French climate scientist Philippe Ciais argues the earth will experience 2 degrees warming even if all emissions stopped today. There is even one notable forecast by NASA scientist James Hansen of record global temperature highs during the first term of President Obama’s office and of the possibility of runaway warming with the destruction of all life on earth and in the oceans.
These are fearful scenarios and will be derided by climate change sceptics but the outcomes they point too as serious scientists are very adverse and are worthy of weight on that account alone. It is not alarmism but prudent regard for a serious risk that endangers life on earth.
Some of Obama’s appointments suggest a new US respect for science. Obama is committed to serious climate change policies and has:
...pledged to create 5 million green jobs and break U.S. dependence on foreign oil, investing $150 billion in the next decade to build an energy economy that relies on renewable sources such as wind, solar and geothermal energy.Moreover, despite US economic problems these sorts of policies seem like a plausible and reasonable vision. Already the appointment of serious climate change scientists to key positions in his administration has led to forecasts that this will have a positive effect of Indian, Chinese and Brazilian climate policies.
The old US ‘enemy’ may yet arise to save the day - I have already posted that there is a conceivable economic rationale for doing just that. It would be a great Xmas present for the world for Obama to establish his position as a great US President by getting the world’s political leaders to take seriously climate change.
* My own work as an economist interested in climate change policy will emphasise adaptation policies on the assumption that (regrettably) mitigation policies are likely to be ineffectual. I am also completing work on strategic aspects of mitigation policy.