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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Carbon Inequality

Carbon inequality is the latest term for global warming. It's carbony, it's dirty, and it's getting all over everything.

A hhh, climate equality! Where people can lie on the warm, sunny beaches of Manitoba and Svalbard in the winter and go for sleighrides in Miami and Copacobana in the summer. Brought to you by the miracle of carbon dioxide.

No, wait. Like everything else in the age of pretense, where everything is the opposite of what it claims to be, climate equality means the opposite of what it says. Climate equality doesn't mean making the climate the same everywhere; in fact, it has little to do with climate at all.

That's the conclusion I draw from what the global warming activists are saying. ‘Global warming’ was just not exciting enough. “Climate change”, as skeptics repeatedly pointed out, has little actual meaning because climate always changes. So now it's called “climate inequality”, “climate justice” or as Oxfam calls it, “extreme carbon inequality.”

X-treme carbon inequality. It must be exciting. Anything with an X in it is exciting.

In climate inequality, the world is divided into victims and exploiters. Climate is just a cultural construct. Climate is the means by which the exploiters oppress the poor. The richest 10%, say the activists, produce half the world's carbon dioxide, while the poorest half produce only 10% of it. This is what activists call ‘carbon inequality.’

Since global warming creates an image of a cozy, pleasant world with big fluffy clouds and fewer storms, the activists seem to be hoping that “extreme carbon inequality” is just the right phrase to express the urgency for doing what they really wanted all along: to redistribute the world's wealth.

Extreme carbon inequality is happening right now, somewhere on the planet, every day. And that big yellow thing is not helping.

If the USA, for example, were to cut its emissions as the activists want, it would at most reduce warming by 0.02°C and reduce sea level rise by 0.01 inch by 2100. That fact needed to be made irrelevant, and so it became climate inequality that had to be addressed. As with all cries of inequality, envy and greed are its driving forces.

Climate inequality is a way of insulating the warmers from the vicissitudes of new scientific discoveries: even if the climate stops changing, its effects will always be unequal. There will always be tropical islands and tundra. Ride the gravy train forever!

Weather is driven by temperature gradients. Carbon dioxide would reduce those gradients by preferentially warming the coldest regions. Therefore, global warming, if it occurred, would reduce the incidence and severity of violent storms. And cold is far more dangerous than heat: scientists believe that around 50–100,000 years ago, fewer than 10,000 humans survived it—a number within a factor of 2.4 of the estimated median minimum viable population for vertebrate species estimated by Traill et al.[4]. Throughout Earth's history, more and more of the carbon we need to survive has been lost from the biosphere and trapped underground in the form of coal, oil, and methane gas. If anything, returning this lost carbon to the environment, not sequestering more of it, ought to be our top priority.

You might wonder, with all the benefits of a warmer Earth, how anyone could be opposed to it. Unfortunately, academics are de facto government employees, whether they recognize it or not. Whenever there's a choice between increasing or decreasing the size of government, some will be motivated to spin theories and run computer models to justify increasing it. Hard scientists tend to ignore the articles they produce, but they're turning up everywhere, not just in journals with “international” in their name, but even in respected journals like PNAS.

Here's part of the abstract from one[1] from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI) in New Jersey. You can almost hear the salivating as they talk about ‘carbon prices.’

Integrated assessment models of climate and the economy provide estimates of the social cost of carbon and inform climate policy. We create a variant of the Regional Integrated model of Climate and the Economy ... to model the common observation that climate change impacts are not evenly distributed within regions and that poorer people are more vulnerable than the rest of the population. Our results suggest that this is important to the social cost of carbon — as significant, potentially, for the optimal carbon price as the debate between Stern and Nordhaus on discounting.

Here's another one[2] written by an epidemiologist, titled “Health Promotion in an Age of Normative Equity and Rampant Inequality.”

Critiqued from both the right and the left for, respectively, their aspirational idealism and lack of political analysis, the SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals] are an imperfect but still compelling normative statement of how much of the world thinks the world should look like. ... The fundamental flaw in the SDGs is the implicit assumption that the same economic system, and its still-present neoliberal governing rules, that have created or accelerated our present era of rampaging inequality and environmental peril can somehow be harnessed to engineer the reverse. This flaw is not irrevocable, however, if health promoters — practitioners, researchers, advocates — focus their efforts on a few key SDGs that, with some additional critique, form a basic blueprint for a system of national and global regulation of capitalism (or even its transformation) that is desperately needed for social and ecological survival into the 22nd century ... .

Neoliberalism is the current reigning paradigm in economics today. It holds that economies work best with free trade and limited government interference. This author is saying that neoliberalism creates ‘rampaging inequality’ and that capitalism must be restrained by global regulation of the economy.

This represents a new focus for climate activists: instead of depoliticizing the issue and letting science determine whether there is a problem, which might help convince skeptics, they're politicizing it further by tying it to social justice and economic inequality.

The environmentalists' argument has always been based on normative and moralistic terms. Many people think the term ‘denier’ is an attempt to link global warming skeptics with holocaust deniers. This might be true, but it's primarily a moralistic term. It's also a good example of the logical fallacy of petitio principii or ‘begging the question’: The warmers are assuming the premise of their own argument. Few scientists are convinced by this logic.

So the focus is shifting away from science to emphasize social justice and economic inequality. This may be a sign that the activists recognize that science does not fully support their goal; or maybe they're finally admitting that the goal was wealth redistribution all along. The underlying assumption is that it's the job of government to control and distribute the wealth of its citizens. These academics are trying to create a justification for doing just that.

Maybe we should be grateful that they're finally admitting that the ‘environment’ is merely a tool to achieve their real goal of controlling the world's wealth. Too bad the term ‘carbon inequality’ is so easy to ridicule.

1. Dennig F, Budolfson MB, Fleurbaey M, Siebert A, Socolow RH. (2015). Inequality, climate impacts on the future poor, and carbon prices. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Dec 29;112(52):15827–15832. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1513967112. Epub 2015 Dec 7. Link

2. Labonté R. (2016). Health Promotion in an Age of Normative Equity and Rampant Inequality. Int J Health Policy Manag. Jul 18;5(12):675–682. doi: 10.15171/ijhpm.2016.95. Link

3. Dunlap and Brulle (2015). Climate Change and Society: Sociological Perspectives.

4. Traill LW, Bradshaw JA, Brook BW (2007). Minimum viable population size: A meta-analysis of 30 years of published estimates. Biological Conservation. 139 (1–2): 159–166. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2007.06.011.

jun 07, 2017; last edited jun 07, 2017, 7:21 am

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An autopsy of the late global warming movement

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