Third and last in my series of “factoid” posts about climate denial. As I said in the first one, these are not intended for actual climate deniers. These are for people who are “climate-aware” — to provide useful Information that might clarify things in your own mind. As usual many thanks to Alina Goh.
Weather vs Climate #1: It’s freaking cold!
A local cold day has nothing to do with the long-term trend of increasing global temperatures.
Weather measures short-term variations in the state of the atmosphere, while climate is the weather of a place averaged over a longer period of time
Individual weather fluctuations do not have a significant effect on long-term climate trends
Climate change is also responsible for more intense weather events, which include both warm and cold weather phenomena
Weather vs Climate #2: Extreme weather isn’t caused by global warming
Extreme weather events are being made more frequent and worse by global warming.
It is true that extreme weather is not caused by climate change, but the rising frequency and intensity of extreme weather events are partially a result of a warming world
For instance, droughts have grown more frequent as higher temperatures lead to increased evaporation rates, which then dry out soil and flora
Economics #1: CO2 limits will harm the economy
The benefits of a price on carbon outweigh the costs several times over
Climate contrarians often assert that legally mandated measures for reducing greenhouse gas emissions will cause great economic harm in developing countries
Contrary to that belief, climate economics literature overwhelmingly concludes that reducing carbon emissions will result in a net economic benefit
When the “price” - environmental and social damages - of carbon is incorporated into current carbon prices, the costs associated with solar energy are likely lower than fossil fuels
The social cost of carbon (SCC), which estimates the effects of carbon emissions on the economy, is estimated by the most conservative economists to be $9 per ton of CO2
Even at this price, researchers assert that there are substantial net benefits from acting now rather than waiting 50 years to reduce CO2 emissions - the loss from waiting could be $4.1 trillion
Economics#2: CO2 limits will hurt the poor
Those who contribute the least greenhouse gases will be most impacted by climate change.
The top graph depicts areas that are most vulnerable to climate change effects (red), while the bottom graph depicts areas that contribute the most to carbon emissions (red)
When put together, the graphs show two things:
The most climate-vulnerable countries are mostly developing countries
Developing countries are the smallest contributors to CO2 emissions, while developed countries are the biggest emitters
The argument that CO2 limits will hurt the poor is often made by those in developed countries as a way to delay economic climate action that would, in reality, have the biggest effect on those big polluters and comparatively smaller impacts on low-carbon economies
However, we must still consider the link between poverty eradication and carbon emissions
A key challenge is striking the balance between stalling global carbon emissions and providing developing countries room for growth
Research shows that in light of this problem, the onus on advanced (and often carbon-heavy) economies to aggressively limit their emissions is even greater than before if we are to simultaneously work towards carbon and poverty goals
Economics #3: Renewable energy is too expensive
When you account for all of the costs associated with burning coal and other fossil fuels, like air pollution and health effects, in reality they are significantly more expensive than most renewable energy sources.
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, unsubsidised renewable energy is now most frequently the cheapest source of energy generation
The cost of installation and maintenance of renewables continues to decrease, making it an increasingly accessible energy source
In addition, measuring the true costs of carbon-based energy sources against the costs of clean renewables makes the latter definitively cheaper