Archive for the ‘GLOBAL WARMING’ Tag

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THE KEY POINT IN CLIMATE CHANGE DISCUSSION – CLIMATE HAS ALWAYS CHANGED BUT DO PEOPLE CAUSE IT NOW? THE CASE NOT MADE

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

 

Indeed, as some have said here, climate has always changed.

Tacitus called North Africa the granary of Rome only 2,000 years ago.

The key question is always not whether change is happening but whether people’s activities are the cause of it.

I do not believe the case has been made, although I remain open to someone’s making it.

Remember, we are talking about a gigantic, vastly expensive, planetary experiment with efforts to control carbon dioxide.

It does seem to me that that is warranted only if we are absolutely sure.

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JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMMENT: CLIMATE CHANGE AND “KEEP IT IN THE GROUND” – A GUARDIAN CAMPAIGN – ALTERNATE ENERGY TODAY – DANGERS OF GLOBAL ENGINEERING – NEWS ON THE MAIN CLIMATE MODEL – CHANGE WE WILL HAVE ALWAYS

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN

“Keep it in the ground” is a modern Luddite expression. We don’t need slogans. We need intelligent scientific work and patience.

In twenty years or so, the way technology is going, we will be greatly off-oil, even with no special efforts.

But pushing premature efforts is just religion and may prove dangerous.

Windmills, for example, in many applications, are a poor source of electricity, but they have been pushed on people in many countries in large numbers because they are vaguely understood as being “green.” But costly and rather unreliable electricity cannot be green, rightly conceived. Costliness and unreliability are waste, and waste is never green, and it deprives us of our ability to supply other needs.

Windmills cannot supply base-load electricity (that capacity which allows you to turn on the lights anytime in 24 hours), and they are horribly expensive over their useful life expectancy. Maintenance is costly, as for example each time some minor matter goes wrong, you must get a specialized truck that reaches very high up in a remote place just to service one unit.

They also have been demonstrated as not standing up well in extreme conditions of cold and wind. And because you require base-load power, you still need conventional generators to back up windmills, no matter how many of them you have. So they require redundancy automatically, if you will. That also is not green, rightly conceived. I’m all for experimenting with them, but just rushing out to throw up thousands of them, as some jurisdictions have done, seems foolish.

Solar is showing new promise, but we are not there yet for most applications. I think we are getting close to being able to have a practical roofing or siding material for houses, a great concept, which will greatly reduce demands on the grid, with all the reductions in infrastructure that implies.

Storage batteries for homes, another great idea, are coming along, and I suspect will be quite important in not too many years. They too will remove demand on the grid as well as reducing waste.

If electric cars are to come into their own, we need a different way of distributing and/or storing electricity on a widespread scale. We do not have that yet.

As to the matter of global warming, I think caution is extremely wise.

Only recently, a very able mathematician discovered a couple of serious mathematical errors in the world’s main climate model. The errors make carbon dioxide seem far more important in warming than it is without the errors, thus greatly exaggerating its role in climate. The results seem dramatic but will need to be confirmed.

Now, if we run off and spend countless billions on a threat which may not indeed be quite such a threat, we will deliberately impoverish our societies, robbing our children. That too is not green.

Climate change has been happening for 4.5 billion years. It is actually a part of our evolution.

I don’t in the least doubt that climate change is occurring, but I rather doubt we are responsible for it, and I doubt even more that we can seriously alter it with deliberate plans of global scope. Such schemes resemble too much the old Soviet grand engineering schemes of the 1960s for altering rainfall in a region or for altering the course of vast rivers. Global engineering is potentially quite dangerous.

When you talk about a great and immensely complex thing like the earth, I think it more than a little foolish to pretend that we really do understand it enough to be playing with its mechanisms and fine-tuning this or that. It is as complex as the human brain, an organ we understand only in fairly rudimentary fashion even today, and with which our best medical people have made many errors over decades.

Further, we are entering a solar-minimum period over the next decade or so, and this will undoubtedly make things colder for a while. It might actually prove a useful offset to a general tendency to warming as we continue developing our approaches to energy. Again, show some patience and let our brightest creators do their work. Let’s have no slogans and no crash programs we will almost certainly regret.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: AN EXAGGERATED NOTION OF WHAT HORROR IS – CLIMATE CHANGE YES BUT WE CAN’T BE SURE WE CAUSE IT – AND STOPPING IT DOUBTFUL

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

Horror?

I do think that quite a strained use of the word.

You want to see horror?

Look to Syria. Look to Palestine.

Climate change has been happening for 4.5 billion years. It is actually a part of our evolution.

Only 2,000 years ago, Tacitus referred to North Africa as the granary of Rome.

I don’t in the least doubt that climate change is occurring, but I rather doubt we are responsible for it, and I doubt even more that we can seriously alter it.

And when you talk about a great and immensely complex thing like the earth, I think it a little foolish at this stage in our history to pretend that we really do understand it.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: CANADA’S REX MURPHY ON JAMES HANSEN AND GLOBAL WARMING – ALSO COMMENTS ON QUOTING CATO INSTITUTE

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN BY REX MURPHY IN THE TORONTO GLOBE AND MAIL

“Truth may enter the world by many doors, but she is never escorted by force.”

Rex, your opening aphorism is excellent, but it seems to me you need to apply it more widely yourself.

It’s not very honest to write such lines and use them only for selected applications.

It applies, for example, in spades to Afghanistan, but you’d never know that from some of your past comments on events there.

And it applies again to a school-yard bully prime minister, and again you’d never know that from some of your reflections on him.

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I know the Cato Institute well and met many of its senior people some years back.

Their most important supporter at the time I spent a day at their offices in Washington was Koch Oil.

Believe me, this is a glorified propaganda mill disguised as a dispassionate think tank. Their ‘fellows’ are the intellectual equivalent of guys in white lab coats on television commercials holding clipboards posing as doctors to sell headache remedies.

The formula is a favorite one in the United States where outfits like Heritage Foundation function exactly the same way.

Not that some of them still can’t say a true thing once in a while, much like Rex himself, but the trend in all their work is in one direction only – towards an American libertarianism, really a rather far out variety of conservatism.

Anyone who quotes them as an authority on any issue, without appropriately qualifying their status, is either naive or dishonest.

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There is mud here on both sides.

The fact is that, to an overwhelming degree, the world’s scientists agree that a form of global warming is underway.

Of course there are other opinions, but the impressiveness of the ranks on the warming side is something amateurs dare go against at their peril.

The most fascinating confirmation comes from the Pentagon, where nothing but the best and most expensive and most practical science is listened to. They issued an important report, some while back, identifying global warming as one of the most important long-term threats to the security of the United States.

The real question, whether human activity is causing the warming, is not answered. There are many excellent minds who believe it, but the facts are not conclusive.

So what society faces – before we get conclusive evidence, if we ever do – is a very high-stakes gamble. Change our technologies and behaviors as though the proposition were true, or don’t change and risk possible catastrophic results.

I’m not sure of the answer myself, and my lack of faith in humanity’s capacity to behave rationally suggests we will risk the catastrophe.

In the end, perhaps it does not matter. When our planet of apes passes, eventually another species will arise to take our place. After all, the dinosaurs lasted on the order of a hundred million years. Our half million or so is less than a blink of the cosmic eye.

Perhaps by then our robots will have inherited our place in the universe, as they most certainly will do eventually. They’ll be better adapted to survive and thrive and even travel to the stars.

So maybe there isn’t so much to get hot and bothered about.