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Monday, 18 June 2012

Hot or Cold?

Josephus sent me a link recently to an article in Forbes Magazine. He added the comment, "this will push your buttons." I read the article with great interest. Written by their political and economics contributor, Peter Ferrara, he had just attended the seventh International Conference on Climate Change. As I said, his report, entitled, perhaps provocatively, "Sorry Global Warming Alarmists: The Earth is Cooling" makes very interesting reading.

The Conference looked at a wide range of issues including the acquisition, compilation and adjustment of data and its application by spin doctors, politicians and others. It also took a good hard look at the economic impacts of what is being proposed by those on the Global Warming side.

Let me state right up front that I am a sceptic with regard to most of the claims being made by the IPCC. I don't believe the science behind Anthropomorphic Global Warming is anywhere near settled and I certainly don't believe the "modelling" predictions for any of it. Why? Mainly because most of those pushing this story are not playing with either a full deck of cards or have agendas that make me deeply suspicious. As the old saw goes, if you want to know what is behind something: Follow the Money. Who benefits by pushing the current "AGW" mantra? Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Earth First and a plethora of windmill manufacturers, anti-nuclear agitators, solar panel makers and, of course, the 'Climate Scientist' Community who are being funded to the tune of billions for "research." As the recent "Climategate" email hacking showed, these vested interests are not afraid to use bully-boy tactics to make damned sure nothing which threatens their version of what is happening appears in print. That is enough, in itself, to make me suspicious.

Perhaps I've had rather too much time working with police investigators who have taught me the mantra: "Trust no one; Question everything; Check everything." And the more I've looked at this the more stands out as being "not quite right" about it all.

It seems to me that those who claim that cutting out oil, reducing our emissions (notably in the west only) will "prevent global warming" are living in a dream world. You might as well say something like "we can stop continental drift if we drive big wedges between the tectonic plates in the subduction zones." Among other things, these are the same folk who trot out the mantra that we need "localisation" of things like power generation, food supply and so on. In short, as another writer on this subject has stated, these folk want to live in small self-sustaining communities. The hate the industrial world, they hate the thought of having to travel outside of their environs to get anything. Many are city dwellers with a very idealised vision of life in small communities and of self-sufficiency. (I live in a small idyllic village on a mountain ridge. Self-sufficient? No. We are dependent for almost everything on outside supply and this village has been for the several hundred years its been here.)

The climate is changing. It has been changing for the whole of the Earth's existence and it is also cyclic. Many things influence it, things the IPCC chooses to ignore. One is that, in all of its history, the planet has spent 20% of its time in ice ages and the rest considerably hotter than it is now. Technically we are still in an ice age, Antarctica is frozen solid and it will require several thousand years for all of that to melt even if we do let the CO2 levels exceed Dr. Hansen's "catastrophe" threshold. One estimate for the melting of the entire Greenland Ice Sheet is that it would take a minimum of 15,000 years and therein lies another little question mark. When Eric the Red originally settled there around 990 AD, he was able to keep and breed cattle. Once the "Little Ice Age" started to bite (around 1600), that became impossible and remains so to this day.

There are a number of indicators that suggest the climate is actually in a cooling phase at present. Certainly, from the data I have had a chance to see, what leapt out at me was that the data was so heavily "adjusted" for this, that and the next thing, I might as well have wet my finger, stuck it in the air and selected a number that appealed to me. One source openly state that they ignore "lowest" temperatures in their datasets and average only the highest. To me that is a sham, and average includes the highest and the lowest. The trouble is, when you're looking at temperatures and you do that, you end up with a lower temperature than the IPCC claims for the last several decades.

One thing I do know, is that the drive from lobby groups and tree hugger types through the political machinery for "green" and "renewable" energy is costing jobs and increasing prices exponentially. The Greenpeace demand to impose a "bunker tax" on all shipping won't achieve anything other than to drive the cost of food even higher. Almost all of Europe and the UK is dependent on imported food, consumer goods and so on. Imposing surcharges on transport simply increases the cost. Friends of the Earth have produced a wonderful plan to replace all nuclear and coal fired power generation with wind farms and solar. Only problem, their numbers are based on a reduction of energy use and ignores the fact that simply to supply a part of India with solar power requires 1 million acres of solar panels. They also want to put these in a "desert" - which is only 4 million acres and is one of the few places where certain plants are cultivated.

We do have to take on board the fact that there was no idyllic past. Without mass production our present lifestyles are impossible, modern medicine would not exist and sharing and transfer of resources become impossible. Fine, let's have solar heating and power - but we must then accept the fact that extraction of the extremely rare and scarce minerals needed for their production are causing huge environmental damage in China, India and elsewhere. Wind Farms? OK, but distribution is tricky, so is guaranteeing the supply. Britain has the capacity to generate something like 30% of its energy with wind,ills, trouble is they are usually shunting power into the grid when its not required - and it can't be stored. What about battery powered cars? OK, but again, the batteries have a 5 years lifespan. Six if you're lucky. Again, they use some very exotic minerals - and you can't reuse, refurbish or recycle them ...

I agree entirely that we do need to change the way we use the Earth, its resources and care for the environment, but instead of throwing money into 'single issues' which address only a tiny fraction of the larger problem we should sit back, do a complete analysis and then target those things we need to do to adapt how and what we do for the future.

There is no simple answer, and there is certainly no magic bullet. returning to idyllic little village communities dependent on their own resources is not an option. Its time those who dream that dream where made to face reality.



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