Global Warming Consensus
- Ninety-seven percent of the climate scientists surveyed believe “global average temperatures have increased” during the past century.
- Eighty-four percent say they personally believe human-induced warming is occurring, and 74% agree that “currently available scientific evidence” substantiates its occurrence. Only 5% believe that that human activity does not contribute to greenhouse warming; the rest are unsure.
- A slight majority (54%) believe the warming measured over the last 100 years is not “within the range of natural temperature fluctuation.”
- A slight majority (56%) see at least a 50-50 chance that global temperatures will rise two degrees Celsius or more during the next 50 to 100 years.
- Based on current trends, 41% of scientists believe global climate change will pose a very great danger to the earth in the next 50 to 100 years, compared to 13% who see relatively little danger. Another 44% rate climate change as moderately dangerous.
- Seventy percent see climate change as very difficult to manage over the next 50 to 100 years, compared to only 5% who see it as not very difficult to manage. Another 23% see moderate difficulty in managing these changes.
These findings fit with my view of the global warming debate. Yes, there has been warming. Yes, it does appear that the rise is outside the normal range of variability assuming just nature is at work. Yes, that last part means mankind has had an impact. I’m also glad to see the inclusion of some uncertainty at to the degree to how much warming there will be. And what catches my interest is that 70% of the scientists see managing global temps as being a great difficulty.
Case in point, I was at a meeting where there was discussion of GHG mitigation measures in California and the interesting tidbit that caught my attention was that even with a pure market approach to limiting GHGs (e.g. a cap-&-trade program) electricity rates would be expected to rise by 40% and that is the low end scenario–i.e. all other scenarios are higher.
Now California is kind of weird when it comes to electricity. We have some of the highest rates, and residential users are some of the most efficient users as well. So such an increase wouldn’t be that bad since your typical California resident does not use electricity like Al Gore. Still if your average bill is $80 seeing it jump up to $112 in real terms is not a good thing. And think about the impact of the economy as a whole. Electricity is like oil in that it is used pervasively throughout the economy. Every manufacturing, production and commercial enterprise uses electricity. As such an increase in electricity prices would be felt throughout the entire economy.
It is all well and good to go see An Inconvenient Truth and feel good about yourself, but paying an extra $350-$400 a year for electricity, as well as higher prices for all other goods in addition….well it might not seem like such an important issue anymore. And it isn’t just electricity as well. Serious mitigation efforts might call for say an additional $2/gallon tax on gasoline and natural gas as well. Now driving your car, heating your home and all other goods will also be more expensive (and it is a double or triple hit for things like food, which are shipped via truck, rely on natural gas for fertilizers, and electricity is used in packing plant, stores, and refrigerators). I think that 23% who see the problem as only moderately difficult as being seriously out of touch. And that 5%…well they are just crazy.