I am in the plenary session hall at the Moon Palace, where diligent readers of this humble blog will recall that Ms. Figurehead, the president of the UN climate conference here in Cancun, opened these quaint proceedings last week with a prayer to the Moon Goddess of the ancient dwellers in what is now Mexico.
The vast, characterless session hall is known – appropriately enough – as the Cenote hall. Those familiar with the Spanish dialects of the New World will recognize the appropriateness of this designation. For a cenote is a sinkhole. Cenotes are widespread in the Mexican jungle, beneath great limestone caps. They were regarded as sacred by the “first nations”, as the indigenous peoples are now coyly called, and archaeologists have had much fun diving beneath the waters in the cenotes to recover all manner of pre-Columbian artefacts and assorted archaeological knick-knacks.
It is in the Sinkhole Hall that the President of Mexico, Señor Felipe Calderon, has just announced to admiring gasps from 1000 gaping enviro-zombs that he is to launch a Grand Initiative To Smash Global Warming And Make It Go Away, So There. And what, you may ask with a trembling frisson of salivating anticipation, was the President’s Grand Initiative?
Wait for it … wait for it!
OK, I’ll tell you. El Presidente is – tell it not in Gash and Ashkelon – going to ban the use of proper light-bulbs throughout Mexico. Ban light-bulbs. Throughout Mexico. Really and truly. I kid you not. Gee wow golly gosh.
As I sat and listened to the President, who talks even faster than me, I wondered if there was anything else new in his speech. Most of it sounded not just old but stale – a kooky cookie of a speech, long past its sell-by date.
The worstest ever problem the world has ever faced. Heard that before somewhere. Rising temperature. Natch: yet Cancun this morning was so cold, at 54 Fahrenheit, that it set a new 100-year record low for this day of this month (but don’t expect to read about this in any of the mainstream media: it’s Off Message). Rising sea levels. Pull the other one, Excellencia: it’s got bells on. Melting glaciers. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. Need for international co-operation, courage, vision, yada yada. Gimme the cash: huge amounts of money from Western nations in reparation for their “climate debt” to developing nations like – er – Mexico. And so, tediously, ramblingly, near-hysterically on.
I turned to the rather spectacular young lady on my left, from the Eco-Village Movement (83,000 self-sustaining villages and urban communities in 100 countries), and asked whether the President had said something interesting that my indifferent comprehension of Mexican Spanish had failed to catch. No, she said, with a shapely sigh. She rather wondered why she had come.
There was a question-and-answer session: the only moment in the entire two-week beano when us ordinary citizens were allowed a voice. I was called to speak, but could not because my microphone had somehow been disconnected. Funny, that. So I passed the opportunity to a Singaporean gentleman who, it turns out, has made a fortune peddling a fuel additive which, he told me enthusiastically, improved average gas mileage by 10-35%. The Duke of Wellington would have said, “Sir, if you will believe that, you will believe anything.”
To pass the time – policemen with guns were not allowing anyone to leave while the President was in the room – I decided to calculate just how much “global warming” his Grand Initiative would forestall. I have recently been preparing a learned paper for the Econometrics Journal on the so-far-unaddressed but surely not-unimportant question of how to determine the amount of “global warming” that might actually be prevented by any proposed strategy to mitigate future “global warming” by taxing or regulating carbon dioxide emissions, or by adopting alternative technologies. So all the relevant equations were to hand.
Here goes, then. Electricity accounts for 40% of global carbon dioxide emissions. Mexico accounts for 1% of world electricity consumption. Light-bulbs use at most 3% of that electricity. Mercury-vapor fluorescent bulbs reduce electricity consumption per candela by – at the very most – 33% compared with incandescent bulbs that one can actually read by. So, once the President’s Initiativo Grande has been put into full effect throughout Mexico, world carbon emissions will have fallen by 40% of 1% of 3% of 33%, or a dizzying 0.004%.
So far, so good. We shall generously assume that 0.004% of the entire manmade greenhouse-gas contribution since 1750 will be forestalled by the Grand Initiative. Now for the equation. The amount of CO2 concentration forestalled by, say, 2100, is in the present instance, 0.004% of the difference between the CO2 concentration predicted for that year, 836 parts per million by volume on the IPCC’s A2 emissions scenario, and the CO2 concentration of 278 ppmv which the IPCC thinks was present in 1750.
So we’re looking at 0.00004(836-278), or 0.0223 ppmv. Not a lot, really.
Now we calculate the “global warming” that will be forestalled by reducing carbon emissions by this amount. For this we need another equation: 88% of 5.35 times the natural logarithm of [836 / (836 – 0.0223)]. And the answer? A little over 0.0001 Celsius, or around one five-thousandth of a Fahrenheit degree. And only that much if the IPCC’s exaggerated estimate of future warming is correct. If not, make that well below one ten-thousandth of a Fahrenheit degree. Either way, extravagantly pointless.
In the UK, the Climate Change and National Economic Hara-Kiri department has already enthusiastically banned real light-bulbs in favor of the flickering, mercury-filled alternatives which – if the appropriate EU “Directive” is followed – require a specialist cleanup team at a cost of $3000 every time one of the wretched things gets smashed.
On my recent visit to the Department, formerly the down-to-earth Ministry of Agriculture and now the up-in-the-air Ministry of Fantastical Nonsense, I asked its chief number-cruncher whether he could show me his calculations demonstrating how much “global warming” the $1.2 trillion that the Ministry of Madness plans to spend over the next 40 years will forestall.
He harrumphed that he had done no such calculation, so I asked: “In that case, Professor, on what rational basis is any of this expenditure being made or proposed?” Red-faced with embarrassment, he couldn’t answer that one either. Neither can I, for only a fool hunts a reason for the doings of fools.
However, with my econometric equations I can now work out how much “global warming” the Ministry of Pointless Extravagance will forestall with its – well, with its pointless extravagance. We begin with two very generous assumptions: first, that the IPCC’s estimates of how much “global warming” CO2 causes are not absurd exaggerations; secondly, that the Ministry of Misplaced Munificence has not flagrantly underestimated the cost of shutting down 80% of the British carbon economy by 2050.
Once again, then, hold on to your sombreros, amigos. Using the same analysis as before, there will be 506 ppmv CO2 by 2050, or just 5 ppmv less if the Ministry of Mumbo-Jumbo gets its way. “Global warming” forestalled will be just 0.03 Celsius, or around a twentieth of a Fahrenheit degree. And the cost per Celsius degree of warming prevented? A mere $34 trillion, or seven years’ total worldwide gross domestic product.
And that is why, Mr. President, one is less than impressed by your Grand Initiative. Don’t you think it strange, gentle reader, that after 22 years of The Process the very first serious calculations indicating just how spectacularly, gloriously futile is every proposed strategy for curbing carbon emissions are those that will appear in my forthcoming paper? No one, as best I can discover, has ever attempted to do this essential math before. Why on Earth not? Because, of course, the climate extremists know perfectly well what the answer will be.
Must stop now: time to pray to the Moon Goddess. At least the moon is brighter than those miserable new light-bulbs.
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