Sunday, May 6, 2007

The Innumerate Leading the Illiterate

That's a line from "The Computer Contradictionary" by Stan. Kelly-Bootle

I was reminded of it when I saw this from DeSmogblog-cross posted at Daily Kos
Climate plan costs $10 per head

Now before my gauche friends take offense, I'm not saying they can't read, far from it. I once saw a comment from one of the KosKidz that dropped the F-bomb as a noun, verb (both transitive and reflexive!), gerund and adverb and although Professor Jim McCawley (one of the pioneers of pornolinguistics, U of Chi.) says the F2 variant can't be used as an adverb, I know what I saw and it was an F'in-heimer Tour de Force. So no, I'm not saying DeSmogblog's readers couldn't read the WG III SPM. Just that they didn't.

This "low cost" has become a meme with reports like this:

"Massive climate change is avoidable at low cost"

"IPCC climate report proves government must act""....According to the IPCC report, stabalising emissions between 450 and 550 ppm (parts per million) would cost from 0.2 per cent to less than 3 per cent of GDP in 2030, or less than 0.1 per cent per year." Greenpeace NZ

"Cost of stabilizing climate 0.1% per year"

"So let's say you make $50,000. The cost, on that scale, would be $60. Cheaper than a cup of coffee a week. HuffingtonPost

What the IPCC actually said, on page 26 of the SPM:

Reduction of average annual GDP growth rates (percentage points) < .12

But that's not the cost, it's the effect!
The Stern Review, which I know DeSmogblog read (a search "Stern" of the blog shows they mentioned it in at least ten posts), says the cost will be 1% of WGP or $466 to $650 billion this year ( and 1% is probably too low, there's a whole literature on that "
The cost of electricity from coal is expected to double by 2030 to US$40–55 (per mega-watt hour, MWh). The additional cost of using carbon capture and storage for coal may raise the price to US$60–90 per MWh" (IEA 2005, 2006 / IPCC 2005)). This morning Senator Chris Dodd said his call for a carbon tax would cost $50 to $100 billion per year in the U.S. alone.

So why are people repeating this? I hope it comes from what Harry Nillson had the Rock Man say to Oblio in his work of genius, "The Point": "
"You sees what you want to see, and you hears what you want to hear".

Because otherwise Desmogblog doesn't really believe their motto: "We're here to clear the PR pollution that clouds the science on climate change." and I don't want to believe that. I visit every day.