"Warren Buffett: “Doubling the carbon dioxide we belch into the atmosphere may far more than double the subsequent problems for society.”"
Okay, the NYT op-ed by the sage of Omaha, “The Greenback Effect,” is almost entirely about our economic crisis. Still, it’s nice that one of our top economic gurus understands global warming is nonlinear — and thinks enough people might understand that point so he can use it as a springboard for discussing monetary policy:
IN nature, every action has consequences, a phenomenon called the butterfly effect. These consequences, moreover, are not necessarily proportional. For example, doubling the carbon dioxide we belch into the atmosphere may far more than double the subsequent problems for society. Realizing this, the world properly worries about greenhouse emissions.
[Yes, Buffett may be confusing CO2 emissions with CO2 concentrations -- join the club -- but it's impossible to tell from this short hit.]
The butterfly effect reaches into the financial world as well. Here, the United States is spewing a potentially damaging substance into our economy “” greenback emissions.
The article’s final mention of climate impacts is, however, quite lame:
Unchecked carbon emissions will likely cause icebergs to melt. Unchecked greenback emissions will certainly cause the purchasing power of currency to melt. The dollar’s destiny lies with Congress.
Note 1 to Buffett: Likely??? What do you think is already happening?
- Two trillion tons of land ice lost since 2003, rate of Greenland summer ice loss triples 2007 record
- De-Icer: USGS report details “recent dramatic shrinkage” in U.S. glaciers, matching global decline
- World’s Glaciers Shrink for 18th Year
- Large Antarctic glacier thinning 4 times faster than it was 10 years ago: “Nothing in the natural world is lost at an accelerating exponential rate like this glacier.”
Note 2 to Buffett: It is land-based ice that humanity needs to worry about, not sea-based icebergs. Kind of surprising actually that the editorial page editor of the NYT let that one go by. “Icebergs” should have been replaced by “glaciers” or “ice sheets.” I suppose this just shows that even the most sophisticated opinion makers don’t really understand the basics of this issue.
Still, it’s a start for Buffett, who hasn’t been known for sagacity on this issue:
- Why Warren Buffett Is Wrong About Cap and Trade
- Gates and Buffett to invest in tar sands and spawn more two-headed fish?
- Gates Foundation strategy raises key question: Can the problems of the developing world be solved by ignoring global warming?