Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Carbon Numbers, Plural.


Norm Farrell has an accounting background and he is very adept at going through public accounts to determine what things make us money vs. those that cost us money.

Of course, there are all kinds of reasons, both economic and policy driven, for the change in our fortunes on natural gas.

Unfortunately, the decrease in revenue does not reflect a decrease in the volume of natural gas being pulled from the ground which, in my opinion, is a really big problem, given the still-to-come back end dollar costs. These are the so-called 'social costs of carbon' (SCC) and they continue to climb for any and all fossil fuels no matter how 'clean' and/or 'transitional' they may be.

But what about the non-dollar human costs of fossil fuel-driven increases in atmospheric carbon?

Of course, here in British Columbia we got a truly tragic taste of those human costs a few weeks ago when the heat dome came came down and approximately six hundred people died.


Has anyone seriously tried to model what atmospheric carbon-driven temperature increases will cost us in lives over, say, the remainder of this century?

Surprisingly, the modelling on that has been pretty scanty until last week when a sharp young kid named Danny Bressler published a single author paper on the 'mortality costs of carbon' (MCC) in Nature Communications.

Here is Bressler's kicker, as reported by Rebecca Hersher from NPR:

...When he factored in the latest mortality research, Bressler found that about 74 million lives could be saved this century if humans cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, compared with a scenario in which the Earth experiences a catastrophic 4 degrees Celsius (about 7 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming by the end of the century...

Of course young Mr. Bressler* could be way off with his prediction.

But at least work such as his will get us thinking of the human costs of carbon over the longterm as the news cycle ends and the memory of short term events like our recent weekend heat dome begin to fade.

Also, modelling only gets better as more data roll in over time.


Yes, that's Mr. Bressler because he's still working on his PhD at Columbia University.


1 comment:

e.a.f. said...

Norm was a great accountant. Now he's a great blogger and yes he knows how to follow the money. His blog is excellent for finding the facts and figures you need to make arguments. Didn't need to dig them up, just checked his blog.

As to future deaths, even if we knew it is doubtful things will change. Its all about the money. In my opinion, as long as people are making money on things which pollute, pollution and the deaths which follow are not going to go away. the world is simply run by too many billionaires who have one interest, money and then there are all the politicians around the world who are ever so anxious to do their bidding. Then there are the working people who frequently are just interested in staying alive. We in the rich western countries have financial support from government to stay alive, but in most countries people don't.

The rich will always have their escape hatch. Most of them don't care. They'd rather spend their money on going into space than take care of things on this earth.

Another huge problem in the world is the population. When I was a kid, there were 3 billion, then it was 5 billion and now we have 8 billion. We fish the oceans empty, we use water to continue to grow things in areas which aren't meant to grow things and governments keep subsidizing the corporations who make money off of all of it.