Think Locally, Act Globally – EconLib

Yes, you read the title correctly. It is not a false impression. I know that the actual bumper sticker, which I used to see regularly around California, was “Think Global, Act Local.”

That made some sense. But when I watched CBS Sunday Morning’s August 7, 2022 segment on climate change, one of the people interviewed seemed to have the opposite view. His name is Peter Kalmas and he is a climate scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In an interview with Tracy Smith, he pointed to hot summers in large parts of the United States and said:

Twenty years from now, we’ll look back on the summer of 2022 and we’ll wish he had it this good. We wish it was this cool. And this is no exaggeration whatsoever.

But wait. He is looking at the temperature of the United States. I have just returned from my cottage in Canada, where the spring and early summer have been unusually cool. And my cottage is only 60 miles north of the US border. So he seems to be “thinking locally,” that is, generalizing from the weather in the United States, and acting globally, that is, suggesting solutions for the world.

Moreover, he finds climate and weather confusing. Take it as a given that the US summer has been unusually warm. According to this source, the average temperature in the contiguous United States in July was 2.8 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average. It is 1.56 degrees Celsius. Some standard models say that Earth’s temperature will be about 1.5 degrees Celsius above what it was recently about 20 years from now. So we can look back on an unusually warm 2022 summer and say that it was a little Cool. But are we really going to notice that small difference? If some of the standard models are correct (and there are many differences between the models, as Steven Kunin points out), the best estimate of US temperatures in the summer of 2042, even if we do nothing to offset global warming, is that it will be this unusually warm summer. The temperature will be slightly above.

So actually, Peter Kalmas is exaggerated

However, if you watch the entire 8-minute CBS segment, you will see Sarah Birch talking about the adjustments we can make to reduce global warming. Note that it says nothing about what kind of power. Hint: The word starts with “n”. (Of course, I don’t know if he didn’t mention it. He might have, and CBS left that part on the cutting room floor.)

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