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Still Another Look At Global Warming by Velimir Lackovic

David Stipp of Fortune has referred to climate change as "the mother of all national security issues
(2004)." I see no reason to disagree, since as explained in my new textbook (2007), a peaking of
global oil production in the near future could be labeled the father. Moreover, these are related,
because when oil becomes less available, the use of coal will be drastically boosted, and among
other Jeffrey Michel (2008) clarifies what this means. I also emphasize that one difference between a
climate meltdown and a peaking of global oil production is that many readers of this contribution are
certain to experience the latter; and although less traumatic than the former - should the former
take place - it will not be the kind of rendezvous that Frank Sinatra described in those marvellous
songs that accompanied our aprs ski revels at Courchevel and St Anton.
Unfortunately, when the topic is (presumptive) anthropogenic (or man made) global warming (AGW),
we have a situation where politics and psychology play a role that cannot be ignored, which means
that we cannot always call on altruism or logic to provide us with optimal guidelines. Increasing
numbers of people are willing to sacrifice a modest amount of money and/or comfort in order to help
keep the environment in a seemly condition, but when the bad news might originate dozens or
hundreds of years in the future, of unknown extent, involving societies whose compositions are
unknown, then taxpayers and legislators might hesitate to endorse even small expenditures. As
Professor John Kay once pointed out, "the burden of caring for all humanity, present and future, is
greater than even the best-intentioned of us can bear."
It has certainly natural environment definition become greater than this humble teacher of
economics and finance can shoulder. As a result I would be more than happy if formulating tactics
and strategy that would be useful in the global-warming battle were taken out of my caring hands,
and turned over to high ranking governmental officials - bypassing if possible mastodon conferences
where the majority of participants lack a relevant technical background, and many would be
perplexed by freshman mathematics at Boston Public.

For instance, a majority of the delegates

attending the Kyoto talkathon (in l997) did
not have the slightest intention to do the
kind of reading and thinking that is
necessary to comprehend the economic
and political implications of global
warming. I am certain of this, because
serious people would have insisted upon
immediate action, and under no
circumstances would have welcomed the introduction of a measure as senseless as emissions
trading. What most of those ladies and gentlemen were primarily concerned with was obtaining a
ticket to the next global warming jamboree. Readers who want an important insight into this issue
should refer to the work of the Carbon Tax Center where the many shortcomings of emissions
trading are examined in some detail.
My side of the coin
My approach to global warming turns on some conclusions I absorbed when studying and teaching

theoretical welfare economics and game theory: the basic issue is rationality! It has to do with
whether voters and concerned politicians - or for that matter non-voters and political hacks - adopt
or accept political and economic programs that are consistent with their ambitions in life, love, and
the pursuit of money or power. As I have found out over the past few years, this is asking for a great
deal. Instead, regardless of beliefs about the authenticity of AWG, persons who enjoy thinking that
they possess something valuable to contribute to this debate are similar in at least one respect: they
are vulnerable to systematic manipulation and self-delusion.
Too many AGW partisans want the main attack against climate problems to be carried out with
renewables. They inevitably proclaim that nuclear energy is dangerous or relatively expensive, and
they show an unreasonable tolerance toward half-baked schemes like emissions trading. I prefer to
believe that crank convictions of this nature should be discouraged at the highest scientific and
journalistic levels, since in reality they have been accepted by many politicians and civil servants
only because of their political currency. For instance, the resort to emissions trading hardly deserves
to be called "foolish simplicity", which, as the Nobel Prize physicist Wolfgang Pauli added when he
coined the term," is beyond all help."
Similarly, almost all the climate commentators working the wrong side of the global warming street
are believers in the long run availability of oil and gas. Dr Bjrn Lomborg once stated publicly that oil
will last at least 100 years. Actually, if it were close to a thousand it would make little or no
difference, because the two basic issues here are the geographic distribution of reserves and the
peaking of the world oil output, and peaking could - could, not will - take place during the coming
decade. In other words, it makes sense to disregard the way that resource scarcity is generally
treated in most of the academic economics literature, where despite the algebra readers are
presented with a soap-opera rather than a scientific exposition. It should also be noted that in
Stipp's article the Pentagon plays the role of attentive observer to the climate warming drama,
which suggests to me that any indication that oil production was peaking or about to peak would
cause the lights to burn later than usual in that impressive structure. This is something we don't
want, because going to war for oil is not a healthy option.
The bottom line
In a recent letter to EnergyBiz Insider, a hard-core member of the denial lobby classified talk about
AGW as an integral part of the international socialist conspiracy, following which he insinuated that
placing limits on the emission of greenhouse gases would eventually lead to the placing of limits on
economic growth. More surprising, some very intelligent alternative energy solutions technicians,
engineers, businesspersons and commentators associated with the important forum EnergyPulse
have called AWG a hoax, scam, nonsense, foolishness, etc.
I accept AGW regardless of what it is called, or by whom, because working to suppress greenhouse
gases is perhaps the best approach to the installation of a new energy economy - which I regard as
essential. I was also informed recently that 400 prominent "scientists" have put their names on a
document saying that global warming is hogwash. What we have here is a farce similar to that in the
U.S. presidential election in 2004, when a posse of "Swift Boat Captains" was rounded up to question
the bona fides of Senator John Kerry. The difference between President Bush's sailor supporters and
the above mentioned scientists is that the former were actually captains, though seriously confused
about the role of Senator Kerry in the war, while a majority of the 'scientists' had as much right to
that designation as citizens who received bogus titles at the masquerade balls held in Paris the night
the Bastille changed management.
Some AWG sceptics are often cited in the journal Energy and Environment. A few of those ladies and

gentlemen possess impressive academic credentials, although most of them belong in the same
category as the foot-loose 'boffins' summoned to Dr Lomborg's 'Copenhagen Consensus', and who before proceeding to the marvellous Tivoli to drink beer - were provided with a bizarre opportunity
to challenge the research of important physical scientists. As good luck would have it though, the
gradual discrediting of Lomborg and a gallery of know-nothings and wannabees in other parts of the
world means that even if real scientists are wrong about AGW, we could still end up with the energy
system we deserve. The matter of who knows what where this topic is concerned has been examined
by Barry Naughten of the AustralianNational University (2007).
It seems clear that to satisfy future energy requirements and to deal with (actual or hypothetical)
AWG, a comprehensive portfolio of 'green' energy sources should be acquired as soon as possible:
e.g. solar, wind, optimal amounts of biofuels, and perhaps hydrogen. In addition, according to Jim
Beyer (2007), a more sophisticated access to and utilization of large amounts of methane is
desirable. My focus though is on nuclear, because as far as I am concerned the solution to the
distasteful energy dilemma that might be just over the horizon, as well as a partial solution to a
possible climate calamity, is as follows: a base of reliable and comparatively inexpensive nuclear, on
top of which is a large and variegated slice of renewables. Unfortunately, there would also have to
be another non-nuclear bundle consisting of gas and clean coal, but its size and composition will
have to be discussed by somebody else.
An example might be useful. In the Swedish city of Vxj, greenhouse gas emissions have been
reduced by 30 by 2010. Careful attention to best practices technology and management, to include a
large increase in biofuel consumption, is supposedly the key element in this program. But I suspect
that another pivotal element is the large amount of energy produced in Sweden with e.g. nuclear,
even if Vxj may not be a major producer or consumer of this energy source. As suggested above,
Nuclear energy (and hydro) provide the base on which other constituents can display a maximum
utility! In fact, if the Swedish government were friendlier to the friendly atom, a comparable success
might be possible for the entire country, without stresses on industrial output and employment that
could burden everybody. The point is that nuclear energy in Sweden has paid its own way! The
flexibility inherent in very large amounts of electricity has meant higher employment, lower costs for
energy intensive industries, less greenhouse gas, etc, and consequently larger tax returns to finance
things like health care and education.
Let me emphasize that what we should avoid is an offbeat foundation of biofuels, wind, sun, 'small'
hydro, etc, in phase with a nuclear retreat, which is the goofy formula that hypocrites and deadbeats
in Brussels (and elsewhere) obviously favour, and as far as I can tell could mean a drastic fall in the
standard of living for many of us. As former Prime Minister Tony Blair indicated, even
environmentalists should logically prefer nuclear to a decline in their disposable incomes. This might
be one of the reasons why we now hear so much these days about a renewed interest in nuclearbased electricity, and this interest is conspicuous in virtually every corner of the industrial world.
According to Robert Frank (2006) in his important textbook, "if a single agency had the power to
enact globally binding environmental legislation, it would be a straightforward, albeit costly matter
to reduce the build-up of greenhouse gases. But in our world of sovereign nations, this power does
not exist."
This conclusion can be adjusted. If a miracle had taken place, and the Kyoto delegates had specified
that climate issues should be exclusively dealt with by heads of governments and senior civil
servants from the major greenhouse gas emitting countries, meeting several times a year, we might
already be in possession of optimal environmental legislation, instead of the sub-optimal trivia that
was eventually cranked out. Moreover, the cost mentioned by Professor Frank might have been quite

tolerable. As a bonus, observers like myself might have the satisfaction of knowing that the selfimportant climate vigilantes yawning and waffling at assorted talk-shops were denied the luxury of
flaunting their tiresome amateurishness in international forums.
An adviser of President Putin once said that emissions trading was about making money, and not
suppressing greenhouse gases. This should never be forgotten, because when that statement was
made, the efficacy of emission trading was in doubt. This is no longer the case. It is a scam that will
be perpetuated by, among others, the Nordic Electricity Exchange, whose ulterior purpose is to
make fools of the lethargic voters and politicians who have come to believe that countering things
like peak oil and climate warming with what amounts to a lottery can make their lives sweet and
Velimir Lackovic