Taping today with Mike Tidwell at 10:40 am. Stations that broadcast or rebroadcast it can be found here. DC 89.3 FM broadcasts live. The whole show should be good if you tune it at 10 am, starting with an Arctic ice expert.
In Cool It, Lomborg writes about global warming — but the globe he is writing about certainly isn’t Earth. We’ve already seen in Parts I and II that on Planet Lomborg, polar bears can evolve backwards and the ice sheets can’t suffer rapid ice loss (as they are already doing on Earth).
On Planet Lomborg, the carbon cycle has no amplifying feedbacks — even though these are central to why warming on Earth will be worse than the IPCC projects. I couldn’t even find the word “feedback” or “permafrost” in the book [if anyone finds them, please let me know].
On Planet Lomborg, free from the restrictions of science, global warming is kind of delightful:
The reality of climate change isn’t necessarily an unusually fierce summer heat wave. More likely, we may just notice people wearing fewer layers of clothes on a winter’s evening. (p.12)
On planet Earth, a major study in Nature found that if we fail to take strong action to reduce emissions soon, the brutal European heat wave that killed 35,000 people will become the typical summer within the next four decades. By the end of the century, “2003 would be classed as an anomalously cold summer relative to the new climate.”
Lomborg’s entire book takes place in a kind of fantasy-land or Bizarro world. Aptly, on the last page is “A Note on the Type” that begins
This book was set in Utopia….
Irony can be so ironic. Utopia is from the Greek for “no place” or “place that does not exist.” Lomborg is the nowhere man!
- For the contiguous U.S., the average temperature for August was 75.4°F (24.1°C), which was 2.7°F (1.5°C) above the 20th century mean and the 2nd warmest August on record.
- More than 30 all-time high temperature records were tied or broken and more than 2000 new daily high temperature records were established.
- Raleigh-Durham, NC equaled its all-time high of 105°F on the August 21, and Columbia, SC had 14 days in August with temperatures over 100°F, which broke the record of 12 set in 1900. Cincinnati, OH reached 100°F five days during August, a new record for the city.
- The warmest August in the 113-year record occurred in eight eastern states (West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida) along with Utah.
- Texas had its wettest summer on record.
- This was the driest summer since records began in 1895 for North Carolina and the second driest for Tennessee.
- At the end of August, drought affected approximately 83% of the Southeast and 46% of the contiguous U.S.
Coincidence? I think not!
N. Gregory Mankiw may have been Chairman of the President Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers but he is seriously confused about the relative economics of fuel economy and carbon taxes. In today’s New York Times, he repeats a variety of standard myths and makes one classic blunder.
Why does he prefer taxes to raising fuel economy standards?
A carbon tax would provide incentives for people to use less fuel in a multitude of ways. By contrast, merely having more efficient cars encourages more driving [the "rebound effect"]. Increased driving not only produces more carbon, but also exacerbates other problems, like accidents and road congestion.
Uhh, nice try. But if having more efficient cars encourages more driving, then why has driving — vehicle miles traveled (VMT) — soared in the past two decades while the average fuel economy of US vehicles has actually declined? The answer is that people drive more mainly because they have gotten wealthier. It is a myth that the rebound effect is significant, as this recent study makes clear.
But won’t a carbon tax cut gasoline consumption? Not likely. The only carbon tax that Mankiw cites is $15 per metric ton of carbon dioxide ($55 per metric ton of carbon). That would add a whopping 14 cents to the price of gasoline.
How high would gasoline prices have to be increased through a carbon charge to significantly change the average fuel economy of U.S. cars, which currently averages some 20 miles per gallon for all vehicles and 27 mpg for new cars?