What we're buying and what we could buy
The Washington Times publicized some numbers originally taken from the Climate Change Business Journal (via WUWT, Town Hall seen at Climate Depot).
"I Love Emo 1984" created this video in 2007 which was the "ideological peak" of the climate hysteria but it clearly wasn't the financial peak.
The renewable energy and cars etc. industries and all similar things that justify themselves by the panic about the allegedly dangerous influence of CO2 on the global climate has grown into $1.5 trillion a year. That's 2 percent of the world economy. Because only about 1.5 billion people actually pay for that, each of them pays about $1,000 a year.
The amount of money grew by about 5% a year except for 2011 when it jumped, without any reasons that could make any sense, by 11% a year (maybe the reason was that it was the year '11?). This number is so staggering that I have to say a few trivial things about it.
The money is paid both by "voluntary" consumers who have been persuaded that it's important to buy and use "renewable" or "climate-friendly" (carbon-free) products; as well as the mostly "involuntary" taxpayers. Some of the money is spent for "products" that brainwash the gullible people or intimidate and harass the people who are able to think. The journal lists 9 segments and 38 subsegments of the applied climate hysteria industry.
Each of the 1.5 billion people who materially contribute to the $1.5 trilion budget a year could buy a new top-quality smartphone every year if the "renewable" fad abruptly disappeared. Or many other things.
The world could afford to build more than 100 new Large Hadron Colliders every year. Or perhaps one collider every year whose collision energy is 100 times times higher – over a petaelectronvolt. I could continue for a very long time – I did a similar exercise in the context of the Kyoto protocol in 2007.
The size of the Starship Enterprise is about 300 meters and it carries almost 1,000 passengers. One may build one for the climate-related money every 8 months.
Every year, the money could be used to buy 100 million new cars; or tens of millions of luxurious houses; a cheap notebook for every human being on Earth; one Freedom Megaisland (this project is 750 new Freedom Towers built around Manhattan); some 1,000 hamburgers for each of the less than 1 billion persistently hungry people on Earth (i.e. solve the problem of world hunger); weeks of extra vacation for every worker in the world; a 3-year Harvard Junior Fellowship for 10 million extra Harvard Junior Fellows; ten Marshall Plans; buyback of all gold on Earth (above ground); thousands of missions to Jupiter; 100 times Enron's accounting errors; 20 big new bailouts for Greece or making Bill Gates 20 times richer than he is (a trillionaire); repayment of 1/10 of the U.S. public debt; between 1 and 12 Atlantic bridges connecting Canada and Spain for cars; transformation of all deserts on Earth to fertile land; fifteen missions to Mars that produce a lasting human presence on the planet; one-third of a human mission to Neptune; more than one Starship Enterprise; compensation of the world's shareholders for a big part of the Friday drop; more than one fruitless 15-year war mission in Afghanistan. ;-)
Some of them are wonderful things to buy, aren't they? In 20 years, you may pay for all of them.
To be accurate, not the "whole" $1.5 trillion is "pure climate hysteria". I suppose that they count products that are seriously marketed as "the solutions" to "the problem". My estimate is that in average, 1/2 of their price is coming from the "climatic factor" in average.
What are we getting every year instead of the things I mentioned three paragraphs above? We're getting overpriced products that do the same thing as much cheaper products would do; and lots of wealthier, and therefore more annoying and more self-confident, climate crooks who pocket a not quite negligible fraction of the $1.5 trillion (and attack climate skeptics who were lucky to get a few thousand dollars for their skepticism and courage in their lifetime and be sure that it isn't my case). But what do they say that we are actually getting?
Every year, the global mean temperature increases by less than 0.015 °C (satellite measurements). Let's generously take this number. It is questionable – and I think that rather unlikely – that "almost all" of this temperature increment is due to the increasing concentration of CO2 but let us generously assume that it's the case.
The usage of the "climate-friendly" products and technologies obviously doesn't eliminate CO2 emissions completely. It actually reduces it at most by a few percent a year and this percentage isn't growing substantially in recent years. Because all the new CO2 emissions were assumed to add 0.015 °C a year, one percentage point of the emissions that is avoided represents 0.00015 °C, about 150 microkelvins.
So what we actually buy every year instead of the wonderful things 6 paragraphs earlier is the cooling of the whole atmosphere by 150 microkelvins a year, and I was very generous. Now, what is a better investment: to turn all deserts on Earth into fertile land or eliminate the world hunger, or to cool the atmosphere by 150 microkelvins? Over 100 Large Hadron colliders or to cool all the air on Earth by 0.15 millikelvins? To build 15 bases on Mars or to cool a huge and mostly irrelevant atmosphere by that tiny amount?
150 microkelvins is obviously an unmeasurably tiny change of the (non-uniform and wildly fluctuating) global mean temperature. Even changes that are more than 1,000 times larger – of order 0.15 °C – are extremely controversial and those who measure the global temperature can't agree about the result at this accuracy. At this accuracy, the precise value depends on details of the methodology to measure, the altitude, the method of homogenization of the data, and tons of other technical details.
If you wanted to be patient and cool the planet by 0.15 millikelvins (cost: $1.5 trillion a year) every year, and assuming linearity (which is not really right but OK), you would need 60,000 years to cool the planet by 9 °C. But this deliberate cooling plan is useless because in the year 60,000 AD, the next ice age will peak and the temperatures will be about 9 °C cooler than today regardless of our activities in this century. The numbers just work out to make my point really nice.
Even if the cooling of the Earth by 150 microkelvins a year were genuine, and the previous paragraph indicates that we can't possibly know for 1,000 extra years of these "investments", is the cooling such a good thing? Most of us – and even the Capitalist and Imperialist Pig and Michael Bender, two climate alarmists, seem to realize that a warmer climate would actually be a good thing for life on Earth.
So instead of the miraculous projects I mentioned in a previous paragraph, the mankind is paying for the change of the average temperature of the troposphere by 1/1,000 of the error margin of our best measurements (minimum measurable change) in a direction that is not clear to be good or bad but is more likely to be the counterproductive one. It's clearly worse than pouring the money down the drain because in the drain, they remain a bit concentrated and potentially useful. We're literally dispersing the trillion+ of dollars (100 billion hours of actual hard human work) into the whole atmosphere.
Has almost everyone lost his mind? Ladies and Gentlemen, this is supposed to be the 21st century. Climate alarmists should be reclassified as overpopulated crazy apes and the sane people should have and use the right to hunt for them. Without a radical enough solution like that, the spending for similar New Age religious fads may approach 50% of the GDP later in this century and approach 100% in the following century. The intelligent human civilization will be basically over – and this kind of ideological thermal doom may also arise earlier if things become really bad.
What we're buying and what we could buy