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Back in the Saddle

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The last original post I made on this blog was September 27. I want to thank my readers for being patient with me while I struggled with my wife’s sudden illness and death. It has been difficult, and there has been an unbelievable amount to do. Hopefully I can now pick the blog back up and resume my once-weekly schedule of posts on Thursday mornings.

A couple of very important reports have come out since October 1 The first was the IPCC Special Report 15, Global Warming of 1.5°C. This report had been published online a few months previously, but had not completed the review process by the involved nations. It now has, and it is available for distribution and quotation. It still has some editing and layout revisions to undergo before the final copy is available, but the content has been approved.

This document is different from the IPCC assessment reports in that it seeks to answer a couple of basic questions: is it possible to limit the increase in global mean surface air temperature (GMST) to 1.5°C? What would be required to keep the increase within that limit? What would be the benefits and costs of doing so compared to a larger increase? It’s an important document, and the news is not encouraging.

The second is the Fourth National Climate Assessment published by the U.S. Global Change Research Program. This is the official U.S. government report on climate change, published every two years. This year, the authors felt that their understanding of how climate change would play-out has increased sufficiently to allow them to address its economic effect.

I’m not in love with economic analyses of environmental issues. Sometimes it is necessary to do uneconomic things. If all the values and services provided by the environment could be given an economic value that reflected their true worth, such an analysis might be possible. But we haven’t achieved that level of wisdom yet, so such analyses can be misleading. Still, this is an official government publication, and it is used by policymakers. Cost vs. benefit is an important consideration in making national policy, so it is important to have estimates of just how much climate change is going to impact the economy if we let it rampage unchecked. Again, the news is not good.

I will start with the IPCC report in my next post, and then move on to the National Climate Assessment.

Thanks for sticking with me.


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