Archive for the ‘Climate change’ category

The economics of climate change

August 23, 2007

April’s issue of the Investigate Magazine devotes four editorial/opinion pices to climate change. Most of it can be labbled “climate change denial” but Mark Steyn has a very good point when he points out that the Kyoto protocol, if America ratified, would cut global tempuratures by an insignificent 0.07 degrees in 2050, at a cost of $97 billon to $397 billon to the US economy by 2010. Thats expensive. This $97 to $397 should be compared to the costs to the U.S economy (including social costs and cost of settling “climate change refugees”) of a 0.07 degree rise in global tempurature. That should decide whether or not to ratify. Although I agree climate change is a serious problem, measures to reduce it should face the same cost-benefit analysis that any other project would.

Having said that, there are ways to reduce climate Change cheaply. In that same Investigate, Mirinda Devine points out that the Average Australian household could save half a tonne of greenhouse gases a year by washing clothes in cold water instead of hot water, and it would save most people money on their power bill. Buying a more efficient fridge would save the average Australian 2 tonnes per year, and the cost of the new fridge can be made up for by savings over time from a lower power bill. There may be plenty of better ways to fight climate change than Kyoto

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Air Pollution kills 1100 New Zealanders per year

July 13, 2007

I was very suprised to read this headline on the NZ Herald, but yes, its true. quite a suprise given were suppose to be Clean and Green. this should give a strong case for more action, given that it kills more than all deaths on the road combined.

While on the topic of pollution, on Close Up last night they talked about Climate change, and how some small towns in Northland may have to be moved because they got two one-in-hundred-year floods in the last few weeks. It is important to remember that there may not be another such flood for the next 500 years. This disaster, like many others, was blamed on climate change. I’m getting tired of hearing of natural disasters being blamed on Climate change- obviously it appears that some enviromentalists think natural disasters never happened a few decades ago. While true that there may be more hurricanes and natural disasters due to Climate change, you can’t blame any single natural disaster for climate change. Second, there may be some natural disasters that may be prevented due to climate change (e.g. less cold wether, if less rain is predicted, then there will be fewer floods).

China now worlds biggest polluter

June 22, 2007

China is now the worlds biggest polluter. According to the Netherlands Enviromental Assistance Agency, last year China produced 6.2 billon tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere as opposed to 5.8 billon for the US (source: yesterdays Dominion Post B1). And it doesn’t look like that is going to change anytime soon, with China now oppening 2 coal burning power stations every week (source Asia Today, BBc World). However, China’s CO2 emmisions per capita are still very low by Western standards. One lesson to be learnt from this is that any new treaty on carbon emmisions has to include developing countries like China, which Kyoto didn’t.

Green questions

June 11, 2007

 At the Green party annual confrence, Jeanette Fitzsimons asked three questions related to the Greens potential coalition partners. They were:  
1)At what level do they plan to cap greenhouse gas emmissions and who will get the permits?  
2) How much bigger are they prepared to allowed the dairy industry to grow, given its damaging effects on water quality, water allocation and climate change?
3) (relating only to key and rewritten) What do you plan to do about the “underclass”? Can you guarentee that benefits will not be cut, the conditions for recieving benefits will not become more stringent, the minimum wage wil continue to rise and there will be no bulk funding of education should national be elected in to office?
 It will be interesting to see any responses to these questions. I doubt that a Greens-National coalition will be viable given the oppposing ideologies of these parties and the serious possibility that the Greens could loose many votes in 2011 if they enter a coalition with National after 2008.
Anyway here is how I would answer the questions proposed: 1) At the current level of emmisions, with the cap being steadily reduced. a valid criticism of National’s proposal to half emmisions by 2050 is that it sets a date too far in the future to mean much, and needs a series of smaller targets leading up to 2050. The allocations problem is much harder. No Right Turn proposes an auction, but this will further hurt bussiness. Giving them to existing polluters for free would reward those existing polluters.
Another way to reduce emmisions would be for a carbon tax, but use all the money from the carbon tax to cutting the company tax rate, thus there being no net costs for business overall, but the polluting ones would pay more, while efficient ones would benefit.
2) Market forces would determine the growth of the dairy imndustry, but carbon emmisions trading and carbon tax would reduce that growth.
3) Yes to those questions about benefits, with the possible exception of sickness benefits, which have increased by 50% since Labour took office. The minimum wage would be ajusted for inflation, but may be reviewed. Although the minimum wage helps ensure workers are paid fairly, it distorts the market so there are fewer people employed. As for bulk funding of schools, this would enable schools instead of bueracrats in Wellington to decide how schools spend their money and I fail to see how this would harm the underclass.

Political climate change

June 6, 2007

During the last few years have seen huge gains for environmentalism, with global warming fears going from what was once a loony fringe to becoming mainstream. Now it looks like even the US is starting to do something about climate change. However without anything being binding, it still apears to be a token contribution.

Also on the issue of Climate change, Dilbert has done a good lookat the issue starting off knowing almost nothing about climate change. He, like myself, came to the center of the political spectrum on climate change, with an interesting 6 conclusions, namely that climate change is real but its dangers have been exaggerated.

Predictable results of socialist policy

May 26, 2007

Guess what the results of Labour’s new carbon-neutral policies to fight climate change have been to date? An extra 800 000 tonnes of carbon in our atmosphere.

New figures have come out showing that three millon trees have been cut down in the last 12 months which will not be replanted. This has had the effect of putting an extra 800 000 tonnes of carbon into our atmosphere.

What is so tragic about this is it was so predictable. Idiot/Savant at No Right Turn blames this on the market. Waht he ignores is that this year one third of trees felled in New Zealand were not to be replanted, compared with 2.5% traditionally. Although the market may play a role in this, probably a much bigger factor is the new $13 000 per hectre tax the tax-hungry Labour government has imposed on anyone who converts forrested land into agricultural land, with no carrots involved. The results were completely predictable: people owning forrests would deforset them as quickly as possible before the new tax came into effect. What should have been done was too give carrots for planting new trees and not cutting trees down.

Makara wind farm one step closer

May 16, 2007

The Environment Court has given approval for Meridian Energy’s proposed 70 turbine Makara wind-farm, although the number of turbines has been reduced from 70 to 66. if built it will generate enough electricity for 110 000 homes, with no carbon emissions. The bad news is that thanks to increases in construction costs during the resource consent process, the cost of building the wind-farm ha gone up by $120 million. That’s an awful lot of money that the NIMBYists have grabbed  from Meridian Energy. And even worse, the NIMBYists can still go to the High Court to stop the project. This case shows why we need to change the Resource Management Act. A good change will involve requiring NIMBYists to place a large bond when going to appeal a decision to the Environment Court, which will only be refunded if the appeal is successful, and if the appeal is unsuccessful then the bond money can go to the people doing the project (in this case Meridian Energy). When important projects are delayed for long periods of time and face increasing costs, only to go ahead anyway, there are no winners. New Zealand has plenty of potential in wind power, which can be important in helping reduce our carbon emissions, but until we find ways to deal with NIMBYists much of it will not be used.