Although I’m still not sure whether the cause of global warming is due more to humans than to the sun, I keep an eye on the science. (I enjoy keeping up with the science—but pure GW science is a rare find. GW news is too frequently contaminated by confirmation bias, belief preservation, and rehearsed political dogma. I stop reading as soon as I detect any of that, which means I skip a lot of GW “news.”)
I was glad to see Freeman Dyson’s recent review of William Nordhaus’s new book about several possible policies the world could choose for mitigating global warming, and each policy’s estimated effect after 100 years. Nordhaus’s analysis netted the worldwide cost of each policy against its worldwide benefits over 100 years—using $1 trillion as the base unit of measure. A negative result means the policy in question would make our great-great grandkids worse off than doing nothing; a positive number means they’d be better off. Nordhaus used a discount factor of 4%—an assumption that’s perfectly reasonable to most of us, but highly controversial to those whose pet policies end up looking ugly as a result. [What a surprise.]
For fun, see if you can match each policy to its outcome, before peeking at the answer. Here’s the set of policies and outcomes:
Give it your best shot before you go to the rest of the article below.
Now, here's the solution, according to Nordhaus:
Most intriguing to me is the “Innovative Technology” policy. For many, it’s easy to assume that’s just a fantasy or a diversion; but Dyson himself says…
I consider it likely that we shall have “genetically engineered carbon-eating trees” within twenty years, and almost certainly within fifty years.
I like the sound of that: genetically engineered carbon-guzzling trees; that’s one “Innovative Technology” that might get our great-great grandkids to the far right of the net benefits scale.
Another possibility just might be “hydrinos”—if they in fact turn out to be real instead of a hoax or a dead end. (I’ll be keeping an eye on hydrino “science,” too; the high-powered venture capital and high-profile board of director members are what got my attention).
In any case, even if new technology can’t help, the winner would be a carbon tax. I think the politicians who could get the carbon tax adopted worldwide should get some kind of prize, don't you? Maybe a Nobel Peace prize, or something like that.