Bolivia’s rapidly diminishing Chacaltaya glacier has been widely used as a symbol of Anthropogenic Global Warming (1). However, it is an unfortunate choice of symbol, because the retreat of this specific glacier is demonstrably not due to increasing temperatures caused by CO2 emissions.
Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) with average per capita incomes that do not even reach half the regional average ($4140 for Bolivia compared to $9321 for LAC) (1). Average productivity per person of working age is now exactly the same as it was in 1967 (2), despite the substantial advances in education, health, basic services and available technology over the last four decades.
“Lisa, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics”
By itself, a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere has only a modest effect on global temperatures – an increase of around 1ºC. Even a quadrupling of CO2 in the atmosphere would only cause a direct temperature increase of about 2ºC (1). However, this modest increase can be either amplified or reduced depending on the feedback effects.
“I will see it when I believe it”
Slip of tongue by Thane Pittman
Almost 20 years ago Thomas Gilovich wrote a very interesting book about the “Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life” explaining some of the mechanisms through which we tend to deceive ourselves and each other.
In this article, I will use some of his insights to analyze the Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) theory. Our collective beliefs on this topic have so important consequences that we cannot allow ourselves to be deceived. If human carbon emissions are really overheating the globe, the costs of not believing this and not acting accordingly, could be catastrophic.
“Thinking to get at once all the gold the goose could give, he killed it and opened it only to find – nothing” By Aesop, The Goose with the Golden Eggs
During the last 5 years we have experienced a spectacular oil-price boom (see Figure 1), which has been thoroughly exploited by the Bolivian government to increase public revenues. Between 2002 and 2007, government revenues from the upstream hydrocarbon sector increased by a factor of 7, lately accounting for more than a third of all government revenues (www.upf.gob.bo ).
“A good lie will have travelled half way around the world
while the truth is putting on her boots”
As regular readers of this newsletter will have discovered, I believe the threat of Climate Change is being vastly exaggerated not only by the media and certain individuals, but also by big international institutions, such as the United Nations and WWF.
Last week, WWF came out with an alarming report “Climate Change: Faster, Stronger, Sooner: An overview of the climate science published since the UN IPCC Fourth Assessment Report” suggesting that Global warming is accelerating beyond IPCC’s forecasts.
That is a really impressive accomplishment at a time where everything points to the Earth being several years into a cooling cycle (1), probably related to the Sun having suddenly changed from unusually active to unusually quiet (2) and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation having turned into its negative mode (3).
A Tipping Point is the moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire, the point where something previously rare suddenly becomes common (1). Fashion is an obvious example, where certain styles and patterns are virtually unseen for decades, and then suddenly booms for a couple of years, after which they fade back into negligence. In many ways, the rise and fall of ideas resembles the rise and fall of epidemics.
This article will focus on the rise and fall (and rise and fall) of climate change concerns.
Due to an excessive work load, this weeks’ newsletter will highlight a collection of earlier articles on the topic of Poverty.
Bolivians feel poor, but not that poor(L. E. Andersen)
According to official estimates, there are at least 3 million extremely poor people in Bolivia (about 38% of the total population). Judging from their very low incomes, they shouldn’t be able to buy even the minimum basket of subsistence goods. The majority of people in this group does not have electricity in the house, and thus none of the convenient inventions that run on electricity. Still, only a minority of them (18.5%) actually feel extremely poor (Continue reading…)
Last week, NASA held a conference on solar activity, showing the results of Ulysses’ third and last orbit around the sun (1). “The sun cycles between periods of great activity and lesser activity. Right now, we are in a period of minimal activity that has stretched on longer than anyone anticipated,” explained Ed Smith, NASA’s Ulysses project scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “When the results of the third scan were compared with observations from the previous solar cycle, the strength of the solar wind pressure and the magnetic field embedded in the solar wind were found to have decreased by 20 percent. The field strength near the spacecraft has decreased by 36 percent.”