The Biggest Bang for the Climate-Change Buck?

The world is full of efforts and estimates toward reducing carbon emissions. A new paper by David Wheeler and Dan Hammer argues that the best bang for the climate change buck may lie in family planning and girls’ education: $1 million spent could save 250,000 tons of CO2. Reducing slash and burn forest practices (the next expenditure category), in contrast, would only save only 66,667 tons. Other categories that produce less-efficient returns include pasture management, geothermal energy, pastureland afforestation, reforestation of degraded forests, plug-in hybrid cars, solar energy, power plant biomass co-firing and capture carbon and storage. (HT: Chris Blattman) [%comments]


@Eric - well, if you're calling me a sci fi geek, I'm guilty as charged. :)

There are 2 stable carbon isotopes: C12 and C13. Fossil fuels have more C12 than atmospheric CO2. Since 1981, the atmosphere has shown a rise in C12 and it is consistent with the amount of fossil fuels burned.

The link I gave you was kind of vague: here's a better one.

I have some science knowledge under my belt as I have a Master's in environmental studies. I would enjoy a real discussion on climate change.

Your link has pages and pages of disjointed information. Which one are you referring to - the one on CO2? I would enjoy a real science discussion on the issue!

(of course my apologies for going off topic, but if AGW is not real according to some folks, why would we spend any money on AGW prevention)?


@ Emmi

I wish you would read my comments more carefully. I went back and read all of my comments and I don't know where you found me to be "flat-out calling climate change a scam and refusing to talk about the actual data." I have maintained through this whole discussion that I have a problem when people accept it as gospel truth. In fact I said:

"In all seriousness, the case is not closed on the "Climate Change" issue. There are credible scientists on both sides of the debate. Before we are sure that the issue is real and the effect is an actual problem"

Furthermore your last statement:

"Fossil and DNA evidence has proven evolutionary theory for 150 years after Darwin died. What evidence is there for Creationism? None!"

You have said yourself that there are questions Darwinism has not answered. I simply say an equal amount of faith is required for someone like you to say "proven evolutionary theory" despite the unanswered questions and for someone to believe in Creationism. If you read my comments I still have at no point said I am promoting Creationism.

By the way, I am enjoying this discussion, I hope you are as well


Eric M. Jones


For the purposes of the discussion--"science geek" I hope, not sci-fi geek. But you can be both.

Here is what I believe:

This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. Popular sentiments have no place here. Canvassing what the majority believes is not helpful. Inventing rude names for people is not helpful.

The long term issue of the Earth's warming is settled. It is warming. The issue of whether or not we can do squat about it is settled...We can't or won't.

Most really big Physics is not considered quite settled. Gravity is not quite settled. Electricity is not settled. Recently it became clear that Magnetism is not quite settled! None of this is particularly a reason to call each other names at Physics meetings. Anti-Quantumist!

So for science-geeks like me, raucous demands that everything regarding AGM is settled and we must do this or that seems unjustified.

Nevertheless, I support the general cleaning up of the planet, reduction of noxious things, being kind to nature and all the liberal stuff.

But if we don't control our own breeding and warfare, we are all doomed. Any environmental moves are just a delaying tactic.

Jeremy--Read Science Daily and bone up on Cambrian "explosion" (which took 20-30 Million years, during which the continents moved 60 degrees). Half a Billion years leaves precious little evidence but what the rocks show. Darwin believed that the Cambrian explosion would be understood when more geological evidence was unearthed.



Back to a comment more about the article. There is a new movie out called "Cool It" that makes the case to put money toward innovation. While it attacks the hysteria surrounding the subject, they assert that global warming is real and something that should be addressed. Their ideas is about putting all the funding toward innovating alternatives to fuels that emit CO2.

In a real Freakonomics approach, the idea is to put all our efforts to making alternative fuels more cost effective than fossil fuels. Then you have a real incentive that all people and countries will respond to regardless of their views. I would power my car with unicorn flatulence if it was effective, cheap, and accessible.


@Jeremy -

I am happy to have this discussion as well. I only hope the author of this post can forgive me for changing the topic temporarily! :)

I did not mean to imply that you are saying AGW is a scam, only that you're not referring to any specific evidence or data. Without that, the discussion is not about science. We may as well be rolling dice.

My phrase "proven evolutionary theory" was redundant. Theories like evolution do not explain everything, but they are the best explaination that science has to date. Both AGW and evolution are theories and have GOBS of evidence.

If we are not discussing the evidence, we are not discussing anything important.

These videos are really good at explaining scientific process, I learned lots from them. Just in case you want additional insight into the process. :)




"The issue of whether or not we can do squat about it is settled...We can't or won't."

Well, that's kind of grim! Can't we do better than that? Ours is the only planet where we can live comfortably, where albatross and bintuorngs and cranes co-evolved for millions of years with their ecosystems. Are we really throwing in the towel? Why??

All sorts of new trends use eco friendly concepts. Steampunk, vintage, green engineering, all have huge economic potential. We can do this.

I know what you mean about stuff being "settled", but it's a vague term. As I told Jeremy, AGW theory is the best explaination science has to date. And there are dozens of varying types of evidence. It's not a single thing, as the media portrays it. It's an incredibly complex issue and no scientist wants it to be a religion.

We only want people to try and read the data, to go ahead and agree or disagree, but do so **based on method and data**, not based on what some media figure says.

LOL "all the liberal stuff". Well, fair enough. I see myself as a biologist, not a liberal, but whatever. We're all Earthlings here (unless that vapor trail in California was visitors we don't know about.....)



Emmi, I'm glad you enjoyed the discussion. However I feel that I'm actually slightly more stupid from having read all the misrepresentations of science, data and simple logic that you've been arguing against in futility. Unless it was all meant to be 'satire' (the point of which is obviously also beyond them).


If we could, for now, delete the "A" from AGW, we may find an approach that we can agree on. If the glaciers are melting and the oceans rising, that's a problem whether we take the guilt trip or not.

Like most problems, we can make more progress if we focus on "What's happening" and "What should we do?" rather than on "Whose fault is this?".


@Descartes -

Hi there! Well, I am looking forward to seeing the published studies which prove me wrong.

Oh wait, deniers don't need to provide evidence, right? We're just supposed to take your word for it. Deniers don't need no darned evidence.


@Emmi, all theories are equal since none can be proven with absolute certainty, right? So why bother with evidence.


@quasimodo, that is an excellent point which illustrates why the tangent this thread has taken is such a waste of time. Only the densest (or most disingenuous) would deny that the climate is changing for the worse, yet they spend great effort to ignore (and mock) legitimate efforts to ameliorate that change in the most economical way.


One less child in the US is worth four times one less child in Denmark, who in turn in worth at least 25X as much one less child in Malawi, Ecuador, etc. Birth control in underdeveloped nations is a sideshow.


So Jason, what's your cost-effective plan for reducing the birth rate in the US?


That's right, family planning really means 'wear a rubber', and educating girls really means stop educating boys. Are these guys for real? Did the NY Times really give these guys print space?

How far left are these guys and how far left is the NYT?