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Climate Change, How IPCC 2007 Made The Real Danger Worse

Politics / Climate Change Jan 25, 2010 - 12:14 PM GMT

By: Andrew_Butter

Politics

Diamond Rated - Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleThis is a long rambling article that goes all over the place, so I’ll summarise what I’ve got to say:

1: Bad things happen sometimes, they really do
2: Beware of cataclysmic change, it can bite you in the ass when you least expect it.
3: Evidence 9/11 and the credit crunch.


The danger of Climate Change is not a 59cm rise in sea levels over the next 100 year (perhaps) or a 0.12% drop in World GDP growth per year (perhaps) that is predicted worst case in the IPCC 2007 Report, the danger is something that may never happen, but if it does it will be cataclysmic.

The issue, like any possible, but unlikely event, for example like getting struck by lightning, is should you buy insurance?

I was at the Abu Dhabi World Future Energy Summit for three days last week, educating myself on “The Global War on Warming”.

I’m not a “climate-change” aficionado and I don’t stay up at night agonising over whales either, I went because it was down the road and I got given a Press Pass, so I thought, “why not”?

First reaction; I was disappointed that nothing was scheduled to address the “inconvenient” fact that there seem to be a lot of people who think the whole business of Save-The-World-From-Global-Warming is an expensive farce concocted by politicians looking for votes, scientists looking for grants, and crooks looking for ways to make a quick buck…on less evidence than there was to support the notion that there were WMD in Iraq.

http://www.thedailybell.com/738/Cost-of-Warming-Fraud-Comes-Clear.htm
http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article15687.html
http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article16689.html

I’d been rather looking forward to watching a bun-fight with eminent scientists scratching each other’s eyes out. After-all it was supposed to be a “summit” not a public relations jamboree; but sadly that was not to be, “media-speak”  ruled.

In that regard it was unfortunate that they had Tony Blair deliver the closing speech, he said “the scientific consensus is “reasonably clear except for the wilfully blind””.

I don’t want to sound picky, but that’s what he said about the WMD. Personally I’d have been more convinced if he’d said that Climate Change wasn’t a problem.

IPCC

I started off sitting in on a presentation by the chairman of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Rajendra Pachauri, who I learned later had accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 on behalf of IPCC along with Al Gore. I’ve noticed he’s been in the news recently, although just to illustrate my level of ignorance I’d like to mention that I’d never heard of him before I sat down to listen to his presentation.   

Maybe I heard it wrong, but I distinctly remember someone implying at one point that he (personally) had won a Nobel Prize, in my innocence I had assumed it was for something scientific. I thought to myself, “if anyone is going to convince me to trade in my Land-Cruiser for a Toyota Yaris and stop me eating steak so I can do my bit to “Save-The-World”, this is the guy”.  

I wasn’t exactly bowled over.

In fact he said some pretty dumb things, for example he said that Global Warming would affect Abu Dhabi too and what that would mean would be more heat-waves, and it would also have catastrophic effects on the water supply. Well I may not know anything about the Grand Plan to save the world, but I do know how to count.

If you look at the timeline of temperature in UAE going back thirty years (I did), the summer time averages have hardly budged; it’s the winter temperature that’s going up; that’s GOOD for UAE, since it is a winter-sun tourism destination, anyway  in the summer if it’s 45 Degrees or 55 Degrees outside, who cares, you have the AC on.

With regard to water, well the UAE desalinates practically all it’s water, so how Global Warming is going to interrupt that process which requires inputs of sea-water and natural gas, I have no idea.

OK I’m nitpicking, those are small points, but half truths and improperly researched statements start those little alarm bells ringing in my head, I’ve found out from bitter experience that when people bullshit you on the small things, they are likely to bullshit you on the big things too. And on that score, I also recollect that he never made it clear that it was not him (personally) who won the Noble Prize.

Later on in a press conference he was getting grilled about someone’s prediction that Indian glaciers on the Himalayas would disappear by 2035, which he had apparently endorsed; he said (quote), “I never used that example in any of my presentations”, and that regardless the “science is sound”.

Thanks to the marvels of modern science I looked him up on Google, SHOCK AND HORROR…he’s an ECONOMIST!!!

As if economists can tell the difference between “sound science” and “spin”? The evidence from recent credit crunch debacle is they can’t even do that for economics, witness the delegation from the LSE who wrote to the Queen of England apologizing for their inability to anticipate economic cause and effect one year in advance, forget about twenty years in advance.

Anyway, Pachauri’s line was that IPCC relied on 1,600 scientists to come up with their latest doomsday report, so that’s got to be OK.
Well Allan Greenspan had 2,200 PhD economists helping him to do “inflation targeting” and look what happened there. On the subject of “experts”, I don’t know how many intelligence-rocket-scientists they had “discovering” WMD in Iraq (that’s classified, it’s National Security), but I’m sure it was a lot, and I’m sure that they were all “experts”.

There was no mention either at any point of the pro-climate change scientists that got caught sending e-mails about fudging their results and suppressing publication of opinions that contradicted theirs at East Anglia University. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/..

That was possibly because everyone was on their best behaviour, the Government of Abu Dhabi was trying to do their best and to do the “right thing”, they always do, they are like the Australians and the Norwegians in that regard; the event was superbly organised with no expenses spared, and they should be complimented and commended for that.

But one got the impression that all the experts were getting paid top dollar with First Class air-tickets thrown in, and that’s why they were on their best behaviour.

Perhaps next time perhaps they will fly in some long-haired-hippies to stand outside with banners throwing eggs at people…(First Class of course). Somehow these things don’t really work unless you got those guys on the ticket, this time all they got was me, and I’m a bit too old to throw eggs at people.

The truth is that the fun and games by the jerks at the University of East Anglia might count as “sound science” to an economist, and the story put out by the IPCC is, “well they were just horsing around”. But to any serious scientist that sort of talk is the equivalent of a choirmaster getting caught downloading child-porn….and saying “don’t be alarmed, I was just horsing around”. 

My general impression of the “salesmen” of the Save-Us-From-Global-Warming-The World-Is-Coming-To-an-End Movement was that if there really is a problem, then they need to consider using people to front up their campaign who (a) know the difference between “sound science” and “spin”, and (b) are not known to be pathological liars, like Tony Blair; (pay him $500,000 and he’ll say anything).

Otherwise they are going to get nowhere fast, which is about how far they got since the Kyoto Protocol was signed in December 1997.

And I’m not talking about “raising awareness”; sure, every six year-old knows that CO2 causes global warming and that is BAD, so to be GOOD we have to cut back on CO2 emissions or the cuddly polar bears won’t like it. But is that a “result”? Frankly if I see another picture of a polar bear gazing wistfully into the sunset advertising some Green-wash product, I’m going to vomit.

What I’m talking about is doing something practical about the problem insofar as the people who believe in that perceive it.
On that score, since the Kyoto Treaty was signed in December 1997, the rate of carbon emissions worldwide has gone up by 40%, even though the idea was a drop of 5.2% by 2012. In 2008 they went up 1.94%.

Sure, a lot of people have made a lot of money, for example Chinese manufactures made a fortune out of the subsidies the German government put up for people to put solar panels on their roofs, and the “industry” is creating thousands of jobs, particularly for “believers” working on government (taxpayer) payrolls, but is that the point?

Three Cheers for Bianca Jagger

There is more. One thing that I found out was what happened at Copenhagen; basically 35,000 bureaucrats got wined and dined at somebody’s taxpayer’s expense for absolutely no result, I’m not kidding, Thirty Five Thousand!

I wonder if they all flew in First Class?

I started to wonder whether all the “jobs” that the Green Revolution is supposed to be producing will just go to “public servants” to talk-talk-talk and tell everyone how saintly they are.

It gets worse; after listening to a number of excruciating “bleeding heart” presentations, devoid of scientific logic but full of cuddly-feel-good statements, where Copenhagen was portrayed as “the first step on a long road” (and if these clunkers are in charge it’s going to be a very long road), we had Bianca Jagger stand up and explain that COP-15 as it’s called by those in the know, was nothing more (I paraphrase) than a Charlie Foxtrot with bells on (1).

Well three cheers for Bianca Jagger! I looked her up on Wikipedia, apparently she’s not just a pretty face, she is a heavyweight human rights campaigner; and her speech was excellent. And three cheers for the conference organisers for inviting her!

Anyway that was enough to drag me up out of my day-dream and arouse my interest, so then I started to dig around and talk to people.

The big PLAN at Copenhagen was to persuade the 1.6 billion people in the world that currently don’t have electrical connections to their homes and ride donkeys (if they are lucky), to stay like that. Apparently $300 billion was put on the table to get that result, but it wasn’t enough.

Well I could have told them that, the way it works in the Third World (err…sorry the “developing” world), is that would have represented a $20 one-off payment per person plus $270 billion in cream-offs and kickbacks (bureaucrats have to “eat” too). My advice for free, they are going to have to increase the cut the bureaucrats get if they are going to get that one to fly.

That idea by the way is not much different from the Kyoto principle which must have generated “work” for at least a million man-years of bureaucrats since it’s inception in 1997; this is what the man who started the whole Global Warming thing, James E. Hansen had to say about that, and Copenhagen too (source Wikipedia):

"They are selling indulgences there"..."The developed nations want to continue basically business as usual so they are expected to purchase indulgences to give some small amount of money to developing countries. They do that in the form of offsets and adaptation funds." "So, for example, in the Kyoto Protocol, that was very ineffective. Even the countries that took on supposedly the strongest requirements, like Japan for example—if you look at its actual emissions, its actual fossil fuel use, you see that their CO2 emissions actually increased even though they were supposed to decrease. Because their coal use increased and they used offsets to meet their objective. Offsets don’t help significantly. That’s why the approach that Copenhagen is using to specify goals for emission reductions and then to allow offsets to accomplish much of that reduction is really a fake. And that has to be exposed. Otherwise, just like in the Kyoto Protocol, we’ll realize 10 years later, oops, it really didn’t do much."

Kyoto was conceived at a time where the general consensus was that governments can create markets, and that markets can solve everything. As the credit crunch has demonstrated perfectly, that is just baloney, markets are a force of human nature, governments and their agents just feed off them, like parasites.

The idea of governments “creating” markets is about as ludicrous a bunch of fleas getting together to “create” a dog.

But what about Al Gore and “The Inconvenient Truth?”

Everyone spoke about Al Gore in hushed tones like he is a living saint. But I still remember when in 1999 he threatened South Africa with trade sanctions if they went ahead with their plan to manufacture HIV drugs to treat (then ) six million people who were infected, and didn’t buy (much more expensive) drugs from USA.

And when he was heckled on that he said “I love America; and the First Amendment”.

I just wonder if the idea of paying off the poor people in the world so they can keep on living in the mud for the benefit of the rich countries, (or at least paying-off a bunch of psychopaths to lord over them to make sure of that), was his idea?

That’s what “cap and trade is”, rich people pay money to poor people to give up the little bit of energy that they have, great idea except that the rich countries already generate 60% of the carbon, plus they eat 80% of the beef which produces 18% of total greenhouse gas loading via methane. 

But could it be even worse than that?

A few weeks ago I caught Tony Blair being interviewed about why he lied to the Queen of England, Parliament, and to the British people (including me) about the WMD in Iraq. He said smugly with that impish little smirk, “well we are better off without Saddam Hussein”.

Funny how they had to “do it” using an Iraqi Kangaroo Court rather than the International Criminal Court, the reason for that of course was that USA has not signed up to the ICC. But it was a good media event; they even has the hanging on U-Tube, although I’m not sure that was worth the $3 trillion some people say the war will have cost USA and it’s allies by the time it’s over. http://www.washingtonpost.com/..

Presumably therefore “we” are also better off without the 654,965 Iraqis that the Lancet estimates were killed as a direct consequence of the Iraq invasion between March 18, 2003, and June, 2006? The Lancet by the way has never been accused of “horsing around” with data.

So what’s next?

Could it be that in Tony-Speak, “we” would also be better off without those 1.6 billion people who don’t have an electrical connection to their homes?

Now that’s an interesting idea. I had a look around the exhibition centre for mass gassing equipment with the latest environmentally sensitive solar technology for incineration of the corpses, I didn’t find any; perhaps next year? 

Reality Check

Funny thing about all this is, although the whole business appears on first-inspection to be full of self-serving bureaucrats, active politicians going after votes, plus ex-politicians getting a lucrative second career out of jumping on a bandwagon; when you listen to what the scientists have to say, it’s hard not to think that something is going on.

Everyone agrees that IF (a) CO2 and the other greenhouse gases are a contributing factor AND (b) the permafrost starts to melt (releasing more), the irreversible tipping point from which there will be no return will have been reached.

OK the sceptics say that IF the world is heating up (which some of them dispute, particularly after the past two cold years), then they say that’s just part of a natural long-term cycle and that greenhouse gases have got little or nothing to do with it.

And they are up-in arms over all the freeloaders profiting from what they perceive is one more “Cry Wolf”, like the “War on Communism”, the “War on Drugs”, the “War on Terror”, and all that other bullshit; and in that respect they could well have a point.

But just because the whole thing got corrupted so fast, doesn’t mean that there isn’t a problem.

I’d like to tell a story that illustrates what’s going on.

A while back I used to get involved putting together building projects, occasionally I was like the big swinging what’s-im-u-call-it, but most of the time I was just a hired hand paid by the hour. I’d typically get involved in the front end, and as the thing went into construction I’d be less and less involved. Even so they used to still get me to go to the meetings, so I’d sit around all day in these huge rooms full of people, and  try to keep awake by cracking jokes and picking fights with people.

One day the discussion was about the risk of the piles failing (those are the things the building stands on). The way they do it in Dubai typically is they fast-track the project by letting out the piling contract early before the designs of the whole building have reached the point where they can go out to tender for the main contractor, so there is the risk that you had one contactor building the “feet” and another contractor building the rest.

I was saying that the insurance coverage for the guy who did the piles, should cover the whole building, in case they slipped, and then the whole building would have to be knocked down, everyone else was saying “no it should just cover the value of the work he did”.
The newly appointed engineering firm who were they guys who would sign-off the piles, told us that they were going to make absolutely sure that everything was done right, and they would do tests, and the chances of the piles failing were a million to one against.

And the lawyer who was being paid five-hundred bucks an hour to sit around drinking coffee, and obviously felt he had to say something from time to time to justify his fee, told us that to buy the insurance for that would be “prohibitively expensive”, and it would be a total waste of money. And well, if you are paying someone that amount of money, you LISTEN to him, particularly when he’s telling you how to save money.

So I said, well “OK if the chances are a million to one against, and the building’s going to cost $300 million, then we should be able to buy insurance for $300 plus profit & overhead, let’s say $1,000, tops”, (I didn’t say “and that by the way is what we are paying for two hours of your time”, I can quite diplomatic when I try hard).

Actually I knew you could buy the insurance for about $100,000 so long as you bought it before the work started and the insurance company had been given the time to check out who was involved – but like I said, I can’t resist a good fight. Also I knew of a building in Dubai that hadn’t bought insurance, and when it reached twenty floors, the piles slipped and they had to knock it down…shit happens.
In any case, I lost the argument, the building went ahead without the insurance, the piles didn’t slip, and everyone lived happily ever after.
I met the owner’s representative a couple of years later, he said “well if I’d listened to you that would have cost me $100,000 – see you are not always right”.

That’s not the point.

The 2007 IPCC report “warned” of a rise in sea levels over the next 100 years of “up to 59 cm”, and they said that Global Warming “could” reduce World GDP growth by as much as 0.12% (i.e. if it would have been 2% it might end up being  1.88% per year).

So you can do the “math” and figure out how much it’s worth spending on “avoidance”, or if not on protecting for example against the event, it’s a simple cost/benefit analysis; you generate big numbers but not REALLY big numbers.

And frankly it’s not a big deal, OK it’s worth having a conference now and then and generating a whole lot of self adulation and “feel-good”, and sure, of course, don’t forget the polar bears!

But, and this is the point, there are scientists, not economists, real scientists, who don’t fudge their data or download porn from the Internet, who are saying that there is a real possibility that if global temperatures rise 2 Degrees C above where they are now, the permafrost could start to melt and that would create a feedback loop which would most certainly melt all the ice-caps currently sitting on firm round in Antarctica and Greenland. If that happens sea levels would (not could, would) rise 30ft.
http://news.scotsman.com/world/Scientists-warn-of-30ft-rise.5918646.jp

Of course they can’t PROVE that’s going to happen beyond any reasonable doubt, and sure you can say that the temperatures in the Arctic this year went right down, and they can’t even prove with absolute certainty that the rise in the trend-line of temperature and the observed melting of the ice caps (which is not controversial) was because of man-made CO2 and other greenhouse gases, or even if CO2 levels were brought down to 350ppm that would reverse the process.

All they can say is that in their best judgement, that’s a distinct possibility.

If you want to know something about the difference between taking technical advice from REAL scientists who are at the top of their game telling you their “best judgement”, compared to listening to a lot of noise from economists, lawyers, special interest groups and activists, who often don’t have the first clue about what they are talking about, I’d recommend you listen to this guy.
http://fora.tv/2009/06/15/Peter_C_Doherty_The_Science_of_Climate_Change

Peter Doherty won a REAL Noble Prize, OK it was for immunology and he knows nothing special about climate-change, and on top of that he’s Australian-Irish so he comes across pretty simple minded. But he does know about science and scientific method, and when it’s a good idea to pay attention to what scientists are saying.

IF sea levels rise 30 feet that will flood half of New York and half of Washington DC, and the best part, President will have a nice beach-front property at the White House with a great “sea-view”.

It will also put a good part of London underwater including all of Docklands, all of the Netherlands, most of the places where they do manufacturing in China including all of Shanghai, a good part of Tokyo and New York, places San-Diego Airport and all of the populated areas in the UAE, as well as the whole of Bangladesh (although there again Tony Blair would probably count them as part of the “ones “we” are better off without”).

On top of that World Trade will STOP, that’s until they re-build every single port in the world, because by definition they will be under-water, all of them.

http://flood.firetree.net/

IF….that happens, it will happen catastrophically, like over one or two years, that’s the way these things happen. Who knows in 2010 or 2050 or 2100, but IF it happens, and I’m not saying it will, no one can say, just as no one can say for sure if the piles on a fifty story building will slip.

That’s not 0.12% drop in GDP growth per year, that’s at least 25% in one hit easily; today World GDP is $60 trillion, say that happened today that would be $15 trillion in one go, and that wouldn’t recover for easily fifteen years, discount that out at 4.5% and the COST in terms of lost output would be $160 trillion in today’s money.

Perhaps it’s worth talking seriously about taking out insurance?

How much would it cost to avoid that?

I asked everyone I met at the summit, so how much will it cost to bring CO2 down to 350ppm and keep it there. No one could give me a straight answer, all that anyone could say was “it will cost a lot more not to do something than it will cost to do something”.

Well that’s nice….BUT HOW MUCH is that?

Richard Jones of the International Energy Agency did at least have a number, he mentioned a figure of $10 trillion in passing in his presentation (unfortunately I didn’t manage to talk to him afterwards, to see if I could understand where that came from).
He also said that the cost of not doing something would be $8 trillion; I suspect we are not talking about the same thing. That’s the problem with IPCC, Kyoto and Copenhagen, their idea is if you piss around for long enough everything will be OK.

Sadly life is not always like that…shit happens.

Anyway I worked it out, it’s not hard, there is technology available now, I figured that it would be necessary to spend an average of $1.25 trillion (plus or minus $500 billion) in today’s money, per year for the next fifteen years.

That’s CAPEX and includes bringing on new capacity in line with a 3% per year Real World GDP growth and compensating for any capacity made redundant based the Depreciated Replacement Cost of the asset. But there would be a revenue generated from that investment, that’s not dead money, like money invested (these days) in solar panels. Obviously the assumption is that the concerned parties co-operate and start to get real.

Perhaps there are cheaper ways to do it, but regardless, that’s not a lot of money, for example if you consider how much USA paid so far for what appears to have been a pretty pointless war against terror (insofar as actually generating a return on investment or protecting Americans from danger), plus the cost of the credit crunch.

And by way of illustration of where the money might come from, the US Shadow banking system raised $20 trillion dollars so they could create a housing bubble in USA between 1998 and 2008; compared to that, this is peanuts.
That expenditure, done sensibly, would bring CO2 down to 350ppm by 2025.

So Who Should Pay?

There is no point trying to have a carbon tax, or cap-and-trade, it just won’t work, and it will take too long. And there is no point either bitching about whose fault it was.

“IF” the catastrophe happens it’s not hard to see who will suffer, so let them pay the “insurance”.

Big contenders are China, Japan, UK, Netherlands, and UAE the minor players (less damage) are USA, Saudi Arabia, Russia, India, Korea, and Germany.

You might get “the rest of the world” to chip based on what they could conceivably get out of it, the big winners would be USA, China, Germany, Australia and Canada, plus perhaps work something out on current emissions, but that’s last.

I reckon together they could come up with $1.25 billion a year for CAPEX investment in a business that would generate decent return on investment, and plenty of jobs.

The point is the negotiations need to be amongst the affected parties, and about (a) the PLAN and (b) how to split the cost; the time has passed to keep on talking about polar bears.

By Andrew Butter

Twenty years doing market analysis and valuations for investors in the Middle East, USA, and Europe; currently writing a book about BubbleOmics. Andrew Butter is managing partner of ABMC, an investment advisory firm, based in Dubai ( hbutter@eim.ae ), that he setup in 1999, and is has been involved advising on large scale real estate investments, mainly in Dubai.

© 2010 Copyright Andrew Butter- All Rights Reserved
Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

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