Links for Week Ending 9th February

  • While this blog was in hibernation last year, the Climate Vulnerability  Monitor 2012 report was published by DARA. The report attempts to measures the costs of climate change and fossil fuel production through to the year 2030. The report is somewhat opaque in that it is very difficult to find the assumptions on which DARA’s projections are based. Nonetheless, any attempt to predict the future costs of climate change should be encouraged. The climate change damage function—under which our existing economic growth model of “get dirty and clean up” is based—definitely needs a reality check. See my posts on this topic here and here
  • An excellent article here in Slate entitled “The Myth of Saudi America” skewers the Kool Aid surrounding shale.
  • The technology-replacing-labour debate continues to rage. This at Gregor.US.
  • One thing that keeps me awake at night is the fear that earth’s carbon sinks get saturated. If this should happen, the annual rise in atmospheric CO2 would rise sharply even with static fossil fuel carbon emissions. On the land sink side, the mainstream consensus is that the world’s forests will respond to higher levels of CO2 by growing, and therefore locking up carbon, more rapidly. A couple of papers suggest this won’t happen. A basic tenet of economics is diminishing returns to scale; that is, if you increase one input but keep the others static then the rate of growth in output will decline. It seems the same logic applies to the biosphere. If you increase carbon, but hold nitrogen and phosphorus static, then you will also run into diminishing returns. So your land-based carbon sink becomes increasingly impaired. See here and here.

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