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The cost of doing nothing

Written By: - Date published: 6:15 am, August 17th, 2009 - 54 comments
Categories: climate change - Tags:

The climate change debate is over (apart from a few luntatics of course). The debate is now about what to do, and the current focus is on the costs of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately we’re only getting half of the story on the costs. Here’s a typical example of half-assed coverage:

National has set a target of 10-20% reductions, depending on how ambitious other countries are. The mid-range is 15% which, according to the admittedly tenuous economic analysis, carries a cost of about $30 per week, per person over the next decade.

Labour says the government isn’t being ambitious enough. How much more does Labour think the public is willing to pay to meet New Zealand’s climate change obligations, given we represent just 0.2% of the world’s emissions?

Such estimates are tenuous indeed (the cost may be lower). And the waters are further muddied when the minister in charge spouts absolute nonsense costings. But the cost of action (whatever it is) is only half the story. We aren’t being told the other half. What is the cost of doing nothing? It is much higher.

If climate change goes unchecked, if New Zealand doesn’t play it’s part in responding, expect many more headlines like these:
“Drought costs NZ $2.8 billion”.
“100 per cent Pure brand ‘under threat'”
“Tourism industry takes battering in trying times”

Environmental concerns aside, even in purely economic terms, the cost of doing nothing is much higher. Our own local studies show this — “Economic models support action on climate change”. International studies show this — “Climate change inaction ‘will cost trillions'”. The UK Stern Report (also e.g. here, here) examines the economics in detail, and the take home message is stark:

– The cost of reducing emissions could be limited to around 1% of global GDP;
– Unabated climate change could cost the world at least 5% of GDP each year; if more dramatic predictions come to pass, the cost could be more than 20% of GDP.

So let’s say it again – the cost of doing nothing is much greater. Treasury is starting to get it. Some of our smarter business people get it. One way or the other we are going to pay. We can pay now to reduce emissions (maybe 1% of GDP), or we can pay much, much more (5-20% of GDP) — not today, but sooner than we think ….
– r0b

54 comments on “The cost of doing nothing ”

  1. Andrei 1

    The climate change debate is over (apart from a few luntatics of course). The debate is now about what to do,

    In science the debate is never over – but the climate change debate has never been about science it has always been about elitists keeping ordinary people in poor in order to maintain control over them.

    Galileo Galilei you may recall was called a LUNATIC because the elites of his day were threatened by his assertion that it was more convenient t to view the sun at the center of the solar system.

    The good doctor whose piece you link is indeed a member of the elite and knows full well which side his bread is buttered on and so he utters his unscientific crap in order to maintain his position.

    And you are too stupid to see this – which is why you are one of the ruled over.

    • exbrethren 1.1

      And of course the institutes providing the ‘science’ that shows climate change isn’t happening that are funded by Exxon aren’t part of any elite.

      Do you still believe the same institutes Philip Morris funded research that smoking doesn’t give you lung cancer?

    • Zorr 1.2

      Galileo wasn’t actually called a lunatic in his day. He was one side of the debate about the planetary models proposed at the time. The older, more “believable” (but completely unscientific) Ptolemaic geocentric system was what was commonly held as the truth… or the newer, demonstrable Copernician heliocentric model.

      I think the term you were looking for was heretic, not lunatic. And the Catholic Church has never been on the forefront of science OR sanity.

      • Andrei 1.2.1

        And the Catholic Church has never been on the forefront of science OR sanity.

        Nor has the left; let me give you another name: Trofim Lysenko

        • Zorr 1.2.1.1

          Did I bring politics in to it? No. You brought up the scientist Galileo who was accused by the Catholic Church of heresy. Hence why I brought up the fact that they aren’t a particularly reliable source of scientific information.

          I have never stated my own personal political leanings. However, I would be sure that to a large extent they are a) personal and b) my own interpretation of how things should work. Hence making broad generalizations about the “side” I am on particularly inaccurate and, moreso, just lashing out.

          captcha: concerning

          • Andrei 1.2.1.1.1

            Phooey – This post is pivoted on a Herald opinion piece which labels various scientists who do not go along with this BS as stupid..

            Do you not see the utter absurdity in a herald journo calling scientists who have spent their lifetimes studying these issues “stupid”?

            • NickS 1.2.1.1.1.1

              That would be because many of the “scientists” are either not climatologists, or stuff up in literature reviews when doing the statistics sides of things, or if they are, have rather spurious reasons for rejecting the consensus. Sort of like the situation with “scientists” HIV and Evolution denial.

              • lprent

                That is my impression. There is one old aussie sedimentologist who is a denialist, but no-one else that I’m aware of who isn’t from outside of the field or employed by companies with vested interests.

            • Zorr 1.2.1.1.1.2

              After flicking through those articles again I didn’t see the names of any scientists… only skeptics.

              If you could point out the names of the scientists that are against the theory of anthropogenic induced climate change in those pieces I would be glad to know.

            • Andrei 1.2.1.1.1.3

              Scientists are skeptics Zorr. That’s the way science works, its not like politics, you know, where you go along to get along.

              And it certainly not like political activism where you jump to conclusions based upon your ideology

    • NickS 1.3

      w00t, 50+ crank points for the Galileo Gambit;
      http://oracknows.blogspot.com/2005/03/galileo-gambit.html

      20+ for history of science mega-fail, since that’s not why Galileo’s views were rejected, it was due in part to the Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems insulting a rather important person in the Catholic Church, plus prevailing views about natural philosophy concerning models that I can’t be bothered getting into. Which also, 17th century “science” is not the science of today, being another history fail on your part.

      Another 20+ crank points for basic science fail. While “debate” is constant, the nature of the debate matter, e.g. with evolution, there’s current debates over the roll of changes in gene regulation, the fine details of speciation and deep phylogeny, but the core stuff is solid and accepted. Climate change is similar, in that the gross details, namely that CO2 (and methane, and nitrous oxides) is the main climate driver in terms of current changes in global temperature, and is due to anthropogenic emissions, the “debate” centres around feed-back cycles, and whether the IPCC rate of projected warming is too conservative. Since factoring in the feed-back loops gives much higher rates of warming, due to methane release from permafrost and soils + increased atmospheric water content. There’s also a few modelling issues, but none-the-less, the core science is settled enough that we can have the same degree of “certainity” with climate change, as we do have with evolutionary biology, or with slightly better fit, HIV being the causative agent of AIDS

      And +20 crank points for the conspiracy charge.

      [note to self, find the crank-list at some point]

  2. lprent 2

    Great post.
    This will give me some loons for dissection (purely in the interests of science). I’ve doing too much work and not enough play.

    How about getting a author login?

    • r0b 2.1

      How about getting a author login?

      Cheers for the offer Lynn – I don’t know if I can be regular / reliable enough to join the core posters. We should discuss via email.

  3. Mark M 3

    You complain that the Governments figures are incorrect but hide your name , credentials and sources of information.
    If you are going to convince any one you have an argument lets see it.
    I am sick of seeing an important argument being based on bitter ideology

    • r0b 3.1

      You complain that the Governments figures are incorrect

      The government (and their science advisor) seem to understand the figures OK – see the first link in the post. So I’m not complaining that their figures are “incorrect”, I’m complaining about the short sighted arguments they (and most reporters) are using to justify a reduction target that is too low. We are going to pay – the question is when and how much – but we are going to pay.

      but hide your name , credentials and sources of information.

      My name is r0b. I’m not arguing based on my “credentials” because if credentials won arguments then there wouldn’t be any climate change deniers (follow the first link in the post, there is overwhelming agreement among those with the credentials). So in this post it doesn’t matter if I have School Cert French or three PhD’s in climate science, the argument stands or falls on its own merits. (If you really really want the argument to be about credentials, the again, go follow the first link in the post, the overwhelming majority of climate scientists are in agreement). And my sources of information are amply documented – follow the links.

      If you are going to convince any one you have an argument lets see it.

      My argument is set out in the original post.

      I am sick of seeing an important argument being based on bitter ideology

      Me too, so I tried to make this case a purely economic one. We are going to pay – the question is when and how much – but we are going to pay.

    • lukas 3.2

      Mark M, a point that I agree with over here

      • Draco T Bastard 3.2.1

        Is that the letter that several scientists didn’t know that they had signed?

  4. It’s not over. The stuff and scoop articles you link to are retarded. There’s not evidence to even show they are linked.

  5. ben 5

    Meh.

    I can’t see the sense in poor people (us) making sacrifices for vastly wealthier people (those living 100 years from now). Even if GDP is reduced by 20% a century from now, they will still be vastly wealthier than us.

    The greater danger, by a long way, is the tremendous concentration of power into the hands of a few politicians that green policy produces. Whether those guys wear red ties or blue ties, no good can come from handing a few men and women so much control.

    As the old saying goes: socialism didn’t work at 17 degrees. It won’t work at 19 either.

    • Conal 5.1

      I bet people were saying the same thing when they chopped down the last tree on Rapa Nui.

      (Captcha: ERR)

  6. no leftie 6

    If the debate over global warming really is over, why mention that?

    It’s almost as if people need reminding their thinking has already been done for them – “nothing to see here, move along”.

    • So Bored 6.1

      The reason for he statement is the same reason the right uses little shibboleths like “there is no alternative”, “productivity must be increased”, “growth is necessary”. Nobody innocent so far.

      You are right to question this type of statement, dont expect however to find the answers to your liking. For example, I thoroughly checked out the lastest climate change science, and the picture is far bleaker than portrayed here.

  7. no leftie 7

    “Far bleaker” than the end of the world!! That must be some pretty horrific reading.

    I suspect the “debate is over” tactic is failing. Why else do believers have to keep saying it. The idea of global warming must be maintained as a truth. Once it slips back to being just someone’s opinion again – or (gulp) the crackpot rantings of a nutcase – the final whistle really will be blown on the debate.

    • NickS 7.1

      Hey, the debate’s over on HIV causing AIDS too, but it’s hasn’t stopped the nuts, and we still defend it as the “truth”/”the debate is over” frame…

      Then again, on the basis of you above post, you’re probably in the denialist camp.
      /sigh

      Care then to tell us why global warming/climate change is bunk so one, or another poster, may cluebat thee with science?

  8. bobbity 8

    No the climate change debate is not over as demonstrated on this litlle blog in a small country in the antipodes.

    Combating rising temperatures and slowing the rate that ice and snow are melting requires fast responses. One near-term solution is to focus on black carbon, or soot, an aerosol that scientists assert may be the second largest contributor to climate change after CO2 and that has an enhanced impact on snow and ice melt. Black carbon is emitted from incomplete combustion of burning fossil fuels and biomass, and contributes to climate change in two ways: while in the atmosphere, the dark particles absorb heat and warm the air; when it falls on ice and snow, it also absorbs more solar radiation,
    leading to more rapid melting, which then leads to less reflective ice, in a dangerous accelerating feedback cycle.

    “Soot may be a contributor to the disappearance of glaciers in some regions and could even explain the accelerated rates of melt in the Himalaya-Hindu-Kush,” . Scientists urge rapid reduction of black carbon emissions to slow warming in the near term and help avoid passing the temperature thresholds for abrupt climate changes. Unlike CO2, where a significant fraction remains in the atmosphere for over a thousand years, black carbon only stays in the atmosphere for a few days to a week. Hence, reducing black carbon emissions has an immediate effect on global warming. Reductions also have major health benefits for millions who currently live in heavily polluted areas and risk disease and death from breathing polluted air.”

    “In contrast to reductions in black carbon soot, cuts in CO2 emissions, while essential, do not produce significant cooling for at least a thousand years,”

    We should also not forget that we could reduce our emissions to nil and it would have little if any measurable effect on the local or world climate – surely this is one area where we must ride on the coat tails of the larger countries.

  9. Nick 9

    The cost of doing nothing in New Zealand is nothing. We don’t produce emissions anywhere near the level required to reduce them. We could reduce by 80% and it wouldn’t affect the climate one iota.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.1

      Delusion, pure and total delusion.

      It’s amazing the lengths people will go to to prevent having to admit that their actions are wrong.

  10. no leftie 10

    Denialist – Believer, I guess it helps to label people.

    But the real difference I see on my side of the fence is that I’m happy for you to believe whatever you want. Cut your CO2 emissions by 40 percent if you want.

    Drive a hybrid – never fly in a plane again – save our dying planet.

    Do what ever spins your wheels, just don’t presume to tell me what to do.

    • Draco T Bastard 10.1

      You see, this is the type of attitude that increases crime and dysfunction in a society. People actually believing that they can do WTF they want and no one can tell them not to.

      Well, no clue, you can’t. When you take action that negatively affects others they have the right to veto that action. Don’t like it? Tough.

      • no leftie 10.1.1

        Abuse of those who don’t believe is hardly a winning way to talk them around.

        Worse still it just makes you look like a petulant child.

        Knock yourself out telling us all how to live our lives – people will do what they want to do, they always have – and the noise from presumptuous scare-mongers will fade to a distant hum in the background.

  11. National are yet to unveil their secret: during talks at Copenhagen, an SEP field will be activated during NZ’s turn to negotiate their target. Nick Smith has been trialling its use in Cabinet during discussions of a suitable emissions target, and it’s been working very well.

  12. no leftie 12

    Oh and believers check out what these guys have to say…they might just know what they’re talking about.

    http://striky.ece.jhu.edu/~sasha/Public/APS.open.letter.09.pdf

    • Andrei 12.1

      You are pissing in the wind – you are dealing fundamentalists here who will no doubt tell you that these guys are

      (a) In the pay of the evil oil companies

      (b) Physics is not climate science so they have no expertise in the subject

      Alas every age has to deal with its closed minded rabble with irrational belief systems and these the end is nigh people are the cross we have to bear.

      At least they are not burning Jews for causing earthquakes like their equivalents did in 18th century Lisbon

      • NickS 12.1.1

        a) Firstly, back during the 80’s and 90’s the Tobacco industry sponsored numerous sceptical scientists to “disprove” the tobacco-cancer link. The current funding of “sceptical” groups by various companies and individuals concerning climate change bears strong parallels to this historical situation… But, if one also looks at the arguments of these sceptical groups, it’s not hard to pick up major flaws in their arguments, such as cherry picking the literature, typically older papers, and data sets, or flawed inductions, such as arguments from ignorance. Then there’s nit-picking at methodologies used, which while it can point out some flaws, historically, the claims made by sceptical groups/individuals often are invalid, or cause non-statistically significant changes to predictions and/or results.

        b) Right, because it’s not as if there’s no physicists working within climate modelling and climatology at all… Oh wait, that’s right, climatology deals a lot with fluid physics in modelling the planet’s climate, along with radiation absorption. Of which, since the climate is a complex system, means they need to make some simplified assumptions, which fit the data gathered about real-world climate. While many of those “sceptical” physicists make elementary modelling errors, by making assumptions which are entirely at odds with what we know about climate, such as assuming the ideal gas law without corrections is useful when looking at climate, or that CO2 doesn’t absorb and emit any photons what so ever, and thus temperature is a function of pressure. Which is clearly wrong even if you have a year 13 knowledge in physics and chemistry.

        Alas every age has to deal with its closed minded rabble with irrational belief systems and these the end is nigh people are the cross we have to bear.

        Aww, it’s soo cute, making accusation of “closed minds” when your clearly making assumptions about climate change on the basis of ideological commitments, rather that bothering to look at what’s in the IPCC reports and associated literature, let alone breakdowns of climate change provided by actual climatologists and associated researchers.

        At least they are not burning Jews for causing earthquakes like their equivalents did in 18th century Lisbon

        I call Godwin’s Law on this.

        • Andrei 12.1.1.1

          This may surprise you but I have read the IPCC reports – The Summary for policy makers written by and for politicians and the Technical summary.

          And my funny friend there are lots of pretty pictures with a great deal of verbosity in both documents with little hard evidence to back them up.

          It may interest you to know that little of the hard science done by real scientists behind the scenes for the IPCC actually makes the report.

          Or that many of those involved in the process have protested the misuse of their work and some have resigned, refusing to be involved in a process that distorts their work.

          For example Chris Landsea’s resignation

          • NickS 12.1.1.1.1

            /facepalm

            The IPCC presents a summary of the currently known information about climate change, along with using this data to predict future impacts. Doing this actually involves a f*ckload of work, since to summarise the science on a given topic not only takes a lot of reading, but also involves putting it altogether to form a cohesive summary and conclusions about the area of interest. On the evidence front, science at the coal-face of an area of research needs to be put in context, and may also contain flaws, meaning of course, that some papers to not make into the IPCC, and on evidence, lolwut?

            The IPCC makes use of all the major data sets for global temperate anomalies, along with sea ice and ice-sheet data sets, and in the process of modelling, also includes all the lovely physics work on climate, atmospheric physics and radiation forcing. So, by all means, please pray tell what “hard evidence” is missing from the IPCC and other related works into looking at climate change? Because I suspect strongly you’re purposely misrepresenting the actual work, much like young earth creationist’s/ID’ists do when ever they talk about evolutionary biology…

            And on Chris Landsea;
            http://mustelid.blogspot.com/2005/01/landsea-contrasts.html
            Which boiling down;
            1) storms are one of the fine detail areas where there is still a lively debate going, in part due to them and related systems like hurricanes being difficult to model in the long-term.
            2) Landsea is only one damn person, by focusing on him, you ignore the bigger picture of climate change. It’s a bit like citing Michael Behe as a significant dissenter from evolution, while ignoring that the vast majority other life-scientists and those in related fields, accept evolution.

            And good one on the Gish Gallop there, instead of actually talking about the points I raised in the previous post.

  13. Nick 13

    When you take action that negatively affects others they have the right to veto that action. Don’t like it? Tough.

    This fails at the first hurdle as no action in New Zealand through Co2 emission reductions affects anyone cos we don’t produce enough for the world or the climate to worry about. Now if you’re talking India, China, Russia and USA you have a point: they’re all “rich pricks” in the greater scheme of things. Let them pay and let the poor nations such as New Zealand not pay. That’s what you lefties believe in isn’t it? Why should a poor country like NZ that will be very adversely affected by a carbon emissions cap have to pay when we don’t produce any emissions?

    • Pascal's bookie 13.1

      This really is a stupid argument, but just in case you aren’t just being dishonest…

      … the point you haven’t noticed is that we emit less because there are fewer of us. If you took any random (or regional) group of 4ish million Chinese or Indians, do you think their emissions would make a difference? Our per capita emissions are what count, just like for everyone else on the planet.

    • felix 13.2

      While we’re on the topic of fuckwitted shenanigans, when did NZ become a “poor country” and India, China and Russia “rich countries”?

  14. Nick 14

    No you’re wrong PB. The atmosphere doesn’t calculate how much carbon per capita is being emitted, rather it’s the total tonnage that’s supposedly rooting the climate. NZ doesn’t contribute to the total amount. It’s that simple.

    • felix 14.1

      No, you’re that simple.

      By your reasoning (and I use the word reluctantly) no single individual on the planet is responsible for anything they do.

    • Pascal's bookie 14.2

      Nah Felix, dimbulb’s right.

      The way to beat AGW is to break up the world’s nations into states of about 4 million people each. Thus fooling the stupid atmosphere into not noticing the gases, because every nation it looks at won’t be making a difference.

      • Lew 14.2.1

        I reckon we could get the Randroids on side if we broke the world up into states of, say, one person each. Each state would emit zero (to many significant figures) per cent of the total supposed amount of carbon. And as anyone can tell you, it doesn’t matter what BIGNUM you multiply zero by …

        Stupid atmosphere. When’s it just going to realise we were right all along?

        L

  15. Pascal's bookie 15

    Yep. I for one simply can’t believe that the oil/energy interests are being anything but honest. It’s not their fault that they can’t afford to pay scientists the big dollars like NIWA and people of that ilk can! Jeez, it’s so unfair.

    And even after all that, with all those unprincipled scientists selling out their professional integrity so they can live high on the hog on their fat-cat govt salaries, big energy still plays fair and straight. Straight like Jesus.

    Why, they’d never gin up a bunch of fake arse astroturf rallies, fund them, get energy companies to ‘encourage’ their employees to go along, focus group a bunch of ‘spontaneous’ slogans that might accidently be used by folks at these natural outpourings of the people exercising their civic rights. Hell no. They sure as shit wouldn’t be caught planning something like that just today, now, would they now, what the hey?

    The memo — sent by the American Petroleum Institute and obtained by Greenpeace, which sent it to reporters — urges oil companies to recruit their employees for events that will “put a human face on the impacts of unsound energy policy,” and will urge senators to “avoid the mistakes embodied in the House climate bill.”

    whoops. 🙁

  16. Pascal's bookie 16

    Moderation? was it the *lk?

  17. Galeandra 17

    No Leftie who HATES labelling says: Do what ever spins your wheels, just don’t presume to tell me what to do.

    Might is right, so like it or lump it, we cruddy fundementalists ARE going to tell you what to do, because limiting your trivial freedoms to consume MAY save the rest of the living world from the full costs of your so doing. If we are wrong, the damage you’ve to put up with is lower by several orders of magnitude than the damage being caused by current consumption.

    • no leftie 17.1

      Wow – that’s why incandescent lightbulbs have been banned(oops), farmers face a fart tax(oops again) and a glorious Emissions Trading Scheme is grinding our economy to a halt(not yet).

      Did you miss the election result – the Green-Labour government is no more.

      National will pay lip-service to your religion and no more.

      I have to “like it or lump it”?

      Who’s in denial now?

      • BLiP 17.1.1

        National Inc’s supporters seem to be in denial – unless telling you to stop talking on your cell phone when driving is not Nanny State? Or, maybe its okay now because, really, its actually Daddy State.

        Australia, on the other hand, thinks the light bulb idea is a good one, they are also quite keen on government spending, $42 bilion worth, while The Goober, on the other hand, prefers to break his promises about tax cuts and actually seriously consider tax increases.

        Who’s in denial now?

        • no leftie 17.1.1.1

          Oh touché, parroting back my line to teach me a lesson.

          I bet you’re also a wiz at “I know you are, but what am I”.

          Anyway….back to “we cruddy fundamentalists ARE going to tell you what to do”

          Not sure if I made my point clearly enough. Your lot lost the election. YOU don’t get to tell anyone what to do any more. I understand that’s a toughy to come to terms with but IT’S OVER

          Your job is now to whine loudly.

      • NickS 17.1.2

        @ no leftie

        /facepalm

        The stupid, it burns.

        Look, do you, or do you not, trust the scientific method?

        Because the IPCC report, and associated evidence is all derived via the norms of science, and while science has in the past, present and future been “wrong”, the problem is, is that you need empirically viable alternatives in order to actually see that you need to chuck out the previous theory sets(s), or rework them. With climate change, all the “it’s not our fault” theories have been found empirically lacking, while the theory sets focused on climate change being the result of human associated carbon emissions, primarily in the form of CO2, has been reinforced. As can be seen via a causal read of the literature, the IPCC reports or on the likes of realclimate and multiple scientific associations and the expert opinion of those involved in the field.

        So if climate change is then solid on the science front, per all the associated, published scientific literature, and there are no viable alternatives, then what (rational) basis do you have to reject it, and the associated best case scenario’s published via the IPCC? All of which, points to humanity needing to make serious changes to avoid major disruptions to the stability of numerous developing nations, and significant economic costs to the developed world, and keep the global economy rolling in the long-term. And needs to be acted on n o w instead of 20 years down the track, where the current models indicate such action will not have the needed effects.

        And the whole “religion” thing, is oh soo cute, but also indicates that you can’t think, otherwise you’d know why using the term “religion” is stupid when it comes to science, but are also a hypocrite, per your previous statements about labels. Then again, shouldn’t get my hopes up that any of what I’ve said will sink in, and I’ll merely see another Gish Gallop…

        • no leftie 17.1.2.1

          Like I said whine loudly

          And yes Andrei I know I’m “pissing in the wind” trying to talk sense to this lot but someone has to try. If we all do our bit we can make a difference.

          I’m proposing a 40% reduction in gullibility. I doubt they’ll accept more than 15% but if I can get an actor or two on board that could swing the deal.

          They seem to like it when someone who pretends to be others for a living tells them what to think.

          • NickS 17.1.2.1.1

            Yes, because actually questioning your reasoning is “whining”, as is pointing out the flaws in it.

            So, answer the question;
            “Do you trust the scientific method?”

            If not, please explain why.

            Oh, and ignoring 4/5ths of my post, shear brilliance there.
            /sarcasm

  18. Nick 18

    This is for felix and Pascal’s Bookie (from this morning’s opinion piece in the Herald – link below):

    This doesn’t mean we can go on emitting greenhouse gases indefinitely – the case for us to reverse recent growth in emissions and move to a lower carbon economy is undeniable.

    But as colleagues and I argued in the journal Nature recently, what really matters is the total amount of carbon dioxide released over the next few hundred years, not the details of the timing. The climate doesn’t care exactly when we burn carbon, only how much eventually gets burnt.

    As my colleague Myles Allen put it: “Mother Nature doesn’t care about dates. To avoid dangerous climate change we will have to limit the total amount of carbon we inject into the atmosphere, not just the emission rate in any given year.”

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10591384

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