Fri Dec 14th, 2018 at 06:36:31 PM EST
Hundreds of thousands, probably millions of French citizens have flooded the streets. They demand being heard, i.e. actual democracy. They have been impoverished, and cannot bear the hike on fossil fuel price, the major fraction of which are taxes. It is possible that they might even want a reduction on taxation in general.
French government justifies this particular taxation as a means to lower carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. In fact, a reduction in the consumption of petroleum, if not carbon in general.
Perhaps a direct answer, as below, is best to reveal the depth of the deception. There are ideologies, both old and new, which may lead our societies to its decomposition.
Memory is the primary resource of intelligent entities in order to predict the future. We must not forget the past:
1 - STRONG AND PROGRESSIVE TAXATION HAS MADE SOCIAL JUSTICE POSSIBLE
Tax on fuel consumption is an example of flat taxation. And even if you may chose to drive or not a car or motorcycle, many people do not have a viable option.
In contrast, in the good old times, both in Europe and the United States, the richest of people and corporations had to return the vast majority of their revenues as taxes. They were however safer, more admired and appreciated then today. Those taxes paid for high quality, low-cost - if not free -, public services in Europe, and kept the American budget afloat, i.e. its economical independence.
2 - MORE CARBON DIOXIDE WILL ALLOW MORE LIFE ON EARTH AND MORE FOOD ON THE TABLE
Under usual circumstances, concentration of CO2 is the limiting factor to photosynthesis, i.e. biomass production; in other terms, biological wealth. You should also know that CO2 concentration has been many times above current levels practically ever since plants and animals arrived to dry land, and they have had a great time.
Drinking a ridiculous amount of water can kill you, but it doesn't make it a poison, especially when you are thirsty.
Most recently, rise in CO2 levels has allowed a rise in leaf cover throughout the world, which is apparently warming up polar and boreal areas, and slightly chilling warm areas. Plants and birds, farmers, animal lovers and long-term investors should be happier now.
On the other hand, whatever is based on scarcity, such as frozen deserts, ecologists who secretly do not care for life, and carbon tax financial products, will perform poorly.
Note: this text was conceived originally as a bilingual manifest. Not sure where or when to place the french translation counterpart. Maybe in a week as near end comment.
Whatever you make think about the ongoing debate on climate change, we all can certainly agree that there is much less uncertainty over recorded tax rates than about past and future carbon dioxide, temperature, and humidity levels. Therefore most data will be related to this second issue.
Consider the following graph, related to taxation in the United States. Given current American mainstream political stance on taxes, it is interesting to see how top marginal tax evolved in recent decades.
Most noticeable events are the impact of major wars, and the Great Depression. Furthermore, this graph may shed some light on the 1992 USA presidential elections event. You can more accurately follow transitions on the far more complete historical record on individual tax rates from Tax Foundation.
It is famously said in science that extraordinary claims requires require extraordinary evidence. But what claim is the most extreme in this debate? There will be a poll at the end. An even number of options is presented in order to avoid the middle-of-the-road poll trap.
Let us begin by comparing the next three graphs. They all aim to provide an historical perspective on CO2.
First graph comes from a NASA page on global climate change.
If you had an issue with the presentation of that horizontal line in the middle of the plot, brace yourself before taking a look to next figure's axis. It is from Future climate forcing potentially without precedent in the last 420 million years, by G.Foster et al., 2017.
One graph with more uniform axes can be found in CO2 -forced climate thresholds during the Phanerozoic, by D.Royer, 2005. It is redrawn at wikipedia as below.
That is enough for past CO2 levels. Next data is about evaluating current biological and geophysical response to recent rise.
We start with a figure from Elevated CO2 as a driver of global dryland greening, from Lu et al., 2016.
The underlaying issue is deeply related to plant physiology. As CO2 increases, multiple effects take place inside continental surface plants and in the immediately adjacent environment. First effect (E1) is increased plant photosynthetic activity. E2 is the reduction in their leaf pores (stomata), which are entrance points atmospheric CO2 (and O2) and exit points of gaseous water (evapotranspiration a.k.a. ET); smaller pores, small water loss, less water pumped from soil. However, as plants prosper and enlarge leaf area - third effect, or E3 - so grows their own respiration (non-compensated consumption of O2 and organic mater when photosynthesis is not possible or not enough, which we animals do all the time); thus gain in plant mass from increased CO2 can be somehow countered. Then again, great leaf area leads to a fourth effect, more evapotranspiration (E4).
Then again, greater evapotranspiration may produce an increase in local air humidity, which as a cooling effect. Another geophysical non-local transformation from greening from leaf increase is the decrease on reflection of sunlight (plants are darker than ice).
Final two figures come from processing of satellite observations of the effects of induced CO2 greening on climate (Satellites reveal contrasting responses of regional climates to the widespread greening of Earth, Forzieri et al., 2017).
First set of images shows, on top, the measured geographical variation in local LAI - Leaf Area Index -, which is, for any given area, total leaf area divided by the size of the area. On middle, is the calculated dependence of temperature as a function the variation in LAI - this so called sensitivity has the value of a partial first derivative. On the bottom, we have a variation of temperature resuting by multiplying the two components above - the first derivative of variation in temperature caused by leaf coverage, multiplied by that actual change. On the left data are distributed two dimensionally, by latitude and latitude; on centre by latitude only; on right they are aggregated by climate (as averages for measured spots with same usual mean temperate and annual rainfall)
Next figure shows, on top, global variations through time since 1982; variations on surface and air temperatures have their scales on the right side; on the left side we have the equally globally averaged variations leaf cover, and, most importantly, we have in blue the estimated contribution of reffered relative leaf cover change (LAI) to global variation in surface temperature.
On bottom, sensitivity of surface temperature to variations in LAI - show in two dimensions on the middle left map of previous figure - is aggregated by type of biological environment.
We have been assuming so far a stable sun, but in Prediction of solar activity from solar background magnetic field variations in cycles 21-23, Shepherd et al. (2014), suggest that we may be heading to a new solar activity minimum, and therefore another mini ice age.
Who knows, we could be driving a pack of Huskies [edit:soon]. Which actually work on biomass.