May 22, 2012

The UK announced a new energy policy “planning for the future” and managing associated risk. The Energy Minister was just on the television saying that they cannot predict the cost of electricity 20 years in the future.

But that same policy is based on the fact that they say they CAN estimate the temperature of the planet 20 years and beyond to a a high degree of precision involving numbers to the right of the decimal place.

I don’t understand. I suspect it is much harder to forecast climate than it is to forecast cost.

Both are fraught with risks.

Hawaii’s Iconic Beaches are Disappearing

May 16, 2012

Thus starts an article in the New York Times. Oh dear.

They say:

Most beaches on the state’s three largest islands are eroding, and the erosion is likely to accelerate as sea levels rise, the United States Geological Survey is reporting.

Early in the article they attribute the problem to a warming climate:

Sea level does not rise uniformly around the world, and so far, Dr. Fletcher and other geologists said in interviews, Hawaii has escaped some of the rise that has occurred elsewhere as earth’s climate warms. But that situation is unlikely to continue, the report says.

Then in the very next two paragraphs they get to what is probably the real cause of beach erosion–the islands are sinking relative to the sea.

Hawaii’s geological history also leaves it unusually vulnerable. The islands formed, one by one, as a tectonic plate carrying them moved to the northwest over a “hot spot,” where a plume of molten lava pushes through the seafloor. Over the millenniums, this material cools, accumulates and eventually rises above the waves. (Loihi, an underwater — for now — mountain southeast of the island of Hawaii, is the latest to undergo this process.)

But once the slow plate movement carries an island away from the hot spot, its volcanic material begins to compress, causing the island to start to sink, worsening its erosion prospects.

Wild and crazy idea: rather than try to combat climate change with taxes and forced price increases for energy–and thus by implication stop erosion on the Hawaiian Islands–maybe instead we should stop those tectonic plates from moving moving. Or, implementing the precautionary principal, abandon Hawaii now.