Are today’s poorer generations morally obliged to solve problems that may or may not confront tomorrow’s much wealthier generations?

Guest post by Indur M. Goklany

http://Goklany.org

Some people argue that we are morally obliged to reduce greenhouse gases aggressively because otherwise the world’s current development path would be unsustainable, and our descendants will be worse off than we are.

igoklany_gdp

But will a warmer world indeed be unsustainable, and leave our descendants worse off?

I examine these claims out to the year 2200 in a post titled, “Will Global Warming Make Future Generations Worse Off?” at MasterResources.  My analysis uses the IPCC’s own assumptions regarding future economic development and results generated by the Stern Review on the economics of climate change. Note that both the IPCC and Stern are viewed quite favorably by proponents of drastic GHG reductions (see, e.g., here).

The first figure shows for both developing and industrialized countries, the GDP per capita – an approximate measure of welfare per capita – used in the IPCC’s emissions scenarios in the absence of any climate change in 1990 (the base year used to develop the IPCC’s emission scenarios) and 2100.  For 2100, the figure shows the GDP per capita assumed in each of four representative IPCC scenarios used in the Stern Review.  These scenarios are arranged with the warmest (A1FI) scenario on the left and the coolest (B1) on the right.  Below each set of bars, the figure indicates the IPCC’s designation for that scenario (A1FI, A2, B1 and B2) and the corresponding projected increase in average global temperature from 1990 to 2085 (which ranges from 2.1-4.0°C).

This figure shows that, per the IPCC, in the absence of climate change, GDP per capita would grow between 11- and 67-fold for developing countries, and between 3- and 8-fold for industrialized countries.  [Some people have complained that these GDPs per capita are implausibly high.  If that's the case then the IPCC's estimates of climate change are also implausibly high, since these GDPs per capita are used to drive the IPCC's emissions and climate change scenarios.]

Although the IPCC did not provide any estimates for 2200, the Stern Review assumed an annual growth rate of 1.3 percent after 2100 (Stern Review, Box 6.3).  In my calculations below I will assume a more modest growth rate.  Specifically, I assume that GDP per capita would double between 2100 and 2200, which is equivalent to an annual increase of 0.7 percent.  This is also conservative in light of historical experience: GDP per capita quintupled between 1900 and 2000 (per Maddison 2003).

But climate change might reduce future welfare per capita. Stern famously estimated that unmitigated climate change would reduce welfare by an amount equivalent to a reduction in consumption per capita of 5-20 percent “now and forever” if one accounts for market impacts, non-market (that is, health and environmental) impacts, and the risk of catastrophe. He also raised the spectre that under the warmest (A1FI) scenario, the 95th percentile of the welfare losses due to climate change could rise from 7.5 percent in 2100 to 35.2 percent in 2200.

For the sake of argument and extreme caution, I will assume that the loss in welfare due to uncontrolled climate change under the warmest scenario (A1FI) will indeed equal Stern’s 95th percentile estimate of 35.2 percent.  I make this assumption despite the fact that one can’t be too skeptical of centuries-long projections based not only on uncertain climate models but equally uncertain socioeconomic and technological trends. To quote from a paper commissioned by the Stern Review: “changes in socioeconomic systems cannot be projected semi-realistically for more than 5-10 years at a time.” [Emphasis added.] Second, the Review itself emphasizes “strongly” that the numbers should not “be taken too literally.”  No less important, many notable economists have even disputed the Stern Review’s more modest 5-20% estimate for losses as overblown (e.g., Yale’s William Nordhaus and Hamburg’s Richard Tol). [The IPCC itself uses 5 percent as the upper limit.]

[For details on the methodology used to estimate welfare losses for the other scenarios check out my paper, Discounting the Future, in the latest issue of Regulation magazine. ]

The following figure shows the net welfare per capita in 2100 and 2200 after adjusting GDP per capita in the absence of climate change downward to account for welfare losses due to uncontrolled climate change per the Stern Review’s 95th percentile estimate.  To put the numbers in this figure into context, in 2006, GDP per capita for industrialized countries was $19,300; the United States, $30,100; and developing countries, $1,500.

igoklany_welfare

Note that net welfare per capita in 2200 is underestimated for each scenario because the GDPs per capita in the absence of climate change were underestimated while welfare losses due to climate change were overestimated.

Conclusions

This figure shows that despite understating future net welfare per capita:

  • Under each scenario, net welfare for both developing and industrialized countries increases from 1990 to 2100, and from 2100 to 2200. Thus Nobelist Robert Solow’s (1993) criterion for sustainable development – namely, that current generations should “endow [future generations] with whatever it takes to achieve a standard of living at least as good as our own” – should be easily met. In other words, claims to the contrary, if the world’s current developmental path is unsustainable, it won’t be because of climate change.
  • Well-being in both 2100 and 2200 should, in the aggregate, be highest for the richest-but-warmest (A1FI) scenario and lowest for the poorest (A2) scenario, again regardless of climate change. That is, the richest-but-warmest world is to be preferred over poorer-but-cooler worlds. Thus, if humanity could choose between the four IPCC scenarios, for the next several decades it should choose to realize the richest-but-warmest (A1FI) world. In other words, in order to improve net welfare, governments should be striving to push their countries on the path of higher wealth rather than lower carbon. So why are the world’s governments trying to negotiate a deal in Copenhagen later this year that would make their populations poorer and reduce their welfare?
  • In both developing and industrialized countries net welfare per capita should be much higher in 2100 than in 1990, and higher still in 2200, notwithstanding any climate change or which scenario one picks. That is, regardless of the circumstance, future generations, particularly in today’s developing countries, will be better off than current generations. Thus the premise underlying the argument that we are morally obliged to control emissions now to ensure that future generations won’t be worse off isn’t supported by the Stern Review’s own analysis.

In fact, this raises the question whether it is moral to require today’s poorer generations to spend their scarce resource on anthropogenic GHG-induced global warming – a problem that may or may not be faced by future, far wealthier and technologically better endowed generations – instead of the more urgent, real problems that plague current generations and will continue to plague future generations as well.

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79 thoughts on “Are today’s poorer generations morally obliged to solve problems that may or may not confront tomorrow’s much wealthier generations?

  1. It is easier to control and influence poor people. The better off we are, the less control and influence they have. Who is the real threat to human welfare?

  2. If you haven’t read it yet, go read Peter Huber in the City Journal: ‘Bound to Burn’. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. He explains quite eloquently why we’ll not wean off hydrocarbons for energy soon, in terms germane to this analysis, here.
    ===============================================

  3. I have always found this scenario to be completely ridiculous. I subscribe to the theory that if it isn’t broken, don;t fix it. Economically speaking, what is about to happen is a disaster, one way or another. Choking the life out of the economy by making energy incredibly expensive is not going to solve anyone’s problems. Is China going to be on board, or will they just wait for us to hang ourselves? Hmmmm… I think I know the answer.

    That said, I know for a fact that assuming a linear growth pattern in any economic scenario extended 200 years (and even 100, hell even 5) into the future is nonsense. Economies of any make-up, command or market, do not act rationally (no matter how much we would like that), and cannot be predicted with formulas. That is the mistake Wall Street made. Soon, when the IPCC has egg on it’s face, we will all realize that no matter how much we want to control everything, we should never cede our ability to adapt to change instead of trying to prevent it.

    This is why the unknowns in the economy should be allowed to perform their actions on the constants and known variables.

  4. Interesting way to think of the issue, in terms of the economic and moral “imperatives.” Thanks for the thought-provoking essay.

  5. We have more than enough to keep us busy in dealing with Superfund sites.
    There’s nothing to be gained attempting to control the atmosphere outside of screening industrial outputs that are truly deleterious to life. CO2 is not among them.

  6. Today our small daily newspaper highlighted the 103rd birthday of a local lady. Since her birth there have been world wars, depressions, color television, trips to the moon, 78, 45 & 33 rpm records – music on platters to you young ones–, cold spells, warm spells, iPods, blogs, migrations from country to country, farms to city, city to suburbs, and on and on.
    Goklany’s efforts are commendable and he has the knowledge and experience to carry out this exercise. He also certainly recognizes the problems – probably more so than any of us reading it can.
    But, during the life span of our 103 year old lady, life in the US, Canada, the UK, and many other places has changed in ways no one could have known. Some other places things haven’t changed that much. It seems the Climate-Crisis folks want to stop the sort of changes brought about by free societies and make all equal at a lower standard and in lower numbers. They call that fair. What would be fair is to raise all the others but it is not politically correct to say what needs to be done to accomplish that. So we are to have massive forced control and expenditures of time and money trying to get to the lower standard for everyone. As a rebuttal we have Dr. Goklany developing similarly complex and (unfortunately) dubious constructions “For the sake of argument and (with) extreme caution.”

    Maybe with a quiet Sun and a small ice age all this will go away. I sure hope so.

  7. If you accept the Stern report conclusion that climate change may have an economic impact up to 35% reduction output, do you also accept his conclusion that avoiding the worst of climate change would cost about 1% of our economic output?

    Is such a price worth paying for environmental and heritage reasons – i.e. preventing major ecosystem changes (or disruption if you’d rather) and the loss of significant human heritage if many of our major coastal cities eventually (as in centuries in the future) become submerged (depending on whether sea walls etc can save them)?

  8. This is a skeptic blog.
    I believe Global Warming is a hoax.
    I think it is a waste of time to spend a single minute of my time on IPCC and Stern data.
    Especially because the current trend foresees the opposite of Global Warming.

    In regard to any moral issues:
    Our future generations will receive for free what we leave them, free money, in many cases a wonderful infra structure, and all technology developed in our time.

    I really would not know what huge problems or costs we could confront them with apart from a Federal Deficit and a Government that compromises the freedom of the people. The latter is currently the biggest threat.

    Besides that I don’t believe in collective moral obligations.

    I don’t feel guilty for living today and I think it is an absolute waste of time to say something sensible about our future economy and income over a time frame of more than 30 years max.
    Especially if we look at all the Americans living in tent camps today after losing their job, their home and their pension rights.

    I don’t think there will be any development countries in fifty years time.

  9. Anthony

    Any possibility of getting a guest post from Bjorn Lomborg on WUWT and his thoughts re future costs and alternatives?

  10. Growth depends on cheap energy and availability is turning down. Maybe someone will breed just the right kind of super biodeisal producing bacteria, seed the odean and solve the problem, but until then, I think planning should be done with peaking fossil fuel resources in mind.

  11. The goal of socialism is never to raise those at the bottom, but always to lower those at the top, except, of course, for the leftists elites required to tell the rest of us what’s really good for us. You may have noticed that when leftist politicians from around the world find themselves seriously ill, they very seldom resort to the nationalized healthcare they’ve so generously provided for their fellow citizens, but are much more likely to be flying off to the Mayo Clinic. AGW was never about the climate, but always about knocking the legs out from under the economies of the West, and most specifically the US. Not so the LDCs would be relieved of their disadvantages, but to serve the socialists twisted vision that says that any system that allows an individual or country to prosper more than others must be based on theft and oppression. History has shown that a country’s ability to deal with the aftermath of climatic and other natural disasters is directly proportional to its’ level of wealth and that the surest road to wealth is to maximize individual freedom and abundant and economical energy. Unfortunately the “brilliant” bonehead and his band of leftist sycophants are determined to minimize both our liberty and our available energy, not just here but everywhere in the world they can extend their reach to. The amount of human misery, suffering and death that will result if they are successful in implementing their plans will dwarf the impact of even the wildest of Gore and Hansen’s wildest imaginings. A world with more energy than it knew how to use, widely available, even if it required much higher levels of pollution which with today’s technology it does noes not, would still be a better place for humanity than a world with no pollution and much less energy than it needs. But another common characteristic of leftists, despite their constant declaration of deep concern, is that none of them seem to like people very much. You may have noticed how their musings about the future almost always devolve at some point to the concept that the world could a much better place if it didn’t have so many troublesome people in it.

  12. This is one of the best “back-of-the-envelope-analysis” I have seen. OK! A fairly large envelope.

    A parallel from another field: In Sweden we have for a long time had the ambition “not to send bills to future generations”. We have then a small public debt. This has (partly) come about by a stingy policy towards investments in infrastructure. I have always questioned this policy. Future generations benefit more from inheriting a well functioning country, than from a small debt. And – as Mr Goklany says – an increasingly wealthy population will have no problerm with the debt.

    Gösta Oscarsson
    Kivik

  13. Are we humans going to be able to stop the next Ice Age. History says another one is coming and I think it would really be unfair for future generations not to get to see Cleveland, Ohio because it’s under a glacier. We humans today need to sacrifice so that in 20,000 years Cleveland isn’t under a glacier again. Where will the sparrows, blue jays and robin’s live if a glacier bulldozes down their home? Think of the animals and think of future generations. We need to do something now so that the future will be exactly like it was in 1950. 1950 weather is the norm people, anything else is the fault of man. Please work with me to stop a glacier from destroying Cleveland, Ohio.

  14. I should add that we’ll be out of drinking water if we ‘let’ the glaciers come back. How are we going to drink water if the Great Lakes are covered by glaciers, again? We need to sacrifice for future generations.

    Past man did not sacrifice for us and let the wooly mammoth go extinct do to man-made climate change. They did a disservice to us, let’s not do the same.

  15. Great post, a true doomslayer. Anyway, I thought people in Cleveland left for California in the 50s.

  16. From Michael Hauber (23:14:00) :

    “If you accept the Stern report conclusion that climate change may have an economic impact up to 35% reduction output, do you also accept his conclusion that avoiding the worst of climate change would cost about 1% of our economic output?”

    I don’t think you grasp the concept of reductio ad absurdum. They make certain absurd claims, so Goklany is saying “Righto, if you are correct (and I don’t for one moment believe you are, but IF you are) then this is what follows, and this contradicts your own prescriptions…”

    This is a perfectly valid means of arguing to show problems with an intellectual position, and it doesn’t in the least require that one actually believe the claims made, certainly not that one accepts other claims not involved in the demonstration of the contradiction, and especially not that one should act upon it as if it were true.

    BTW, what happened to this “It’s already too late”, “We have only four years” etc. stuff, if all it takes is 1%? Or do the alarmists just say whatever they think will sway opinion under the circumstances without regard for truth at all?

  17. There is another debate to be had, not dissimilar to this and that is for whom are we meant to be ‘saving’ the planet and what sort of life would they lead? According to the warming lobby, humans are the problem and here in the UK, the likes of David Attenborough and Jonathan Porritt appear to be moving towards some form of eugenics solution. Inevitably, one might ask, if the alarmists’ answer is to deliberately reduce the size of the population, what is so bad about their stated effect of global warming that will achieve just that? For the majority of us – those without power, money and influence – the best life chances for we and our descendants is to deal with whatever the natural world throws at us: it is, after all, how we came to be the dominant species and why – alarmists and realists alike – we continue to be here at all.

  18. In April 1909 Robert Peary, Matthew Henson, and 4 Eskimo explorers come within a few miles of the North Pole. And they started construction of the HMS Titanic.

    In April 1809 a chap called Napoleon was raising hell overhere in Europe.

  19. As Anthony always says, GISS’s data are very pollutted by many negative variables …About IPCC we no have confidence, especially for its alliance with Hansen and company!

    Maybe sooner or later we’ll discover that GW has never existed, and we must find another job to Al Gore and company!

    Simon

    http://209.85.129.132/translate_c?hl=it&sl=it&tl=en&u=http://daltonsminima.wordpress.com/2009/04/22/e-molto-difficile-potersi-fidare-dei-dati-giss/&prev=hp&usg=ALkJrhjI3yPeAX2tclo4NS9vGHBUdmW2zg

  20. Dave Wendt (00:33:05) : Well said!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The best world we can leave future generations is one where they have the freedom to live the lives they choice to live. One that is not emcumbered with excessive debt, excessive taxation and excessive regulation controlled by a band of elitists.

    If we are really concerned for future generations then we need to stop this foolishness about GW (warmer is better anyway) and find a way to for the human race to move off this planet in order to survive. Sooner or later this planet will succumb to a natural cause. We are the only species in the history of Earth to have the means to save ourselves from extinction by going somewhere else. Yeah, I realize it is probably way off in the future but as we all know, a journey of 1000 miles starts with the first step.

  21. Thank you Indur M. Goklany,
    Another brilliant study. Why indeed should we the poor throw good money after bad science. We should take care of more pressing issues so that our children will be richer not poorer.
    I wonder where you came by such common sense. You must have great parents.
    Mike Bryant

  22. Well, the new NCAR report would disagree with this assessment (no surprise there)…

    Water Levels Dropping in Some Major Rivers as Global Climate Changes

    http://www.ucar.edu/news/releases/2009/flow.jsp

    Many factors can affect river discharge, including dams and the diversion of water for agriculture and industry. The researchers found, however, that the reduced flows in many cases appear to be related to global climate change, which is altering precipitation patterns and increasing the rate of evaporation. The results are consistent with previous research by Dai and others showing widespread drying and increased drought over many land areas.

    Of course it has to be AGW, not increased damming, irrigation, and diversion of rainfall (not to mention wetter/drier precipitation patterns due to ENSO). Has the entire world lost its mind?

  23. I’d like to know what stage of human civilization has ever been ‘sustainable’? The stone age, perhaps?

  24. I came across a quote the other day that has a direct bearing on this thread:

    “He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts… for support rather than illumination.”
    – Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

    Maybe it should be the motto of the Warmist Movement?

  25. OT – but appropriate for the day: http://www.woot.com has a deal on a home weather station today (22 April 2009). For those who don’t know Woot, they have one deal a day, and for only one day. Tomorrow it’ll be something different.
    Thermor BIOS Wireless Weather Station For PC
    $59.99 + $5 shipping

    No I’m not shilling for them, just thought it worth mentioning.

    Cheers..

    REPLY: Nice idea. But as a purveyor of weather stations myself, let me say that this Chinese made POS won’t provide any accurate data. Been there done that. This one is even worse than the Oregon Scientific WMR968. If you want a quality instrument, get a Davis Vantage Pro 2 here – Anthony

  26. RE: John Levett

    Human eugenics are not the only answer. I have proposed an alternate method of reducing greenhouse gas emmissions through reduced mammal respiration, see LUN

  27. Dr. Goklany
    My compliments for clear common sense arguments.

    World population is projected to grow from 6.8 billion to about 9.7 billion by 2050. All practical measures will be needed to grow food production.
    CO2 is the primary essential plant food.
    Increasing atmospheric CO2 increases food production.

    The IPCC’s effort to reduce CO2 will
    1) Directly harm food production.
    2) Increase the cost of energy.
    3) Increase unemployment.
    4) Reduce per capita income.
    5) Cause increased malnutrition.
    6) Cause increased starvation.

    This bears heaviest on the poor in developing countries.

    IPCC and EPA’s efforts to constrain CO2 will directly endanger the health and lives of billions of people in the developing world and likely contribute to increased malnutrition and starvation of hundreds of millions of children.

  28. John Tollison (00:04:40) :

    Growth depends on cheap energy and availability is turning down. Maybe someone will breed just the right kind of super biodeisal producing bacteria, seed the odean and solve the problem, but until then, I think planning should be done with peaking fossil fuel resources in mind.

    John,

    No peak oil in sight this century.
    Because of new (huge oil finds (coast Brazil, Afghan/Pakistan border region and China for example.
    New drilling techniques.
    Reprocessing old wells

    Natural gas is practically everywhere you put a drill in the ground.

    – Coal approx 400 years
    – Oil 120 years
    – Natural Gas 300 years

    At this moment only one serious bio fuel mad by algae.
    Any other bio fuel neither cost effective, reliable or in competition with the food chain and therefore a very bad idea.

    Have trust in future scientific and technological development.
    There will be a serious solution to replace oil but it will not be wind or food crop bio fuels.

  29. The following are extracts of Nicholas Stern’s Career, taken from Wikipedia :-

    “He was the Chief Economist and Senior Vice-President of the World Bank from 2000 to 2003, and was recently a civil servant and government economic advisor in the United Kingdom.”

    “After his time working for the World Bank, Stern was recruited by Gordon Brown, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, to work for the British government where, in 2003, he became second permanent secretary at H.M. Treasury, initially with responsibility for public finances, and head of the Government Economic Service.”

    And my point is?

    Nicholas Stern has held senior positions in the banking sector and as an economist to the UK Government, he predicted the credit crunch and put in place measures which enabled the UK to be largely un-affected by economic conditions ravaging the economies of the rest of the world. It was under his advice that British Banks were restricted in activities in relation to CDO’s and the sub-prime market in the US and thus our banking system in the UK has required no government help.

    His success as a servant of the UK government makes him well suited to sorting out the catastrophic problems we face of global warming.

    And with Nicholas in the driving seat we can always look on the bright side of life?

  30. i really like this approach!

    why should we pay for the school of our children, if they will earn more money than we do anyway?

    why care for their health, when medical improvements can fix it in the future?

    why build a house today, when houses will be much better and cheaper in 20 years?

  31. We need to change something in the way we are running our lives regardless of CO2 emissions … were are living in a world of finite resources which are rapidly being depleted as the human population increases … that only makes sense doesn’t it?

  32. Gösta Oscarsson (00:52:34) :

    This is one of the best “back-of-the-envelope-analysis” I have seen. OK! A fairly large envelope.

    A parallel from another field: In Sweden we have for a long time had the ambition “not to send bills to future generations”. We have then a small public debt. This has (partly) come about by a stingy policy towards investments in infrastructure. I have always questioned this policy. Future generations benefit more from inheriting a well functioning country, than from a small debt. And – as Mr Goklany says – an increasingly wealthy population will have no problerm with the debt.

    Gösta Oscarsson
    Kivik

    This is how the current economic crisis started, isn’t it? Borrow against the future, when we’ll be making more money?

    Buy more house than we can afford now, pay only the interest on the loan and in a couple of years, our savings and the increased value of the home will provide enough equity to allow us to refinance at a better rate? Only home values don’t always go up and most people don’t save for the future.

    Politicians have the same problem when they push the bills off until later. When later comes around, they want to spend that money on something else for RIGHT NOW, not paying off what they already bought.

    If your country has avoided a lot of debt, then good for you. The USA has debt and crumbling infrastructure. Something more exciting or more politically correct always comes along and providing something new buys more votes than paying down the debt.

    Now I’m a low tax kinda guy, and I also know building needed roads and bridges is actually one of the responsibilities of government. Perhaps the money that should be going to infrastructure is being spent on something else instead?

  33. This just in. Today in the UK is Budget Day. For the rest of the world out there, this means the Chancellor of the Exchequer (the money man) announces various fiscal measures for the future, such as taxation allowances and rates. With the economy circling the drain, we were looking for all sorts of good stuff to do with cutting taxes and promoting growth. Instead we see increases in taxation and, you knew it was coming, a “committment” to cut greenhouse gases emissions by 34% by 2020. Mind you, that won’t be all that difficult to achieve, given that we are going to be closing about 75% of our power generation capacity in the intervening years!

  34. NCAR shows we are losing water and it’s going into the atmosphere where 98% of GHG is water vapor. Gee, and without a computer model.

    IPCC = Catlin Expedition = Gore = Canary Institute = Agenda driven activists.

    All of this can be summed up very simply: we are controlling the population based on what might happen to the planet using a computer model. What could go wrong. We have seen this before and it didn’t work. It’s called socialism.

  35. Ohioholic (22:01:04) :
    “……… Is China going to be on board, or will they just wait for us to hang ourselves? “
    “…. Economies…..do not act rationally…..That is the mistake Wall Street made”.

    I agree with you but I do have a couple of comments

    The Chinese are not fools. They know from bitter experience that Socialism just does not work. (Some 60 million of their own citizens murdered by the government and forty years of total economic stagnation does tend to get one’s attention!)

    Unfortunately some people in these United States just don’t see the cosmic irony of The Secretary of State, Mrs. Clinton, begging the Communist Chinese to loan us money.

    The Chinese will go with what does work and they will really regret the collapse of our economy because it will cause them harm. But, they have an imperative for survival so they have started putting their reserves into strategic commodities instead of into dollars. See here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/ambroseevans_pritchard/5160120/A-Copper-Standard-for-the-worlds-currency-system.html

    Second, while people in finance may act irrationally, the recent world wide financial melt down was not a case. Financial people invested in worthless securities backed by fraudulent mortgages not because it was irrational but because the US government guaranteed them through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It makes perfect sense to make an investment that has no risk, especially if the returns are high.

    So…..who are you going to blame: The people that played by the rules or the fools that made the rules? Wall Street did not make the rules, liberals in Government did. Poor GW Bush and John McCain tried to stop the collapse. Unfortunately, they did not have the political capital after the Democrat party put all of their efforts into making Bush fail after 9-11.

    Regards,

    Steamboat Jack

  36. Thanks Pearland Aggie for the link.

    I see that most of the land area shows an increase in water runoff. We need to fact check these guys work. Something doesn’t look right. Based on the areas that show and increase and comparing them to areas that show a decrease it looks like good news to me.

    The study didn’t say anything about alternatives to why rivers were decreasing except climate change (global warming). I wonder if it could be because of irrigation of crops? The worlds population has increased quite a bit in the last 50 years.

    http://www.ucar.edu/news/releases/2009/flow.jsp

  37. Our water levels are down this spring because so much of our annual melt is still locked up in snow and ice, adding to glaciers that grew over the last two years in our little US version of the swiss alps. Look at the snow pack and water content in any area that is reporting current lower water levels in rivers and streams before you listen to the little boy crying wolf. Look also at the number of wells drilled over the last 10 years. Especially up river and in higher elevations. These wells tap into aquifers that eventually feed into a river down stream. If the aquifer is pressured down by too much water being drilled out of it, more water from above will seep into them, leaving less to seep back into rivers and streams down below, thus lowering water tables.

  38. See also Indur M. Goklany’s papr IS CLIMATE CHANGE THE “DEFINING CHALLENGE OF OUR AGE”?

    . . .adaptive measures focused specifically on reducing vulnerability to climate sensitive threats would reduce cumulative mortality by 50–75 percent at a fraction of the Kyoto Protocol’s cost without adding to risks from water stress or to biodiversity. Such “focused adaptation” would, moreover, reduce major hurdles to the developing world’s sustainable economic development, lack of which is the major reason for its vulnerability to climate change (and any other form of adversity).

  39. Off topic, but I thought you would find it interesting.
    Story form the Telegraph, in London.
    “Antarctic ice cover ‘increasing due to hole in ozone layer’ ”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/antarctica/5200229/Antarctic-ice-cover-increasing-due-to-hole-in-ozone-layer.html

    Some quotes:
    “In stark contrast to the loss of sea ice in the Arctic over the last 30 years, the frozen seas surrounding the South Pole have increased at the rate of 100,000 square kilometres a decade over the last 40 years.”

    “But the team from British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and Nasa warned the ozone hole was only delaying the impact of greenhouse gases on the climate of the White Continent.”

  40. sod (06:27:54) : “i really like this approach!

    why should we pay for the school of our children, if they will earn more money than we do anyway?

    why care for their health, when medical improvements can fix it in the future?

    why build a house today, when houses will be much better and cheaper in 20 years?”

    The problem with your argument is that “you” want “us” to pay for “your” ideals. I say this because you use the words “we” and “our” in regards to educating children. Although you don’t use those words in your other scenarios, the meaning is clear. Just because YOU believe it needs to be done doesn’t mean I believe the same way. You have no right to force your beliefs on the rest of us, no matter what you claim your holier than thou intentions are.

  41. David L. Hagen (06:15:21) :

    “The IPCC’s effort to reduce CO2 will
    1) Directly harm food production.
    2) Increase the cost of energy.
    3) Increase unemployment.
    4) Reduce per capita income.
    5) Cause increased malnutrition.
    6) Cause increased starvation.”

    Well said, and I will add another (which I think is the main idea)

    7) Greater dependance on government – think about it, over the past 20 to 50 years, the common man on the street has strayed further and further from the controls of government – through an increase in wealth, information flow (the internet) and energy “comfort”. The easiest way to bring the people closer to government control/dictatorship is to remove basic needs.

    Combine the effects above with the possibility of a much colder period ahead (crops did not do too well during the dark ages as I recall) and you have a well-laid Eugenics plan by the back door – no?

  42. Cold Play,

    If Britain is in such good economic shape, why did a gentleman justly castigate the PM(?) for bankrupting the nation??

    Primarily you mentioned the banks being in good shape. Where did you get that idea??

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2008/apr/08/creditcrunch.banking

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/ambrose_evans-pritchard/blog/2008/11/24/is_britain_going_bankrupt

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/20/business/20markets.html

    http://www.boston.com/news/world/europe/articles/2009/04/15/eu_approves_extension_for_british_bank_bailout/

  43. David Hagen,

    I read recently (sorry no link) world pop. will peak in 2040 at 8.5 billion. Pop. in 2100 will be less than today.

    Does anyone else see the similarity between the wildly erroneous population models of the 1960’s and the climate models of today (i.e., since the late 80’s)? Wasn’t population supposed to exceed 50 billion? Yea, that was accurate. I would like to see a graph of expected peak population as a function of the time when the projection was made. Similarly, we could have a graph of expected 21st century temperature rise as a function of time when the project was made. I would bet these graphs would lie on top of each other.

  44. Jack Green (06:56:16) :
    Thanks Pearland Aggie for the link.
    The study didn’t say anything about alternatives to why rivers were decreasing except climate change (global warming). I wonder if it could be because of irrigation of crops? The worlds population has increased quite a bit in the last 50 years.

    Check NOAA USA precip over the last “whatever climate cycle length” you like. It’s increasing. Negative correlation to this studies conclusion. It’s BS. we need to spend tax dollars on water storage, not CO2 reduction.

  45. Pamela Gray:

    Looking out my office window to the West, the entire horizon is the Rocky Mountains… currently looking a lot less “rocky” and a lot more “snowy”. Usually by this time of year there is more gray than white. Calgary had a record year for snowfall, which is not something to celebrate unless you’re an avid skier, and the mountain areas are still reporting unusually high snow pack. Of course, the glaciers out there are still growing, but it’s funny that the most recent official word on them is several years old, and they most likely get counted as “shrinking”… funny how 1998 did that.

    All that horizon full of white has to go somewhere, and over the next 6-8 weeks it will be washing in this direction. There have been years in the past that our rivers have crested at dangerously high levels after snowy winters, but we may be looking at records. And of course, because of the way we chose sites for cities, everything is built on a river somewhere.

    In 2005 Calgary had an exceptionally wet June, on top of the already saturated ground from spring melt. The end result was flooding, and a LOT of it. Our main dam, which holds our drinking water, got a very scary crack down the middle after it started overflowing even with the gates wide open, and nobody is actually certain that it can survive another flood year. If it goes, the city’s most affluent area and the downtown core will take massive damage.

    And back on topic, ALL generations are morally obligated to leave the world, if not better, then also not worse for future generations. Once again, it comes down to the question of… define better! I agree with commenters who point out that dismantling our very way of life is NOT leaving a better world. And if the kids I know who are part of the current generation is any indication, they won’t be smart enough to fix anything themselves.

  46. Projections of future growth and prosperity are well and good, except they ignore the 800 lb. gorilla. The $100 trillion or so of unfunded liability.

    Some guy named Waxman proclaimed that the climate bill in Congress would not harm the economy, but would help it by creating new jobs and reducing our dependance on oil.

    “Iceberg? Nonsense. Full speed ahead.” (14 April, 1912)

  47. Cold Play (06:23:03) :

    And my point is?

    ……..and thus our banking system in the UK has required no government help

    My goodness Old Boy what have you been smoking ? Do the Northern Rock and the Royal Bank of Scotland debacles not ring a bell ? Not even a tiny one ?

    Does the upcoming need for the UK Government to seek loans from the IMF mean nothing.

    There’s jingoism and there’s plain untruth. No help because the UK economy has been well managed my eye !

  48. Reading these posts it seems (for a foreigner) that you have fell captive of an invading army of nuts disguised as scholars, thoughtful politicians, respectful pastors, priests, and neighbours, and, above all that, “here comes the sun”….
    It is not funny, though it would seem to, for a very black humor sense. Hopefully you’ll find a solution ASAP.

  49. John Galt!

    If you critizise my argument then you are citizising the main argument of the lead article; future generations will – hopefully – be wealthier than we. But to be wealthy you need to invest. I will change my last sentences in the following way:

    I have always questioned this policy. Future generations benefit more from inheriting a well functioning country, than from a small debt, AND A WELL FUNCTIONING ECONOMY ASKS FOR INVESTMENTS. AND INVESTMENTS WHICH CHANGE THE ECONOMY’S WAY OF FUNCTIONING IN A RADICAL WAY, TAKES TIME (COMPARE THE US MOTOR WAY SYSTEM, BUILT 1950 – 70!) . And – as Mr Goklany says – an increasingly wealthy population will have no problem with the debt.

    A COUNTRY WHICH BORROWS MONEY FOR ITS CONSUMPTION (AS THE US) IS NOT MY MODEL. BUT TO BORROW TO INVEST IS GOOD CAPITALIST BEHAVIOR. OR?

  50. Sigh… Cold Play should have signalled his(her?) brilliant satire more clearly for our US cousins. Ending with a Monty Python quote is unfortunately not enough…

  51. sod (06:27:54) :
    There is a story about the dude that travels out west and wants to go for a horse ride. When all is ready he jumps into the saddle but is facing the rear of the horse. An onlooker comments, “You seem to be facing the wrong direction.” And the dude says, “How would you know, I haven’t told you which way I am going.”

    At the tail end of the text for this thread there is a paragraph with two external links. I suggest you turn yourself around, read that paragraph and follow up on the links given, go set on a stump for awhile and contemplate the message of this thread. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

  52. Roo

    It clearly passed me by and I am a Python fan. Now if he’d said that in his spare time Mr Stern was also a succesful breeder of Norwegian Blues that would have rung a bell.

  53. “John Galt (05:54:05) :

    I’d like to know what stage of human civilization has ever been ’sustainable’? The stone age, perhaps?”

    Assuming you are human and not a robot, you answer your own question by existing.

  54. Surprisingly and quite in line with this, the NY Times recently posted:

    Use Energy, Get Rich and Save the Planet

    The old wealth-is-bad IPAT theory may have made intuitive sense, but it didn’t jibe with the data that has been analyzed since that first Earth Day. By the 1990s, researchers realized that graphs of environmental impact didn’t produce a simple upward-sloping line as countries got richer. The line more often rose, flattened out and then reversed so that it sloped downward, forming the shape of a dome or an inverted U — what’s called a Kuznets curve….

    As their wealth grows, people consume more energy, but they move to more efficient and cleaner sources — from wood to coal and oil, and then to natural gas and nuclear power, progressively emitting less carbon per unit of energy. This global decarbonization trend has been proceeding at a remarkably steady rate since 1850, according to Jesse Ausubel of Rockefeller University and Paul Waggoner of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station….

    Of course, even if rich countries’ greenhouse impact declines, there will still be an increase in carbon emissions from China, India and other countries ascending the Kuznets curve. While that prospect has environmentalists lobbying for global restrictions on greenhouse gases, some economists fear that a global treaty could ultimately hurt the atmosphere by slowing economic growth, thereby lengthening the time it takes for poor countries to reach the turning point on the curve.

  55. Pearland Aggie (10:04:00) :
    “it looks like future generations WILL be poorer, afterall!”
    But they will be more democratic as far as they will be more equalized to the rest of the world.:)

  56. Michael Hauber (23:14:00) :

    If you accept the Stern report conclusion that climate change may have an economic impact up to 35% reduction output, do you also accept his conclusion that avoiding the worst of climate change would cost about 1% of our economic output?

    Is such a price worth paying for environmental and heritage reasons – i.e. preventing major ecosystem changes (or disruption if you’d rather) and the loss of significant human heritage if many of our major coastal cities eventually (as in centuries in the future) become submerged (depending on whether sea walls etc can save them)?”

    No, not a single cent.
    CO2 has ZERO impact so why spending money to compensate for non existing threats?

  57. CodeTech (08:32:19) :

    Pamela Gray:

    Looking out my office window to the West, the entire horizon is the Rocky Mountains… currently looking a lot less “rocky” and a lot more “snowy”. Usually by this time of year there is more gray than white. Calgary had a record year for snowfall, which is not something to celebrate unless you’re an avid skier, and the mountain areas are still reporting unusually high snow pack. Of course, the glaciers out there are still growing, but it’s funny that the most recent official word on them is several years old, and they most likely get counted as “shrinking”… funny how 1998 did that.

    All that horizon full of white has to go somewhere, and over the next 6-8 weeks it will be washing in this direction. There have been years in the past that our rivers have crested at dangerously high levels after snowy winters, but we may be looking at records. And of course, because of the way we chose sites for cities, everything is built on a river somewhere.

    In 2005 Calgary had an exceptionally wet June, on top of the already saturated ground from spring melt. The end result was flooding, and a LOT of it. Our main dam, which holds our drinking water, got a very scary crack down the middle after it started overflowing even with the gates wide open, and nobody is actually certain that it can survive another flood year. If it goes, the city’s most affluent area and the downtown core will take massive damage.

    And back on topic, ALL generations are morally obligated to leave the world, if not better, then also not worse for future generations. Once again, it comes down to the question of… define better! I agree with commenters who point out that dismantling our very way of life is NOT leaving a better world. And if the kids I know who are part of the current generation is any indication, they won’t be smart enough to fix anything themselves.

    CodeTech (08:32:19) :

    Why don’t you keep a long story short,
    Invite the Lady for a date!

  58. Well Economics and climatology have about the same pseudo-science calibre, so the stern article is probably about doubly as good as ancient astrology as the Japanese Science advisors are telling their Government.

    Anybody who thinks that the history of energy development has been a process of carbon elimination, just isn’t thinking straight.
    We started off getting our energy by clambering around in fig trees to gather figs for their processable hydrocarbon molecules. The monkeys were better at getting the higher figs than we were, so we let them get figs; then we smashed their brains with a rock, and ate them after they had already processed the figs. And when a lightning strike set fire to the straw fields, and burned up some antelopes, we found out that they were a pretty good source of hydrocarbons too, so we stored the fire in a pot in a cave, so we could light off the grassland, when we wanted another springbok steak.

    Basically we have sought carbon, and hydrogen anywhere we could find them in usable form. Most of the hydrogen already got burned up by Mother Nature to make the oceans to grow fish in which was another good source of hydrocarbons.

    The world will be still burning carbon long after the Al Gore species has become a rare archeological specimen find.

    So enjoy urth day, and say something Shakespearian while you are at it.

    George

  59. Adolfo Giurfa (10:52:28) :
    But they will be more democratic as far as they will be more equalized to the rest of the world.

    You know, that may be the saddest irony of all…that these types of socialistic endeavors never equalize people by bringing up the less affluent but by rather bringing everyone down to the same level, which will invariably lead to an overall reduction in wealth for all. The cap-and-tax program is exactly that…a way to extract wealth and redistribute it through “watermelon” politics (“watermelon” because those that propose such travesties are ‘green’ on the outside but ‘red’ on the inside).

  60. Katherine (10:42:21) :

    Surprisingly and quite in line with this, the NY Times recently posted:

    Use Energy, Get Rich and Save the Planet

    The old wealth-is-bad IPAT theory may have made intuitive sense, but it didn’t jibe with the data that has been analyzed since that first Earth Day. By the 1990s, researchers realized that graphs of environmental impact didn’t produce a simple upward-sloping line as countries got richer. The line more often rose, flattened out and then reversed so that it sloped downward, forming the shape of a dome or an inverted U — what’s called a Kuznets curve….

    As their wealth grows, people consume more energy, but they move to more efficient and cleaner sources — from wood to coal and oil, and then to natural gas and nuclear power, progressively emitting less carbon per unit of energy. This global decarbonization trend has been proceeding at a remarkably steady rate since 1850, according to Jesse Ausubel of Rockefeller University and Paul Waggoner of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station….

    Of course, even if rich countries’ greenhouse impact declines, there will still be an increase in carbon emissions from China, India and other countries ascending the Kuznets curve. While that prospect has environmentalists lobbying for global restrictions on greenhouse gases, some economists fear that a global treaty could ultimately hurt the atmosphere by slowing economic growth, thereby lengthening the time it takes for poor countries to reach the turning point on the curve.”

    Katherine (10:42:21) :

    Al Gore’s Call Center Gang will drive the NYT Editor crazy and what follows is what happened with the publication from Harold Amber at the Huffington Post.

  61. We need someone to keep a list of the new words spotted recently…
    climastrologist, anecdata… any others?

  62. sod (06:27:54) :

    i really like this approach!

    why should we pay for the school of our children, if they will earn more money than we do anyway?

    why care for their health, when medical improvements can fix it in the future?

    why build a house today, when houses will be much better and cheaper in 20 years?”

    Sod,

    It is your responsibility to take care of your children but it is your duty to protect the freedom of man and the American Dream (for what it’s worth today.

    Any government control over CO2 Emissions is a threat to freedom.

    Any cent spend on the AGW Hoax a loss of capital.

  63. Jon Jewett (06:51:25) : .

    Please notice I said economies. Economies do not act rationally no matter how you try to pull them in any direction.

  64. kuhnkat (07:56:55) :

    Cold Play,

    If Britain is in such good economic shape, why did a gentleman justly castigate the PM(?) for bankrupting the nation??

    Primarily you mentioned the banks being in good shape. Where did you get that idea??
    paul james (08:57:11) :

    Cold Play (06:23:03) :

    And my point is?

    ……..and thus our banking system in the UK has required no government help

    My goodness Old Boy what have you been smoking ? Do the Northern Rock and the Royal Bank of Scotland debacles not ring a bell ? Not even a tiny one ?

    Does the upcoming need for the UK Government to seek loans from the IMF mean nothing.

    There’s jingoism and there’s plain untruth. No help because the UK economy has been well managed my eye !

    END of Attack on Poor me and less of the old boy?

    OOPS a Daisy! Guys I don’t think my post was properly read as the irony seems to have been lost on you, my fault for sure.

    In plain words why does Nicholas Stern expect anyone to take him seriously on a subject he has no expertise in, whilst on a subject he is supposed to be have expertise in, he was a part of the same ridiculous cabal that allowed the economies of the world to go into global melt down.

    Silly me, global melt down global warming I get it.

  65. “Jared (01:44:43) :

    I should add that we’ll be out of drinking water if we ‘let’ the glaciers come back. How are we going to drink water if the Great Lakes are covered by glaciers, again? We need to sacrifice for future generations.

    Past man did not sacrifice for us and let the wooly mammoth go extinct do to man-made climate change. They did a disservice to us, let’s not do the same.”

    Invest in Ice futures! The processing of glacial ice for drinking water is the next great industry! Yaks and Musk Oxen breeding would be good idea too, as we’ll need some way to transport all that ice/water after the oil reserves become buried under continent-sized glaciers.

  66. Cold Play (13:14:15)

    In plain words why does Nicholas Stern expect anyone to take him seriously on a subject he has no expertise in, whilst on a subject he is supposed to be have expertise in, he was a part of the same ridiculous cabal that allowed the economies of the world to go into global melt down.

    Get real CP- Lord Stern understands what you clearly do not!
    Unlike you he has a real grasp of the financial implicarions predicated by sooner-than-expected crocadilic arctic migrational tendencies!
    BTW- isn’t he a total [snip]

  67. sod (06:27:54) :
    i really like this approach!
    why should we pay for the school of our children, if they will earn more money than we do anyway?

    RESPONSE: I recognize you are being sarcastic, but your sarcasm is misplaced. There is a world of difference between spending money on educating our children and on attempting to reduce global warming. First, the benefits of spending on education to society are real and time tested, whereas one cannot be certain that spending on the latter will produce commensurate benefits. More importantly, the IPCC scenarios assume “business-as-usual”, which implies that past and present trends in education (and spending on education, as well as other critical determinants of economic development) will necessarily persist into the future. Therefore, were society to decide that it would no longer fund education then one of the basic premises built into the scenarios would be violated which means that the future levels of human welfare assumed in the IPCC scenarios would no longer be valid. And your descendants may indeed be worse-off (and earn less than you). So if you care about your descendants not being worse-off than you, worry about whether they get an education, but don’t worry as much about global warming.

  68. Passing over the cart (economics) before the horse (AGW) issue, I’d like to address the issue of time. As a cautious layman, I wouldn’t (without recommendation) read anything in the GW field that was as old as 2006. And that would seem to include the (more recent) 1977 IPCC report, since its cut-off date for included research was much earlier. More recent research (Copenhagen, et al) and events (melting Arctic ice, and mountaintop glaciers; methane from melting permafrost, etc.) suggest that this 1977 IPCC report was too conservative. So, a current projection would see climate changes and sea-level-rises occurring sooner. The mountain top glaciers that feed many rivers will be gone. And some areas will be wetter, and others drier. And all this for a larger population than exists today. There will be no place here for the economic analyst; until all the wars are over.

  69. After another 2 years of non-global warming hopefully the people will take action and throw Obama’s policies out on their ass. If the Republicans won’t run on an anti-AGW platform then it’s time for an independent party, or a new tea party!

  70. Justin Sane (21:49:18) :

    “After another 2 years of non-global warming hopefully the people will take action and throw Obama’s policies out on their ass. If the Republicans won’t run on an anti-AGW platform then it’s time for an independent party, or a new tea party!”

    I wished it was that simple!
    The powers behind the AGW scare go beyond the current Administration.

    Opposition is building though.

    Maybe it is time to start a new political party!
    Make it an Atlantic Party because most of the Europeans are fed up too with their political establishment and the EU.

  71. Well I think the title of the essay is based on a false premise; that tomorrow’s generations are going to be wealthier than today’s.

    And I think we are about to find that out much faster than anyone would have believed on the day before last year’s election day.

    So today we have California’s EPA that has so far as I know NO scientists of any knid on it’s panel deciding that the fuel industry must cut the carbon content of fuel by 10%; and that includes the carbon content of all the enterprise that goes into obtaining and distributing that fuel.
    Present gasolines are essentially mixtures of saturated alkanes or paraffin series hydrocarbons; which can be represented as H2(CH2)n. I don’t believe there is much in the way of Ethylenes series of Acetylenes in gasoline, and they go out of their way to remove any trace of aromatic hydrocarbons; which are carcinogenic.

    So the only way to reduce the carbon content, is to reduce (n) which means lower Octane ratings, and hence lower compression and therefore lower thermal efficiency engines.

    Alcohols, which can be written in the form H2O(CH2)n are worse, since there isn’t any stored chemical energy available from that H2O part; and that is just the burning of the alcohol, and includes none of the energy to obtain the alcohol; or grow the feedstock material whatever that is.

    It’s a pretty safe bet, that alcohols or any other oxygenated fuel is counterproductive if the aim is to reduce carbon.

    Well those geniuses on the EPA board (I think one of them is actually a nurse; which is as close to being a scientist as anyone on the panel gets) are banking on some future hydrogen fuel component; but there we have a real problem. The nearest hydrogen mines are 93E6 miles away, and don’t meet OSHA working conditions. In addition the transportation costs are prohibitive.
    Now when you talk getting hydrogen from lower yield hydrogen ores of which we have plenty; then you are really talking about massive energy losing processes; that can only increase the carbon content of the exercise.

    Ah yes; there is that ever present renewable green solar energy which arrives on earth at an average rate of 168 Watts per square metre; according to the official NOAA Global Energy Budget.
    Another 107 W/m^2 is refelcted giving an albedo of 31.3% of which only 28% is contributed by the surface reflection; the rest is clouds.
    So much for the belief that the polar ice caps are a big deal in global energy balance. The 30 W/m^2 global average surface reflection comes mostly from the non polar regions.

    So the solution to renewable green energy, is to commit LOTS of land area to the production of fuel; and wouldn’t you know it, the best lands for that would also be highly desirable for food production; which takes a lot of energy.

    So I think the future generations are going to be scratching for energy; pretty much like we started out clambering around in fig trees to gather figs.

    Oh there’s wonderful article in SCIENCE Vol 324 April 17/2009, on page 326

    “Fusion’s Great Bright Hope” a Long Winding Road to Ignition.
    The NIF combines 192 lasers to produce a 500 TerraWatt beam of Ultraviolte light (351nm). That is more than the total generating capacity of the United States.
    It takes 25 nanoseconds for that beam power to travel the 305 metres from the source to the target; but then the blast only lasts 20 nanoseconds; so it has already shut off before it ever reaches the target.

    The target is a thing of beauty. It’s a small Beryllium spherical shell filled with a mixture of Deuterium and Tritium; well they say Hydrogen isotopes’ but you can bet that no H is permitted.

    If you thought that the Deuterium and Tritium was the fuel; well that wouldn’t be quite true. Actually the fuel is that little Beryllium spherical shell; which gets blown to smithereens when the laser gets there, and squishes the isotopes into near nothingness.
    The Beryllium sphere is about the size of a peppercorn (thermonuclear dimensional unit) containing 150 micrograms of D&T which are cooled to 18 Kelvins. They say it forms a layer of ice on the inside of the Be sphere. How did that oxygen get in there?
    When it goes bang, the temperature goes up to 100 million Kelvins.

    Now get a picture of this little gem; well actually its the size of a ten storey building; and you have all that extremely precise optics sending the laser into the target chamber where the temperature of the Beryllium fuel pellet has to be 18 Kelvins or the D&T hithchikers won’t form an ice layer on the shell inside. The 100 miilion K, is what you were trying to get, so now you have to siphon off that thermal energy fromt he target chamber so you can clean up the mess, and then cool it down to 18 K again so you can stick another Beryllium fuel pellet in there, and fire the whole shebang again; maybe an hout later; who knows ?

    Isn’t this just the most ingenious engine you ever heard of. You have to go from 1E8 Kelvins down to 18 Kelvins before you can put some more fuel in the engine to fire it off again.

    Now if you are wondering why I say the Beryllium sphere is the real fuel; you just have to consider all the energy that it takes (from fossil fuel sources) to machine that thing and make it so uniform and symmetrical that it impldes uniformly. Lemme guess; you thought there was some place In Texas, or Alaska, where you could actually dig up those litle Beryllium spheres by the ton.

    Guess where Beryllium sits on the scale of toxic nasty materials; well so much for the theory of cheap clean energy.

    I might add that many years ago at a laser meeting (CLEO I think), the keynote speaker was one Charles H Townes; who knows a thing or two about lasers.

    And he told those assembled there that if they thought laser implosion was a way to make thermonuclear energy; they were smoking something illegal. Oh he thought you could study high density high temperature plasmas with lasers; but the idea is to obtain energy.

    So thermonuclear is the energy of the future and as they say; it always will be. And thank heaven for that, because if we had cheap clean energy in unlimited quantities; then we could really screw up this planet.

    George

  72. Humanity will not be able to colonize other planets,because of the distances to be covered. But the more immediate danger for human survival is the growth rate of 4%/a in the Third World countries with doubling times under 20 years.While the industrial countries have adapted (with only 1%/a),the masses in Africa,Asia,S-America enlarge their slums,multiply by youth armies,rape and religion and flee to the North into the industrial countries.This will change the technical/scientific level downwards and bodes badly for the future of mankind as a whole.There is little hope that a better UNO could ever enforce procreation rules in accordance with the scientific-industrial level.

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