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By Tom Cushing

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About this blog: The Raucous Caucus shares the southpaw perspectives of this Boomer on the state of the nation, the world, and, sometimes, other stuff. I enjoy crafting it to keep current, and occasionally to rant on some issue I care about deeply...  (More)

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Now that we?re all agreed, here?s a chance to create your own year 2050!

Uploaded: Feb 8, 2015

Campaign issues are beginning to round into shape for 2016. The economy, healthcare and terror are 21st century perennials, but poverty, the middle class/income equity and climate change are making strong early appearances. They will all require the candidates to dance and contort (and consort and cavort) in interesting ways -- kind of like the current vax/anti-vax kerfuffle, but bigger. This column will concern the surprising emergence (finally!) of climate change/warming as a focus of the electorate.

Specific atmospheric concerns have been around since the emanation of opaque air in The Los Angeles (there are mountains to the east?) and the Antarctic ozone hole of the 1970s. Global warming warnings followed soon thereafter. Their potency has been compromised, however, by our cultural ADD, the slow progression of the problem, a concerted campaign of disinformation and the inability of Science to speak in unequivocal sound bites. There's also a bit of evangelical selective-scripturing mixed in there, and was it Will Rogers who suggested that folks are hard to convince of things when their paychecks suggest that they should believe something else?

But whether it's the continuing onslaught of confirming statistics or superstorms, a recent Stanford/NYTimes/Resources for the Future poll suggests that the populace now places priority on government action, to a vote-altering extent. 83% of us believe that if nothing is done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, global warming will become "a very or somewhat serious problem in the future." More importantly, 74% believe that the federal government should be working to address the problem . And perhaps most important: that figure now includes 51% of Republicans.

Further, currently 48% of GOP voters say they're more likely to vote for a candidate who favors governmental action to combat climate change, and conversely ? they'd vote against a candidate who calls it a hoax (corresponding Dem and Independent voters comprise very strong majorities on those same points). So perhaps the era of deflection ("not a scientist") and denial are coming to an end ? it'll be fascinating to see what solutions the candidates espouse (cap-and-trade was, after all, a favored, market-based approach before it was transobamafried into the Worst Thing Ever).

But wait, there's more! It turns out that somebody died -- and they really did make YOU boss. Here's a semi-simple-to-use (even a lawyer can do it!) Global Ccalculator that puts you in change of global climate policy! It gives you some forty policy variables to control, and calculates the impact of those choices on world temperature, circa 2050. It's practically a video game for wonkers.

Recognizing that much of the sow has already departed the gestation crate, a goal of warming 2 degrees Celsius over that period has been established as about the best we can hope-for (that's 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, BTW). If nothing is done, the model predicts a disastrous 3+C/6-degree F rise. So, see what you can do, Boss, and how it affects the world many of us hope to still inhabit at mid-century. You can compare, save and share your results in the Comments, there amongst the inevitable last, desperate death rattles of the climate deniers.

My own cursory shot at it
met the 2-degree goal with a 50% probability, and a whole lot of effort. I emphasized variables like achieving slow population growth, consuming less meat (especially methane-emitting bovines), and relying on technology in new and renewables industries to reduce and convert fuel use and CO2 generation. My own private climate was, however, pretty ambitious and costly vs. the status quo.

The population demographics effects are obvious. I was surprised, though, at the size of the dietary impact. Sadly, Bossie's gotta go, or perhaps technology (bovine Beano?) can render her less flatulent? My relative reliance on technology stems from my own industriaI-sector career experience, wherein we would typically rail against the disastrous economic consequences of some regulation. Then the trusty engineers would be turned-loose on it, beat the mandated deadline, and save money to-boot. At that point, of course, the achievement would find its way into our commercials ? as if we'd invented it out of a sense of good corporate citizenship. I chose greater impacts from newer industries, as they typically have more potential to improve.

Anyway, it's fun to fool around with it, so take your shot! Let us know how you did ? and drop a line to your favorite candidate's campaign, as well.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Herman Glates, a resident of Danville,
on Feb 9, 2015 at 1:28 pm

Herman Glates is a registered user.

Globally, more fossil fuels are burned today than at any time in history and it?s only going to increase.

Even if the world implements carbon taxes, cap & trade, mandatory renewable energy quotas, and all other carbon abatement plans currently under consideration, GHG emissions will INCREASE by 15 billion metric tons per year by 2040 according to the EIA, largely due to economic growth in Asia. Web Link

I?ve pointed this out to liberals like Tom countless times. But Tom doesn?t like numbers for some reason.

Liberal politicians love carbon taxes, cap & trade, etc., because taxes give the government more money to spend. They must also appease environmentalists to secure votes. They know it won?t stop climate change. If they were serious about climate change, they?d stop flying to Hawaii for vacation. Maybe John Kerry would sell one of his five mansions that use a lot fossil fuels to heat and cool. Al Gore wouldn?t get driven to climate summits in an SUV.

The way for Republicans to win the climate debate is to pay lip service to the reality of climate change, then note that the US can?t solve the problem unilaterally, and then finally point out how carbon taxes and other climate legislation will harm the economy.

Jobs and the economy are the #1 issue for voters. Climate change legislation consistently ranks near the bottom of voters priorities.

Once voters realizes that the Big Green agenda may cost them their jobs or hurt their pocketbooks, they?ll fall back in line like good little lemmings.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Feb 9, 2015 at 2:30 pm

Aw, Glates, it's bad enough when you cut-n-paste other people's comments out of the New York Times. When you just repeat the same old tired stuff you've posted here in the past, it's barely worth reading.

And had you bothered to read the blog before posting, you'd know that what's new is exactly that the electorate is ready for the pols to finally do something. Sure it's late -- congrats, BTW. So it'll be harder to do, but with the prospect of boiling at dawn hanging over us, we just might still act in a focused way to avoid calamity.

Posted by Herman Glates, a resident of Danville,
on Feb 9, 2015 at 3:24 pm

Herman Glates is a registered user.

The electorate only want to ?do something? because they don?t realize it will cost them money or their jobs. If it?s a choice between climate change and jobs, they will choose jobs.

You liberals are trying to trick the public, just like you did with Obamacare?s cost. You want people to think your environmental agenda is cost free, that green mandates won?t increase energy costs, that your ?cap and trade? really isn?t a tax increase, that carbon taxes will help GROW the economy. Since when do taxes increase economic growth? Lol. What a joke!

At least when I do my cut & plagiarizing, I copy somebody who know what they?re talking about.

You seem to think the world can run on renewable energy and other fairy dust dreams. That?s not scientifically possible.

I wouldn?t have to repeat myself if you would actually LOOK at the EIA numbers for once. But like most lawyers, you probably went to law school instead of business school so you wouldn?t have to look at numbers. Numbers are scary for guys like you. I get it.

You poor liberal.

But don?t worry. I?m here to help.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Feb 9, 2015 at 4:28 pm

The do-nothings always try to pit jobs against progress, to keep people in fear. But it doesn't work that way and it's just not a zero-sum game. Moreover, it's the wrong comparison. I'm with Hahvud's Cass Sunstein:

?My view is that the Republican claim that ?job-killing regulation? is a redundancy as ridiculous as the left-wing view that ?job-killing regulation? is an oxymoron, Both are silly political claims that have no place in a serious discussion".

A better comparison is the net economic benefit or detriment created by regulation, the purpose of which is to internalize costs that are otherwise shifted from one person (say, a polluter) onto the rest of us. That's a much more complex analysis than jobs vs. temperature, but at least it's the right approach.

I think the electorate is beginning to understand that -- plus they have probably concluded that there are no jobs on a dead planet.

All that said, your claim that I fear numbers is perhaps the most accurate thing you wrote. Of course, the fact that I have a pretty good MBA is an indication of just how much Worse all your other claims are. Go check out the Global Calculator and see how high you can spike the temperature in 2050.

Posted by Herman Glates, a resident of Danville,
on Feb 9, 2015 at 6:43 pm

Herman Glates is a registered user.

I tried your Climate Calculator website. It looks like the cockpit of a gob dam 747. It looks about as complicated as the gob dam Affordable Care Act!!!

Now do yourself a favor. Click on this link from the EIA Web Link

See the line? That?s called a chart. See how that line goes way way up? That?s GHG emissions.

It means global GHG emissions will rise no matter what America and Europe do.

Now, I may not have a ?pretty good MBA,? but I?m pretty sure that means we are hosed no matter what we do.

So why should we trash our economy with all sorts of Green taxes and regulation and whatnot if it ain?t going to do jack squat to stop climate change?

Get it?

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Feb 9, 2015 at 9:27 pm

So, Glates, what was it about that Calculator -- too many numbers? Too many lines? More complicated than a Luntz-approved soundbite about job killers?

You bet it is.

But as I recall from the last post Comments, you're the guy calling on people to become informed about their every consumer decision. Well, there it is -- grist for your mill. So, have no fear of it -- just enjoy and study up. There's no reason you can't learn it -- not like it's the Rule Against Perpetuities. And it's not as simplistic, nor as bleak, as you make it out to be.

Posted by Herman Glates, a resident of Danville,
on Feb 10, 2015 at 8:00 am

Herman Glates is a registered user.

Tom lives in la la land. No matter how much evidence you present, he refuses to look at it. Typical liberal.

The U.S. and Europe can?t stop climate change on their own. We could cut our emission to the bone and it won?t do jack squat. To stop climate change, China, India and other non-OECD countries must also cut their emissions. They won?t do it unless the U.S. agrees to pay $100 billion per year to a climate abatement fund that would be used to help non-OECD countries transition away from fossil fuels.

Do you want to give $100 billion per year of U.S. tax dollars to foreigners?

That?s what Obama and liberals want you to do.

Plus, even if we sign a climate treaty, what?s to prevent countries from cheating on their emissions?

Finally, the technology does not currently exist to replace fossil fuels, nor is it likely to exist in the next 30 years according to the EIA.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Feb 10, 2015 at 12:13 pm

The EIA document is interesting, as far as it goes -- which is "not very." It also assumes, crucially, that nothing changes, policy-wise, between now and 2040! Did you miss this tidbit:

"The IEO2013 Reference case projections are, to the extent possible, based on existing laws and policies. Projections for carbon dioxide emissions could change significantly if new laws and policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions were implemented in the future."

Further, it is not apocalyptic, in that it shows both the energy intensity of economic activity AND the carbon intensity of energy use on a DOWNWARD Slope (again, even without changes), meaning that Population will loom large as a variable in the accuracy of its projections:

"The Kaya Identity expresses total carbon dioxide emissions as the product of (1) carbon intensity of energy supply (CO2/E), (2) energy intensity of economic activity (E/GDP), (3) economic output per capita, and (4) population:

CO2 = (CO2/E) (E/GDP) x (GDP/POP) x POP "

Population growth, and 39 other weighted variables, are ALL contained in (Guess Where?): The Global Calculator from which you ran screaming.

There really is one of us who's "unwilling to look at the evidence." But here's a hint: it's not me.

Posted by Herman Glates, a resident of Danville,
on Feb 10, 2015 at 1:53 pm

Herman Glates is a registered user.

Where did you learn to read? K-Mart?

I?m going to type this next bit really slowly, so maybe you will understand.

Ready? Ok.

Today, OECD GHG emissions are 12.8 billion metric tons (Bmt) per year.

Let?s be crazy and assume OECD countries implement draconian new green policies that reduce GHG emissions to (gasp) 1990?s levels of 11.6 Bmt. That would be a miracle. But that?s a mere 1.2 Bmt reduction in GHG emissions.

That?s not a meaningful decrease. That?s a rounding error!

Meanwhile China, India, and other non-OECD countries? GHG emissions will explode from 21 Bmt per year today to over 31.6 Bmt per year in 2040.

In other words, even assuming OECD countries implement all of the ruinous taxes, mandates and other green policies that liberals love, global GHG emissions won?t decrease, they will INCREASE by nearly 10 billion metric tons per year by 2040.

We are hosed!

The problem with your Global Calculator thing is that it assumes you are in charge of the whole world and can dictate what each country will do. You can?t. You?re not a dictator, despite what Obama may think.

Even under the ?agreement? that Obama ?got? China to agree to, China won?t lift a finger to reduce GHG emissions until 2030. That?s not enough! And do you really believe China will honor that agreement? If so, what kind of dream world do you live in?

Look what happened to the liberals in Australia that enacted carbon taxes. They were voted out of office last year and the carbon taxes were revoked. And look how Europe?s carbon market has collapsed. It?s a joke. European utilities are loading up on coal use to keep prices low.

The climate crusade is a lost cause.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Feb 10, 2015 at 2:14 pm

Calm down, Chicken Little. The Calculator assumes a 2 degree Celsius increase by 2050. To that extent, we Are hosed. How much worse it will get is up to the species, of which you take a dim view. I do not, although time's a-wastin'.

Throwing around several large, disjointed numbers whose significance is unknown to the reader (as well as the writer, I'll wager), and punctuating it with exclamation points and exasperation CAPS is not meaningful discourse. However, if your goal was, say, to encourage inaction because "it's just too big -- game over", and "anyway, those nasty [insert favored other country] are gonna cheat" then that's a fear tactic you might employ.

Or you Could just use the model and begin to understand its implications. You might also realize that all international coordination is only directional, but still worth doing. But where's the trollery in that?

Posted by Ed, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Feb 11, 2015 at 1:53 pm

Round 6 to Cushing (I think).

The back and forth between you two is better than the orignal post I must say, more entertaining too.

Posted by Herman Glates, a resident of Danville,
on Feb 11, 2015 at 2:37 pm

Herman Glates is a registered user.

I?ll get around to responding to that turkey soon enough.

I?m too busy right now to write my response though, as I am working so that the government can take half of my paycheck to pay for liberal green fantasies and other boondoggles.

Posted by Herman Glates, a resident of Danville,
on Feb 11, 2015 at 3:33 pm

Herman Glates is a registered user.

Nice link. It's a picture of a guy throwing in the towel.

That's what we should do with all these hair-brained green mandates and taxing schemes. They won't stop climate change.

Posted by TheKid, a resident of Danville,
on Feb 11, 2015 at 4:29 pm

Here's Glates; "I'll get around to responding to that turkey soon enough."

It's Lincoln's birthday tomorrow. He said the following: "It's better to be silent, and be thought a fool, than to open one's mouth -- and remove all doubt."

Coincidence? I don't think so, Glates.

Posted by oracle, a resident of Danville,
on Feb 12, 2015 at 12:28 pm

Cushing argues with himself again, simply pathetic.

Posted by San Ramon Observer, a resident of San Ramon,
on Feb 12, 2015 at 2:15 pm

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.

I have to agree with HG on this. It is really too late to change anything, or at least for most of us living now. I prefer to adapt. The Brits are starting to plant wine grapes. Spain is losing theirs. Some places will benefit from the changes and others will have to change to cope or adjust. That's why I have 7000 gallons of water storage on my property. I will be 108 in 2050, but my mother will be 108 in 2024. She's in Maine. Maine and Canada will benefit from warming temperatures, San Francisco and Manhattan probably not.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Feb 12, 2015 at 3:13 pm

@ orca: nah -- if I was making the strawman arguments, they'd be much more cogent, and less personal.

Posted by Herman Glates, a resident of Danville,
on Feb 13, 2015 at 3:53 pm

Herman Glates is a registered user.

PWC projects that we are headed towards a temperature increase of 4 degrees Celsius.

PWC says that even if the U.S. and other countries meet their pledged emission reductions, global temperatures will rise by 3 degrees Celsius. Web Link

Even Tom?s beloved model shows a temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius, which would make the worst aspects of climate change unavoidable.

CO2 emission reduction efforts will harm the U.S. GDP by 2% to 4% per year, basically sending it into recession for at least a decade or more. Web Link

Obviously, that would be worth the cost if it would stop climate change. But it won?t.

So, the question remains, why trash the world economy if it won?t help?

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Feb 14, 2015 at 10:03 am

First, the PwC (Price Waterhouse CPA firm) report Web Link (which you did not bother to link, or read, I?m guessing) does not stand for the proposition of inevitability of a 4C degree rise. Its sections include a concluding entry titled: ?Delivering two degrees. So what is needed?? It acknowledges what everyone ought to know ? in a non-binary system (hosed/not hosed) the temperature rise will depend on the level of policy effort ? some of which is actually compatible with ordinary economic enterprise (much like environmental clean-up has not been anywhere near as costly, or unprofitable as the corporate cassandras predicted). Achieving two degrees is harder than 3 degrees, and a catastrophic 4+ is the wages of inaction.

Moreover, the glib, smug First World Assumption that it?ll just be business-as-usual as the temp climbs is not one shared by anybody who?s actually thought about it ? like the Pentagon, for instance. ?The Pentagon on Monday released a report asserting decisively that climate change poses an immediate threat to national security, with increased risks from terrorism, infectious disease, global poverty and food shortages...? Web Link

Remember the desperation in New Orleans after Katrina? Those weren?t ?those people,? they were you and me, and our kids, after only a few weeks of no food or clean water. Multiply it by low billions of starving, sick and displaced people ? the victims of drought and vanishing coastal living areas, of disappearing fish stocks, grazing and grain-growing, and on, and on. The Rule of Law and civil society simply disappear when you?re below the base of the Need Hierarchy.

Tax lawyers won?t be needed, BTW, and gated communities won?t hold back the tide of human misery. If you think the Iraq War was an expensive failure at a $Trillion (or even if you don?t), again, multiply it by many times, all over the world. There?s your ?negative effect on the economy? ? and it?s a whole crap-pile bigger and more fundamental than your dreaded 2-4%. That?s what happens if we adopt your ostrich-brained approach, and diddle while the globe burns.

Prevention ALways beats cure, and how much we prevent depends precisely on what we choose to do. The planet will act on its own to rebalance itself (as it has many times before) ? whether our species goes along for the ride is up to us. The dinosaurs were trapped ? we homo-saps needn?t be.

Posted by Herman Glates, a resident of Danville,
on Feb 14, 2015 at 12:05 pm

Herman Glates is a registered user.

Notice how Tom dodges questions?

I ask why we should trash our economy if it won?t stop climate change. His response is basically denial. And then he provides a parade of horribles (floods, famine, extreme weather, etc.) as if we didn?t know all of that.

Tom and the other liberals would have you believe that the policies that Obama and other world ?leaders? are proposing will keep global warming to 2 degrees. They won?t.

As PWC notes on page 1 of their report, ?The sum of the pledges on the table limits warming only back to three degrees.?

So even if we do what Obama says and even if China and others keep their word about not growing their CO2 emissions, the world will warm by 3 degrees Celsius. That?s the best case scenario currently under discussion at the climate talks.

The PWC report says last year we needed to decarbonize the world economy at 6% a year. We managed only 1.2%. To avoid two degrees of warming, the global economy now needs to decarbonise at 6.2% a year, more than five times faster than the current rate, every year from now till 2100.

I am not smug. I am not glib.

My eyes are open. Yours aren?t.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Feb 14, 2015 at 1:29 pm

No dodge here -- I just refused your ridiculous, necessary assumption that the economy would be okay if we do nothing. It won't be for all those horribles that will surely accompany inaction. Pentagon agrees. What is it about "terrorism, infectious disease, global poverty and food shortages" that is so difficult to comprehend? Everybody but you and banned Dan understands that your premise is nonsense.

We trash the economy a LOT worse than your 2-4% if we do nothing. Status quo is unavailable to you, Mr. Glib.

Posted by Herman Glates, a resident of Danville,
on Feb 14, 2015 at 3:59 pm

Herman Glates is a registered user.

I do not assume the economy would be okay if we do nothing. I agree the economy won't be ok due all those horribles that accompany inaction.

But what you can?t seem to understand, what you refuse to acknowledge, is that all those ?horribles? will occur EVEN IF we try to decarbonize our economy in the way you liberals propose.

Again, this PWC talking, not me. ?The sum of the pledges on the table limits warming only back to three degrees.? If we can?t keep it below 2 degrees, then all the ?horribles? will happen.

Of course climate change will harm the economy. There?s no stopping that. But your decarbonizing policies will make things even worse, causing the economy to retract 2 - 4% further every year for a decade or more. And in the end, decarbonization won?t have stopped climate change. And we will have suffered further economic harm in vain.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Feb 15, 2015 at 8:32 am

Ah, now I understand ... your reluctance to use the Calculator that gives the lie to your 'all effects are the same, regardless of temperature' argument for inaction. Nothing you have written demonstrates that 4 = 2 (although many a good tax lawyer can make it so in certain contexts), nor that 2^ = the apocalypse. Quite the contrary.

PwC concurs the three degrees ^ is better than four, and possible on achievement of the pledges already made. Not easy, but not impossible. From their report: "While the mood music for these climate negotiations is around two degrees ? the threshold at which there is a substantial chance of avoiding climate feedback loops and runaway climate change ? the sum of the [current, First World] pledges on the table limits warming only back to three degrees."

Two degrees, as above, is a Much less disruptive result, possible with more effort, and a significant and profitable technology assist from young science.

Your Own Source doesn't even agree with your "we're hosed, regardless" conclusion. Kindly give it up, lest you continue to look ridiculous.

Posted by Herman Glates, a resident of Danville,
on Feb 15, 2015 at 3:50 pm

Herman Glates is a registered user.

I never said 2 = 4. But I probably should have, because when it comes to MOST of the worst aspects climate change, 2 does equal 4.

Look for yourself. If you click on this link Web Link there?s a graph by the National Academy of Sciences that says the risks posed by a 2 degree or 4 degree temperature rise are exactly the same when it comes to damage to fragile ecosystems, extreme weather events, flooding and the like.

Actually, things are worse than that, as the National Academy of Sciences says even a 1 degree rise has the same level of risk to fragile ecosystems, extreme weather events, etc. as a 4 degree rise.

So yeah, we?re hosed even if we can somehow keep temperatures from rising only 1 degree.

And while PWC says that 2 degrees is still technically possible, they say it is improbable given decarbonization efforts to date and given that the pledges being offered at the climate talks are in line with a 3 degree rise. Based on how the climate talks have gone over the past decade, no one is optimistic that the world can reach agreement even to meet 3 degrees let alone 2.

And 3 degrees is basically no better than 4.

The National Academy of Sciences graph shows that climate change risks are essentially the same in every single risk category whether there?s a temperature rise of 3 degrees or 4 degrees.

Perhaps that is why the American Association for the Advancement of Science is now focusing efforts on ways to mitigate the negative effects of climate change.

Sorry buddy. You feel that? That?s reality hitting you in the back of the head.

Have a nice day.

Posted by Bill, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows,
on Feb 17, 2015 at 1:04 pm

Tom - agree with Herman and Roz. All we can do is adapt. The largest democracy is becoming a democracy of a few run by individuals whose definition of "future" is the next three months and by their servants whose definition of "future" is the next election cycle.

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