Average Earth Temperatures
This is a graph of average earth temperatures from the last 500 million years to the present. We drew the horizontal red line at a temperature level of RFC 8.5, the IPCC’s estimate of the worst global warming case, if no policies are enacted and population continues to grow. At current average levels of global warming (1.2 C° versus an extreme 2.5 C° above the pre-industrial level) there are already many developing problems with the weather on all six continents. On this Creative Commons graph, whose data get more accurate moving to the present day, we have placed the approximate first appearances of:
· Written Culture (Mesopotamian Cuneiform)
A climate scientist noted that at elevated temperatures, life on earth will be fine; but will humans? The first dinosaurs, mammals and grasses developed in temperatures way in excess of current levels. In contrast, the first humans developed during relatively temperate times, which descended into a second ice age. From the above, what is the main requirement of culture? What keeps everyone from becoming hunter-gatherers or cave dwellers? What does this graph say to you; this picture of Iraq?
Solutions to the climate crisis do exist, in the forms of both technological change and social organization.
An excellent Bloomberg 7/28/23 article notes: “The biggest success of the energy transition has come about because of a simple rule: Make a lot of anything, and it gets easier to make even more at cheaper prices.” Until the last few years, clean-energy alternatives were too expensive to compete with fossil fuels. Today solar power costs just 11% of what it did in 2009. Offshore wind and battery prices fell 74% and 84% respectively, from 2012 to 2022, BloombergNEF data shows. “Those plummeting costs (but not permit delays) have pushed global power prices down to much that dirty fuels no longer make economic sense…There needs to be a concerted effort to look also at storage solutions.”
But there is a problem. It is the same problem that many stock market investors encounter…short time horizons. According to a Bloomberg 7/26/23 article, “(there are)…growing doubts on the UK’s commitment to the carbon net-zero target of 2050. Higher borrowing costs and a cost-of-living crisis are pressuring political parties to consider watering down climate policies that may burden consumers ahead of a general election due before the end of January 2025. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said earlier this week he would delay or abandon environment policies if they led to direct costs to consumers…” The 7/28/23 Bloomberg article published an estimate that the cost of capital investment to give the world a chance of staying within 1.5 C° by mid-century is a “head-spinning: $196 trillion.” In contrast, the world economy’s 2022 GDP was around $105 trillion. To tie things together, if you worry about the next generation’s vocation or its SAT scores, you must also worry about the average earth temperature.
Government will have to arrange market forces to advantage environmental investment. It took FDR several years to build the public support for the U.S. to enter WW II. *
This article started out as a presentation of an
interesting result. It turned out to be more timely.
The Guardian (U.K.) 7/25/23
“The results makes it crystal clear human-caused
global heating (note the choice of words) is already
destroying lives and livelihoods across the world,
making the need to cut emissions more urgent….
‘There is a rapidly closing window of opportunity to
secure a livable and sustainable future for all.’”
* 8/3/23 Akshat Rathi, Bloomberg reporter and PhD in organic chemistry from Oxford was interviewing Kim Robinson, author of the noted sci-fi novel, “The Ministry for the Future.” The interviewee asked the interviewer, whether things were getting better. The answer was, “yes.” “I’ve been a climate journalist for seven years now…every year has been a completely different year…either the subject is so vast that it does just take that much time…(or-inclusive) the world in that period has done so much. That we have gone from a world where temperatures of 5 to 6 degrees Celsius, were completely within the realm of possibility by the end of the century…Now we are looking at 3 degrees Celsius which is a pretty bad scenario, but that is not the dystopia that (could have occurred)…the direction is better than it was a few years ago.” The above motto is still a very good idea.