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Monday, June 23, 2014 10:32 PM

Is There a Climate Bubble?

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Here's the question of the day: Is there a climate bubble?

In a New York Times op-ed, former treasury secretary Hank Paulson says there is. He calls it The Coming Climate Crash.

For too many years, we failed to rein in the excesses building up in the nation’s financial markets. When the credit bubble burst in 2008, the damage was devastating. Millions suffered. Many still do.

We’re making the same mistake today with climate change. We’re staring down a climate bubble that poses enormous risks to both our environment and economy. The warning signs are clear and growing more urgent as the risks go unchecked.

This is a crisis we can’t afford to ignore. I feel as if I’m watching as we fly in slow motion on a collision course toward a giant mountain. We can see the crash coming, and yet we’re sitting on our hands rather than altering course.

We need to act now, even though there is much disagreement, including from members of my own Republican Party, on how to address this issue while remaining economically competitive. They’re right to consider the economic implications. But we must not lose sight of the profound economic risks of doing nothing.

The solution can be a fundamentally conservative one that will empower the marketplace to find the most efficient response. We can do this by putting a price on emissions of carbon dioxide — a carbon tax.

Fewer than 10 years ago, the best analysis projected that melting Arctic sea ice would mean nearly ice-free summers by the end of the 21st century. Now the ice is melting so rapidly that virtually ice-free Arctic summers could be here in the next decade or two. The lack of reflective ice will mean that more of the sun’s heat will be absorbed by the oceans, accelerating warming of both the oceans and the atmosphere, and ultimately raising sea levels.

Even worse, in May, two separate studies discovered that one of the biggest thresholds has already been reached. The West Antarctic ice sheet has begun to melt, a process that scientists estimate may take centuries but that could eventually raise sea levels by as much as 14 feet. Now that this process has begun, there is nothing we can do to undo the underlying dynamics, which scientists say are “baked in.”

Some members of my political party worry that pricing carbon is a “big government” intervention. In fact, it will reduce the role of government, which, on our present course, increasingly will be called on to help communities and regions affected by climate-related disasters like floods, drought-related crop failures and extreme weather like tornadoes, hurricanes and other violent storms.
Ironies Abound

Pauslon argues along the lines of "to reduce big government, we need more of it". This is of course similar to the Vietnam war analogy "we must destroy the village to save it", or George Bush's famous solution: “I’ve abandoned free market principles to save the free market system”.

Curiously,  Paulson believes there is nothing we can do to undo the underlying dynamics, which scientists say are “baked in.”.

If indeed global warming is baked in, why spend billions of dollars in a foolish attempt to prevent the inevitable? Wouldn't it be better to spend billions of dollars on something else?

Apparently not. 

Let's now answer the original question: Is there a climate bubble?

Yes, Virginia, of course there is.

When people think man can stop climate change patterns that last tens of millions of years, when people think a map of the last 100 or even 1000 years of climate change predicts the future, and when Republicans tout big government  to stop big government even though the results are "baked in", the appropriate words to describe the setup  are indeed "climate bubble".

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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