20 Nov 2006

Koffi's Klimate Kalamity

One of my biggest problems with the climate change doomsayers is that they try and couch global warming in terms of morality, when actually it's all about money. Environmentalism is becoming the new moral touchstone. Anyone who questions that the developing world is being made to suffer disproportionate devastation by greedy rich nations spewing carbon into the atmosphere is looked upon about as badly as someone who grabs a megaphone and starts hollering the "n" word in public.

Yet green is the
new colour prejudice, whereby everyone who is not a shade of Ireland is an ignorant,selfish,dangerous and wicked person.

Morality is a subject that is endlessly relative: one man's probity is another's perversion. However money is something that, at least since the collapse of Marxism, we can all more or less agree upon. It's hard to argue that more government equals less economic growth, that free markets trump closed ones, that wealth must be generated before it can be shared and so on. Except when it comes to global climate change and environmentalism.

Ron Bailey asks the excellent question: Is global warming worse than what governments might try to do about it? If the UN joins in, as with the recently concluded Nairobi UN Conference on climate change, we should pause. When Kofi Annan delivers yet another one of his
passive aggressive lectures along the lines of "the debate is over, we are all going to die and rich people are the cause of that", then global warming should give over to global worrying.

He has the UK government's Stern Review to back him, showing how little,supposedly, it will take of world GDP to stabilize greenhouse emissions over the next 100 years. Only 1% per annum to avoid the ecological apocalypse that awaits us all! It all sounds so reasonable. However most developing countries cannot gain GDP increase over their population growth.

Kenya has hardly managed more than 1.5% annual growth in GDP vs +3.5% population increase for two decades. Imagine Kenya sustains 4% GDP growth over the next 20 years. Adding 1% cost of "environmental management" actually will mean that Kenya will remain considerably poorer two decades hence than it is now, on paper at least.

Yet poor countries maintain, not unreasonably, than they cannot affcord any cut in their already precarious GDP growth, so the green management costs would have to be borne by the developed world. This will put the actual cost to developed countries at something more like 2-3% of their annual GDP. However, various developed countries like many in Europe and Japan for years, have managed less that 2% GDP increase per annum. What sounds reasonable suddenly becomes politically impossible.

These are the sort of sobering facts that should enlighten the climate change debate, not as at present a cross between a scientific Inquisition and a morality play.

The realm of climate change and the infamous
Kyoto Protocol abound in similar perversities. For example, Kyoto gives rich countries carbon credits for preserving forests which soak up carbon dioxide, but no incentive whatsoever for developing countries to do the same. That helps account for the incineration of the tropical forests in Indonesia,Malasia and Borneo which are, you guessed it, adding to global warming.

Ron Bailey asks if the hundreds of trillions of dollars that the Stern Report "modest proposal" actually means in GDP terms was put to use on building wealth and technology, what would be the result? Arguably that poor countries could grow richer and therefore afford to handle the results of global warming (the way Holland manages rising sea levels with an economy worth only $500 billion a year).

Unlike what Kofi Annan says when using the UN Climate Change Conference as a moral wedge for more power us by the United Nations, the debate is far from over. It is in fact just beginning.

1 comment:

H. Lewis Smith said...


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