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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A voice from the other side

Here's an interesting article concerning global warming. The article points to counterfactual evidence that the current warming trend signals the end of life as we know it.

Here's an interesting long-term graph:



The hockey stick is the standard argument for why things are so much different now, and this period of warming is correlated with increased greenhouse emissions which are man made. Ergo, cut the greenhouse emissions and we cut the global warming. The problem? Cutting greenhouse emissions means reducing economic activity as it is currently structured - we would need new technologies that allow us to produce the same amount of output without the greenhouse emissions. While this is possible, it seems unlikely that such a transition can be introduced in a relatively short period of time - the famous 10 years is probably not long enough?

Not being an expert on global warming, but understanding statistics and trends, the argument concerning this issue has been interesting. In many ways, the global warming debate is similar to the debates we have in economics - everybody has an opinion and feels obligated to share that opinion but very few actually have a solid understanding of the underlying mechanism. In the end, the debates over economics result in changes in the minimum wage, or minor changes in the tax system. Debates over global warming, however, can have much larger consequences for our everyday life.

Here is an interesting paragraph from the Telegraph article:
Scores of scientific papers show that the medieval warm period was real, global and up to 3C warmer than now. Then, there were no glaciers in the tropical Andes: today they're there. There were Viking farms in Greenland: now they're under permafrost. There was little ice at the North Pole: a Chinese naval squadron sailed right round the Arctic in 1421 and found none.
If these statements are true, they provide something to think about.

Comments:
what software did you use to create the plot above? thx.
 
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