Sticky tape x-rays
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Garnaut bows to the insanity of growth fetishism by Clive HamiltonImage courtesy of Stephen Leahy.
The Garnaut report demonstrates how our obsession with economic growth is so powerful that we are unwilling to contemplate sacrificing a tiny amount of consumption now to sharply reduce the risk of climate catastrophe.
The report presents modelling results on the economic implications of stabilising atmospheric concentrations at 450 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) versus allowing them to rise to 550 ppm. (The pre-industrial level was 280 ppm of CO2 and we have now reached 387 ppm.)
The 450 ppm target will be accompanied by warming of about 2°C by the end of the century while 550 ppm is likely to see warming of 3°C.
Climate scientists believe that the difference between the two is huge with 550 ppm dramatically increasing the likelihood of catastrophes and runaway climate change – such as an irreversible melting of the Greenland ice sheet resulting in sea-level rise of 7 metres. That would rule out any chance of returning the atmosphere to a safe level for thousands of years.
Yet Garnaut’s recommendation that the Government aim for a 10% reduction over 2000 levels is based on the belief that stabilizing at 450 ppm is politically infeasible and we must reluctantly accept a 550 ppm world.
How much will pursuing the 550 ppm target cost us in terms of lost income? Garnaut says it will shave a little more than 0.1 per cent from GNP growth through to 2050. This means that instead of growing annually at, say, 2.5 per cent if we do nothing, GNP per person would grow at "only" 2.4 per cent if we aim at 550 ppm. Aiming at 450 ppm would cost only fractionally more.
The welfare cost can best be understood as follows. With an annual real growth rate of 2.5 per cent per person, then with no carbon abatement Australia’s GNP will double by 2040. If from 2012 we aim for the 550 target our GNP will not double until 2049, i.e. we will have to wait an additional two years. And, according to Garnaut's modelling, if we aim for the much safer target of 450, we will have to wait another six months.
The economic impact of pursuing a target of 450 ppm rather than 550 ppm is so small that it will be exceeded by the normal statistical error involved in measuring GNP growth. Yet it seems that this amount is so large that it renders the safe option politically infeasible.
Garnaut himself ... asks "Is it worth paying over the course of the century less than 1 per cent of GNP for the non-market benefits, insurance value and the enhancing value beyond the 21st century of the 450 strategy?"
He says this is a matter of judgment. Anyone who has to give more than a moment’s thought to this choice must be deluded.
...Chen said the girl whose voice was actually heard by the 91,000 capacity crowd at the main Olympic stadium was in fact seven-year-old Yang Peiyi, who has a chubby face and uneven teeth.How cruel. I really feel sorry for little Yang. I hope she won't be depressed with an eating disorder in ten years time, but an international superstar who's defected from China, because her voice was exquisite and she deserves the credit!
"The reason why little Yang was not chosen to appear was because we wanted to project the right image, we were thinking about what was best for the nation," Chen said in the interview that appeared briefly on the popular news website Sina.com on Tuesday before it was wiped from the Internet.[source]