i think that this is true, but misleading. to exaggerate, it is comparable to saying that because there are tidal waves, there's no point in having lifeguards. the scale of naturally occurring climate changes to which you refer, such as a mini-ice age with onset over only 100 years, would be devastating, global catastrophes, likely involving the deaths of billions of people. we could never compensate adequately for such an occurrence. but i don't think that relieves us of responsibility to address as best we can smaller catastrophes - of whatever cause - that we have the capacity to ameliorate.
True, the possibility of a once-in-10,000-years climate event is not the strongest element of the "So what?" and "Why bother?" argument but in combination with the others bears mentioning.
The most compelling part of the argument is that "we" do not have the capacity to ameliorate climate change because "we" does not include those countries that are having the greatest impact by rapidly increasing their emissions. They have no intention even of slowing the rate of increase.
From 2005 through 2009 China added the equivalent of the entire U.S. fleet of coal-fired power plants: 510 new 600-megawatt coal plants
From 2010 through 2013, it added half the coal generation of the entire U.S. again
China will add yet another U.S. worth of coal plants over the next 10 years, orthe equivalent of a new 600-megawatt plant every 10 days for 10 years
"But the reality is that China, because of its sheer size, is in a position to do more than any other country to stop the world from going off the proverbial climate cliff. With the current coal trajectory of China, all the windmills in the world won’t deliver our children a climate they can depend on."
- Eric Larson, senior scientist for Climate Central and a research engineer with the Energy Systems Analysis Group at the Princeton Environmental Institute
China and other growing nations have not and will not allow developed countries to lecture them that their citizens cannot enjoy the same living standards as we do and without the cooperation of these nations there is nothing that developed countries can do about climate change that is of any significance.
The good news, in my view, is that on the scale of a Global Warming worst-case scenario to a Younger Dryas level event the impact of CO2 emissions is bad but not dire. I say this as a someone with a degree in Natural Resources Economics and who considers himself an environmentalist. However, that conclusion will not keep me from driving a fuel efficient car and otherwise trying to minimize my personal carbon footprint.
My household carbon footprint is currently estimated at a mere 32 tons of CO2 per year, 38% below the 52 ton U.S. national average for two people. The world average is 11 tons and they are all shooting for 52. If we had two kids, all other factors being equal our household number jumps to 58 tons.
I think we've all learned something from this thread. I have. We will close this forum but leave the threads on it for reference as requested.
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