Video Friday: 6 Degrees Warmer: Mass Extinction?

Will we actually be frightened enough to do something more than install solar panels on our roof, buy a Prius and recycle our garbage?

It doesn’t take an economist to understand the basic economic principle that you can’t grow an asset if you have destroyed the asset base. This fundamental principle seems to make perfect sense to us when we are talking about money, so why do we continually fumble with the equation when it comes to the natural asset base that our economic activity and human welfare depends on? What am I talking about? Well let me explain… (Growing from what?,, 7/14/2011)

During an ice age, the most probable climate sensitivity is six to eight degrees Celsius for a doubling of CO2, more than twice the previous estimate.

Why do we care? As the authors drily put it, “Because the human species lives in a glacial interval of Earth history, this modeling result has more than academic interest.” You see, the most recent ice age in human history is the one that started about 30 million years ago and continues to the present day. We’re living through a glacial interval right now, and that means that a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere might produce a temperature increase of six to eight degrees Celsius, not the mere three degrees Celsius most commonly estimated. (Climate Change: Still Worse Than You Think, Kevin Drum, Mother Jones, 7/8/2011)

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