[extropy-chat] Global warming news

Robin Hanson rhanson at gmu.edu
Sat Mar 25 19:46:29 UTC 2006

At 01:09 PM 3/25/2006, Robert Bradbury wrote:
>The comments by Martin seem to be being made by someone who has 
>"bought" the conventional wisdom we see on TV or in the 
>newspapers... "Global warming is a problem", "The glaciers are 
>melting", "We will destroy the planet", etc.  The scientific 
>experiments *were* done *1999* that showed we could fertilize the 
>oceans and produce an expansion of biomass.
>Until someone shows me demonstrable evidence that we cannot solve 
>the problem using this solution, I will assume that all "global 
>warming" claims are specious.  ...

Surely many things that can go wrong between a general conceptual 
demonstration and a full scale solution to global warming.

>Going back to Hal's original statement "the scientific consensus 
>seems to be very definitely supportive of the whole theory".  My 
>response is *so what*?
>... Global warming is disruptive but it certainly isn't as 
>significant a problem as global freezing would be... global warming 
>will make *more* land habitable than is now the case.  It isn't 
>exactly as if Russia is experiencing overpopulation (in fact its 
>population is decreasing).  Sure there are some relocation problems 
>-- one wants to move lots of people from China & India to Russia as 
>it warms up. The farmers in Texas have to move to Manitoba or 
>Alberta, but *where* is the problem here!?!

Yes humanity will not go extinct due to global warming.   But those 
disruptions will have real costs, which we would prefer to avoid all 
else equal.   To economists the obvious solution is to try estimate 
the real disruption costs due global warming, and how they increase 
as the quantity of CO2 increases, and then charge people that price 
for CO2 increases (or decreases).   The price is clearly above zero, 
though the economic analyses I have seen suggest that many prices 
that have been proposed would be worse than a zero price.   I could 
invent some creative institutions to try to better estimate the right 
price, but I don't think there is much chance of their being used 
anytime soon.

Robin Hanson  rhanson at gmu.edu  http://hanson.gmu.edu
Associate Professor of Economics, George Mason University
MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030-4444
703-993-2326  FAX: 703-993-2323 

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