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View Diary: Not Nuclear, Again (142 comments)

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  •  I'm talking about spending around 2% of world GDP (0+ / 0-)

    to shift the world's energy use to non-carbon fuels. This would involve heavy spending on non-carbon energy sources some sort of carbon tax or similar system, moratoriums on further coal plants etc. Given that by your own estimates climate change would cost at least an average of 150,000,000 lives, are you in favor of this?

    •  It depends (0+ / 0-)

      First, I gave you those figures in order to move the discussion. Before I signed on to that I'd have to be convinced that catastrophic climate change is enough of a threat to warrant those kinds of resources. As mentioned above, far more people die of poverty, we can predict this with 100% certainty, and we could stop it for more like .5% of world GDP, yet we don't do that, so why should we do this?

      Second, if we are to engage in such an effort, you'd have to promise me no nukes, no carbon sequestration, no traders getting rich buying and selling emissions credits raising prices for everyone, while having no effect on greenhouse gas emission increases, and any other environmentally and economically destructive side schemes and that any impacts on poor people in terms of increased food and energy costs will be fully offset by subsidies, and that whatever plan is put into place will actually stabilize greenhouse gases (unlike Kyoto and Cap and Trade Version 1.0 E.U. both of which failed to do so). If I can be sure of those things, then sure, I'd consider spending some significant resources to shift to non-carbon fuels.

      But the fact is that you can't even begin to give me any of those assurances, so it's a moot point.

      •  As I mentioned earlier, you shouldn't compare (0+ / 0-)

        Climate change to poverty reduction and deem global poverty reduction a more worthy cause as reason to abandon climate change if you aren't doing the same for other spending like food stamps and the like. Why is climate change so different?

        You are never going to have that, that's why it's a cost. You could never get similar assurances when tackling global poverty either. Dealing with climate change will have costs; as I mentioned around 2% of GDP. The question is, are they worth it for the problems that climate change could cause. There are also benefits such as getting on renewable resources. I think that we will likely face losses of billions and have a significant possibility of destroying all life on earth so the cost is certainly worth it to me. Earlier you gave probabilities which gave an average of 150,000,000 lives lost. In that scenario I still feel 2% of GDP is worth it. Are you now backtracking from even those very low percentages you gave? If not, would you say it is worth the 2% for the 150,000,000 lives?

        •  But I am . . . (0+ / 0-)

          you aren't doing the same for other spending like food stamps and the like

          . . . that's the whole point of my previous post which you seem to have just dismissed. I'm not an extremist about global poverty, food stamps or climate change. I think they are all significant issues that should be looked at rationally and addressed in the context of competing priorities and available data.

          See, I don't need to be certain that climate change will not catastrophic. I can entertain the possibility that climate change is something that needs to be addressed, avoided, planned for, whatever the case may be without certainty. If I'm not certain about climate change then I can support measures to combat it that make sense because they are things that are good ideas on their own aside from climate change, and I can remain concerned about other things besides of climate change and make decisions about what the priority should be. It's only those who are certain about climate change who advocate for things that they wouldn't otherwise advocate for and who prioritize that issue above all others.

          As I said, whether I would support a program to combat climate change has little to do with the particular percent of GDP involved. It has much more to do with whether climate change is being used as a cover to do these things that I'm opposed to: nuclear power; carbon sequestration; cap and trade. If you bring me a climate change proposal that doesn't do those things and does make sure that the poor are made whole for any additional food and energy costs, and that will actually do the job it's intended to do, then I might be able to support it. But that is not on the table, so it's moot.

          I would only support those plans that are on the table if I was certain that catastrophic climate change will occur and that we won't be able to adapt and that it's the greatest of all the threats and problems facing mankind today. And I'm far from certain of any of those things.

          •  That doesn't make much sense to me (0+ / 0-)

            given the average, 150,000,000 deaths your % estimates produce. I would think this kind of cost in lives would warrant other costs paid to prevent it. Why should a cost such as this be dismissed as not worth any sacrifices to prevent?

            •  I think you're confusing average with (0+ / 0-)

              probability. There maybe a 1% chance of the Earth being destroyed by a meteor in the next 100 years; that does not mean that an average of 60 million people are going to die of meteor strikes over the same period.

              But you're not really addressing my point. I said very clearly that it's not a matter of the money in my book. It's a question of whether the threat of catastrophic climate change is real enough to warrant doing things that we wouldn't otherwise do, such as publicly-subsidize nuclear power, carbon sequestration and emissions trading schemes.

              The costs really follow that discussion. If it's a big enough threat to warrant potentially ruining parts of the Earth for (functionally) ever, then I suppose, yeah, you're right, any cost is justified. I don't buy that it's a big enough threat to warrant taking the chance with nuclear, and therefore I also think that any potential measures should have to compete with other economic, environmental and social priorities for priority in terms of commitments of public resources.

              •  There is way less than a 1% chance of earth (0+ / 0-)

                being hit by a large meteor in the next 100 years, but that's besides the point. Yes in that situation 60 million is the average if you are figuring a population of 6,000,000,000. That doesn't mean 60 million die every time, but that's not what an average is. An average is the total divided by the number of terms. Since this is in percentage terms that would be 99 trials where no one dies, and one trial where 6,000,000,000 die. The total of the 100 trials is 6,000,000,000. Divided by 100, that is 60,000,000, the average. Maybe you're thinking of a median. That is the middle term, which in that case would be 0.

                You don't have to talk about climate in particular. For a situation in which an average of 150,000,000 would die, would you be willing to make these sacrifices? If not, why?

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