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Sunday, October 02, 2005

Global Warming: Three Questions Need Answering

The problem with the global warming debate is that the debaters have jumped past the real questions and gone straight to the conclusions they favor, and rattled off the policy implications they favor.

In my opinion, the argument for global warming is a tad too convenient, given the awful track record of gloom&doom prediction. After all, in the 1970s, global cooling was the gloom & doom story of the day.

But I'm willing to be convinced, and here's my three questions:

1. Is global warming occuring?

2. If so, is it primarily due to human factors, such as CO2, or due to natural factors, such as natural variability in climate and solar output? Question 2A: what can be done about it?

3. If the answer to 1 is Yes and 2 is also "Primarily due to human factors" and "There is something that can be done", what precisely can be done?

The "Kyoto Narrative" to the above questions would be:

1. Yes.
2. Yes, and the problem is primarily CO2 emissions from rich countries.
3. The policy remedy is to regulate CO2 emissions in rich countries for now, and get the bureaucratic infrastructure in place for a far more restrictive regime later.

Note that if the answer to 2 is "Natural factors" (as reports from Mars indicate may be the case, particularly if increased solar output is causing solar-system-wide warming), policy remedies would be significantly different, focusing on mitigation as opposed to the "climate management" strategy of Kyoto.

Before the world spends trillions on any efforts, we need hard answers to these questions.

I think you've thought this one through pretty clearly. Even if we are causing it, I'm pretty sure that there's nothing we can do about it.
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