Obama's New Carbon Gospel Blames Higher Living Standards For Destroying The World

May 6 2014, 2:08pm CDT | by

The Obama administration released an impressive report this morning. The U.S. National Climate Assessment, titled “Climate Change Impacts in the United States” is an 829-page jeremiad. Its heft and depth demand that it be taken seriously. Its authorship by 300 respected gurus insists that its findings not be questioned. This is their holy book — the word of the climate gods communicated to President Obama and passed down to the people via word-searchable PDF file.

Herein, the climate change gospel:

Laments the destructive impact that man has wrought on our fragile climate.

“It is unequivocal that the planet is warming.”

Prophesizes certain doom if we do not change our ways.

Sea level is expected to rise an additional 1 to 4 feet in this century.”

Blames fossil fuels for the devastation.

“Oil used for transportation and coal used for electricity generation are the largest contributors to the rise in carbon dioxide that is the primary driver of the observed changes in climate over recent decades.”

“The burning of coal, oil, and gas, and clearing of forests have increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by more than 40% since the Industrial Revolution, and it has been known for almost two centuries that this carbon dioxide traps heat.”

Castigates skeptics for their doubt:

“Data show that natural factors like the sun and volcanoes cannot have caused the warming observed over the past 50 years.”

And orders that penance be paid:

“Studies of price-based policies, such as a cap and trade system, indicate that a 50% reduction in emissions by 2050 could be achieved at a cost of a year or two of projected growth in gross domestic product over the period.”

The 300 climate gurus who wrote the report are advanced in their practice of modern-day augury. Instead of peering at the patterns of goat entrails, these sages instead squint at the secretions of complex computer models. With these models they have peered 100 years into the future, and with greater confidence than TV weathermen forecasting a chance of rain later in the week, they prophesy two possible outcomes for our future.

First, is the dreaded “A2″ scenario, where global carbon emissions continue to increase, thus summoning a dark age of raging seas, violent storms, submerged islands, melting permafrost, drought, acidified oceans, and a greater incidence of asthma.

Then there is “B1,” wherein global emissions are reduced significantly over the next 100 years, thus mitigating the worst of the Climate God’s wrath, but still punishing us with a slightly hotter world (temperatures up 2.5 degrees by 2090 under B1, versus up 4.7 degrees under A2).

The message: The change is upon us no matter what we do. You don’t want to live in an A2 world. B1 represents the least we should do if we care about the children. And the children’s children.

So how, oh blessed Oracle of the 300, can we strive towards B1?

Sack cloth and ashes, sort of. You know those underpinnings of the past 200 years of economic growth and human advancement — ever cheaper energy and ever expanding infrastructure? We’ve got to stop all that.

“Annual global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and industrial sources like cement manufacture need to peak by 2035 to 2040 at around 44 billion tons of CO2, and decline thereafter. The scale of the task can be seen in the fact that these global emissions were already at 34 billion tons of CO2 in 2011″ — and rising at a rate of .92 billion tons per year.

And here are some powerful verses about how to do it:

Achieving the B1 emissions path would require substantial de-carbonization of the global economy by the end of this century, implying a fundamental transformation of the global energy system. Details of the energy mix along the way differ among analyses, but the implied involvement by the U.S. can be seen in studies carried out under the U.S. Climate Change Science Program and the Energy Modeling Forum. In these studies, direct burning of coal without carbon capture is essentially excluded from the power system, and the same holds for natural gas toward the end of the century – to be replaced by some combination of coal or gas with carbon capture and storage, nuclear generation, and renewables. Biofuels and electricity are projected to substitute for oil in the transport sector. A substantial component of the task is accomplished with demand reduction, through efficiency improvement, conservation, and shifting to an economy less dependent on energy services.

I know it sounds like a lot, dear reader, but don’t freak out yet. We all just have to give a little. Remember, “a 50% reduction in emissions by 2050 could be achieved at a cost of a year or two of projected growth in gross domestic product over the period.”

Got that? All we have to do to achieve the great de-carbonization is to accept slower economic growth than what we’re enjoying now. After all, that model is already proven — during the anemic economic years since 2007 the United States has already cut its carbon emissions by 10%. A Great Depression redux could really give us a push in the right direction.

On page 652 of the report there’s a graph depicting the forces that have driven carbon dioxide emissions since 1963. Helping to reduce emissions have been increases in energy efficiency and decreases in the carbon intensity of industrial processes. The structural change in the U.S. economy away from manufacturing has also helped. But there’s two factors that add to emissions: First, the increasing population, up 50% in those years. Second, and the the most significant driver — the rise in per capita income.

That’s right. The better off we are, the more carbon we emit, the more we destroy the world. So it follows directly that if we’re going to get on the B1 path, we will all have to live a little less high on the hog. Think of it as a tithe that we must willingly pay to the Carbon God.

The report suggests that the United States pursue some of the following mitigation measures: higher automobile mileage standards, limits on power plant emissions, emissions permits for industrial facilities, subsidies for weatherization, efficient appliances, biofuels, electric vehicles; loan guarantees for advanced energy technologies; executive orders requiring federal buildings to reduce energy use and buy alternative fuel vehicles. And carbon cap-and-trade programs.

And yet my favorite parts of this report are where the 300 admit a little bit of uncertainty, or talk about the unintended consequences of quashing fossil fuel emissions. Like this bit:/>/>

“Natural variations in climate include the effects of  cycles such as El Nino, La Nina and other ocean cycles; the 11-year sunspot cycle and other changes in energy from the sun, and the effects of volcanic eruptions. Globally, natural variations can be as large as human-induced climate change over timescales of up to a few decades.”

And then there’s the matter of the historical record:

“Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are currently higher than any times in at least the last 800,000 years. Paleoclimate studies indicate that temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have been higher in the distant past, millions of years ago, when the world was very different than it is today.”

And there’s even some minor drawbacks to cutting coal emissions:

“The cooling in mid-century that was especially prevalent over the eastern half of the U.S. may have stemmed partly from such natural variations and partly from human influences, in particular the cooling effects of sulfate particles from coal-burning power plants, before these sulfur emissions were regulated to address health and acid rain concerns.”

When and if you read the report for yourself, keep in mind that the most recent data is from 2012 and much of it is even older. So when they state that hurricane activity in the Atlantic basin has gotten stronger, they are not factoring in the abnormally low activity of the past two years. When they state that winter comes later and leaves earlier and that ice cover on the Great Lakes is down 63% since the 1970s, they are not considering the effect of last winter’s unrelenting Polar Vortex. When they state that corn ethanol can help reduce carbon emissions associated with automotive transportation, they are a couple years behind the research.

Whether or not you are a true believer of the Carbon Gospel or a cynic, there’s no arguing that this National Climate Assessment represents the received Carbon Gospel consensus as revealed by the Oracle of the 300 (and we all know that the consensus is never wrong).

This is the science that will inform the debate and will serve as cover for President Obama and his agencies to assert control. First the control will be over the big emitters of carbon. Then the smaller emitters. And eventually it will get down to individuals. Remember page 652: the prime driver of increased carbon emissions in the United States is the rise in per capita income. With a correlation that direct, how long before “the rich” are assessed a personal carbon tax to offset the damage they do to the world?

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Amazon Black Friday 2014 Sale has Started
Amazon Black Friday 2014 Sale has Started
The Amazon Black Friday 2014 sale is officially here. Earlier than ever Amazon offers Black Friday 2014 deals.
 
 
New factor in liver cancer progression discovered
Vienna, Nov 21 (IANS) Researchers from the Medical University of Vienna in Austria have discovered a new factor in the development and progression of the most common type of liver cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the university has said.
 
 
Rare worm in British man's brain sequenced
London, Nov 21 (IANS) For the first time, the genome of a rarely seen tapeworm - residing in a British man's brain for four years - has been sequenced, offering new opportunities to diagnose and treat this invasive parasite.
 
 
'Sexual orientation not a choice, influenced by genetics'
London, Nov 21 (IANS) In the largest study of its kind, genetic analysis of 409 pairs of gay brothers, including sets of twins, has linked sexual orientation in men with two regions of the human genome.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Amazon Black Friday 2014 Sale has Started
The Amazon Black Friday 2014 Sale has been released. The Amazon Black Friday 2014 begins earlier than ever before. In past years the Amazon Black Friday deals week started on Sunday.Amazon will release new deals as...
Read more on Ad Balla
 
iPhone 6 Plus Delivery Time Reduced
The customers will receive the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus sooner than the previous time, as the delivery time of the device has been enhanced.According to Mac Rumors, the delivery time of the 16GB iPhone 6 Plus has been...
Read more on Apple Balla
 
Best Buy Reveals Pre-Black Friday Offers for Apple Devices
Ahead of the Black Friday, Best Buy decides to shake up the market, as it begins offering some great deals for the Apple devices.According to Mac Rumors, Best Buy has reduced the price of the iPad Air by $80 to $100,...
Read more on Apple Balla
 
Saina goes down in Hong Kong Open quarters
Hong Kong, Nov 21 (IANS) Top Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal could not replicate her last week's China Open title win as she went down in straight games in the women's singles quarterfinals of the $350,000 Hong Kong Open...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
'Earth on track to warmest year on record'
Washington, Nov 21 (IANS) The globally averaged temperatures for October as well as the January-to-October period were both the highest on record since record keeping began in 1880, the US National Oceanic and...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
New factor in liver cancer progression discovered
Vienna, Nov 21 (IANS) Researchers from the Medical University of Vienna in Austria have discovered a new factor in the development and progression of the most common type of liver cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Faris, Pratt open up about premature baby birth
Los Angeles, Nov 21 (IANS) Actress Anna Faris and husband Chris Pratt say that they were devasted when informed about the premature birth of their son. However their fath in god was restored when they saw the child....
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Rare worm in British man's brain sequenced
London, Nov 21 (IANS) For the first time, the genome of a rarely seen tapeworm - residing in a British man's brain for four years - has been sequenced, offering new opportunities to diagnose and treat this invasive...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Court orders inclusion of co-accused in Musharraf case
Islamabad, Nov 21 (IANS) A special court in Pakistan Friday ordered the inclusion of three co-accused in the treason case against former president Pervez Musharraf and proceedings against those who advised him to...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
'Sexual orientation not a choice, influenced by genetics'
London, Nov 21 (IANS) In the largest study of its kind, genetic analysis of 409 pairs of gay brothers, including sets of twins, has linked sexual orientation in men with two regions of the human genome. Two genes, one...
Read more on Business Balla