PODCAST: Hexapodia X: Global Warming

Noah Smith & Brad DeLong, with Zeke Hausfather: Fifteen years ago "solar power" was going to be burning switchgrass in a closed-carbon cycle... Technology is the sauce... Global leadership will...

  
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…have to come from the arc of Asia facing the bullets, because the American century is over… It's possible to be increasingly optimistic about climate change and to recognize that we still have a huge way to go… If you want to see a coral reef other than with your VR goggles, start scuba diving now…


Zeke Hausfather: Climate scientist working on temp records, climate and energy system models. Director of Climate and Energy at The Breakthrough Institute <https://thebreakthrough.org/people/zeke-hausfather>

Global Warming:

We are now at 1.2℃—2.15℉ above preindustrial, with temperature rising at 0.2℃—0.36℉ every decade, with a lot of momentum behind that rise…

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Key Insights:

Brad DeLong: ‘Fifteen years ago solar power was going to be burning switchgrass in a closed carbon cycle…. We thought that Nikola Tesla had won the battle of the systems against Thomas Edison because battery technology is  poisonous, corrosive, and incredibly difficult—as opposed to Tesla winning the battle of the system, simply because he was an absolute amazing genius who could make electrons get up and dance in high-power alternating current in ways that should not have been possible. Now we know better…’

Zeke Hausfather: ‘Technology is the sauce: 15 years ago we were talking as if it was this giant trade-off between the economy and and the environment… hat was baked into these climate economics… the entire assumption…. In 2009 solar was $350 a megawatt-hour…. The price of solar has fallen 10 fold. The price of wind has fallen threefold, the price of batteries has fallen tenfold. Do not underestimate the extent to which technology enables…. It's possible to be increasingly optimistic about climate change and to recognize that we still have a huge way to go… even if we have started taking the worst possible outcomes off the table…. We shouldn't give up hope…’

Brad DeLong: ‘The American century is over. The United States has broken so many promises over the past four years. No fraction of the Republican party will commit to being “globalist” ever again. Global political leadership will have to come from the arc of Asia from China through to Pakistan—the six great river valleys of Asia plus the monsoon regions with all their subsistence farmers who are in the frontline and will be taking the bullets of damage from global warming as they need the right amount of water at the right time to live, The minds of these Asian governments will be concentrated over the next 60 years. And when they say “bark “,I think the rest of the world will have no choice but to go “ARF!”

Noah Smith: ‘Everything's downstream from technology. Technology determines the possibilities of politics, the trade-off functions of economics—all the entire terms of debate. And that technology does not fall from the sky. We live not in Ed Prescott world but Paul Romer world, where technology is something that we choose to make. We do not think enough about purposeful making of technologies that changes the game and our constraints…’

Brad DeLong: ‘If you want to see a coral reef other than with your VR goggles, start scuba diving now…’

All: ‘HEXAPODIA!…’

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On the Front Lines & Likely to Take the Bullets:

The 2 billion of the global poor who currently live in the six great river valleys plus the monsoon lands of Asia are (a) among those most at risk from global warming, and (b) the object of concern from states—China and India—highly likely to be global superpowers and thus in positions to act come mid-century.

Drone strikes on the coal-fired power plants of countries that do not play ball with China and India? They have every incentive to try to keep the monsoons in the right place at the right time with the right amount of water—plus trying to keep enough but not too much and not too irregular water flows through the Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Mekong, Yangtze, and Yellow Rivers:

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References:

Kevin Cowtan & al.Robust Comparison of Climate Models with Observations Using Blended Land-Air & Ocean Sea-Surface Temperatures: ‘Estimates of recent surface temperature evolution fall at the lower end of climate model projections… a systematic bias in model‐observation comparisons arising from differential warming rates between sea-surface temperatures and surface-air temperatures…. A further bias arises from the treatment of temperatures in regions where the sea ice boundary has changed… 38% of the discrepancy in trend… LINK: <https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/2015GL064888>

Lijing Cheng & al.How Fast Are the Oceans Warming?: ’About 93% of the energy imbalance accumulates in the ocean as increased ocean heat content…. Models reliably project changes in OHC… LINK: <https://science.sciencemag.org/content/363/6423/128.summary>

Zeke Hausfather & Glen P. PetersEmissions: The ‘Business as Ssual’ Story Is Misleading: ‘Stop using the worst-case scenario for climate warming as the most likely outcome—more-realistic baselines make for better policy… LINK: <https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00177-3?fbclid=IwAR0pNvCUzF92urBZpYgFgcmVB5n5ugvM410Oas3lDA3UWftQ6NZM7OTdOdA>

S. C. Sherwood & al.An Assessment of Earth’s Climate Sensitivity Using Multiple Lines of Evidence: ’Earth’s equilibrium climate sensitivity per doubling of atmospheric CO2, characterized by an effective sensitivity S… [via] feedback process understanding, the historical climate record, and the paleoclimate record. An S value lower than 2 K is difficult to reconcile with any…. The amount of cooling during the Last Glacial Maximum provides strong evidence against values of S greater than 4.5 K… LINK: <https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/2019RG000678>

Zeke Hausfather & alEvaluating the Performance of Past Climate Model Projections: ‘Climate models published over the past five decades were skillful in predicting subsequent GMST changes, with most models examined showing warming consistent with observations, particularly when mismatches between model‐projected and observationally estimated forcings were taken into account… LINK: <https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2019GL0853788>

Noah SmithEconomists Are Out of Touch With Climate Change: ‘Researchers strive for contrarian insights. They should get the science right first… LINK: <https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2016-03-14/economists-are-out-of-touch-with-climate-change>

&, of course:

Vernor VingeA Fire Upon the Deep <https://books.google.com/books?id=fCCWWgZ7d6UC>


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