . . . or not
The "disastrous growth" was in pollution, not riches. The axes in the figure are clearly marked. The information was only a click away. But hey, why bother with information when you have your own cute little facts already in no need of outside nurishment.

Living in a time capsule
Marjon-- Why don't you skip the part where you're just harping on simplistic solutions from yesterday that won't work, and instead concentrate on coming up with better approaches to the problem of providing sufficient energy to 2040's world of nine billion affluent consumers. Then you can contribute something by coming up with realistic fixes that don't rely on any dreaded socialistic policies.

It is certainly the case that the most promising of fixes today seem to be market-oriented, and rely on the workings of an unfettered market to make inroads into a problem that the energy producers themselves agree is a real and pressing one.

In fact the main hindrance right now to having the energy markets work out a viable new energy landscape for the 21st century is the fact of government intrusion. Right now government subsidises bad ideas, like corn-based ethanol, like a reliance on coal, and a nuclear program in which the actual costs of this energy are borne by tax dollars and hidden from the public.

Your problem is you are so angry at the socialists you just can't see straight. Why don't you instead beat the drum for our government to remove all subsidies that give one energy source an unnatural advantage over the competitors? Then you would see the markets rapidly resolve the issue in favor of the cleanest, cheapest, most efficient forms technology can provide.

Update your arguments. It's no longer 1978.

Government Hindrence
It is the US government which is preventing the exploration of oil off the east coast, west coast and AK.

Who is oposing wind generators in Cape Cod? Rich socialists like Kennedy and Cronkite.

It is government rules pushed by anti-growth socialists that hinder research and development of nuclear energy.

It is anti-growth socialists which have prevented the contruction of new gasoline refineries for 30 years.

It is the socialists which imposed the windfall profits tax on oil companies a few years ago which forced oil companies into mergers to stay in business. Had the money been available for R&D or paid out to stockholders, it would have been put to better use than to hinder oil exploration.

I am opposed to anyone who want to steal my money. And that is what socialists are doing. And that does make me angry.

And I would suppport the elimination of ALL subsidies and hindrences to energy production and research in all areas.

Bring on the breeder reactors!

Demonizing history
I see. It's more important to you to rail against whatever you are against-- no matter how out of date that is-- than to look toward the future and try to suggest better solutions.

Maybe you should write a book. You are not alone in having this backwards orientation, and others who think like you might buy it. Tell them that despite having had a vigorous, pro-active right wing government in place for seventeen of the past 25 years, we are still being run by the Soshalists.

The present we are now enduring is one resulting from the future your people have been making for the past generation. If you don't like it, propose how we might change it.

Pollution?- - - - - - - -
Tnx for making your hazy comment clear, Lib. As you no doubt know, the piece & discussion were about econimics and global warming, not about pollution. That is, unless you consider CO2 to be pollution.

As you also, no doubt, know real pollution has been diminishing for decades and is predicted to continue to do so.

pollution growth
Some forms of pollution are decreasing, thanks to environmental regulation. CO2 (greenhouse gas) pollution is increasing and causing global warming that will become a human catastrophy (caused by and bad for humans).

Of course, there was CO2 in the air already before the industrial revolution, but too much of a good thing can be bad -- think loud music becoming way way too loud music that breaks eardrums.

I am for...
...individual liberty and returning to a Constitutional form of government.

I oppose efforts contrary to those ends.

In spite of access to so much more information, so many are ignorant of the past. Luddite claims of disaster without more government control continue in spite of no disaster occurring. Just like those who claim the world will end tomorrow. (Sounds like a religion.)

What we are suffering today because of the socialist policies implemented by FDR and added to by subsequent socialists. (FDR can't take all of the blame, Lincoln did his share.)

BTW, the Republicans took control of the House, which must initiate budgets, in 1994.
The mindset that the government must take care of you has been growing since the '30s and will require generations to expunge.
People want to be taken care of and if a politician can get voted in by promising to do that, they will continue to be voted in until the country goes bankrupt or people realize that they are being conned.

How do we change it?

1. If you are registered independent, register Libertarian or Constitutional party. Any party, no matter how small, that is most politically aligned with your views.

2. Vote in every election.

3. Write your politicians and newspapers.

Welfare reform was started. Border control is finally getting a serious look.
Politicians listen when they believe they will loose.

Stop breathing, you are polluting the atmosphere with CO2.
.

Fact are stubborn things - - - -
Tnx again, your sincere and thotful comments are quite seriously considered and appreciated. Real and imagined pollution is dimishing due to tech advances and regs. But at what cost:benefit ratio? A debate for another article.

Here are some facts:

1) The warming effect of CO2 is well known from ordinary lab tests. The IR band that CO2 intercepts is mostly already aborbed by present concentrations. As CO2 increases, the absorption is logrithmic, i.e. each added CO2 molecule has less IR to intercept, so it is less effective in warming. (The law of diminishing returns.) Even if CO2 doubles or triples over the centuries, the theoretical warming will be trivial, a degree or two.

2) The ultimate experiment, tho, has already been done, albeit inadvertently, and the results are in. The earth's aerial CO2 has been increased by about a third over the past half century. And guess what? Global warming is at about a degree per century, consistent with the lab results, even assuming it's all caused by CO2.

So cheer up, Lib. There're are even more happy aspects of this that I won't burden you with here. The left had better start looking for their next scare-du-jour, if you expect to successfully take political control of the planet.

Is this GW denial?
Are you contradicting the consensus of climate scientists and claiming that human caused global warming is not a problem? Maybe you're saying that climate scientists are striving for a goal that eluded the ***** and the Communists (and the Romans, the Turks, ...), world domination? Somewhere inside a vulcanic crater there is a secret lab run by Dr. Evil directing the world's scientists to synchronize their research?

Mornin' Lib, yaawwwnn - - - - - - -
Denial? (pardon the coffee slurping sounds) You betcha pilgrim (poor John Wayne imitation), in spades! Don't be so gullible. Look at the facts yourself: and think for yourself. Separate reality from your unfortunate political loyalties. You don't have to be a genius to evaluate the data, it is easily available. Try it, you'll like it.

"Consensus" of "scientists"? Science is not about consensus, it's about reality and facts. Even, if there were a 'consensus', give us the figures and authors of the data. On the other hand, ~17,000 skeptics, against your thesis, have listed their names andd qualifications on the web. Where's your list? I'll give you this, the MSM is definitly in the hoax camp.

Recall Y2K, Swine Flu, acid-rain, now, Bird Flu? Do we discern a Chicken Little & Wolf-Crier pattern here? Have a little more respect for your own intellect. Make up your own mind. Scientists on the government teat are just as venal, and I say more so, than those in industry. Cheers. Don

govt experts
In another thread, roy declared that the success of govt economists in steering the economies of the world is just another reason to trust the weather models.

Studies show that as people age, their energy useage goes down
Why is it arrogant of boomers to believe that this trend will continue?

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