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  • 350: The Most Important Number in the World for Global Warming

    When Kevin Garnett led the Boston Celtics to the 2008 NBA Championship, his memorable post game interview included him screaming, “Anything is possible!” – A slight rendition of his shoe sponsor Adidas’ motto, “Impossible is nothing.” At Copenhagen where world leaders are gathering to discuss policies to ratchet down the emission of carbon dioxide, the goals of some proponents of a climate treaty are as close to impossible as you can get.

    Many global warming activists believe 350 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the upper limit before we reach climate disaster. For reference, we are currently at 390ppm and we were at 280ppm before the Industrial Revolution. Bill McKibben, founder of the group 350.org says, “It’s the most important number in the world. It’s the line between habitability on this planet and a really, really desolate future.”

    What does it take to reach 350 ppm? In short, a miracle. Energy chemist Nate Lewis of the California Institute of Technology ran the numbers and found that for the earth not to surpass 450ppm by the year 2050, 26.5 of the 45 terawatts the world uses would have to come from carbon-free sources (assuming low population and economic growth). What would this entail?

    • Are you a fan of nuclear? To get 10 terawatts, less than half of what we’ll need in 2050, Lewis calculates, we’d have to build 10,000 reactors, or one every other day starting now.
    • Do you like wind? If you use every single breeze that blows on land, you’ll get 10 or 15 terawatts. Since it’s impossible to capture all the wind, a more realistic number is 3 terawatts, or 1 million state-of-the art turbines, and even that requires storing the energy—something we don’t know how to do—for when the wind doesn’t blow.
    • Solar? To get 10 terawatts by 2050, Lewis calculates, we’d need to cover 1 million roofs with panels every day from now until then.

    And that’s to reach 450ppm something co-director of MIT’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change Henry Jacoby called “totally impossible.” Cap and trade’s 83 percent cut of 2005 emission levels by 2050 would allegedly put the U.S. on the right track. The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis found that, for the average year over the 2012-2035 timeline, job loss will be 1.1 million greater than a world without cap and trade. By 2035, there is a projected 2.5 million fewer jobs. The average GDP lost is $393 billion, hitting a high of $662 billion in 2035. From 2012 to 2035, the accumulated GDP lost is $9.4 trillion.

    Our numbers do not extend out to 2050 when the emissions cuts become the steepest. And the steeper cuts required to reach the 350ppm threshold would entail even more economic pain and revert our standard of living back to the era of the Flintstones.

    If that’s what it would take to save the world, then somehow it would get done. But as Heritage Senior Policy Analyst Ben Lieberman says, the scary global warming stories are turning out not to be true and what is true isn’t all that scary. And the science is anything but conclusive. We shouldn’t forget there was once a time when the most important number in the world was 550ppm. The much broadcasted Stern Review offers 550 parts per million of atmospheric CO2 as a magical upper threshold. Beyond 550ppm, the world is in trouble.

    Church bells rang 350 times in Copenhagen and all over the world to signal the importance of the 350ppm threshold. By the time we get down to 350ppm, there won’t any bells to ring.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    22 Responses to 350: The Most Important Number in the World for Global Warming

    1. Gypsy, WA says:

      There is a way we can CUT expenditures while creating jobs and help the economy. Just as prohibition was ended against alcohol during the great depression, we need to end drug prohibition. If we were to standardize and control and tax this market (no matter what if people want them they will find a way to get them anyhow), we would have a huge income AND free up the court systems and prisons for VIOLENT criminals. Hey if someone holds someone up, fine it should be a crime and followed through on, but trying to enforce the current prohibition under the name of "drug war" has not, is not, and will not work.

      Along with that then we could go back to legal HEMP. A person can't really get high off the stuff, but you can solve the oil crisis with it, provide textiles, beauty products, food products, building products, and the list goes on. ALL creating more jobs. There was a time when people were penalized for NOT growing hemp, in our history. Lets stop hurting people with our puritan ideas. After all it's the alcohol and tobacco companies that keep lobbying for our drug war…Afraid of competition?

    2. Spiritof76 says:

      You miss the point. The next step to enforce 350ppm limit is population control. That is the eultimate aim. The world government will tell you how many kids you can have-not more than 1. The world population can be reduced by 2050 to half of what it is today if 1 childe per couple is enforced-just like China, with forced sterilizations and abortions.

    3. Connie / Batavia, Il says:

      I am very saddened so many people are pushing this movement. The costs to all our nations are going to be beyond the universe and fall through the black hole. The only science that needs to be watched is if something horrific should happen to the Sun. Everything on this "earth" is cyclical…nothing we are doing as a people. It doesn't mean we have to ignore keeping the air clean, recycling where possible, etc.; however, breathing and expelling CO2 is not going to make "Climate Change". HELP!

    4. Bobbie Jay says:

      The intelligence of the intelligent, outnumbered by the ignorance of the arrogant…

    5. MrShorty, Arizona says:

      Given the questionalbe data that is being generated from "missing observations", I think a good place to start is to have the scientific community agree to what model will accurately reflect the overall impact of the item tested (ie CO2, temperature, ozone, etc). Once the models have been agreed to, then the testing can proceed and historical real data can be used if it fits the model.

      Where and when to sample is critical to the overall accuracy of the forecast. Perhaps a starting place for temperature could be outside the exhaust vent from "Billy Bob's Red Hot BBQ" in Arkansas and 100 feet over the LA freeway at 4pm for CO2.

    6. Pingback: PA Pundits - International

    7. Jerry from Chicago says:

      OK, this is what one guy, energy chemist Nate Lewis, thinks, that doomsday is right around the corner. Let's open the debate to other energy chemists, climatologists and scientists, who may have a different point of view. Let there be an open discussion for the public. Let's stop hiding e-mails, burning contradictory data and refusing to engage min open public debate.

      Al Gore's nonsense has made him a billionaire. Cap & Trade will do nothing to stop carbon emissions, because carbon emissions will be allowed as long as "carbon credits" are purchased. The cost of these "credits" will of course be added to the price of the goods and services we all purchase including gasoline, natural gas, oil and electricity. The result, just as much carbon emissions as before, but less money in the pockets of American consumers.

      And all of those other nations at the Copenhagen conference sit there, with their hands out, telling the U.S. it is our responsibility to send them money so that they can comply. Why, because the U.S. is the richest country in the world, right? We we aren't the richest country anymore. Since India and China have taken most of the manufacturing jobs we used to have, and since they are the worlds largest polluters, let them pony up the money to reduce all the carbon emissions. Let the rest of the world hold out their hands to India and China and see how much they can collect. Or maybe, the other concerned nations of the world can convince India and China to reduce their carbon emmissions by 50% in the next three years.

      Can't you just see all the crocodile tears the conference attendees are shedding into their champaign? Flying in to the conference on their private jets, waiting impatiently for their limos to take them to their 5 star hotels, oh so concerned about the threat of global warming.

      Their in another option for funding other nations' attemts to fight global warming. That would be to have all the wealthy American liberals like Barack Obama, Bill & Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, Barbara Boxer, Diane Finestein, Nancy Pelosi, George Soros, Michael Bloomberg, Oprah, George Clooney and the rest of the Hollywood elite and celebrities liquidate 75% of their assets and ship this money off to those poorer nations so anxious to help curb global warming. Even with 25% of their former assets, these people would still be millionaires. But these people won't do that. They want the rest of us working stiffs to pick up the tab.

    8. J. Lumb, Jacksonvill says:

      Plant production would increase 30% if CO2 emissions double thereby ending global hunger. CooL …… or should I say… warm. when Al Gore pledges to use only the energy requirements of the average American family, I may actually sit up and take another look at global warming. I'm not worried about that ever happening thou.

      What is the ideal temperature of the planet anyway? Seems like Siberia would love some warming.

      Suffer fools lightly.

    9. Skeptical, New Jerey says:

      How is it that the earth survied periods in it's geologic history where CO2 was several times higher than it is today (as high as 7000 ppm a couple of billion years ago)? If my research is correct, the earth has experienced exactly one other period in it's history when CO2 levels were as low as they are today. The entire "tipping point" argument is absurd.

    10. Ben C., Ann Arbor says:

      And then there are groups of agricultural experts who conclude an increased level of CO2 will benefit agriculture and increase food production. Various projections have concluded it is a GOOD thing. So, save the polar ice caps and don't eat or melt the ice caps (not really, the Fox glacier is increasing in size as we speak)and feed the poor nations. Hmmm, what a choice.

    11. Bob R Geologist, Tuc says:

      Idiocy prevails at the climate confrence. 1st, climate is regulated by natural laws. It is the supreme egotism of these fools that man can control weather by micromanagement. 2. The problems are long range and only revealed by study of the Earth's past weather history which has been ignored in thie insane fervor of climate change. 3. There is nothing abnormal in our climate fluctiation of our last 12,000 years other than what we perceive as desirable. 4. We are actually cooler than normal for our planet. It began 50 million years ago when plate tectonics brought India into contact with Asia, closing the Tethys seaway, disrupting a vigorous tropical, oceanic current that had enabled a better world distribution of warmth. Cooling has continued until 14 my ago our polar regions became ice capped and we became vulnerable to glaciation. Presently unknown factors combined to initiate the Pleistocene Ice Ages which began 1.75 my ago, a mere moment. Since that time we have had 5 major glaciations in the northern hemi-sphere and have been in an interglacial period for 12,000 years. The only way I can conceive of getting out of this cold climate rut we're in is by encouraging greenhouse gasses! If we blow our wealth on the politicial expediancy of the false doctrine of AGW, we will be at the mercy of our real potential problem.

    12. TonyfromOz says:

      As Nick says in his post, what is needed to even ATTEMPT to bring the Atmospheric CO2 level down, which in itself is problematic, if not impossible, is to close down completely those coal fired power plants, the main emitters of CO2, and not just a small one here and there, but all those large scale plants, and en masse, something that would amount to immediate political suicide who whoever proposes it.

      The problem with that is that there is NO means other than Nuclear powered plants to replace the constant and regular power that they provide.

      So, those coal fired plants cannot be replaced until there is replacement power in place.

      To replace just one will take 7 to 10 years given all the right things fall immediately into place from original proposal.

      Hence, those coal fired plants will still need to be on line for that time, all of them.

      To replace them is a mammoth exercise, costing an amount of money that would be astronomical.

      In the meantime, all those plants will still be emitting their CO2.

      There is no way to lower it without closing them down.

      A new tax will not lower CO2 levels by the tiniest amount, let alone on the scale required.

      Then, this is not just for the US, but across the whole Planet, because Atmospheric CO2 level is the same, be it in New York, Sydney, Beijing, Delhi, or anywhere.

      No, that level of CO2 will not come down, back to even close to 350PPM , ever.

      Keep in mind this concentration is measured in parts per million, so the current level of 388PPm amounts to a total Atmospheric content of CO2 of 0.0388% of the whole Atmosphere, or less than 4 cents in $100.

    13. Sheri , Calif,usa says:

      Golden years have now become toxic,rusty years…thank you very much. What did we think would happen when we are raping the earth of all natural resources?

    14. bountyhunter says:

      I would recommend we all go google "The Club of Rome" started in 1968.. we all may get educated on this outrageous hoax on humanity. Useful information about this "club" can also be found at the jeremiah project dot com.

      your friend

      bh

    15. Mikofox, Yukon says:

      So it logically follows that:

      the Obama Administration and the Western Countries are promoting ‘Clean Energy’ for Poor Countries with a $350 Million Plan

      http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/58525

    16. Perry OK says:

      Wow!All the money and time we were taxed, to rawse these intelligent(no well schooled) people of science and politics. Wasted!

      All the time spent by there parents,teachers, and aunt bea even. For all of the effort put into our leaders. We get this!

      I am really tired of all the lies and twisting of the truth. So here it is in my opinion, al get a life. Put a lift sentence of trash removal on a chain gang for all of those that twist,devate or lie. Wow we could export washington!

    17. Mario Lombardo says:

      This is a little shortsighted from what I usually expect from Heritage. All time and energy spent researching how to attack a policy and none dedicated to alternative solutions, conservation, or even measured optimism that we can make a difference through innovation. You imply that we as humans can impact climate only to explain your objection to 350, but God forbid you use this same logic to address the risks of not doing enough. or a suggestion of what "enough" is.

    18. Linda Louisiana says:

      Thanks to those who understand the science behind this hoax, taking the time to write their comments.

      We who know it is very wrong for this country on many levels, but do not completely understand the science, appreciate reading your explanations.

    19. dcwike, Va. says:

      The US has been a leader in reducing toxic waste and air pollution for years. And, citizens of the US have contributed by their own will as being stewards of the planet. Why should WE be forced to pay the poor and oppressed countries?

      The US wasn't ALWAYS "rich." We BECAME rich because we were FREE to work hard and prosper and develop BECAUSE we have a system with a constitution that gives us the FREEDOM to DO so.

      This "Global Warming" is but a gimmick for radicals to gain world control. And, Al Gore is just a stupid idiot (or shall I say a smart business man using fear tactics for gain). He's lying through his teeth, even contradicting himself. He won't even answer legitimate questions. Or PRACTICE what he preaches!

      And, IF any of this has merit, WHY does not Copenhaagan PRACTICE what it preaches? Or our people in the Senate and House of Representatives? Heck, even the President?

      I mean, shoot, why didn't they have this "conference" via the Internet, what with all the technology there is to have conferences, even with video cams that can project charts and contracts? I saw a program advertised where you can have all that for $50 a month! And, guess what? No carbon emissions like you get from jets or limos.

      And, by the way, if those countries are so poor how can they afford to fly to Copenhaagan, rent limos, and rent rooms at 5-star hotels? China lend them the money, by chance?

      The US isn't the richest country in the world anymore. Heck, we're living on borrowed money from China, and our economy is still fragile.

      I think that's what it's all about. They, whomever "they" are, WANT to see our government bankrupt. They are totally against freedom and capitalism. Whom but beurocratic leaders will benefit from this? Surely it wouldn't be the working class, yet, it is the working class who pays for all these UN conferences.

    20. Gary Cody, The UNITE says:

      I have often wondered why it is that the environmental groups who are pushing the “global warming” issues do not just come out and say what their true agenda is?

      It has been known, for example, for many, many years that nuclear power is safe, reliable, and emissions free. In Europe, a large percentage of the power is generated by nukes.

      But, rather than support nuclear power as an alternative, they will not even discuss it. It is like nukes do not exist.

      Rather, they have taken the path of trying to scare everyone into compliance by telling us CO2 is bad for us. They refuse to have any open dialog or provide any real evidence to support their claim. Instead, we get ridiculous claims about polar ice caps melting and projections of sea levels rising 26 feet, and so on and so on.

      And, of course, there is the segment seeing this as an opportunity to financially benefit by selling “carbon credits”, raising taxes, pushing wind mills and solar panels, and, of course, making ludicrous movies about how dooms day is approaching.

      What is obvious, to me at least, is that this has nothing to do with the environment, and is certainly not a proposal based on concern for mankind.

      If some rational world leader (I wonder if there is one?) were to address the issue honestly and straight forward, and tell us what, in fact, their concerns are, and why they are proposing the radical, costly, job killing, plans being put on the table, with clear evidence to support the facts, and with true, scientific data that is accessible to everyone that may want to see it, they would have a better chance to sell it to the world.

      But, instead, we are only left to guess what their true agenda is and why they believe as they do.

      I believe the real agenda is, first, to reduce the world population and to return to the world as it was prior to the industrial revolution. I believe they think that the only way to accomplish this is via a World Government with absolute power, where a few elites make all the decisions and dictate policies.

      Obviously, they feel that, if the concept is revealed, it would be met with significant resistance. I wonder why?

    21. james green, NM says:

      CO2: Western Fuel Foundation, NY (I think)in the nineties, did a co2 test at Univ Florida. The experiented by covering just the sides of orange trees with plastic, left the top open. 1st tree sprayed with 360ppm of co2, got pretty much same yield in oranges as season before. 2nd tree sprayed with 440ppm, got double the oranges; 3rd tree sprayed with 660ppm of co2, got triple the oranges. So co2 at +/-2% of existing atmosphere, does'nt one tend to think that all plants could use more co2. The Western Fuel Group, concluded that in 500 years the EARTH, would be a swamp. jim, albuq, NM

    22. TJ BEAR Prescott, AZ says:

      There are many doctorally qualified physicists who outright reject or strongly disagree with the AGW hypothesis (see a list of 700 internationally known climate scientists who disagree with the AGW hypothesis at http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction….
      Further the recently disgraced former head of the Hadley Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University admitted to the BBC that:

      1) There has been no warming since 1995.

      2) In fact there has been a slight cooling from 2001 till now.

      3) That the MWP was in fact warmer than today.

      4) That his unit had “lost” thirty years or climate data and now had only the “adjusted data”.

      5) That there is no consensus among climate scientists that the causes of Global Warming are fully understood.

      6) That the majority of climate scientists do not support the AGW hypothesis (a fact confirmed by a survey recently conducted by Hans Storch where a roughly equal of number of climate scientists agreed or disagreed with the AGW hypothesis.

      Russian officials have said that the Hadley CRU Data does not include their data (systematically adding a warming bias to the data).

      Christopher Horner at CEI has filed for years Freedom of information Act Inquiries with NOAA, NCDC and GISS, which after years of resistance and foot dragging now have been made available and show that those data sets, as well, are unreliable (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/dec/03/researcher-says-nasa-hiding-climate-data/).
      For anyone who is really interested in what the science actually says about AGW, I would urge you to view Dr. Richard Lindzen, The Alfred Sloan Endowed Chair in Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics at M.I.T., in this presentation on the subject (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwM_B4-5gaE).
      I think any empirically-based review of the available data on the AGW theory would lead any fair-minded person to say that engaging in a 143 trillion dollar, century long, global economic bloodbath to follow the unproven IPCC GCM Model’s promise to lower Global Mean Temperature by .007 of 1 degree F is a fool’s errand.

      From an economic standpoint the major study cited by the AGW lobby, is terminally flawed. First and foremost it uses a discount rate of close to zero for the time value of money over the period of a century (in other words a dollar in 100 years is equal in value to the value of a dollar today-violating the most basic principles of the financial models of the time value of money). Even with this terminal flaw the study claims we only be 6 times as wealthy with AGW fully in effect, versus seven times as wealthy with the multi-trillion dollar carbon restriction scheme. The devastating effect of this wrong-headed and wrong –hearted policy on the developing nations of the world would be not just be ineffective in the control of climate, but also it would also be engaging in a policy of statistical murder (more people die if we do this than would otherwise die-see the UN policy on DDT and the estimates of 30-100 million Africans succumbing to Malaria because of that ban-that would not have died if they would have had DDT).

      It is time to embrace empiricism and reject mere modeling (ALL MODELS ARE WRONG, the best models, in the best circumstances MAY be useful) and move forward in a rational way. The precautionary principle is not good science or good public policy-specifically because you cannot fully cost out the price of the unintended consequences of squashing the freedom that the AGW Alarmists anti-carbon energy policies would cause.

      Finally I have a constitutional right to my freedoms (the size of my house, which light bulbs to use, what car to drive, what toilet to use). The gross violations of my individual property and equity rights, proposed by the AGW Alarmists, are in fact specifically protected by the founding documents of the U.S. and forbid the removal and/or abridgement of those rights without the due process of law and just compensation. The very idea that I would ever freely surrender my inalienable rights endowed to me by “the Creator” (The Declaration of Independence) for the alarmist predictions of a principal components analysis computer model, is ridiculous on its face.

      To paraphrase one my heroes, “You can control my carbon when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.”

      tbear

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