People are still getting this climate change thing wrong

The latest screeches about how we're all going to boil in the remains of the last ice floe:

Leading climate scientists have warned that the Earth is perilously close to breaking through a 1.5C upper limit for global warming, only eight months after the target was set.

The decision to try to limit warming to 1.5C, measured in relation to pre-industrial temperatures, was the headline outcome of the Paris climate negotiations last December. The talks were hailed as a major success by scientists and campaigners, who claimed that, by setting the target, desertification, heatwaves, widespread flooding and other global warming impacts could be avoided.

All the way through the entire discussion the economists have been pointing out that we do not want to set a temperature target. We want a cost benefit target. What will be the costs of whatever action we take as against the benefits our actions will create? And we should only be incurring such costs up to the point that they equal the benefits gained. The 1.5 oC target does not achieve this therefore it is the wrong target:

Keeping within the 1.5C limit will be extremely difficult, say scientists, given these rises.

These alarming figures will form the backdrop to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change talks in Geneva this month, when scientists will start to outline ways to implement the climate goals set in Paris. Dates for abandoning all coal-burning power stations and halting the use of combustion engines across the globe – possibly within 15 years – are likely to be set.

Just not going to happen, is it? And more than that, getting rid, entirely, of the internal combustion engine within 15 years is going to cost vastly more than any benefit it might bring.

The problem was made particularly severe because moving too quickly to cut emissions could be also be harmful, added Field. “If we shut down fossil fuel plants tomorrow – before we have established renewable alternatives – we can limit emissions and global warming, but people would suffer. There would be insufficient power for the planet. There is an upper limit to the rate at which we can move to a carbon-free future.”

Yes, rather the point we've been making all these years. Also a point made, quite vehemently, in the Stern Review itself. We should only do as much as costs less than the benefits the actions bring.

Our own opinion here is that people aren't in fact being serious about this in the slightest:

“Some negative emission technology will inevitably have to be part of the picture if you are going to keep 1.5C as your limit,” said Professor Jim Skea, a member of the UK government’s committee on climate change. “There will always be some human activities that put carbon into the atmosphere and they will have to be compensated for by negative emission technology.”

But what form that technology takes is unclear. Several techniques have been proposed. One includes spreading crushed silicate rocks, which absorb carbon dioxide, over vast tracts of land. Another involves seeding oceans with iron to increase their uptake of carbon dioxide. Most are considered unworkable at present – with the exception of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage.

No, really, we insist that people are not taking this whole thing seriously at all. For we have spoken directly with the people who investigated seeding the oceans with iron. It works, there's no doubt at all that it works. It's also startlingly cheap. It's not a complete solution but it's an entirely viable one. It's also one that it's illegal to carry out, even illegal to do further testing upon it.

On the day that first ship laden with ferrous sulphate sails for the Southern Ocean we'll agree that people are taking this all seriously. And that is about the level of effort required. Fleets are not, a couple of ships might be. The raw material is a waste from other processes and is thus free. Distribution is no more than a burly bloke shoveling it over the side. Our best information so far is that this will sequester up to 1 billion tonnes CO2 a year. About the current output of two Britains.

We do actually know how to sequester CO2. But we're not doing it and not even planning to do so. People just aren't taking this seriously, are they?