WHY ANOTHER CLIMATE SITE
A pertinent question. Why would we go to the effort of publishing another blog about our climate. There are already plenty of sites making their best efforts to scare the Devil out of us or others that belittle and contradict them. You might call it debate, but I hardly think it qualifies.
One group are often labeled as alarmists and these alarmists in turn label the other side as deniers.
Of course there are alarmists, mostly non scientists (although there are some scientists amongst them,) most of whom seem to focus on the profit potential of numerous books, and speaking engagements. In fact, I find it difficult to find much free material from this side, other than a few rather rabid blogs.
The IPCC is one exception, with nearly all their publications being freely available on line (although subject to subsequent editing or removal.) Perhaps they should not be labeled as alarmist even though they like to the stress the dangers of a warming planet.
The other side are labeled as deniers, although I am not sure what they deny. Mostly they seem to dispute the validity of some climate data, the interpretations of some scientific studies, and media representations. Perhaps it is a lack of funding that keeps them focused on critiquing others work, rather than producing their own original studies or experimentation.
An extreme view is often taken by alarmists who like to make confident predictions of a much warmer climate in our future, and of consequences that will be catastrophic to human civilization, the human species and to nature. If this has not happened in the past, they claim it is because humans and their emissions were not part of the equation. They are not fazed by the fact that past predictions of catastrophe have always been proven to be unfounded.
All this makes it very difficult for the common people, the great unwashed masses or the redneck majority outside of academia, to come to any reasonable conclusion or to decide where to place their votes. That is a poor description of the general public, but often seems to be the opinion of both the liberal and conservative elite.
Contrary to politicians opinions, the public is not unintelligent.
They may not have a lot of secondary education, and may be preoccupied with keeping their families fed and housed, but there is a repository of common sense. They are mostly capable of grasping complicated concepts as long as they are couched in understandable language and presented in a linear fashion.
One thing I have noticed, from study of the different sites and the comments they attract, is that most people (scientists included) focus on one or two narrow aspects of a changing climate. Few take a comprehensive view of the evidence or of the dangers of climate change.
I have often come across the smug comment that demand for oil is falling and as a consequence the oil industry will soon be dead. This is usually cited as evidence that electric vehicles are rapidly taking over and will soon be the dominant form of transportation. Often used in conjunction with stats showing a doubling of electric vehicle production in some jurisdiction or time period.
When I look at global records I find that oil demand is continuing to increase. They may show a slight lessening in the rate of demand increase, but that cannot be attributed to anything specific. EV production is still less than the yearly global increase in vehicle numbers.
This misconception likely comes from stats that have shown a temporary decrease in U.S. demand, which was probably due to extremely high oil prices and a severe recession.
Typically, many people believe their own locality is a microcosm of the entire world.
It is essential that the debate not be closed. It is leading to a mindset which could lead to the death of millions, or genocide by the fear of climate change. I recently came across this quote by an environmentalist and scientist who is actually quite thoughtful and not in the least reactionary or supportive of extreme activist agendas.
“Specifically, the transition to a fossil fuel-free future will cost a lot of people their livelihoods; will suppress economic growth in many parts of the world; and will result in the premature death and continued misery for millions worldwide. From a pragmatic perspective, I can only believe that those millions of premature deaths will be offset by reduced suffering and death for billions of others,.”
Possibly, he simply did not realize what he was saying. Perhaps he did not realize that he was suggesting genocide on a rather questionable prediction of approaching catastrophe. Perhaps he has a crystal ball that shows a transition from fossil fuel saving more lives in the future than those that will be lost now. Somehow he has decided that lives in the present are worth less than possible future lives. Does he feel it is unimportant, that the death of children today kills all their future generations? How can anyone make the assumption that curtailing fossil fuel use will reduce suffering and death in the future?
All this is suggested without any solid evidence that a single person has been killed by anthropogenic climate change to date, and only rather wild assumptions that some may be killed in the future.
Therein lies the purpose of this site.
This blog will try to present the different aspects of climate change in an unbiased manner (only partly possible, since I am human and my biases are certain to show through.) This blog will try to present the different viewpoints with only minimal criticism and list sources on both sides of the debate. It will question the qualifications of both scientists and non scientists, but will only briefly comment on motive when it seems obviously monetary.
The intention is to provide links to support different opinions, and to provide further definitions and explanation. Hopefully this will give depth to the entire argument.
BIAS AND BULL-- LIES, HALF-TRUTHS AND MISREPRESENTATIONS
When it come to climate
change, there is so much bull floating around the media and Internet, that it is impossible to form an unbiased opinion without doing an inordinate amount of research. Few people have the time or inclination for that.
Most will form opinions from the first article or headline they see and only modify that opinion when something more sensational, or reassuring, comes along. The public, in spite of being normally intelligent, can also be immensely gullible. Increasing experience with age does not seem to lessen the tendency, perhaps because many become increasingly pessimistic as they age.
Most of us tend to take the printed word at face value if the publication has any semblance of credibility. Schoolbooks are seldom questioned. The Bible or Koran are often quoted as the final authority. Some will even believe some of the stories in British tabloids. Urban legends are fun.
Radio and television
achieve a similar undeserved credibility, even when some stories are obviously run for their sensational value. Their goal is not the truth but rather to attract an audience and advertising dollars.
The above is my personal opinion, formed through
observation, and is not backed by any scientific studies or experiment. Take it as you will. Now try to find that qualification to any other opinion published.
The following is also largely my opinion, but it is backed
by extensive research of the web. Throughout my research, I have tried to identify doubtful assumptions that are presented as fact. Much of what is published is riddled with
obviously unsupported assumption. Often, I have not finished reading an article because of too many unsupported statements presented
as fact, and undermining its credibility .
This quote “trying to solve the world’s biggest problem”, a reference to global warming, was taken from a piece by Michael
Specter and published in the New York Times. Try telling a family fleeing war or genocide, a badly malnourished third world infant, or a Beijing resident wearing a face mask against particulate pollution that there are bigger or more immediate problems
in the world than theirs.
Well, physics and chemistry experimentally
and otherwise indicate that CO2 can have a greenhouse effect and cause warming. There is also evidence, through correlation from proxy data, that it has been a factor
in past warming events.
Notice the inconsistency. Evidence is there that CO2 can cause warming but only
speculation that it does. There is correlation of CO2 rise with past warming, but no certainty of cause and effect. In
fact there is considerable to indicate that CO2 rise followed warming rather
than preceded it.
Then there are the uncertainties of climate sensitivity to CO2 and of possible limits to the
Most of the blame seems to fall on CO2 because no one can identify or quantify, any other single cause, or combination thereof. Not very scientific conclusions.
A thinking person, however, would say that, since it is possible that our villain
could do it, and there is some current correlation, it is likely to be at least partly responsible for current warming. Hardly enough evidence to recommend the death penalty,
Then there is the matter of carbon dioxide increases being caused by mankind. Well, of course, since mankind
is inherently sinful, it follows that any potentially harmful consequences must be our fault. (Hopefully, my readers recognize sarcasm.)
Seriously, I think there is enough evidence (correlation to industrialism, carbon signatures) to conclude that much of the CO2 increase is due to human activity, but there are
other possible culprits, such as a warming climate in itself, or volcanic activity.
Volcanism is often used, by the anti anthropogenic side, as an alternative explanation for increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations. I don’t think their arguments hold water. I am not aware of any spikes in the CO2 record coinciding with volcanic eruptions, although a spike was noticeable during El Nino warming. I also cannot find any evidence of any long term increase in volcanics.The opposite may be true. At the same time, I find that the many scientists, (while discounting the possibility today) often use volcanic action
as a probable source of CO2 rise in the past.
My research seems to indicate that most assumptions of a volcanic contribution of 200 million tons annually, may be just that, outdated assumptions and wildly underestimated. That, nevertheless, is irrelevant, except in calculations of the planets ability to absorb increased CO2 .
That leads to the questions, is the CO2 rise, or the warming, significant.
The CO2 rise in the 20th century was about 100 parts per million or about .01% (1/10,000) of the earths atmosphere.
Faster increases seem apparent in recent years. Temperature rise in the same period was between .6 and .8 degrees Celsius. It is questionable if there has been any further rise in the last 15 to 20 years. There may be a breakdown of the CO2 to temperature correlation.
I am not sure the instruments used to collect data for that 100 years were reliably able to record differences to that small a degree, or if they could be adjusted accurately for local environment changes. Errors
could, of course, be either way.
Since about 1980 we have had satellite measurements which are likely more dependable. They do indicate a warming climate but at slower rates than generally published. They correlate well with radiosonde (balloon) measurements.
Of course, a natural warming probably should be expected over the long periods of interglacials, but is CO2 rise causing a significant increase in the rate of warming?
This is a quote from Naomi Oreskes “but the answer that you get from college-level physics -- more CO2 means a hotter planet -- has turned out to be correct.” (Notice that she is careful not to use the word caused.)
is difficult to argue with, but change the wording just slightly “but the answer that you get from college-level physics
-- a hotter planet means more CO2 -- has turned out to be correct” and you have an equally valid statement, with a totally different inference. (Highlighted area altered by me.)
The use of the word "hotter" is likely used to infer danger. Every child has been told "don't touch -- HOT." The world has actually gone from a temperature of about 286 degrees Kelvin to about 286.85 K in recent history. A rather insignificant change, when described in a different way. Of course, the words, a slightly warmer planet, would not have the same impact.
The above is just one example of a totally correct statement not necessarily conveying the truth.
I will leave it up to you to decide where the truth lies, or at least to decide what you want
to believe for now.
current and expected future increases, in the frequency and severity of extreme weather incidents is constantly parroted
by the media, If you actually look at records available, some seem to indicate a decrease in extreme weather incidents. Some studies show nothing unusual at all. ( With the possible exception of precipitation events.) That would seem to be consistent with some of the physics of a warmer climate. Many scientists seem to feel that we can expect less extreme events but
they may be of greater severity. Sorting out just what that means, is liable to cause a headache.
Most of the evidence seems to be anecdotal. People always seem to find the weather unusual. The inference
is, if I have never seen this weather before, then it must never have occurred before. It is easy to convince people that they are seeing weird weather.
Media and alarmists like to point out new record occurrences as proof of climate change.
Let’s consider records for a bit. An athlete
sets a new Olympic record for high jump. That is a real record that is easily verified against existing records, and is relative to
a specific venue and time period.
A man lives to be 150 years old. That may be a record, but we cannot be sure, since we do not know the age at which every man, who has ever lived, died. We could not even know if that was a record for New York city,
since we cannot know if every man who ever died in that city was recorded. It could be a record for the hospital he died in, if you could verify his birth date.
If I want a record rainfall, all I would likely have to do is choose my location, since almost any rain will create a record at some place over some time period. If that doesn’t work, I could just adjust
the data through some pretense or other. Finally, I could just say it was a record, because it seemed like an awful lot, and nobody has proof to the contrary. It is easy to classify almost anything as unusual, when
no normal has been established.
It is just as ridiculous to state that an extended cool period of a decade or two is proof that climate change, or more specifically
global warming, is not occurring.
Now let’s consider the 97%, consensus. That is easy to get. Just pick the right question.
What does this mean, “With 95% certainty” or “with medium confidence?”
When did we decide there were degrees of uncertainty. That can only apply to prediction or a poker game. A fact is either a fact or not, an unsupported assumption does not qualify. Can I be 95% dead?
Since you can only be right, wrong or uncertain, then you must mean you are uncertain. You are not absolved, of the necessity of proving or disproving your premise, or at least examining further evidence,
for or against, as it becomes available.
Medium confidence can only mean, no confidence at all. You cannot blame me for discounting completely, any statement thus described.
obvious to me that some individuals and groups from, both sides of this argument, are trying to baffle us with bullshit. Trying to sort it all out is like trying to canoe up the proverbial crick without a paddle.
The worst statement of all is, “the science is settled.” That is almost the same as saying “you can’t prove I am not right.” That puts us in the realm of religion and about as unscientific
and unreasonable as you can get.
Of course almost none of this has any real relevance at all. Our only real concern is with the present, the near future and perhaps
the next few hundred years. That calls for a degree of prediction, unscientific, filled with the unforeseen, and rarely accurate.
The real questions.
Will it get warmer and for how long?
Will it warm rapidly enough to be dangerous, and to who and what?
Could a warmer climate be an advantage, and to who and what?
Will it be possible to stop or delay warming?
In attempting to prevent climate change, is it possible we could
do more harm?
the cost of attempting climate remediation be more than we can afford in wealth and lives?
Will the remediation of climate even prove possible?
Is there a concerted attempt to frighten us into accepting polices
put in place to fulfill some other agenda?
Is this simply a way to distract us from the recent obvious failures of the worlds governments and their supported organizations?
Is it really possible to even know what is going on?
How much of the concern is generated simply by our inherent fear of the unknown.
Please get back to me with your answers or with more relevant questions. Perhaps we will consider some possible answers in future posts.
WILL IT GET WARMER AND FOR HOW LONG?
Let's consider that first question.
The short answer is, we are not certain, but it seems probable that it will warm until the beginning of the next glaciation (ice age).
The extended question , of course, is how much? “— the current estimate is that a doubling of CO2 will bring some 3 degrees of warming, give or take a degree or two – Spencer Weart. This needs some clarification. It would seem to mean, from 1 degree to 5 degrees of warming. It does not specify if that is Fahrenheit or Celsius (Kelvin), but since Weart leans towards the alarmist side, I think we can assume he is implying Celsius, the more pessimistic scenario. He probably means a doubling (to about 560 ppm) from preindustrial levels which may be realistic for the year 2100, even given government incentives to reduce emissions. Does he also mean that the predicted temperature increase is from preindustrial levels? In that case we have likely already seen about a 1º increase. It is also necessary to make some assumptions about the effect of a higher carbon dioxide level. There could still be undetermined limiting factors.
This wide disparity in predicted warming impairs our ability to make informed decisions. The effects of a 0º to 1º increase is likely to be minimal while a 5º increase would likely cause significant changes to the environment.
I think it is fair to assume that it will continue to warm for the next century at least, and that we should begin taking action to prepare for a warmer climate. It is likely it will continue to warm, even without a human factor, so planning for that consequence becomes even more prudent. Unfortunately, nearly all the action or proposed action I have heard of to date, has been focused on stopping warming, by reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Likely an impossible task that will end with great harm being done without perceived gain.
WILL IT WARM RAPIDLY ENOUGH TO BE DANGEROUS, AND TO WHO AND WHAT?
It is entirely possible that it could warm rapidly enough to put some species at risk. Some, if marginal today, may not be able to adapt, or to compete with warmer weather species. Most will be able to move their ranges towards cooler climates, but some may be constrained by natural barriers such as deserts or large bodies of water. Some alpine species may be pushed beyond the top of their mountain.
Plants will probably migrate easily to more northerly or southerly climates. In many cases their seeds are already there, waiting for the right conditions to germinate. Since plants are at the bottom of the food chain, the animals that depend on them will follow.
Sea life is different, but for the most part there are less barriers to migration.
Extinctions are inevitable. All, but a tiny proportion, of all the species that ever existed are extinct today. If it wasn’t for extinctions, no niche would have ever occurred to allow for the evolution of the human species, or practically any other species existing in the present.
Rising sea levels present another danger, but it is almost entirely to property. It will be easy to stay ahead of. Of course, if you live near sea level, your grandchildren may not be able to occupy the ancestral home. Don’t invest too heavily in maintenance.
“The consequences will take several centuries to be fully realized, as the Earth settles into its new state. It is probable that, as in the distant geological eras with high CO2, sea levels will be many tens of meters higher and the average global temperature will soar far above the present value: a planet grossly unlike the one to which the human species is adapted.” another quote from Spencer Weart.
I would argue that the human species is not at all adapted to our current world, except through technology.
Take away fire, clothing, housing, agriculture, medical and the rest of our technology, this species of hairless ape would be effectively extinct within months. Given the few centuries we probably have, I see no reason why technology will not continue to save our bacon. We may have to curtail the rapid increase in our numbers at some point, however.
By 2015 a survey found a "clear consensus among economic experts that climate change poses major risks to the economy." "Climate change," Nicholas Stern concluded, "is the greatest market failure the world has everseen.”
We will put aside, for a moment, my opinion of the accuracy of predictions by economists. The risks he is describing, would seem to be in the huge costs associated with adaptation to a changing world. That may have some merit in terms of property loss, but dollars do not disappear. They simply move from one pocket to another. As for market failure, we have seen many market failures in the past. Failures usually manifest rapidly and the economy may take a decade or two to recover. Not too typical of the rate at which we expect global warming to take effect.
No doubt economies will continue to fail and recover, but it is inevitable that economies will change, just as the climate will. An economy will exist, in one form or another, as long as some semblance of civilization remains somewhere.
The failure of a civilization can occur, as history has shown us, through the exhaustion of resources. Some currently used mineral resources, such as oil, fertilizers and copper, are approaching scarcity and future costs are bound to escalate. Technology is rapidly finding alternatives but new scarcities may occur, perhaps as one result of the new technologies. Resources such as agricultural land and fresh water could be negatively affected by climate change.
It would seem that there must come a time when the collapse of civilization is inevitable. Probably sooner than the worst effects of climate change.
COULD A WARMER PLANET BE AN ADVANTAGE, AND TO WHO AND WHAT
That is a difficult question. It would depend on how fast, how warm, and where the the observations are made. Many of the effects will likely be highly
Currently, most predictions seem to indicate the most warming in the northern hemisphere and over the poles, with less effect in equatorial regions. The largest increase is expected in night time and winter temperatures. There will probably be less variability between seasonal temperatures and between latitudes.
Some expect a higher incidence of heat waves and drought, but there is considerable doubt. It is almost universally thought that we can expect more rainfall in most areas. I am not sure how drought can be reconciled with this. Many expect a lesser number of severe weather events, but they may be of increased severity. The reasoning is that, with more uniform global temperatures, there will be less storms spawned, but with more heat energy available they can be more powerful.
Starting with the south polar region, a few degrees of atmospheric warming would likely have little effect since most of the continent remains far below the freezing point of water, most of the time. A warming of the waters around the continent could have an effect on the floating ice sheets. Since no people live permanently on Antarctica, any effect would likely be on animal life, mostly sea life and waterfowl.
Rapidly rising sea levels, would of course, reduce the wealth of seaside property owners, in most cases. There is no convincing evidence, at this point, that sea levels will rise signifantly faster
than they have in the past century.
Since most sea life is concentrated in shallow waters, the range of many could be greatly extended. The effects of warmer water is hard to predict, but the boundaries of ranges, are certain to change.
It is doubtful that tropical life will change much as long as moisture conditions
are plentiful. Any extreme deserts will remain extreme deserts. But their size could decrease due to global greening, a result of higher CO2 levels. Treelines are moving higher and towards the poles as a result of warming as well as CO2 enhancement.
In the northern hemisphere (outside of the tropics), a warmer climate coupled with more moisture and more atmospheric carbon dioxide should increase crop and timber yields. It may also increase the area suitable for agriculture and increase the variety of viable crops. There are probably limits to this, but since, by far, the planets largest landmasses are north of the tropic of cancer, this could be substantial. The range of most non-domestic life will likely just move northward.
Some agricultural land will likely be lost to sea level rise, if sea levels rise substantially.
Not likely to be significant in the next century. It is beginning to appear that rising temperatures along with more atmospheric CO2 will enhance the production of many crops,
more than offsetting any loss of land.
Green house operations could become much more viable in northern climates, if warming is substantial. Many of us, who reside in northern areas, would certainly welcome warmer winters and longer growing seasons.
I don’t think there is any certainty of any predictions, as to the effects of a warming climate, whether optimistic or pessimistic. Most people would probably prefer the certainties of a steady state, if there was a choice.
Of course, all this depends on a warming climate. A cooling climate would have different, and possibly more catastrophic, consequences.
WILL IT BE POSSIBLE TO STOP OR SLOW WARMING
The climate is an actively evolving planetary system, which only appears as a somewhat steady state because of our short lifetimes and history. It appears there are only two conditions for ambient temperature. It is either increasing or it is decreasing. If only one or the other is possible, then trying to maintain a steady state is folly. The only way to stop warming would be to initiate cooling, but cooling is much more detrimental to the biosphere than warming.
That leaves attempting to slow warming as the only possible response, other than no response at all. That may be theoretically possible but the cost will be astronomical, both in human lives and wealth.
“Building wind turbines, growing bio-fuels and substituting wood for coal in power stations -- all policies designed explicitly to fight climate change -- have had negligible effects on carbon dioxide emissions. But they have driven people into fuel poverty, made industries uncompetitive, driven up food prices, accelerated the destruction of forests, killed rare birds of prey, and divided communities.” from -- National Center for Policy Analysis.
“Specifically, the transition to a fossil fuel-free future will cost a lot of people their livelihoods; will suppress economic growth in many parts of the world; and will result in the premature death and continued misery for millions worldwide.” – a Chemist From Langley
Not only have efforts to date had no real effect on global temperatures, it will probably prove politically impossible to go much further in reducing fossil fuel use, the main focus, so far.
“Fourthly, the benefits of economic progress (with an associated energy consumption increase) for undeveloped countries are real. Global warming concerns people in undeveloped countries as well but when asked to rank issues it comes out last (way below security, food, education, health and energy and transport related issues). In fact it comes out near the bottom of the list in most countries except for the most highly developed ones”. -- From Energy Post
From UNICEF, the world’s premier children’s organization, part of the United Nations:
2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation
1 billion children are deprived of one or more services essential to survival and development
148 million under 5s in developing regions are underweight for their age
101 million children are not attending primary school, with more girls than boys missing out
22 million infants are not protected from diseases by routine immunization
4 million newborns worldwide are dying in the first month of life
2 million children under 15 are living with HIV
>500,000 women die each year from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth
It is obvious that most people have many more immediate priorities, than joining a fruitless battle against a future enemy, that may not even appear. Even in the most advanced countries a push back is developing with a resurgence of the far right. Even leftist greens are sabotaging attempts to lower emissions, by pursuing stiff opposition to hydroelectric dams, fracturing and nuclear power plants.
I am not going to go much further with this. I will add, that there are other considerations, that will lead to lower emissions. Of course, there is no guarantee that this will lead to less warming.
Fracturing techniques have led to low natural gas prices. This has led to the replacement of coal in electrical generation, especially in the U.S.. This has much reduced emissions and pollution.
Advancements, and rapidly falling cost, in solar PV (photovoltaic), is leading to widespread adoption, both commercial and rooftop, in sunny areas such as Australia and the Southwest U.S..
Particulate pollution has become such a problem in countries, such as China, that coal burning is going to be rapidly replaced (at least near major population centers) for electrical generation. No global warming incentive needed.
Crude oil is rapidly becoming expensive, as demand outstrips the production ability of cheap conventional sources. This should lead to an eventual predominance of electric alternatives to gasoline and diesel fueled vehicles. A large possible impact, if coupled with low emission electrical generation.
Lower emission cement production methods may be on the horizon.
Conventional housing and transportation is becoming ever more efficient.
As long as the wealth of world population keeps increasing, upgrading to more efficient, low emission, living becomes easier and more realistic. The key is to not destroy that wealth with poorly thought out policy.
IN ATTEMPTING TO PREVENT CLIMATE CHANGE, IS IT POSSIBLE WE COULD DO MORE HARM.
I don’t think there is any doubt that present and proposed policies of governments (re; climate change) can cause great harm to segments of the population. Almost all policies, current and proposed, are based on the assumption that catastrophic global warming will be triggered by CO2 increases in the atmosphere as a result of the human use of fossil fuels. All focus on dramatically reducing or totally eliminating fossil fuel burning as quickly as it can be done.
The first impact will be on the livelihoods of people employed in the industry.
“Global numbers for employment in conventional energy are not available, but estimates range from four million to forty million or more. If that range seems wide, and if the upper end of the range seems high, keep in mind that the Chinese oil company Sinopec alone employs over 1 million people.” From Martin Tillier in Oil Price.
The second result would be rapidly increasing scarcity and cost of virtually every consumer need. The most critical would be food, drinkable water, and warmth.
The final result would be a reduction of the worlds population to a sustainable level. That level is difficult to estimate, but could be less than one third of the current population. In other words, a genocide by proxy of five billion people. Most cities, at current levels of available replacement for fossil fuel, would become totally untenable. Rural populations would have the best chance of sustaining themselves, if they could adequately defend themselves against starving hordes.
The environment would be decimated, as animal life is hunted to extinction for food, and forests sacrificed for fuel.
Sounds pretty grim, but is close to reality, if fossil fuel use is suddenly curtailed. We would not even have adequate means to develop alternatives. Luckily, this is unlikely to happen. Even if some governments sought this end, the harm to the public would be so great as to to make a violent overthrow likely.
What should be obvious to everyone is that the probability of this scenario is much more certain than the probability of catastrophe from climate change. It is easily observable in the condition of people who do not have cheap and easy access to fossil fuel energy or energy they can afford.
None of this changes the fact that fossil fuels are a finite resource and will gradually become very expensive with overuse. Although there are centuries of coal and natural gas left at current use, oil is starting to show distinct signs of scarcity and rising prices. Alternatives are going to be essential to maintaining a tolerable standard of living for the worlds peoples.
Luckily, the technology to replace oil seems possible, and can probably reduce demand substantially, in the next 50 years. That would be barring any capital investment or material shortages. It will, of course, be disruptive, but a probable long time
period, should lessen this consequence. Some technology is already carving out a market share. Most major automakers are offering some type of electric alternative.
What is noticeable, is that only the very richest countries, like Sweden and Denmark, that have made any real progress towards reducing oil use. Ironically they are often oil exporting countries. Globally, demand is still increasing.
There has been a little more progress in reducing the use of coal for electrical generation, again in the richest countries like the U.S.A. and Germany. In many cases this has led to much higher prices, sometimes crippling to the vulnerable and to industry. An example would be Ontario, Canada. In some other countries, demand is rising so fast, renewable development has been unable to keep pace. A bias, sometimes unreasonable, against nuclear energy, has often made this more difficult and costly.
should be noted, is that efforts and progress to date has had no discernible effect on CO2 levels. A recent slowing in the increase is probably just a response to the El Nino blip.
I have used some unsupported assumptions (something I abhor) in developing certain scenarios. They seem rather obvious, but that does not make them fact. Please slap my fingers, if you can show me wrong.
WILL THE COST OF ATTEMPTING CLIMATE REMEDIATION BE MORE THAN WE CAN AFFORD IN WEALTH AND LIVES?
Once again the question needs to be qualified. It depends on the degree and type of remediation attempted.
Certainly, encouragement of research and development in areas such as alternative fuels, electric transportation, battery storage or carbon capture is worthwhile. Grants for research, loan guarantees for startups, temporary consumer subsidies and similar programs should be affordable and not overly disruptive in developed economies. As technology improves, and fossil fuel becomes more expensive, it should become competitive quite rapidly, and further support will be unnecessary,
Carbon taxes on fossil fuels can make alternatives more competitive, but they must be levied very carefully as not to cause suffering. Taxes on gasoline are probably relatively safe but diesel is used for agriculture and the transportation of the necessities of life as well as personal travel.
Raising the costs to agriculture (through fuel, fertilizer and other inputs) can have deadly effects in poor countries and hardship in the richer. Increasing home heating (or in some cases, air conditioning) costs is also dangerous. Increasing energy costs to industry handicaps manufacture of the very tools needed to reduce emissions as well as threatening the livelihoods of local populations. Hospitals, schools and other institutions can be impacted with devastating effects in poor countries.
Programs to encourage more efficient buildings through subsidies for efficiency upgrades and through building codes are very cost effective.
Taxation is needed to pay for programs, but carbon taxes could cost more than they generate through reduced economic activity, and paybacks to make them politically palatable. Wouldn’t taxes on high emitting, non essential services and industry serve better. Examples could be, air travel, luxury cars, overly large homes, fueled pleasure water craft, gas lawnmowers, recreation vehicles, all terrain vehicles, motor racing, and many more. This would put most of the burden on the wealthier and heavier users of energy. The ones who can easily afford to switch to low emission technology.
Will the remediation of climate even prove possible?
Possibly. We have been trying to influence weather to some degree for many years. The most notable has been attempts to instigate precipitation or to reduce hail damage. There may have been some success, but no real proof that it has actually worked.
A warming climate is another matter altogether. There are many ways that we could have some minimal effect on warming. Most would probably have such a tiny effect as to be undetectable. Large scale Geo-engineering projects could possibly have a measurable effect, but could be extremely dangerous due to unforeseen consequences. It is almost certain they would have negative effects on many portions of the population.
There is some chance that reducing greenhouse gas emissions could reduce the amount of warming at some point in the future. There are several big ifs to this scenario. One of the biggest is if human caused increases in atmospheric CO2 is actually a significant contributor to warming. We do know that, in completely eliminating human emissions, more harm would probably ensue than from the worst effects of global warming.
Since it is likely that very little of the danger is imminent and may take centuries to manifest, if at all, it is going to be very difficult to get people to make the necessary sacrifices. After all, there are a multitude of human caused disasters, unrelated to climate, that are currently killing millions and making life unbearable for many more.
There are many other reasons for reducing our dependence on fossil fuel, the main contributor to greenhouse gases, that make that effort worthwhile. It requires careful forethought and must not be too disruptive if the momentum is to be preserved.
IS THERE A CONCERTED ATTEMPT TO FRIGHTEN US INTO ACCEPTING POLICIES PUT IN PLACE TO FULFILL SOME OTHER AGENDA OR IS THIS SIMPLY A WAY TO DISTRACT FROM RECENT OBVIOUS FAILURES OF THE WORLD GOVERNMENTS AND THEIR SUPPORTED ORGANIZATIONS.
These questions, I have included mostly because people love a conspiracy theory.
Do I believe there is a conspiracy? Not really, but there are definitely agendas other than altruism.
Personal monetary gain is one. The sale of books and speaking engagements are very lucrative for some. About the only thing that could be more profitable for the fear mongers would be evidence of an imminent alien invasion.
Certain corporations also stand to gain through sales and subsidies created from global warming panic. Although dangerous to advocate directly, they can lend their support to activists and friendly scientists.
Celebrities and politicians will often use almost anything to gain a little more publicity. Often with no concern at all for the damage they may do. It bothers them not at all, to use more than their share of our resources and leave a trail of pollution and GHG emissions.
I am certain climate change is often viewed as a distraction from failures to address more imminent, and probably more serious, problems successfully. Climate change issues were embraced by the Democrat administration in the U.S., probably at least in part, to distract from the dismal record of their foreign affairs policy.
It is pretty easy to bias research by selectively funding projects expected to achieve the desired results.
As I indicated before, I doubt there is a coherent or coordinated conspiracy, but people are loath to miss an opportunity that can benefit them in some way, even if it can cause significant harm to others.
Of course there are those that are truly convinced of the dangers of climate change. I believe they often exaggerate the immediacy and the severity of consequences because they feel it necessary to encourage immediate and substantial action. A very human trait.
IS IT REALLY POSSIBLE TO KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON?
There are massive uncertainties in the climate change debate, and the extreme alarm-ism views of some scientists and activists, in particular, are showing ever widening cracks. The other extreme view, that no change is occurring, has never shown much credibility. A rather old article (2010) in Spiegel Online makes some interesting points.
What do we really know? It seems there are very few well supported scenarios, and much of the data is subject to error or different interpretations. The science seems to have taken a back seat to politics, and narrow views of the science, are used to justify policies that are the result of unrelated agendas. What really seems weird, is that countries that stand to benefit from warming such as Canada and Northern European countries are making the most significant attempts (without measureable effect) to slow warming. Countries that may stand to lose the most, such as the U.S. and Australia, are having difficulty implementing remediation policy.
Is it really warming? Although I have little faith in instrumental measurements and records, and only a little more in satellite data (due to a short time frame), there is enough observable evidence to indicate that warming has been occurring. Evidence
would include, melt back of glaciers and icecaps, rising sea levels, and a likely trend showing in satellite and instrumental data. Of course, I doubt that a warming climate is necessary fo glacial meltback to continue.
How much has it warmed? The amount of warming indicated from data is actually insignificant enough, and the margin for error great enough, that I don’t believe we can make an accurate quantitative statement, or even assume it in unprecedented. Perhaps we can only say that, there has been a warming trend for recent history.
Will it continue to warm? That is largely speculative as well. Predictions of continued warming are based on extremely complicated models, and on the very large assumption that CO2 is the principal or only warming driver, and that it will continue to increase in atmospheric concentration. It seems probable that it will continue to warm, but it seems it is very uncertain as to the rapidity or extent of the warming
Will the effects of a warmer climate be dangerous? It is certain that change will leave winners and losers in its wake. Most people should be able to adapt, through relocation or technology, if the large effects are in the main, local. Our climate, even now, is largely unpredictable and often extremely dangerous. Hardening our infrastructure, and personal environments, against extreme events makes a lot of sense even if our climate should become less dangerous. We are rapidly becoming wealthy enough to follow that option. Will it be dangerous to the natural environment? It is hard to imagine anything being more dangerous to the environment than the simple presence of human beings.
Do we know what is going on? Barely, but there are a few clues out there. Enough to take some precautions but hardly enough to indicate drastic action is necessary.
HOW MUCH OF THE CONCERN OVER CLIMATE CHANGE IS SIMPLY OUR FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN.
Fear of death, fear of the dark, fear of strangers, many of our fears are actually a fear of the unknown or the unknowable. A little more specific is a fear of change or a fear of the different. Probably a natural response mechanism that evolved to reduce risk taking. Often a wise reaction. You never know what might be lurking in the dark or what you might trip over or fall into. More problematic when it manifests as a phobia towards other races, religions or ideologies. Although there may sometimes be reason for caution, many fears are unrealistic. There are good examples. There fear of flying is common, yet statistically the chance of harm is far less than faced when driving your car. The chance of being harmed in a terror attack in North America is much smaller than the chance of being struck by lightning, yet it is a big issue used by politicians. Terrorists themselves use the irrational fear that they generate.
I think there are two emotions that come into play with climate change. Guilt would be the other one. Well perhaps some should feel a little guilt. The are many examples of gross overconsumption and gluttonous use of the worlds resources. One of the most disgusting (to me), is ultra rich celebrities jetting around the world to lecture us (the peons) on our contributions to climate change. Perhaps our society should begin to see lavish displays of wealth as shameful rather than prestigious.
Is fear of climate change irrational? It would certainly appear so. There is little evidence that even a single person has been injured by climate change to date. By weather events, certainly, but it is really difficult to link these to climate change. Some would like to convince you that dangerous weather is increasing due to global warming, usually without any convincing data.
Possible broader dangers of climate change, such as sea level rise, are definitely not imminent. Significant effects are many generations in the future. There should be no direct concern at all to those not living near the coasts. Even coastal dwellers will have generations in which to move to higher ground. So move your damn beach house instead of wailing at the rest of us to destroy our lifestyles, and our nations economies, in a probably futile attempt to slow global warming.
It is very difficult to convince me that changes that might (and I would emphasize MIGHT) manifest in a hundred years or so are actually relevant enough to be feared today. The human species has evolved through global temperature variations of 10ºC or so. We have actually done much better through warm periods. Many of us live today in areas where seasonal variations can be 75ºC or more. It is not uncommon for Calgary, Alberta residents to see variations of more than 25ºC in a single day.
Do we actually have anything to fear? Well maybe a little apprehension is in order. A bit of caution would seem to make sense. Transitioning, at a reasonable and achievable pace, towards a less carbon dependent future would seem to make sense for several reasons. Using our resources of energy, land and water less wastefully and in a more sustainable manner, is likely essential. Discouraging development in vulnerable areas seems wise even without an imminent threat. Hardening our homes, public structures and infrastructure against extreme events could reduce our losses (and subsequent insurance costs) in the face of natural disasters that will happen, with or without climate change.
Fear no man, but carry a big stick.