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In Defense of Climate Optimism

For decades, the response to the threat of global warming has been divided roughly into two categories: those who believe anthropogenic global warming is a serious problem, and those climate “skeptics” who don’t. But the reaction to the UN’s recently released Special Report on the subject, known as SR15, highlights the fact that global-warming believers themselves are deeply split on how to act in the face of what is arguably humanity’s most pressing challenge, dividing themselves between optimists, pessimists and, as described below, full-blown fatalists.

Commenting on the SR15 authors’ conclusion that humankind has just two decades to avoid a global cataclysm, Emily Atkin of The New Republic argued that there is now “no logical reason to be optimistic about the planet’s survival.” In a column for New York magazine, David Wallace-Wells proclaimed a new era of “climate genocide.” Guardian columnist David Sirota declared that we are facing “the end of the world” in 2040. As a graduate student in climate science, I regard such apocalyptic predictions as deeply counterproductive. We have reached the point where pessimism is blurring into outright fatalism, a trend that may well stifle needed momentum toward climate action.

Such fatalism should be distinguished from mere pessimism. Dr. Michael Mann, Penn State climatologist and producer of the famous “Hockey Stick” graph, for instance, is openly skeptical of our ability to avoid the 1.5°C warming threshold stipulated in the original 2015 Paris Agreement—but also sensibly suggests that we can still agitate for productive action by “focusing on achievable targets.” Full-on apocalypticists, on the other hand, constantly emphasize the worst possible scenarios (sometimes oversimplifying the science in the process). A good example is Wallace-Wells’ 2017 dystopian New York magazine feature “The Uninhabitable Earth,” whose headline warns readers of “famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us.” Many readers can be forgiven for responding to such stories not by reducing their carbon footprint, but by driving their SUV to the mall to stock up on canned goods, iodine pills and ammunition.

* * *

We should remember that it isn’t so much the survival of our species that is at stake, so much as the survival of our society. Civilization, as we know it, got its foothold during a particularly placid time in our planet’s climate history. Little ice ages and medieval climate anomalies notwithstanding, the Holocene epoch—spanning the last 10,000 years, give or take—has featured a prolonged and relatively stable warm period that proved a suitable backdrop for the development of agriculture, cities and all the flurry of human activity that these permit. The downside is that the societies we have built are predicated on the stability of that same climate system. You can’t move a whole coastal city (let alone a country) as the waters start to rise.

This era of stability ended roughly 150 years ago, at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere rose steeply thanks to the burning of fossil fuels, and global surface temperatures followed in lockstep. Global mean temperature already has risen approximately 1°C since 1850. To find a comparably abrupt climate shift, we’d have to venture back 130,000 years, to a time just before the Earth plunged into its most recent Ice Age. To find carbon dioxide concentrations comparable to those we observe today, we’d have to go back much further—three million years, in fact.

Evidence suggests that during these warming periods in our climate’s history, sea levels were over six meters higher than those observed now, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets were substantially smaller, and temperate forests covered areas currently occupied by permafrost-laden tundra. A transformation back toward this kind of planet would be bad enough in its own right, as billions of humans would see their habitats inundated with sea water or otherwise rendered inhabitable. What’s worse is that these threatened changes are happening so quickly that they would override the internal thermodynamic feedback mechanisms that usually dampen oscillations within our climate system. In other words, there are perfectly good reasons to be pessimistic.

But climate fatalism takes pessimism too far. The central message that many ordinary people have heard since SR15 is that disaster is imminent, and there’s no realistic options for preventing it. Moreover, such hyperbolic language (“genocide,” etc.) can easily present a strawman target for climate skeptics. Even when prompted to offer a path forward, fatalists tend to offer unrealistically revolutionary solutions, such as a complete reversal of the Industrial Revolution, or the destruction of capitalism. (Naomi Klein’s 2014 book, This Changes Everything, by way of example, argues for both.)

Many of the non-specialists I discuss these issues with have become jaded, thanks to previous doomsday predictions that failed to materialize—including Paul Ehrlich’s 1960s-era claim that a “population bomb” would unleash a planetary wave of resource shortages and mass starvation. As Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker observed in his recent book Enlightenment Now, “either humanity has miraculously escaped from certain death again and again, [or] there is a flaw in the thinking that predicts apocalyptic resource shortages.” That recurring flaw, Pinker goes on to argue, is the implicit assumption that the acquisition of new knowledge and development of new technology will fail to mitigate or prevent the next apocalypse.

Of course, the earth’s climate system is too complicated to fix with any one major policy shift or technological initiative. And even the most ambitious efforts at geoengineering would, if implemented, have to be performed in concert with a large-scale campaign to de-carbonize the planet’s energy infrastructure. But that doesn’t mean that these ideas don’t hold promise. And in the blithe dismissal of such engineering strategies by Klein, Wallace-Wells, and other apocalypticists, one may reasonably read a cynical, almost Luddite-like disdain for humanity’s capacity to innovate in the face of dire consequences. Technology will not be our redeemer, they argue, but the vessel which ferries us to oblivion.

The mere climate pessimist is distinguished from the fatalist by his or her belief that the exercise of political courage can help us prevent the worst effects of global warmings before our planet is engulfed in horrors of Biblical proportion. Even so, a pessimist approach usually takes, as a baseline, the assumption that the fight against climate change will be a hard slog that causes substantial economic and lifestyle hardship. My own view is that even this more measured form of glass-half-empty thinking may dampen popular enthusiasm for needed change, which is why I adhere to the school of climate advocacy that might be called climate optimism. While my glass-half-full approach is far less fashionable, I would argue that my faith in our ability to triumph over the current crisis is supported by the available evidence.

According to the Yale Climate Opinions Map: 70% of Americans believe climate change is real and should be met with some form of action.  A full 85% support funding research in the area of renewable energy. Over three quarters support regulating carbon emissions. Almost 70% support a carbon tax. Around the same number believe that environmental protection should take priority over economic growth—though this does not foreclose the possibility that both could be achieved simultaneously. By way of example, a report by the Carbon Utilization Research Council explains how investment in carbon capture technologies, coupled with federal incentives for businesses in the form of tax credits, could add $190-billion to the U.S. economy and almost 800,000 over the course of 20 years.

Turning to renewables, a report by Lazard Asset Management shows an 86% decrease in the cost of utility-scale solar plants since 2009. At the current pace of innovation in solar cell efficiency and battery storage capacity—as well as other advances documented in regard to wind, geothermal and hydroelectric power—most or all newly installed major clean-energy infrastructure will be cheaper than fossil fuel power sources by 2020.

Notwithstanding Donald Trump’s rejection of the Paris Agreement, the world is making progress in reducing carbon emissions—in part due to mobilization on the part of governors, premiers, mayors, business leaders and the general public. In the United States, in particular, the most recent annualized data shows a 2.6% reduction in carbon intensity (a measure of the quantity of carbon required per unit of economic output). This is short of the requisite 6.2% rate required to avoid internationally agreed upon benchmarks—but is certainly a step in the right direction.

Remember that in the 1980s, the world was seized with anxiety over the fate of the Ozone Layer—an atmospheric region that absorbs ultraviolet solar radiation. But thanks to the restrictions placed on ozone-destroying chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) implemented in the 1989 Montreal Protocol, the ozone crisis is over, and the hole in the Ozone Layer continues to close to this day. The fight against global warming (and the attendant process of climate change) is not nearly so simple. Carbon-based fuel is more fundamental to the functioning of industrial civilization than CFCs ever were. But climate optimists such as myself believe, at root, that the same spirit of international mobilization will assert itself. Progress can happen, simply because it has.

Steven Pinker puts the optimist’s guiding adage eloquently and succinctly: “The key idea is that environmental problems, like other problems, are solvable, given the right knowledge.” Ultimately, the manner by which we frame the current crisis either can inspire resignation and cynicism—or a spirit of optimism and scientific discovery. If we choose the second course, the goals established in the Paris Agreement are surely within our reach.

 

Ryan Glaubke is a graduate student of paleoceanography and paleoclimatology at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Follow him on Twitter @OcnOgrphr

180 Comments

  1. Morgan says

    Boutique concerns. A cool thing to do when the illusion is one of unlimited riches coupled with zero understanding of how wealth is actually produced. Meanwhile, what percentage of humanity lives on less than $10 a day?

    • falcon says

      a dramtically and exponentially decreasing percentage of humanity live on less than $10/day actually… I suggest you read Pinkers books

      • No Body's Busyness says

        Don’t. Don’t read Pinkah’s books. I did, and I haven’t been able to think straight since. His tomfoolery dezorbached my mindbrain.

        Seriously, though, Pikah is a window licker. I’m not saying that to be nice. I really mean it. Academics are dazzled by his Isaac Newton hair and his ability to completely buck the trend in the Academy and pronounce himself an atheist; but it’s all downhill from there. He’s a celebrity in the worst sense of the word, and he seems to be smoking what he’s selling. I’m convinced he jerks it to YouTube videos of himself at night.

        I have found his books excellent:

        1) Table levelers (just right thickness for under table leg)

        2) Bait in traps for self-ingratiating colleagues

        3) Coasters

        4) Emergency toilet paper (due credit: his words are velvety soft)

        If you are thinking of reading a Pinkah book, just punch yourself in the nads. The experience is he same, and you save yourself $17.99.

        And remember: DON’T LOOK HIM IN THE HAIR! THAT’S HOW HE GETS YOU.

        • Some Guy says

          I love how u leave such a biting attack on someone without even the tiniest little reasoning behind what ur saying. Just ad hominem attacks.

        • Ray Andrews says

          That was delightful as art, not sure about the substance tho.

        • Dragoneye says

          Your lack of rationale is frightening and good evidence that education is no replacement for wisdom..

          …Left’s lack of empathy and negative judgement of other’s concerns will result in the unthinkable…”#Trump will be reelected even if he does nothing and he simply avoids destroying the economy…” @SamHarrisOrg …

          Understand other’s pain & fear☮️🐉👁️

    • Saw file says

      @Morgan… Please expand, on your ’boutique’ comment?

      • Saw file says

        If I live in a country where $10a day is a good wage, then what is the problem?
        Wealth is being produced.
        I think that, You have a first world perspective.
        Tssktssk…

      • Morgan says

        Look up the percentage of humanity that lives on less than $10 a day to get an idea of what the opposite of a boutique concern is.

        If, like “falcon”, your boutique life allows you to deny this particular heart-wrenching tragedy, there are plenty others where that one comes from.

        • Morgan says

          @Saw file

          I missed your sad quip.

          What is the cost of an appendectomy in this fantasy country of yours “where $10a day is a good wage”?

          • Morgan says

            @Declan

            As I said to “Saw file”, what is the cost of an appendectomy in this fantasy country of yours where “$10 per day would be positively boutique”?

          • ga gamba says

            @Morgan,

            In the Philippines the cost is 24,000 pesos (approx $480) in government hospitals. PhilHealth, the gov’t health insurance agency, will cover no more than that so if a person visits a private hospital where the fees are higher s/he is out of pocket for the remainder.

            Legal daily, not hourly, minimum wage in Manila is about $10 and in the provinces it’s two-thirds that – it varies by job type. A person working in call centre, which is considered a desirable job, starts at about $400 per month. A Fil-Am friend of mine who did her medical studies (cardiothoracic specialty) here in Manila told me doctors start at about $500 per month, though in the provinces it’s lower but they may earn more because there’s less competition. At about $600 per month, starting pay at government hospitals is better than private because many employers think their doctors and nurses intend to emigrate and need the work experience to qualify for a work visa.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @Declan

            I never can figure out these poverty threshold ideas. It is impossible to live on $1.90 per day in the developed world, you might buy enough raw potatoes to get enough calories, but you freeze to death on the sidewalk.

          • Morgan says

            @ga gamba

            “In the Philippines the cost is 24,000 pesos (approx $480) in government hospitals…”

            Philippines’ GDP is ranked at ~40 (nominal) and ~30 (purchasing power parity).

        • Northern Observer says

          Your Moral Idealism and vindictive judgement will never help ease suffering in the World. Your moal panic is a distraction that stops positive change. You should listen to more sub Saharan Africans instead of looking for soft first world strawmen to shout out. It’s positively immoral in its incompetence.

    • Michael Joseph says

      We have an infinite universe full of free raw materials needed to provide for the minuscule number of people living on this tiny planet. Wealth used to be produced by people who take raw materials and convert them into something useful. More and more it is produced by machines. When robots start making robots we will in effect have unlimited riches.

      That is the major flaw in this piece. It separates the issue of climate change from other aspects of technology and society. Our industrial societies should have moved on from fossil fuels as soon as air pollution blocked our views of nearby landmarks, gave us lung disease, cancer, and so much pollution it required a “super fund” to clean it up. Really, we have to contemplate human extinction in order to bring green energy on line?

      Just like the fossil fuel industry was subsidized by government because it was good for society, green energy should be. Instead we have an entrenched fossil fuel industry that has captured the government clinging to its hold on the economy with its last dying gasps.

      The author of this piece is ambivalent about the real threat of climate change because humans might invent technology to mitigate it. The problem it that there are vast amounts of trapped carbon in permafrost and under ocean and lakes that will come bubbling up once the Earth is warm enough. There will be no technology to stop this.

      Another point is that humanity’s extinction is not on the line, just our societies. If extinction events like the ones in the geological record that take 75 to 90% of Earth’s species are an example of what were in for, I beg to disagree. An experiment was done in Arizona many years ago. It was a closed habitat built to find out if it was possible to create a micro environment capable of artificially sustaining human beings. It failed because of, you guessed it, the build up of carbon dioxide.

      To make a statement like “we won’t go extinct but we may lose our societies” is the strategic epitome of ignoring a problem until facing it is inevitable. You may as well say, “we might lose billion of people, mostly the poor ones, you know, them that didn’t cause this, but their will probably be some folks left over to carry on the gene pool.” And that is the height of irresponsibility.

  2. The bottom line is that the trend lines of increasing carbon emissions, increasing temperatures, increasing living standards and increasing life expectancy are all in sync with each other, and have been throughout the entire period starting with the Industrial Revolution. To argue that at some point in the future those trend lines will diverge from each other so significantly such that we should act now to bend them ourselves and voluntarily risk reversing those trends is an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary evidence. Climate models that have thus far diverged from reality do not suffice. Life is getting better every day, for more and more people, at a rapidly accelerating rate. Don’t screw it up!

    • Waterfront says

      @dmalcolmcarson
      Thanks, exactly to the point. A huge number of people is in deep trouble or already dying because the lack of reliable and cheap energy. UNHCR estimates that 3 million children are dying each year because open wood fires in huts. Reliable electrical energy is a prerequisite for sufficient medical care and food storage. Cheap and reliable can only be achieved with carbon based energy plants.

      I just don’t get it, why are people speculating about possible apocalypse in 30 or 50 years time when we are living in the face of multiple apocalypsis right now. They seem more concerned to prove the computer models are right and not too lose their scientific reputation.

      • Morgan says

        “I just don’t get it, why are people speculating about possible apocalypse in 30 or 50 years time when we are living in the face of multiple apocalypsis right now.”

        Because the world is not a democracy.

        If it were, the poor would win every election and the policies enacted would address the standing problems they face rather than the posh speculations of the wealthy few.

        • Northern Observer says

          Resentment is social cancer and does nothing for ones character either. Take your example from the poor themselves they dont indulge in such misdirected hatreds.

    • Michael Joseph says

      So let’s break down your statement, dmalcom. Increasing living standards are in sync with global temperature increase. I can imagine a point where I would be willing to act to bend that trend line. It would be significantly before the frogs are boiled alive in their ponds.

  3. There is a lot of science that indicates the Roman and Medieval periods, when many civilizations flourished, were 1 to 3 degrees C warmer than today.
    If that science is correct, then perhaps the fear that a 2 degree C increase over the next 100 years will bring an apocalypse might be unfounded.

    In the dark ages and little ice age, which the historical record and much science indicates were colder than today, shrinking populations, collapse of civilizations, starvation and plagues were more common.

    I am more fearful of the natural cycles bringing the earth into a cold period than I am of a warm period, natural or nudged by man. Nature will cycle. Always has, always will. We can’t predict it and have little if any control over it.
    History indicates to me that cold periods are much worse for the biosphere and humanity than warm periods.
    It is more difficult for humanity to adapt to sustained cold.

    • @ Ken
      Thanks for this thoughtful, sober insight. I’ve been saying this exact thing for years, just look at the past and see which climate conditions were a boon to humankind. The evidence suggests that you are correct. It makes me think that this AGW hysteria is really anti-capitalist and anti-human at it’s depths.

      • Pappy says

        Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change:
        “This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution,” she said.

        So. There’s that.

      • ga gamba says

        It makes me think that this AGW hysteria is really anti-capitalist …

        If you read what the eco-socialists write, such as the Eco-Socialist Manifesto and the Belem Declaration, and they are an influential group, it is indeed anti-capitalist as well as anti-West. I wrote a longer comment about it here but it so far hasn’t appeared.

    • In addition to your correct comments, C02 is an “aerial fertilizer.” Plants convert this C02 into food and fiber. Much of the increase of crop yields in recent decades is due to higher atmosphere C02 levels. It is particularly helpful in semi-arid areas where it helps plants by reducing the amount of water needed in transpiration. Greenhouse operations often supplement C02 levels twice or thrice for better yield.

      • Paolo says

        Unfortunately it is grossly untrue that any significant part of the astonishing increase in yields of the last decades is attributable to increased carbon dioxide concentration. It’s true though that it does fertilize some plants under some conditions. When it comes to quantifying those boons though, they’re quite meager. Remember: quantify.

    • CONNER M STEACY says

      There is rarely a mention that when the earth goes through a warming period such as the Roman/Medieval the warming occurs nearer the poles. Thus, wine vineyards were common in the British Isles and now are not. The equatorial regions didn’t burn up during these warm periods either and still don’t today.

    • Michael Joseph says

      We have a record of the cycles of temperature change going back hundreds of millions of years in rocks. Normally it takes tens of thousands of years for climate to change and these changes are accompanied by vast extinction rates. It then takes millions of years for new species to evolve. Something that we don’t see in the geological record is the pace that humans are affecting the climate. We don’t know what is going to happen because green house gasses have never risen so fast before. That should trouble you.

    • @Ken and others,

      Please try to educate yourself and stop repeating myths. The “Medieval Warm Period” was not warmer than today, it was cooler, and it was not a global phenomenon, it describes a northern hemisphere phenomenon which did not occur uniformly, mostly warming in the North Atlantic. (Again, still less than today and much less than where we are going.)

      Contrary to what you say, the “Little Ice Age” (circa 1500-1850) coincides with the rise of science, early industrialization, the age of exploration, and rapid expansion of the human population.

      There are cycles in natural climate and we understand them to a considerable extent. Ice ages occur on 10000 year time scales, they are not a pressing concern, particularly since CO2 may indefinitely delay the next one. We *can* predict these things and we can predict the continued warming we will see if CO2 remains at present levels or continues to increase. The issue is how fast this is happening (much faster than anything in the recognizable past), because humans aren’t adapted to ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ but to stability. Rapid changes disrupt our systems, not to mention those of Nature at large, and that is the threat from global warming.

      People have actually studied this and the general finding is that global warming will hurt the economy, increase poverty, increase food and water stresses, harm ecosystems, increase flooding and droughts, etc.

  4. Andrew Leonard says

    Sub-replacement fertility is an excellent natural, self-regulating type of response to excessive carbon dioxide production.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sub-replacement_fertility
    Unfortunately, mass migration is undermining this response.

    It is fascinating that governments that are desperate to maintain their countries population levels – even to the extent of flooding them with people from very different and in many ways incompatible cultures – are referred to as Globalists, whereas those who are happy to see their countries population fall (with commensurate impact on the environment), are called Nationalists. Should be the other way around.

    • E. Olson says

      All the social-welfare systems of the West are Ponzi schemes built on having ever increasing numbers of productive citizens paying taxes to support a comparatively few old, sick, and disabled. The Population Bomb and Club of Rome scare predictions from the 1960s and 70s together with feminism, cheap birth control, ever rising educations loans, and ever higher taxes led most people in the West to have fewer children and today the fertility rate in most wealthy countries are well below replacement levels. This together with Leftist “generosity” in giving other people’s money to support sick and disabled who really aren’t, and the terminally lazy, means the Ponzi schemes need taxes on the productive to be continually raised (further depressing fertility rates and incentivizing laziness) and/or more working age people need to be allowed in the country. The problem with importing bodies, however, is that most immigrants and refugees are from failed cultures and/or are not smart enough or skilled enough to be productive in an advanced economy, and hence end up taking more from the welfare state than they contribute. Add some expensive and/or less reliable renewable energy into the mix, and productivity and employment will be reduced and further threaten the Ponzi scheme welfare state revenue streams. Thus the paradox for the Leftists supporters of big government welfare states is that their favored Ponzi schemes are utterly incompatible with the renewable energy mandates, carbon taxes, fewer children, and open borders that they also tend to heavily support.

      • Declan says

        I think that the loomimg aging population crisis will find a solution in the emerging crisis in employment caused by automation and the increase in AI. I see a future in which increasing numbers of men become carers for the sick and elderly. Quite how that is funded I can’t be sure.

        In regard to decreasing population numbers, that can only be good for the environment. In that light immigration can be seen to be a good thing. Social mobility, whether to urban centres in their own country or to urban centres in the West, leads to people having less children. Again, this is good for the environment in the longer term, both in terms of a smaller population and in terms of increasing urbanisation, which according to Joe Walston on a podcast last week has net benefits for the environment.

        http://podbay.fm/show/1406534739/e/1542035467?autostart=1

        The picture you paint with regard to the effects of immigration on the economy are not borne out by the figures on this website… https://www.thebalance.com/how-immigration-impacts-the-economy-4125413

        Could you privde a source for your claims, please?

      • Reality Checker says

        Fertility rates all over the world have been proven to immediately fall to at or below replacement the minute a “middle-class” economy is achieved and infant mortality falls to the point where all of a family’s children can be expected to survive. I believe this is a natural phenomenon, balancing the historical “bulge” in population from roughly the advent ca. 1880 of cheap, transportable commodity crops right up through the “Baby Boom” that followed WWII. Contributing factors are education and social self-determination for women, vaccination, clean water, stable food supplies and the smaller scale of wars.

        It is a very well established fact that atmospheric CO2 rises AFTER a warming spell, not precipitates it. We are still warming out of the Little Ice Age that made life a misery from the 1300’s until roughly 1820. The whole CAGW theory hinges on excruciatingly obvious cherry-picking of timelines to massage the data into looking “Scary, and we did it!” When the entire time-line from the last glaciation is consulted, not only are we well within the normal range of natural variation, but it becomes obvious that CO2 is not the operative factor. Meanwhile, deserts are shrinking, we’re growing far more food on the same amount of land, and abject poverty has been reduced 40% worldwide since 1980.

        I think these “apocalyptic” scares fulfill the human need to feel we are in control of our world. Well, heads up, we never have been, we’re not now, and we never will be. These mitigation schemes are transparent wealth redistribution which will change the thermostat not one iota. When Floridians are vacationing in Michigan in January, I’ll believe in man-made “global warming.”

      • Ray Andrews says

        @E. Olson
        It depends who you want to believe of course, but I’ve seen figures from Germany and Sweden to the effect that their Muslim migrants are, far from contributing to their economies, catastrophic burdens on it. The idea that Somali migrants will fund my retirement is unsound.

    • Ray Andrews says

      I recall that the population of Nigeria alone is expected to top half a billion by mid century. The Correct will say that this is good news since the West will joyfully welcome however many of them want to relocate.

  5. A quick perusal of global trees and forests data shows that global warming and human activity has seen increasing fall in tropical forests etc., but at the same time tree cover has actually increased in subtropical, temperate, boreal, and polar regions. High altitude deserts such as parts of Tibet, and Russia that could not support growth of a blade of grass are now able to support trees, shrubs, all kinds of vegetation and attendant human/animal activity thanks to climate change. A silver lining to the climate change story that nobody dares mention.

    • E. Olson says

      Vijay – The content of your comment is exactly what I expected when I saw the article title. Higher CO2 means more plant food, and satellite images definitely show a greening of much of the earth as CO2 concentrations rise. Unfortunately, our “optimistic” climate scientist (in training) author seems to have sucked in too much of the “doom” propaganda of his field to acknowledge these positive effects.

      • Ken Smith says

        Indeed the “greening” phenomena cannot be ignored regardless of how inconvenient it may seem to those invested in a gloom narrative. However it carries a downside that seems to be almost entirely ignored: increased vegetation means increased flammable materials. Weather patterns all around the world, not just in California, have always included drought cycles. So when that excess vegetation, the quantity of which has not been reduced by thinning and clearing of underbrush or by strategic burns, catches fire, it does so dramatically.

        We often hear that the California fires were made worse by drought brought on by “climate change.” That may be so–there is no way to prove or disprove it. But it seems just as likely (far more likely to me) that the superabundance of excess vegetation has been strongly aided and abetted the the “greening” process of higher CO2 concentrations in recent decades.

        • E. Olson says

          Ken, of course we could use cattle and sheep keep the overgrowth down, but the doomsters don’t want us to eat meat either, so I guess that won’t work.

        • Reality Checker says

          Perhaps Californians would prefer to be looking up through a mile or two of glacial ice? The “global warming” argument for the fires is nothing more than Moonbeam and Co. shifting blame away from the horrendous results of allowing Big Green to call the shots in CA.

        • Ray Andrews says

          @Ken Smith

          Thanks. Vegetation, except in peat bogs, reaches a certain biomass on a given hectare and after that achieves a long-term equilibrium — there is no continuing absorption of CO2. Further there is the question of the melting of the permafrost which is expected to belch methane into the atmosphere at (sorry) potentially catastrophic rates.

        • Grant says

          California temperatures and rainfall have changed little the last century and fires, large fires have always been common. What has changed dramatically is the population of Ca and especially people moving into these fire prone areas as cost of housing has increased. For example, the population of Paradise, Ca tripled from 1970 to 2000. And so have the sources of accidental ignition.

      • John Spray says

        I have a weekend, 200 acre farm with a 60 acre woodlot. I’ve planted over 5000 trees over 35 years and the yearly growth, as measured by the yearly branching, is quite astonishing. Normally a mature Blue Spruce will grow 12 inches a tear… yet my 30 year old Blues are growing at 22-26 inches annually.

    • Roman Korenic says

      Thanks for your comment. An article summarizing effects such as these would make for extremely informative reading.

  6. Michael Lardelli says

    Putting ones hope in carbon sequestration (upon which much of Paris Agreement thinking is founded) is misguided. This technology simply is not economic or scaleable. Richard Heinberg pointed this out many years ago:

    https://www.resilience.org/stories/2008-10-01/delay-and-fail/

    as did Vaclav Smil:

    https://www.nature.com/articles/453154a

    As I commented for another recent climate change article here at Quillette, the future is certainly not what most climate modellers expect:

    “…the selfishness and competitiveness of human nature mean that the world will never unite to drastically reduce CO2 emissions. But don’t panic – Mother Nature has the situation in hand! What the IPCC has, essentially, never recognised in its modelling is that fossil fuel resources are finite and far less fossil fuel of all types is accessible for burning than is required for all but the “greenest” of their future scenarios. Coming decades will see very significant decreases in fossil fuel use driven by dwindling availability due to geological constraints rather than by humans showing self-restraint. This will have massive effects on the human economy and will put an end to economic growth. This idea is pure cognitive dissonance for most economists (particularly resource economists who believe that resource availability is determined by price rather than investment of energy). But read the works of Charles Hall, Kjell Aleklett, Jean Laherrere and Colin Campbell if you are interested. This is why I simply don’t worry overly about climate change – there is nothing I can do about it (human nature being what it is) and the reality will be nothing like what either the capitalists OR the IPCC is expecting. My mind is more focussed on how we will feed cities with populations of millions to tens of millions when liquid fuel resources become scarce. After all, 30% of all fossil fuel use goes to food provision.”

    I guess that makes me a kind of “climate fatalist” rather than an optimist or a pessimist. But I think of myself as a “realist”. The point is to see the future for what it may become rather than retreating into “hope”. Then be flexible to accommodate that future.

    • Jay Salhi says

      “Coming decades will see very significant decreases in fossil fuel use driven by dwindling availability due to geological constraints”

      The peak oil argument. When I was an undergrad, they were predicting we would run short of accessible oil circa 2020. Technological advances keep moving that date back. The “coming decades” are not coming as soon as you think.

  7. D-Rex says

    A recent graduate as a “climate scientist”(a term that didn’t even exist until recently) has probably been subjected to a mountain of propaganda. I would add that anyone who thinks Micheal Mann of “hockey stick” fame is sensible, is not thinking critically.
    While I agree that so-called Global warming is more of a societal problem, there is evidence that it is by no means inevitable or particularly dangerous and a new glacial period would be orders of magnitude more devastating. At the current rate of sea level rise, it would actually be quite easy to simply creep coastal cities onto higher ground, one street at a time, human ingenuity being what it is. Plus, think about all of the new real-estate created by thawing tundra and receding glaciers.
    I would dispute that temperature and CO2 levels have increased in lockstep since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Temperatures have followed something of a saw-tooth pattern, whereas Co2 has risen quite steadily over the same time. No-one seems to consider the amount of natural rebound in temperatures since the end of the little ice age, which coincidentally lines up roughly with the beginning of the industrial revolution. I personally believe that CO2 levels had dropped to dangerously low levels over recent geological time and suspect that the burning of fossil fuels may have just postponed the dire consequences of CO2 famine.

    • Stuart says

      Temperatures have risen and fallen in past geological time but I read that it happened in general far more gradually than is the present case. Also a tiny humanoid population of hunters and gatherers were moving about anyway. There were no cities until about 7-8,000 ya.

      • Reality Checker says

        This is an example of how the majority of posters on any comment board demonstrably have not studied the complete scientific context, but have been unduly influenced by the propaganda. Should one wish to remedy that situation, please try Alan Watts’ blog “Watts Up With That” from which you can link to primary sources enough to keep you busy for years. Most of the people who’ve had access to the full observed data (as opposed to the GIGO of the IPCC’s models) are “lukewarmers” at best; those who believe that (a) most of warming or cooling is natural variation; (b) humans have a contribution, but not much of one; and (c) we don’t remotely understand the variables well enough to make any meaningful predictions. As anyone who follows the weather reports for more than 48 hours can already tell.

        • Reality Checker, although he has some of the Zen qualities of “Alan”, you are thinking of the tireless climate and science blogger Anthony Watts. He is busy right now supporting the fire fighting effort in California.

        • Anyone who think “Alan” Watts (it’s Anthony) is about giving the scientific context should really not be going by the name Reality Checker. He’s an ex-TV-weatherman who runs a propaganda blog for denialists, not a climatologist or a scientist of any kind. He’s been caught in so many dumb mistakes it’s kind of incredible. (Cf. https://blog.hotwhopper.com/)
          Please try to get your information from credible experts. You might try the official IPCC reports, or realclimate.org for more timely analysis.

          The consensus among actual experts is that essentially all warming observed over the last 50+ years is due to human activity. It would actually have cooled slightly if not for us, meaning we have made more than 100% contribution to the observed trend. We very much understand the basic variables here and it is a virtual certainty that the Earth will continue to warm, in line with projections, if we maintain CO2 output as usual.

          • D-Rex says

            Josh, you mention “credible experts” and in the same breath recommend the IPCC, hotwhopper and realclimate. Sorry, you can’t have it both ways.
            “It would actually have cooled slightly if not for us, meaning we have made more than 100% contribution to the observed trend.” And where is the science to back this claim up?
            Please show me a study, ANY study that proves that CO2 is responsible for a significant amount of the warming over the last 150 years.

          • @D-Rex
            Here you go
            https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/wg1/WG1AR5_Chapter10_FINAL.pdf
            Particularly look at Figs. 10.1 and 10.5 for the main takeaway.

            You seem to have a problem with real scientists, like those whose work the IPCC report is based on. Realclimate is run by Gavin Schmidt, who also happens to be Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. May I kindly suggest that you are falling into a denialist trap if you reject the work of highly respected experts in favor of hucksters like Watts. One thing you’ll notice if you look at both, is that the scientists are always much more meticulous and give detailed answers, while the hucksters go with a “throw everything at the wall and hope somethings sticks” approach.

      • Stephanie says

        Stuart, there are volcanoes called kimberlite that release huge amounts of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere is very short timeframes. There have been several such massive events in the last 66 million years, causing huge carbon spikes. The better our resolution becomes, the faster we find these events are.

        There is nothing new under the sun.

        • Michael Joseph says

          Stephanie, volcanic contributions to atmospheric Co2 are minuscule compared to the daily contributions of 7 billion people.

          • D-Rex says

            “volcanic contributions to atmospheric Co2 are minuscule compared to the daily contributions of 7 billion people.”

            So it’s just as well we discovered fossil fuels when we did then eh. Looks like we dodged a bullet of dangerously low CO2 levels.

    • @D-Rex
      NASA produced a 2016 study that showed the planet is getting increasingly greener in the past 30 years – and that up to 70% of that greening can be attributed to rising CO2. That equates to an area the size of the continental U.S. This should be treated as good news. But it got very little play in the mainstream media. Is the greening of the planet a good thing? I would think so.

      • Reality Checker says

        There are a great many upsides to what is probably a natural warming cycle we should be praying continues. But they never get reported, because that wouldn’t fit the Narrative that we should all feel guilty for existing, breeding, eating, even BREATHING. It won’t further the One World Gov’t. mission of gutting the wealth of industrial nations and returning us all to a homogenized, ignorant serfdom reliant for existence itself on our Davos overlords. One reason the press is going so nuts is this time they ARE losing control of the Narrative, the Things One Must Believe, in great part due to websites like Quillette.

      • Ken Smith says

        Craig: The greening is indeed real and significant. I would say it’s largely a good thing, but it will mean more vegetation, which will dry out at some point (whether or not wet/dry cycles) change, thus facilitating bigger, hotter fires. My guess is that what we are seeing in California is in part a consequence of the greening.

      • D-Rex says

        Indeed Craig, the “greening” may even be seen as evidence that the planet has been suffering under a lack of CO2, not an overabundance of it.

        • Michael Joseph says

          Those of you happy with the warming need to pull up a map of the world once the surface ice has completely melted. And let’s not worry about the cataclysmic weather events we can look forward to. Your unconcern for people who are not you is mind numbing. And what if we are chicken littles warning you about a non calamity? What could happen if we transition to green energy too soon? We will have to live without air pollution and it’s attendant diseases, oh the humanity!

          • Jay Salhi says

            “Your unconcern for people who are not you is mind numbing.”

            How much concern does the crowd promoting radical action to reduce fossil fuel consumption show for the poor of the world who need cheap energy to improve living standards? You put hypothetical threats to people not yet born ahead of the well being of people alive and living in poverty.

  8. i think anthropogenic global warming is only a facet of the real problem, namely the accelerating destruction of our planet’s ability to provide a viable habitat for most living species. our global civilization is a massive heat engine that consumes constantly increasing quantities of energy to produce goods, services and very toxic externalities. these externalities are not only heat but trashed ecosystems, species extinction, water contamination, pollution of all kinds, wars driven by inequality and resource grabbing to name but a few.

    global warming may or may not be driven primarily by human activity, and it may or may not be as severe as many scientists are projecting. however, the rate at which we are loosing habitat is a documented reality that is driven by the civilization heat engine. this destruction it is not a conjecture or mathematical model. when we loose habitat it’s game over no matter what the increase of mean temperature above 1850 baseline.

    we can change the energy mix, shift to all electric, developed nations can even drastically reduce their pro-capita energy consumption and concerted efforts can be made to reduce the rate of global population growth, but it is far from clear weather any of this would slow down the heat engine in any meaningful way. it is also quite clear that the reality of dealing with complex systems is that any attempt to drive them in a particular direction at best leaves things unchanged. usually, such efforts makes things much worse, generating a slew of new and unforeseen problems. this makes charting a way forward incredibly difficult, so it is no wonder to me that any sort of consensus on what to do is taking so long to emerge (and may probably never emerge at all).

    • Which is why, the PRC and her one man, total authoritarian model is the only possible way out of this spiral. Xi can simply order his military to pare the population by, say 70%, and see the immediate reduction of fatal greenhouse gasses.

    • Reality Checker says

      Please get yourself a copy of the book FACTFULNESS if you still believe humans are overrunning the earth and “accelerating destruction for other living species.” The truth is every human on the planet could live comfortably in a land area the size of Texas. Every other species is free to inhabit the rest! Yes, there are things we need to do: Get some ED drugs to China, for instance, to finally convince them there’s no need to hunt rhinos to extinction for their horns. Get some teeth in anti-poaching laws all over Africa, but you’d have to make it worth the while of the warlords. Clean up Superfund sites and teach the Indonesians how to recycle plastic instead of dumping it in the rivers! TONS of legitimate environmental work to be done! But doing it takes money, education, and a standard of living above subsistenc that ALLOWS people and g’ments. the luxury of working on something beyond today’s existence. The answer is NOT an impossible return to some mythical pre-industrial Garden of Eden that never existed. Or does a life expectancy of 39 and 75% infant mortality sound good to you?

      Without a doubt what passes for “Modern Education” is making too many “smart” people STUPID.

    • Michael Joseph says

      Fernando, sounds like the basic problem is too many people. Since industrial society reduces population I say we give every body an education and a job.

  9. E. Olson says

    A true climate optimist would focus on very different things than the author’s list. First, poverty is shrinking at the fastest rate ever and only about 10% of the world population is living in dire poverty, and this huge progress is mostly due to cheap carbon-based fuels and the decline of planned/Communist economies. Rich people in relatively free-market economies are much more able to afford to innovate their way out of climate related problems than poor people in Communist countries (check out the environmental record of the former USSR or current Venezuela). Second, CO2 is plant food, and higher concentrations are already leading to greater plant growth and consequent greater food supply. Third, the climate models are all wrong – human sourced greenhouse gas emissions are ever rising and yet global temperatures have not been correspondingly rising in anywhere near the levels predicted by mainstream models. This suggests the climate sensitivity to human sourced greenhouse gas emissions is far, far smaller than climate scientists have been predicting, which means we have far, far longer to “fix” the climate related problems that the doomsters keep telling us are coming. Fourth, substantial progress is already being made to cheaply reduce greenhouse gas emissions by replacing coal with fracking generated natural gas for electricity generation, and some movement by environmentalists to accept clean and reliable nuclear power as a primary source of power generation.

    Now compare all these truly optimistic trends above with what most climate doomsters/Leftists and the author of this article generally advocate. First, they generally advocate government control of the economy, which will with 100% certainty make people poorer and stop any further progress in poverty reduction, and with near 100% certainty not actually lead to better environmental conditions. Second, they constantly preach gloom and fear (i.e. only 5 more years to do something – every 5 years), which means nobody takes them serious enough to do anything when they are constantly proven to be wrong. The author of this article suggest there is strong public belief in climate change, and strong support for carbon taxes, cutting emissions, etc. but such polls NEVER ask the questions in a way that allows respondents to provide accurate answers. For example, if you tell people that a carbon tax will increase gasoline prices by 50+ cents per gallon, or double their electricity bill, support for carbon taxes will evaporate to virtually nothing. If people were truly worried about climate change, they also wouldn’t be buying coastal real estate, SUVs, ever larger homes and TV sets, and constantly flying to the other side of the world for vacations (or climate conferences). Third, the doomsters want to ban fracking, ban coal, tax the heck out of oil, and a substantial portion are still irrationally trying to ban nuclear power. They do want renewables (except for hydro-power because they don’t like dams), and they keep promising that renewables are going to be cheaper the carbon fuels in only 2 years or 5 years. Unfortunately, their cost predictions are no more reliable than their climate predictions, because virtually all the countries with the greatest installed renewable base (i.e. Germany, Denmark, Spain, Australia) have the highest priced, least reliable power in the world because the wind doesn’t blow when it is very hot or very cold, and the sun doesn’t shine more than half the time in most of the world, which means you need conventional power back-ups that double the price of power. There are also no cheap mass-storage systems on the horizon except for pumping water into reservoirs when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining, but again the Lefty/greens don’t like dams and reservoirs. In other words, the Leftist solutions to climate change are not going to work, but will make everyone more miserable.

      • Reality Checker says

        Plus, in a recent Gallup Poll concerns about “climate change” came in at the very bottom on a list of possible election issues. Somewhere around toenail fungus for most of America.
        This is a boutique issue for left-leaning wannabe “elites,” which requires only sincere hand-wringing and platitude-mouthing while doing absolutely NOTHING.

        It was the very fact that every single country on earth carried on “business as usual” from Kyoto on that made me start lifting up the rocks that got me red-pilled on this issue. If this was the “greatest threat to civilization” in reality the scene would be very different. The entire phenomenon is a computer-generated bogeyman harnessed for political ends.

        The modernization of China and India with gas fracking will pretty much put paid to the “problem” within a dozen years anyway.

    • Michael Joseph says

      E. Olson the author is an optimist not a climate denier and the article is about climate change not all those other things.

      Here’s my objection to current energy production; fossil fuels cause pollution, disease, and government corruption; nuclear energy creates toxic waste that is dangerous for thousands of years and past accidents have contaminated large swaths of land and sea.

      Here’s your objection to green energy once the reliability problem is solved, which is very close; it’s too expensive.

      You just insist on being a Morlock despite all logic to the contrary.

      • E. Olson says

        Michael, Here is my objection to your objection. Fossil fuels have saved more lives than any other human processed substance in history. Yes fossil fuels have caused corruption in culturally backward countries “blessed” to be sitting on top of fossil fuel reserves, but such corruption is only possible because of all the wealth generated by the mining/pumping/processing of fossil fuels. I find it highly doubtful that many citizens of those corrupt countries who would prefer to go back to the days before oil/gas/coal was discovered in their country. Your comment about nuclear fuels are wildly inaccurate. Chernobyl is the most serious nuclear accident in history, and killed 37 people in the immediate aftermath, and best estimates of 4,000 early deaths in the 30+ years since the accident caused by radiation exposure. In contrast, the 3 Mile Island accident led to no deaths, and the Fukushima accident only 1 death. By way of comparison, mining is estimated to cause approximately 12,000 death every year, and considerable mining will be required for the minerals and rare-earth elements needed to make solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, and expand the electrical grid necessary for more renewable energy. I personally have no problem with a conversion to renewables, just as long as they offer electricity in the quality and quantity needed at a price that is equal or lower than fossil sourced without any operating subsidies from governments and customers, which I think might happen in another 50 to 100 years.

        • D-Rex says

          @E.Olsen

          You seem to have an endless supply of excellent points at your disposal. I would just add that it is not physically possible to replace current energy production with wind and solar, there just isn’t enough copper and iridium in the world. Plus, no-one seems to be aware of the looming environmental crisis when all of those solar panels start breaking down in 10-20 years time and are toxic waste, or the fact that wind turbine blades have to be replaced frequently and are not recyclable.
          It bears repeating, if the environmentalists were genuine, the would be pushing as hard as the can for Nuclear.

          • E. Olson says

            D-Rex – thank you – energy is an area that I follow very closely. You also bring up some very good points that are proving very disappointing for renewable advocates – it seems solar panels and wind blades and turbines have much shorter effective lives than projected, and are proving to be much more costly to maintain and replace than the advocates promised.

          • Jay Salhi says

            “I would just add that it is not physically possible to replace current energy production with wind and solar, there just isn’t enough copper and iridium in the world.”

            Even if there were, it still wouldn’t be possible. You cannot power a grid with solar or wind. You need a reliable backup (most often fossil fuels). Nor is there any liquid version of solar or wind. We need liquid fuels to power transportation and agriculture.

  10. Gordon Smith says

    I suspect that there is something in the “collective unconscious “ that requires an end of days scenario. Religion was the story that represented that until the horrors of the world wars.after that we lived under the shadow of a nuclear end. After the Cold War ended environmental issues became the next great threat (along with Y2K and SARS and other potential pandemics). That is not to say that nuclear war was not a credible fear and that climate change is not real but if it was discovered not to be a threat we would soon find another one. It seems to be part of the need of a culture, perhaps like our own mortality.

  11. > Global mean temperature already has risen approximately 1°C since 1850. To find a comparably abrupt climate shift, we’d have to venture back 130,000 years

    This is incorrect. The Younger Dryas was only about 12000 years ago. It was an abrupt global decline of 2 to 6 °C. About 1000 years later, the rise in temperature was just as abrupt. The affects were strongest in Greenland, where temperatures rose 10°C over a decade.

    [1] https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/abrupt-climate-change/The%20Younger%20Dryas
    [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Younger_Dryas

    • yandoodan says

      Past fluctuations are even more extreme than that. The journal Nature published a good graph of it:
      https://www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge/library/abrupt-climate-change-during-the-last-ice-24288097
      Fluctuations were incredible, horrific, exceeding the modern variation by several times in the period of a century or two. Sea levels rose, not by twenty feet in a few decades, but by 350 feet, as continental glaciers shed massive calves. This was 80 centuries ago (geologic yesterday) instead of the 1,200 centuries ago claimed by the author (geologic day before yesterday).

      Note how stable the modern period is, almost dead level. Contemporary trends actually show a drop, with a (tiny) peak about 50 centuries ago give or take.

      The author is confusing change with stability. The climate can change, increasing as predicted, and remain stable, without the grotesque fluctuations that hit as short a time ago as 80 centuries. But the author is correct in stating that society would not survive a fifteen degree drop in temperature in less than two centuries.

      As a PS, the author’s statement that “You can’t move a whole coastal city (let alone a country) as the waters start to rise,” is factually incorrect. Not only did the Dutch do exactly that in the Late Medieval period (dykes with windmill powered pumps), but their predecessors did it in the Late Roman period (aka “Dark Ages”) when sea levels rose two feet in the North Sea. Some of those Late Romans — the Anglo-Saxons — moved their cities to Britain.

      I could go on but this post is already too long, and you get the point.

  12. Yep, man is causing the problem. Solution? We need to reduce the human population. When does the next War start? Or maybe we can just cut all GMO farming and stop food exports too. At least the US is self-sustaining since we can produce energy and food natively. Sure, a few Americans will die in the inevitable World War when populations starving/in the dark invade neighbors, but that’s helpful too, right?

    The climate scientists preach about how all these lines converge and align with the Industrial Revolution…forgive me, but doesn’t the world-wide human population line follow that trend as well? So perhaps it isn’t burning of fossil fuels/etc, but it’s simply that humans have longer lifespans and greater populations? Oh wait, the science is settled…forgive me for offering an alternative hypothesis.

    • E. Olson says

      Paul Ehrlich of Population Bomb fame says the sustainable human population is about 2 billion people. Yet he and all the other environmental/climate doomsters never help out by committing mass suicide – guess they are just too darn busy jetting around to sustainability and climate conferences around the world to off themselves in a environmentally friendly manner.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @E. Olson
        So what is the sustainable population then? Presuming that oil and other mined resources are not infinite, and that soil depletion cannot go on forever, what number would you suggest? And the suicide trope is a bit warn out, don’t you think?

        • E. Olson says

          The sustainable population is unknown – we currently have a global population of 7+ billion and a much worse obesity problem than starvation problem – in fact all current starvation is due to politically caused food distribution problems (i.e. civil war) rather than lack of food. As noted about, higher CO2 concentrations are leading to a greening of the planet, and hence farmland should become more productive with further greenhouse gas concentrations. Furthermore, modern farming practices have barely scratched the surface outside major industrialized countries, we also have greater meat consumption than ever, divert a great deal of farm land to the growth of plants for making bio-fuels (of very questionable environmental value), and have more forest growth than at any point since the start of the industrial revolution (covering over many former farmed locations), which suggests we have many potential avenues to feed many more people. We also have more known oil reserves than at any point in human history, and relatively low and/or stable commodity prices suggest that we are not hitting any serious scarcity points on major minerals. Western countries are already starting to shrink in population, and many developing countries are also below replacement level fertility, so I would not be surprised if discussion soon switches from concerns about over-population to policy options for encouraging young adults to have more children. I also have much more faith in the ingenuity of man to find substitutes or new sources if anything does appear to run out, than I do in the predictions of doomsters such as Thomas Malthus, William Jevon, Paul Ehrlich, James Hansen, or Al Gore.

          • D-Rex says

            There is also an excellent TED talk explaining why global population will stabilise at around 11 billion.

          • “The sustainable population is unknown…”

            Actually, it’s far too large already, assuming one mourns the loss of wilderness and wildlife being forced out by a species that can’t stop growing. The 2 billion figure that cornucopians deride is based on a post peak oil world; a matter of when, not if. Fracking is just a temporary blip on that curve but people have short attention spans.

            Most of your other claims are based on anthropocentric hubris, ignorance of fossil fuel finitude, and of course global warming denial with the CO2-greening comment. Religion has probably skewed your worldview to people first, everything else be damned, but people are also being damned now.

            I also have a low opinion of the industrial wind power crowd who want to destroy the planet in a new way with green branding. Few people understand that the root problem is growthism.

        • The suicide trope is indeed worn out. Those who use it oddly acknowledge the population problem while suggesting that those smart enough to be concerned should be the first ones to go. Do they think the ratio of dumb to wise people is too low?

      • That sort of comment reveals either a lack of science education, math skills, or just a terminal case of arrogance. Do you understand that this whole economic house of cards is propped up by a depleting savings account? Calling the burning of oil, gas and coal “growth” is merely a luxury of time and denial.

        The author of the article doesn’t get the point, either. Overpopulation is also destroying wilderness and species every day, but cornucopians don’t want to talk about that, or don’t care. They see everything in terms of money with a dim understanding of what makes money possible.

    • TarsTarkas says

      Let’s go even further and start the Last War. Or have Sandia or Sverdlosk synthesize bubonic flu or something similar to completely eliminate humanity. And then if the doomsdayers are wrong, and global temperatures continue rise After People, there will be no one to blame and no one to care.

    • Michael Joseph says

      There is another answer to population growth other than killing everyone.

    • Michael Joseph says

      Wealthy countries with good educational systems decline in population. Instead of starting war let’s give everyone an education and a job. It would be cheaper and less messy than war.

      • D-Rex says

        It has been demonstrated that the best way to reduce population growth is to educate women and girls in third world countries.

  13. Farris says

    “At the current pace of innovation in solar cell efficiency and battery storage capacity—as well as other advances documented in regard to wind, geothermal and hydroelectric power—most or all newly installed major clean-energy infrastructure will be cheaper than fossil fuel power sources by 2020.”

    The author fails to list nuclear energy as an alternative to carbon based fuels. Apparently the situation is dire but not so dire that nuclear power should be considered as an alternative. If present day society faces annihilation, shouldn’t all options be on the table?

  14. Farris says

    Climate Change enthusiasts often cite consensus as evidence the problem exists. When specifying the dangers issues related to warming or rising temperatures are cited (as the author does in the article above). So if warming is the problem, why was the moniker change from “Global Warming” to “Climate Change”? Can there be a consensus on at least the name?

    • Ken Smith says

      Farris, I see what you are saying about the terminology but it must be remembered that since the IPCC was formed around 1990, it had in its very name the term “climate change”–Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

      There are deep conceptual problems with both terms: “global warming” carries the notion that phenomena that occur at any given locale are necessarily related to a planet-wide causal agent. In truth, it impossible for “global warming” (defined as a rise in the average temperature of the planet’s atmosphere) to affect the behavior of a species in a local area. _Local warming_ may be responsible for, say, the proliferation of pine beetles and resulting forest destruction, but unless the actual temperature trends for that local area can be charted, the theoretical global average temperature means nothing. In no field of genuine science can a global average of a single factor be made into a causal agent for a local phenomena.

      • Farris says

        @Ken
        “In no field of genuine science can a global average of a single factor be made into a causal agent for a local phenomena.”

        Thank you for engaging. Are you saying that evidence of what may or may not be occurring at the poles or atop Kilimanjaro are simply evidence of local phenomena and evidence not global warming or climate change?
        Could you please explain the phrase “theoretical” global average temperature?

        • Ken Smith says

          Thanks, Farris, I think you are asking an excellent question.

          I’m not arguing that there can’t be connections between, say, reductions in snow coverage on Kilimanjaro and air circulation patterns in East Africa, which in turn are influenced by changes in ocean currents (making some air warmer and some cooler, some air more moist and some air less moist). The interplay between the many factors is unimaginably complex (perhaps too complex to be ever be adequately framed in a computer model), but in theory, I would certainly accept that changes on Kilimanjoro might be connected to some global phenomena that was impacted by a change in the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere. In the case of Kilimanjaro, it’s not apparent (at least the last time I read about it) that the shrinking snow coverage had to do with temperature increases or with drier air (evaporation by sublimation). It’s been suggested that changes in land use around the base of the mountain has been a factor.

          In any case, what I was getting at is that in modern empirical science, we should always look for _proximal_ causes, that is causes that are closest to the phenomena we are investigating. In the case of Kilimanjaro, that would mean finding out exactly _what the temperature patterns are_ that exist on the mountain that may have affected it. If it turns out that temperatures _on or around the mountain_ have increased, then we have some vital, important information. Or, if we measure the dryness of the air and compare it to the dryness of the air at a past date, and find a significant change, then we have some real, useful evidence. Same with other factors.

          However, it will not do to point to a given phenomena and leap to a conclusion about some global or universal phenomena that is supposed to explain it, i.e., “global warming did it.” My critique of the concept of “global warming” is that _as it is typically used, at least in public discourse_, is that it serves as a sort of “meta explanation” for local phenomena, many of which can be fully explained without resort to such a universal explanation.

          Again, the rule for investigation that is truly scientific, is to look first for proximal causes. If those proximal causes are discovered, they may _then_ be linked to broader causes, and (at least in theory) perhaps ultimately to a global cause. But it seems to me that the approach of many if not most people who are very worried about climate change is to jump directly to the global explanation.

          • Farris says

            @Ken

            Thank you for the explanation. I agree with the notion that proximate causes should be examined and discounted first. Additionally I would add global warming proponents appear to give little accounting for global events such as the Maunder minimum, El Niño’s, volcanic eruptions, ect… Global warming somewhat involves trying to prove a negative ie. what ambient temperatures would be without the use of fossil fuels.

          • Michael Joseph says

            Ken, how would you figure out why all the equatorial glaciers have melted?

          • The concept of global warming is that the average temperature of the globe (or rather the surface layers if you’re determined to be pedantic) has increased. The name is pretty clear. Global warming is both a prediction and an observation, not something people cooked up while looking for causes of regional snow-melt. Global warming is an explanation of the fact that regional warming dominates now over regional cooling. Local conditions are caused by proximal factors, but broad trends are explained by global warming. It’s like raising the water level in a hot tub. The height of the surface at any local point depends on what waves are passing through at that instant, but the overall trend is explained by the rising average. Generally then, individual local events are not caused in a simple manner by global warming, but made more or less likely by it.

            @Farris, climate change is a broader category into which global warming fits, it describes global cooling as well as other, often related, changes that aren’t necessarily the same as warming, like changes in humidity, etc. It can also be used to indicate more local changes in climate than the global average. For example, the global warming we see today is also associated with changes in ocean and atmospheric circulation that will have various local effects.

    • Reality Checker says

      A flat earth around which the Sun rotated was a previous generation’s scientific “consensus.” Also, search the term “Lysenkoism.”

      We can be WRONG. Bigly!

      • Andrew_W says

        Reality Checker: “A flat earth around which the Sun rotated was a previous generation’s scientific “consensus.” ”

        Completely untrue, there was never a scientific consensus on there being a flat Earth, the Earth was recognized as being spherical before the scientific method was even well established.

        I’ve seen several factual errors from you in these comments, perhaps you should try to live up to your pseudonym and check your facts.

        • Michael Joseph says

          Yeah, high school math classes talk about that old Greek guy who figured out the circumference of the Earth with shadows. I don’t remember much but I remember that.

  15. Scott says

    Good article. For brevity’s sake I don’t mean to override the optimism of the article – but the idea that “most or all newly installed major clean-energy infrastructure will be cheaper than fossil fuel power sources by 2020” is just not accurate. There is DEFINITELY a place for alternative energy in the energy network, but there is nothing cheaper than fossil fuels in the U.S. currently, with exception of hydro-electric. The cost for producing clean burning coal, and solar plants, is almost prohibitive, and unlikely to yield a return on investment for some time.

    • E. Olson says

      Such predictions of cheap renewables NEVER consider a variety of costs such as the need for grid expansion to hook them into the grid, the overbuilding costs necessary due to low energy density, the costs of needing conventional backups to cover the intermittency problem (or costs of even more expensive battery storage), or the relatively short productive lives of solar panels or windmills, or the costs of scrapping them. Instead they only look at the manufacturing cost trend for solar panels and windmills, which they assume will continue downward at the same rate forever. Put realistic costs into the formulas and renewables will likely never be competitive in most markets without massive subsidies.

      • georgopolis says

        What always confused me is calling them “green”. The land use requirements of wind and solar are preposterous. What exactly is green about cutting down a forest, or displacing farm land, to put in a solar farm that still requires backup power generation (primarily from fossil fuel sources). The whole argument just seems looney to me.

        • georgopolis: Solar can be put on roofs and parking lots but large wind turbines are impossible to site without blighting the view for dozens of miles. I don’t think the two should be equated, since solar sprawl lacks wind sprawl’s vertical blight.

          It’s strange that people claim to be pro-nature while sanctioning ridiculous eyesores and spinning fables about their “beauty” where a rational person just sees more industrial parks (made with fossil fuels). There’s mental blindness on both sides of the climate issue.

          • Jay Salhi says

            “Solar can be put on roofs”

            Yes, and in certain places where the sun shines a lot that may make economic sense. But that is a small scale use with small scale benefits. There is also industrial solar where you take a huge chunk of land and cover it with solar panels, in which case to comparisons to wind are appropriate. Neither industrial wind nor industrial solar is remotely “green”.

          • georgopolis says

            @Respect Silence

            Thanks for your reply. I Take your point about solar panels on rooftops. I would say there is a place for solar, but I was specifically referring to industrial solar production. Agreed wind is not the same. I would add that on top of the eyesore factor, they damage bird and bat populations and the effects of low frequency vibration emitted by wind turbines on human health is not well studied.

            I was recently driving north through Ontario and there were stretches of wind turbines on farmland as far as the eye can see, despite having virtually no noticeable contribution to the overall energy grid. We also passed a very large solar farm, which I could not for the life of me understand in a climate where winter lasts 7-8 months of the year.

    • Michael Joseph says

      Have you seen a deep water oil rig. Petroleum is not cheap it’s subsidized and our government subsidizes the wrong industry.

      • E. Olson says

        Petroleum is not subsidized. Most articles claiming the industry is subsidized leave out details such as the fact that almost all the so called subsidies are either: 1) depletion and depreciation allowances that all businesses get as deductible tax expenses, 2) fuel tax exemptions for the military and farm tractors, and 3) energy assistance programs for the poor so they can turn on the heat in the winter. Even when you count all these “subsidies” the per Btu or KWh subsidy for oil is a tiny fraction that renewables get, and the oil industry is a major source of tax revenues despite the subsides, while renewable have yet to pay a net tax dollar in tax revenue.

      • georgopolis says

        @Michael Joseph

        Respectfully, I don’t understand how you can argue petroleum is not cheap. As for the point on subsidy, I’ll refer you to E Olson’s comment below.

        You need to take a deep dive into the concept of energy density to compare energy sources. You may think an oil rig is an eye sore, but the sheer amount of land you would have to dedicate to solar panels to generate the same amount of power as that oil rig is what makes those dirty fossil fuels “greener” than a solar farm. Not to mention you would have to back up that solar farm due to the intermittency problem, most likely with coal or gas.

  16. Ken Smith says

    While I agree with Ryan Glaubke that apocalyptic narratives about climate change should be resisted, I was disheartened that he endorsed one of the fundamental premises that underlie those narratives:

    “This era of stability ended roughly 150 years ago, at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere rose steeply thanks to the burning of fossil fuels, and global surface temperatures followed in lockstep. Global mean temperature already has risen approximately 1°C since 1850. To find a comparably abrupt climate shift, we’d have to venture back 130,000 years, to a time just before the Earth plunged into its most recent Ice Age. To find carbon dioxide concentrations comparable to those we observe today, we’d have to go back much further—three million years, in fact.

  17. “Almost 70% support a carbon tax.”
    If true, how was a carbon tax shot down for the second time in Washington State?
    I’ll keep my trust in scientists and engineers who know that you certainly want to try reducing CO2 emissions, but that new solutions will solve the temperature issue while perhaps even benefiting from the higher CO2 in the air (see Nathan Myhrvold or the discussion in super freakonomics)

    • E. Olson says

      David – they support carbon taxes until they realize they will actually be the ones paying for it.

  18. Ken Smith says

    Accidentally hit return too soon on the comment box. Will try again:

    While I agree with Ryan Glaubke that apocalyptic narratives about climate change should be resisted, I was disheartened that he endorsed one of the fundamental premises that underlie those narratives:

    “This era of stability ended roughly 150 years ago, at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere rose steeply thanks to the burning of fossil fuels, and global surface temperatures followed in lockstep. Global mean temperature already has risen approximately 1°C since 1850. To find a comparably abrupt climate shift, we’d have to venture back 130,000 years, to a time just before the Earth plunged into its most recent Ice Age. To find carbon dioxide concentrations comparable to those we observe today, we’d have to go back much further—three million years, in fact.”

    Glaubke accepts at face value the “era of stability” claim that wipes out the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice age. Up until the mid 1990s, historical climatologists almost universally acknowledged the reality of a 200-300 year period starting around the end of the first millennium AD in which global average temperatures surged, allowing for, (for example) the colonization of Greenland and greatly expanded ranges for European agriculture. This was followed (it was believed) by a period of colder global temperatures, when (among a variety of effects in various parts of the world) the Greenland colonies were abandoned. The “Little Ice Age,” it was held, last up until about the middle of the 19th century, and most if not all observed warming since then is a continuation of the warming trend that replaced it.

    One of the major research projects of the presently dominant “consensus” school of climate science has been to deny that the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age have any real significance in climate history, which is characterized as “an era of stability” lasting up until the industrial revolution. The implications are pivotal: virtually all “man-made climate change skeptics” dispute this dismissal and claim that the MWP and LIA were real and they were global and they were significant. Virtually all of the supporters of the present consensus view agree with Michael Mann, the creator of the original famous “hockey stick” temperature graph, and insist that the MWP and LIA represented, at most, local phenomena that, at most, were only blips on the temperature record of the past 10,000 years.

    Glaubke makes another assertion that puts him squarely in contested territory: call it the “lock step” assertion. “Carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere rose steeply thanks to the burning of fossil fuels, and global surface temperatures followed in lockstep.” This “lockstep” characterization doesn’t track actual records, at least as these records existed as late at the 1990s. There is strong indication of rapidly rising global temperatures from roughly 1900 to 1940, then strong indication of cooling temperatures from roughly 1940-1980. Toward the end of this 1940-1980 phase, the dominant publicly expressed view among climate scientists was that this cooling was real and that it was global and that portended (according to some) the likely onset of a “new ice age.” The first satellites formally dedicated to monitoring polar ice coverage started operating at or near the coldest part of this cooling phase, when arctic coverage was unusually high. After about 1980, a warming trend became apparent, and it does not seem to have reversed in two decades since,

    No one, including Glaubke, or any of the individual scientists who write for the IPCC, or the spokespersons who write the summaries of the scientist’s reports for policymakers, knows whether we will see in the next decade or two an increased warming, a steady plateau, or a cooling period. It’s very apparent though that in the past, there has NOT been a “lockstep” connection between rises in CO2 concentrations and global temperatures. CO2 concentrations have trended upwards steadily. Temperatures have shifted in phases, first rising, then decreasing, then rising.

    Finally, in the paragraph I quoted above, Glaubke makes a quick and deceptive shift from his assertions about temperatures to a statement about rising CO2. concentrations. He has assumed in his own mind (and apparently that of the reader) that CO2 concentrations are a proxy for global temperature. If one accepted the “lockstep” connection between the two, this make sense, but as I suggested, there simply is no “lockstep” connection.

    Of course, none of this means that increased CO2 concentrations don’t tend to have a warming effect. Few if any scientists who study the atmosphere would ever claim that there is no enhanced greenhouse effect from adding CO2 to the atmosphere. The disagreement is not about whether, but about how much. And that disagreement simply cannot be ignored if one’s topic is whether or not we should be pessimistic about the future in relation to climate change.

    I suggest that if Quillette wants to demonstrate what a real commitment to openness, debate, and intellectual diversity looks like, the journal should invite climate scientist Judith Curry to submit a piece. Those who have followed Curry’s career will know that she is a thorough and cautious climate scientist who has done a great deal to bring moderation to ongoing debates on this important topic. Most recently, her blog _Climate Etc._ hosted Nic Lewis’ critique of a heavily hyped _Nature_ paper purporting to prove heretofore unnoticed rapid rise of global ocean temperatures. Since Nic’s critique went up, the author of that paper has (to his great credit) backed off of his most extreme claims. That’s only one small skirmish in the generation-long struggle over interpreting the climate ad drawing out predictions about the likely fate of nature and civilization, but for balanced observers, It’s a hopeful one.

    Here’s a link to Nic’s piece that led to the backpeddling:
    https://judithcurry.com/2018/11/06/a-major-problem-with-the-resplandy-et-al-ocean-heat-uptake-paper/#more-24451

    • D-Rex says

      Great comment, nice to see someone else here that reads Judy’s blog.

      • I remember Michael Mann calling Judith a “denier” and then deny that he said it. She nailed him on it. Judith may be the clearest voice in the climate debate.

    • Michael Joseph says

      “Virtually all “man-made climate change skeptics” dispute this dismissal and claim that the MWP and LIA were real and they were global and they were significant.” What this statement really means is all your friends dispute 99% of climate scientists. Sounded good but gonna stick with the science, thanks.

      • D-Rex says

        I doubt that 99% of “climate scientists” don’t believe that the MWP and LIA were real, it’s just the cranks like Michael Mann of hockey stick infamy and others that “made them go away”.

  19. Despite being the largest economy in world the U.S. is succeeding in cutting greenhouse gases -and – all pollution in a very significant way. This while almost none of the Paris accord signatories are even making positive headway. The data show that in the U.S. CO2 per capita is at the same level it was when Harry Truman was president – and it’s still falling. That’s down 29% since 2007 alone.

    The main point is that while regulations helped it was unhindered technical innovations that have lead the way. Also, it shows that the Paris deal is largely a virtue signaling stunt. The mainstream media and perhaps the world media will continually bash the U.S. (Trump) and have no interest in running success stories that won’t further the AGW agenda.

  20. S Snell says

    I am dismayed at the degree of misinformation presented in this article. Where to begin?

    Carbon dioxide, a weak greenhouse gas (GHG), far less important than water vapor, has been grossly oversold as an agent of climate change. Since CO2 began edging up some 150 years ago there have been a minor cool spell followed by a minor warm spell, a major cool spell followed by a major warm spell, another cool spell followed by another warm spell, and finally the period of relative stasis we find ourselves in at the moment. The supposed lockstep relationship between atmospheric CO2 and temperature is a fiction. Ice core data show that the curves track each other only very loosely, separated by centuries. In recent times the CO2 and temperature curves have coincided, more or less, only for the period 1975-2000. Since 2000 CO2 has continued to trend upward while the temperature has more or less flatlined. Furthermore, historically speaking the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is near an all-time low, far below the long-term average of about 1600 ppm. If it were much lower plant life would be in serious trouble.

    The general warming trend we now experience dates back some 350 years, to when the Little Ice Age bottomed out and began to abate. In all likelihood this trend is simply the global climate rebounding to the Holocene normal from that period of anomalous cold. There is nothing special about this warm spell, either. It is the tenth such event as well as one of the mildest, since the Holocene began some 12,000 years ago.

    The current heat balance of the planet places us much closer to icehouse conditions than hothouse. For the planet to “flip” to hothouse conditions would require far more than a modest change to the value of one minor variable out of the thousands that control this thing we call climate. There are major icecaps at both ends of the planet and close to 500 million cubic miles of ocean with an average temperature of 4 degrees centigrade. To achieve hothouse conditions would require the inflow of vast amounts of heat to overcome this very large large thermal deficit, something that can only take place over geologic time scales.

    Things seem worse than they are because we have a great deal of data available for a very short period of time, and so we examine every little wrinkle in the data minutely, oblivious of the context which a larger frame of reference would provide. What is in all likelihood a short-term trend (if millions of years of history are any guide) is instead recklessly projected out to infinity, with inevitably alarming implications. But by that simplistic logic, at the current rate of population growth there will be five hundred trillion humans on the planet in only a thousand years. And as we all know, numbers don’t lie.

    This planet has been around a long, long time, and isn’t anywhere near as fragile as climate alarmists would have us believe. If it were, it would have died a long, long time ago of natural causes. Relax.

    • Concur – the alternative to “Glacial Interstitial” is “Ice Age”.
      I much prefer not having ice a mile thick where I sit.
      Long live warm!

  21. Hum. Carbon dioxide makes up approximately 0.0391% of the atmosphere today. That’s around four one hundredths of one percent. Guess one needs to create a hockey stick graph out of questionable data to get folks excited about such a minuscule portion of the atmosphere.

    • Brendan says

      jiminalaska, the published, peer-reviewed research suggests that while CO2 is a small part of our atmosphere, it’s the main driver of longer term climate due to its absorption spectra, which covers the atmospheric “window” left open by other gases in the atmosphere. The point of this article is not to deny proven science, but to challenge the very pessimistic predictions about how climate change will effect us.

      • Luther Wu says

        Au contraire, mon frere. It’s well known (albeit seldom discussed,) that dihydrogen monoxide is the most powerful atmospheric climate driver, by orders of magnitude.
        While being an exceedingly potent chemical compound which kills far more people each year than any other chemical, there is little profit to be found in raillery against the substance, so it remains unmentioned.
        Always follow the money.

        • Brendan says

          Luther, dihydrogen monoxide has a very short residence time in the atmosphere, so while you’re technically correct, that dihydrogen monoxide vapor traps the most heat over the short-term, it is the presence of CO2 that acts as the thermostat. Again, that is not my opinion, but what is currently supported by the research. If cars and industry only emitted water (erm “dihydrogen monoxide”) into the atmosphere, there would be no long-term effect on global climate.

          • Luther Wu says

            Brendan, if CO2 acts as a thermostat, then there should be data sets all over the place which show a clear correlation between atmospheric CO2 and temperature.

            There is no such data set because there is no correlation.*
            That simple fact undercuts the whole global warming agenda.

            *There are data sets which show such correlations over millennial time scales, but they all show the opposite, that CO2atm lags temperature by centuries. Temp increases first, then CO2 follows.

  22. Brendan says

    I’m optimistic about the future because we continue to understand more and more about the world we inhabit, and also, you can see the slow but steady transition away from carbon-based fuels. What irks me about climate activists is their insistence on doom and gloom, almost a fetish about how humanity will pay for the sin of pursuing a better standard of living. I tend to think that we’ve been through some very uncertain times as a species, yet we’ve managed to problem solve ourselves through crises for countless millennia, and we’ll continue to do so as long as we keep the nukes in their silos.

  23. Rob M. says

    So… you say some media pundits are hyperbolic and a scientist is pessimistic. No surprise. You state you’re an optimist and that the world can be saved. Nice.

    Is it meaningful? No.

    Using the term global-warming believers is incendiary given the amount of available evidence that actually supports global warming. Divisive words aren’t helpful but reflect a biased intent when writing. (this is more than just the inherent bias we all have). Supporters is a more accurate term.

    Saying, I would argue that my faith in our ability to triumph over the current crisis is supported by the available evidence, is nothing more than a generalization. We have too many of those in the media. One person’s triumph is not necessarily another’s victory. In fact, I would argue that humanities’ survival isn’t a triumph, but the obvious self-serving nature of humans that got us here in the first place.

    I take issue with anyone that thinks it’s a valid argument to say that science and tech can help mitigate or even save us from global warming. When humans change things, so MANY things are influenced that we can’t really know the true outcome beforehand; therefore, “solving” our global warming problem without taking into account the side effects is not a solution but nothing more than an opportunity to make money. This is at the root of our problem. Thinking we can fix stuff because we are so BAD ASS with science is seriously irresponsible, let alone a supremely arrogant position to take. You’re subconscious bias appears to reflect a capitalistic intent.

    I don’t doubt you know your science, but that doesn’t justify or support your diatribe on optimism. I’m happy for you, but please inform me of something meaningful, cause…

    You’re not helping.

    • Peter from Oz says

      @Rob M.
      You raise some very interesting points. One of the great constants of all human endeavour is the proliferation of unintended consequences that flow from our actions.
      In this case, you rightly point out that mankind’s technological hubris could lead to any mitigation causing even greater environmental problems. Yet I would add that taking steps to stop CAGW will also involve a lot of technological hubris and also lead to a lot of unintended consquences, both economic and environmental.
      So where does that leave us?
      I suggest that it leaves us where mankind has always been, building on precedent and coming up with theories to create new precedents. This ”common law” approach may not lead to the promised land, but it is always a question of trying to solve the problem in front of us and not causing anymore problems if we can help it.
      The CAGW supporters can see one big problem and simple solution. So perhaps that is why a lot of commentators find that route more convincing. But I am suspicious of such simplistic approaches. The simpler the solution the more severe and global the unintended consequences will be.
      Let me provide an example. It is well known that the unintended consequence of providing assistance to single black mothers in the Civil Rights era was the demise of the working class black family, which caused huge social problems.
      If no welfare had been provided, the results would have been far more immeidate and much worse. But what if measures had been taken at more local level to tie to ensure more stable families. In other words what if instead of trying to solve the problem of black poverty by simply throwing money at it, you tried to mitigate its effects? WOuld the result be better? I think it would.

  24. There are a few facts about this issue that have risen over the last decade that have turned me from believing we have a problem with our carbon dioxide production to being confident that we don’t.
    The assumed magnitude the greenhouse effect is just that – an assumption based on the idea that there was no other mechanism to account for the Earth’s current surface temperatures, which are definitely well above those we would have without an atmosphere. Initially this was a theoretical conclusion, but now we have the moon is an example.
    This assumption has been shown to be wrong – also using the moon as an empirical example. Diurnal temperature smoothing by the rock surface of the moon, and our atmosphere on Earth, causes a temperature rise easily able to account for current temperatures. This is a simple process that is well analysed and reported in the scientific literature. It’s undergraduate level physics readily modelled in a spreadsheet.
    The basis for assuming the greenhouse effect was the idea that water vapour and CO2 “trap” heat in the lower atmosphere. They do absorb thermal radiation from the surface but it is transferred to the upper troposphere fast enough to cause no significant heating.
    I have summarised these ideas, with references, in my 2017 article Radiative Delay In Context that can be found in my archive brindabella.id.au/climarc/

    In short, carbon dioxide plays no significant role in the Earth’s temperature. As others here have pointed out, it is a central nutrient for all carbon based life.

  25. The advocates of CAGW rarely mention positive effects.
    Photosynthesis – Plants/Plankton turning Sunlight/CO2/H2O into Food/O2; neither animal nor blade of grass would exist, absent CO2. It helps plants resist drought/damage/disease, extends growing seasons & lets plants move higher in altitude & Latitudes; just as it shrinks deserts, plants using H2O more efficiently. As CO2 levels rise, photosynthesis flourishes & plants take in more CO2, sparking more growth, photosynthesis & CO2 uptake. Rising temperatures also extend growing seasons, help babies survive, increase net rainfall & save lives.

  26. Jeffrey Joe Miller says

    I notice that the author left out a considerable amount of of relevant information as he blithely paraded his naivety and “faith” in front of the world.

    160k species are going extinct annually with 2/3 of all species projected to be extinct by the end of this century. IMO, this is a very weak estimate given that 58% of all vertebrae species, 81% of freshwater fish, 76% of the global insect population, and 90% of ocean biomass are already extinct. Oh, and 1/6 of all tree species are at high risk of extinction by the end of this century also. In just 80ish years.

    At the same exact time that this cataclysm is barreling down on us like a speeding Mack truck, human population is projected to increase from 7.6 billion to 9.5 billion in just 40ish years and to 13 billion in just … wait for it … 80ish years.

    BTW, that’s a 10.5 BILLION increase in human impact on Earth’s systems since 1950 (less than 70 years).

    While humanity’s destructive effects of this pathologically runaway breeding takes a savage toll on society, the natural world, and even human DNA … global temps are projected to increase by 3 degrees by the end of this century. We’ve missed 1.5 entirely and the new goal of holding it at 2.0 degrees is as unrealistic as 1.5 was and is also slipping away like a greased snake. The new goal is limiting heat increase to 3 degrees … and even that isn’t realistic.

    Unfortunately, 3 degrees is only one degree from the point that climate scientists project that a phenomenon known as ‘hothouse climate’ will likely emerge … that is, rapid spiraling temp increase (8-20 degrees or higher) accompanied by an exponential increase in catastrophic weather events and an even faster acceleration of species extinction (noting the scary extinction rates described above). At around a 4 degree increase, the converging factors of warming can go runaway (if you think an 8-20 degree warming is crazy-talk … then take note that around 9,600 BCE, temps increased by around 21 degrees F. over a 1500 year period, with half of this increase taking place in just 15 years, resulting in mass global extinction and overall disordering of life).

    The worst case scenario … 3 degrees … is now the best hoped for scenario. No rational person is climbing aboard the author’s bubbly, wild-eyed optimism train … the little train that thought it could but couldn’t. IMO, modern humans won’t successfully mitigate the climate cataclysm that is rapidly bearing down on us … and they also won’t preparatively adapt to the destructive tolls that will inevitably be, sooner than later, are already but not acknowledged, imposed on an dangerously over-extended, insanely overpopulated, pathologically dissociated, extremely fragile civilization.

    It should already be obvious that the ruling class will meet any effort to put in place ‘critical limits’ that threaten quarterly profit in their 10, 20 and 30 year growth projections with commensurate effort to protect their revenue streams and development potential … and we have just 12 years to bring down the entire system that they are so deeply financially entrenched in and that they will defend with whatever it takes.

    “As things stand, if you add up all the things that the 190-plus countries have committed to do as part of that Paris deal, global temperatures will probably go well above 3C.”

    IwAR2LsLZPTm5DnJbZQls_Gl3CUnTf8rz1PxBWpWPcMM2PsqpHWMt0P8ikQ0g

    • Luther Wu says

      What percentage of the human population must die to fulfill your dream? “…we have just 12 years to bring down the entire system…”

      • jimhaz says

        Everyone but the 1% must partly die – stuck in tiny units, eating vat grown mush, with no natural beauty left to inspire.

        Mind you, the 1% will die soon enough – because the masses will surely kill them, regardless of the protected areas, AI robots and media propaganda they will employ.

    • D-Rex says

      “160k species are going extinct annually with 2/3 of all species projected to be extinct by the end of this century. IMO, this is a very weak estimate given that 58% of all vertebrae species, 81% of freshwater fish, 76% of the global insect population, and 90% of ocean biomass are already extinct. Oh, and 1/6 of all tree species are at high risk of extinction by the end of this century also. In just 80ish years. ”

      Yeah right, what children’s story book did you get these stats from? Plus, there is literally NO chance of any sort of runaway warming while we are still in the middle of an ICE AGE!

      • Reality Checker says

        NOT ONE of the predictions of Malthus, Erlich, or Gore & friends have come true–NOT ONE. Why do people persist in promoting this hysterical belief (and that’s all that it is–“belief”) in The End of the World? Do they just enjoy their chattering teeth beneath the sheets at night, or are they just horrified at their own humanity and wish to destry it?

        There IS no “population bomb,” or “6th great extinction,” or “catastrophic sea level rise” on the horizon. Take away GIGO straight-line computer modeling, and look at the observed reality–this stuff simply isn’t there PROVIDED the full context is there for background. Love the way these dot-orgs. all pretend the climate was unchanging before we got here, species never went extinct naturally, and everyone and everything today is in unprecedented PERIL which can be solved only by writing more checks to said dot-orgs.

        When you see the CONTEXT, the bogeyman disappears–an embarassed “Oh!” shuts the mouth of even the most strident True Believer pretty quickly.

    • Russell Seitz says

      What an optimist Mr. Miller is !

      “160k species are going extinct annually with 2/3 of all species projected to be extinct by the end of this century.”

      Surely he recalls the 1992 best-seller The Earth In The Balance, in which former next President Gore set forth a graph showing the exponential increase in the annual rate of extinctions over the course of human history, a curve rising to become a dead vertical line in the year 2000.

      Mathematics has never been his strongest suit, but when it was noted in The Skeptical Inquirer that an infinite rate of extinction in 2000 meant the end of all life before Inauguration Day 2001, Al quietly called his publisher and had the innumerate graph redacted from further printings.

      Alas , that left some hundreds of thousands of copies intact and they continue to inform the discourse of Klein’s generation.

      Glaubke’s moderation seem scientifically well informed, in that the thermal inertia of the climate system rivals the scale of human insults to its equilbrium- those who waxed most eloquenly apocalyptic on Earth Day 1970, or Capitol Hill in the hot summer of 1988, have since hedged their bets and locked in their royalties by publishing more elastic titles like
      ” Storms of My Grandchildren”

      Plus ca change-

      https://adamant.typepad.com/seitz/a_war_against_fire/

    • johno says

      Fact without context. In pre AGW times, what was the species extinction rate?

      The wooly mammoth and sabertooth tiger became extinct due to climate change, long before humans started burning fossil fuel on an industrial scale.

      I’m not saying we don’t have an issue… just that cherry picking isn’t the way to get there.

  27. Luke Lea says

    Glaubke was being as optimistic as it is possible to be and still have a future in his chosen field.

  28. Mark Thomason says

    There are more reasonable divisions. For one example, is global warming somehow not a problem if it is not entirely caused by human activity? What percentage of natural causation makes it acceptable? 10%? 90%? No matter the proportions, it isn’t acceptable.

    If warming is happening, then whatever the cause we must do something about it. Human causation then becomes the easy answer — just do less of something and the problem will all go away. It seems clear that it is happening, has happened already, and more is on the way.

    Worse, it seems likely that no sufficient reduction of human causes is likely, under any theory, to prevent a substantial rise. We’ve already had meaningful rise, and there is no talk of reversing that.

    So what do we do then? That would be pretty much the same things as would be needed in the case of a larger fraction of natural causation. We still shouldn’t accept living in an overheated world.

    So there is a need to explore what can be done to fix this. Not limit it, but fix it. It isn’t so easy as someone else burns less oil or coal, or driving an electric car. A lot more must be done. We don’t really even talk about that, much less think of doing it.

  29. Luke Lea says

    The physicist Amory Lovins once proposed the notion of a soft energy path, by which he meant using less energy to achieve the same physical result. This was back in the 1970’s so he was naturally thinking about the possibility of designing more energy efficient household appliances. In Notes Towards a New Way of Life in America this approach is generalized to the nth degree by imagining a whole new way of life that would become possible if there were factories in the countryside run on part-time jobs:
    https://www.amazon.com/Notes-Towards-New-Life-America-ebook/dp/B076J9D9C5/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1513548423&sr=1-1

    • E. Olson says

      Luke – what you describe leads to rebound effect (or Jevon’s paradox) as efficiency gains lead to more consumption that all or partly offset the efficiency gains. Cars, planes, appliances, manufacturing processes, etc. are all 50% more efficient (or better) than equivalents of 50 years ago, but since we drive more, fly more, have more and larger appliances, and manufacture more stuff our per capita energy consumption has dropped little or nothing.

  30. Not only is the greenhouse effect insignificant as I stated above, the Earth has a thermostat that cuts in dramatically for water surfaces approaching 30˚C. This is clearly evident in long-term ice core data, and supported by satellite measurements of atmospheric water column. Major temperature rises are not going to happen.
    Have you ever scalded your feet in a puddle?
    Details in my Energy and Atmosphere article: http://brindabella.id.au/climarc
    We are entering a cold period similar the the Little Ice Age.

    I’m not just making this up or quoting others. I’ve done the research, documented it, and defended it in public debate.

    • jimhaz says

      That is only partly true. There is no magic thermostat, there are only interactions between parts, and we are changing the parts and those interactions dramatically.

      Yes, the earth may re-adjust – but only once humans are made into some form of minimal impact.

  31. George Duprey says

    I just did a search of this website for “animal” and “reef”… Two hits on animal, zero on animals and zero on reef and two on fish. Most of the comments were completely centered on humans and plants. Interesting that the animal and sea life worlds must not merit any attention. At least it’s consistent with the extinction of so many animal species in recent years.

    • Reality Checker says

      Most of the species that have gone extinct have been small in numbers and confined to micro-environments like offshore islands. What people leave out is the context that in Nature species are ALWAYS arising, always going extinct, and this has been ever thus. One sneaky way that propagandists inflate this is by removing the natural background extinction context, and then elevating obscure sub-genus groups to full-fledged “species” status based on geographical range even when they are genetically identical to populations in no jeopardy whatsoever.

      The bottom line is we need to stop destroying sensitive habitats. But in order for this to progress, places like sub-Saharan Africa need stable governments, growing economies brought about by First World investment and the availability of affordable energy which will elevate the population from the kind of subsistence-level poverty that causes habitat destruction in the first place.

      “Global warming” has nothing whatsoever to do with this, a separate issue entirely. If anything, the idiocy of the CAGW believers is actively preventing the necessary progress.

  32. Stephanie says

    More reasonable a perspective than is typical of someone processed by the university industry, but some faulty assumptions remain. After describing a much nicer climate than we currently have, the author assumes that this climate would be a bad thing.

    It is not only possible to move a city inland, it would be an excellent opportunity to implement better urban planning. Coastal cities tend to be old, dirty, and hopelessly inadequate for the population growth expected. Their slow, eventual drowning will be a blessing. As will the thousands of square kilometres of habitable land that will open up in northern Canada, Siberia, Antarctica, and Greenland. I’m baffled by how this isn’t fantastic news. Frankly, we should be burning fossil fuels faster.

    • jimhaz says

      You sound like a plague virus, that once it drains up all the available chemical sustenance sources, it moves on to another body, leaving the used up one to whither and die.

  33. Fickle Pickle says

    A quote from a unique moral philosopher who was acutely aware of the human situation and the direction in which we are heading.It is from a spontaneously given talk in 1995.

    There have always been insane human beings, but, in earlier times, they were not as powerful as they have become in this dark time. It is only in this dark time that human beings have become capable of producing effects that can change even global weather patterns,, and global ecological patterns of all kinds. But human beings have always been insane in the domain of politics, for example.For countless centuries, wherever human beings, in their in their collective action have been capable of influencing events, there has been insanity and conflict. But now, in its motion into the 21st century, the collective insanity of mankind is influencing even the larger world wide picture of human natural circumstance. And THIS MUST BE CHANGED – or there is going to be a terrible, horrific calamity on Earth!. Such a calamity is not yet inevitable, but it WILL occur if there is not a fundamental transformation of mankind – in its heart and mind, and in its endeavors. A FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTENING of the world-process must occur, because mankind is now having a PROFOUNDLY NEGATIVE effect on the human world-process, and even on the larger natural domain of the world.

    Nearly 25 years later the human situation described above has only gotten worse, by many degrees.

    From a 2008 spontaneously given talk.

    Human beings have interfered with cosmic Nature and are paying the price – are about to pay a terrible price if they do not reverse this trend, if they do not understand this lesson.Effectively a revolution is required in the human world to prevent human beings from destroying the human race and the Earth itself.

    • Reality Checker says

      Where does this “profoundly negative” effect rear its head, might I ask? In a hundred years the life expectancy across much of the world has increased from age 49 to the low 80’s. Poverty has fallen since 1985 by over 40%. A far greater percentage of the world’s people than ever in history has access (taken for granted by most) to clean water, unpolluted air, and virtually unlimited food.
      Even the lower middle class can now travel the world by air, also taken for granted, and three clicks will bring goods from the entire world to one’s doorstep in 48 hours. The developing world will catch up to these standards within a decade or so, far faster than it took the West.

      Sometimes I think pessimists are just hoping the world conforms to their depressive’s outlook.

  34. Bob Balestri says

    “rendered inhabitable”? It is always a good idea to have someone else read what you write, preferably someone with a better vocabulary than oneself. But if you are, then a good editor will advance you career admirably.

  35. peterschaeffer says

    “At the current pace of innovation in solar cell efficiency and battery storage capacity—as well as other advances documented in regard to wind, geothermal and hydroelectric power—most or all newly installed major clean-energy infrastructure will be cheaper than fossil fuel power sources by 2020.”

    It is quite possible that solar cell efficiency and wind power are advancing quickly. However, geothermal and hydroelectric power are not. These (geothermal and hydro) are old technologies that have not changed much in 100 years. The turbines that went into Hoover Dam are quite similar to the turbines being installed (in other countries) now. Efficiency has barely changed in 100 years (well over 90% when Hoover Dam was built).

    The same is true for geothermal. There are only a handful of viable geothermal sites in the world. Many are already fully exploited.

    Battery technology has improved significantly since 1900. However, there have really only been two major advances. Nickel–metal hydride batteries were introduced around 1990 and Lithium-ion batteries came a few years later. Currently, electric batteries cost around $190/kWh. The average price of power in the USA is around $0.12/kWh. In other words, batteries are still massively too expensive for seasonal power storage (but more plausible for daily power storage).

  36. Pingback: Why I Don’t Care about SR15 and the End of the World | The Itinerant Mind

  37. Sneed Urn says

    The issues of technology are somewhat beside the point. Politics and economics are what drive policy, not sensible science. Humanity as a whole has barely more awareness of itself as a species than a bacterial species does. We can’t control our population, we treat our fellow members abominably, we have little to no appreciation nor apprehension of our environment and our place in it.

    Referring to history and pre-history, civilizations are extinguished by environmental changes. That is not disputable in a reasonable way. it appears that climate changes are coming that are significant enough to extinguish the current world order. Exactly how is not really predictable yet (with psychohistory in its fetal state.) There is an outside chance that some technological development Could occur that would work within our current political-economic thralldom And preserve our current world order and allow it to evolve to another relatively steady state without calamity. One such development might be a radically new, clean and order of magnitude larger energy source than our current use of fossil fuels. Small-ish nuclear fusion generators might be such a breakthrough. Some hyper-efficient hydrogen generating process might be one. Or simply really cheap to implement large scale wet batteries and reliable perskovite solar cells. That extra energy would be necessary for the adaptations to changes in fresh water distribution, which is at root a major source of life and death of cultures and civilizations. Again, it could be done now, with what we have right now, but we are insufficiently developed as a species to make it so.

    WE COULD…blah blah blah. What WE? Another look at where WE are now also points to a very different very darker outcome for all but the .01% financial elite, who are moving toward and are nearly in a position to survive and thrive in a radically altered world in which 95% or more of humanity dies. The climate change question, action and inaction, could really be about who controls the robots.

  38. Ken A. says

    The sun will come out tomorrow, as the song says, and all the apparent sorrow and worry of our world shall pass away as we wake from this fever dream of despair into the dawn of a new light and visions of dancing pink unicorns will fill the skies of our imaginations and..

    OK, the unicorns were a stretch..but you get the basic idea..Things are going to be Grrrreat…

  39. All these arguments ignore the one “constant variable” of population. The models of the world project the consequences of the inalienable right to breed. The challenges have been met through science and technology so far, but solutions can only extend to the point resources are applied.

    Right now, models of Africa’s population show them dwarfing the developed countries. This is independent of any projected changes in climate. I think we need to reconsider the “third rail” aspects of our thinking on civilization. What “givens” are we swallowing? Which cultures aggravate problems? Are they immutable? What could vector fewer, diminishing problems?

  40. Apneaman says

    The Paul Ehrlich prediction is the very same line a million climate deniers use.

    I like to refer to it as the ‘failed prediction fallacy’ since it proves nothing.

    So what you are saying is because it did not happen on the date he predicted, it can’t?

    The only thing failed predictions prove is that humans make too many prediction. Billions per day as a species I imagine.

    If that is the best argument you can come up with then I fear for your career as a scientist.

    Speaking of failed prediction, how about the myriad of climate papers that got the timing wrong? I cannot even count the number of climate papers in the last decade that include the phrase “faster than previously expected”.

    You should go on a road trip to Paradise California and tell them newly homeless folks to stop being such hyperbolic fatalists.

    • Jay Salhi says

      “You should go on a road trip to Paradise California and tell them newly homeless folks to stop being such hyperbolic fatalists.”

      Yes, because human-made global warming is the only possible explanation for those fires. Irresponsible land use could not possibly have anything to do with it. Nor could mother nature.

  41. When I see people trying to “save” the planet by covering it with industrial wind turbines (rural skyscrapers) I find little to be optimistic about, either for nature itself or a growth-based economy that won’t reign itself in. It’s a case of blight for naught when you do the hard math.

    The energy density of those towering machines is feeble compared to the fossil fuels needed to build them. A relatively tiny generator surrounded by that much mass defies logical standards for efficiency. Large wind turbines aren’t merely ugly, they’re futile (except for those who rake in subsidies). Data from Germany’s Energiewende mandate shows that they barely reduce carbon emissions when all factors are totaled.

    With over 340,000 installed worldwide, open space, scenery and flying wildlife (esp. bats) has taken a serious hit for little environmental gain. Keep in mind that some people want to build 10 times what we see today. Putting it offshore is costlier and rarely hides the blight.

    • That is absolute nonsense. The efficiency of wind turbines is increasing exponentially to the point that wind power is cheaper per kWH than coal and natural gas. As for birds. Around 7000 birds were killed by windfarms in America in contrast to the 10s of millions killed by fossil fuel plants. (Wind farms are hardly the bird slayers they’re made out to be—here’s why June 16, 2017 by Simon Chapman).

  42. Jay Salhi says

    “Notwithstanding Donald Trump’s rejection of the Paris Agreement, the world is making progress in reducing carbon emissions—in part due to mobilization on the part of governors, premiers, mayors, business leaders and the general public. In the United States, in particular, the most recent annualized data shows a 2.6% reduction in carbon intensity (a measure of the quantity of carbon required per unit of economic output).”

    The mobilization of political leaders has nothing to do with it. Technological innovation is what matters. In this case, the switch from coal to natural gas driven by advances in fracking techniques.

  43. CO2 has not been correlated very well with temperature rise. The warming from 1910-1940 is amazingly similar to 1980-2000. What caused the earlier warming? No one knows. Carbon dioxide increased dramatically from 2000 to 2018 with very little temperature increase.
    These dramatic, and dire predictions haven’t come true and trends in sea level rise are truly unremarkable. This ‘we have 12 years’ is idiotic and the doomers repeat this every couple years.
    Hansen said Manhattan would be inundated by now , the artic is supposed to be ice free, all the polar bears gone, malaria endemic, no snow fall in England….
    It goes on and on.

  44. Hope Full says

    When our leaders deny the climate science and talk about raking forest to prevent catastrophic fires then there is little reason to be an optimist. BTW, quoting some Harvard psychology prof doesn’t sway.

  45. RealityChecker-Two says

    I do like the things I see “Reality checker” and others posting. One does wonder what keeps this fatalist “climate”, “global warming” bandwagon going but in this day of communicating at will it is no surprise. There will be a day of reckoning that has recently been pushed further into the future due to the development of improved ways of extracting oil and gas from the Earth. By the time those oil and gas resources are depleted, there had better be another concentrated energy source developed or it will be a sad day on the Earth for billions of people.

  46. Lost in Heaven says

    Quillette has a generally rational community of commenters, but the amount of Trump supporters, pseudoskeptics and conservatives here undercuts the optimism this article argues for. A great deal of readers here voted for a man who doesn’t believe in climate change at all, who represents a party that is paid off by the Kochs and the Wilks and Mercers who knowingly spread disinformation about this crisis, who vote indiscriminately for anyone with an R after their name because “fighting the essjaydubayas” is a higher priority than staving off an extinction level event. I hate to say it, but I think your optimism is misguided. Pure, despondent pessimism is all that makes sense when surrounded by the stupidest, most irrationally biased subhumans in the country.

    • Russell Seitz says

      Be of good courage- We have it on the authority of a fellow with a capital D after his name , former Vice President Gore, that “the stupidest, most irrationally biased subhumans in the country.”
      suffered extinction 18 years ago.

      Along with everyone else and all other species besides- the rate of extinction graphed in his best-seller, The Earth In The Balance , goes to infinity in the year 2000, and who would be so brash as to question the numeracy of a Nobel laureate?

  47. Foyle says

    Reasons for pessimism:

    The only true existential threat humans face is the likely now inevitable coming of super-intelligent AI (probably within our lives) as affordable computer systems like Googles tensor processing ‘pods’ costing a few million dollars have in 2018 reached approximate computational power parity with the human brain making it possible for the rapidly expanding pool of researchers to start working on developing artificial general intelligence. Given high value of AI the hardware will continue to get faster and cheaper, and the number of active researchers grow until we produce our intellectual replacements.

    Climate change concerns are a tribal sociopolitical fad that will fade in medium term as reality continues to fail to deliver on the Millenialist claims. 0.3°C/Century upper ocean warming that ultimately limits atmospheric warming + only ~1mm/year of icecap melt, not accelerating just doesn’t make for a convincing apocalypse.

  48. Don_in_Odessa says

    The anthropogenic argument is irrelevant. Anyone who takes a dump in their own bed is either sick or an idiot.

  49. johno says

    Unfortunately, the climate situation has become a political agenda vehicle, so any sort of accurate view is long gone.

    Look at it this way: how do you solve CO2 production? Burn less fossil fuel. Easy enough… only the political types have transformed this into: believe what I say. I can think of several reasons to curtail fossil fuel usage that have nothing to do with believing a theory. To wit:

    Balance of payments… less fossil fuel means less of your country’s hard currency going overseas.

    Not funding terrorism… it’s no secret that the ME oil countries buy off the terrorist groups with cash. That’s why the ME terrorists attack western targets, and not the dictators that mismanage their countries.

    Fewer wars… In the last 30 years, the majority of the major armed conflicts involved the oil supply. If our economies weren’t so dependent on the most politically unstable region on earth, we wouldn’t be sending our finest citizens off to die in those places.

    Those are reasons that appeal to anyone of any political persuasion. Yet, the proponents of AGW don’t use those to find common ground for support. Instead, it’s the usual cherry picked figures that say – believe me and my thoughts on a theory.

    So… can we solve this quickly? Right now, our best bet is the all electric vehicle, that can be fueled from a variety of sources, and the fueling infrastructure is already in place. Build an all electric vehicle with a 500 mile range, for under USD$25k, and the world will buy it. Not because they buy into an AGW theory that isn’t fully proven, but because it’s a better deal… costs a lot less to operate and maintain. It is within our ability to do this, within the next few years. Global supply of lithium isn’t an issue, partially because S America is rich in lithium, and partially because other battery technologies exist.

    Yes, many electric power plants burn fossil fuel today. However, one big plant is far more efficient than the 250,000 small gasoline engines it can replace, and it’s far easier to control the CO2 output from that one plant. Still a net gain, and with a lot of all electric cars on the road, it’s very easy to change over to greener sources of electricity when large scale implementation becomes practical.

    Yet, the discussion isn’t about practical solutions. It’s about global warming theory. We don’t need global warming theory. We have a lot of very good reasons to curtail fossil fuel usage already.

    Solve the problem, without the political sales pitch.

  50. “Remember that in the 1980s, the world was seized with anxiety over the fate of the Ozone Layer—an atmospheric region that absorbs ultraviolet solar radiation. But thanks to the restrictions placed on ozone-destroying chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) implemented in the 1989 Montreal Protocol, the ozone crisis is over, and the hole in the Ozone Layer continues to close to this day. ”

    You mean when fear mongering prompted massive sweeping regulations? But theres no need to make a fuss climate change now, right? I mean companies will just fix it themselves. Stop making a fuss and it will go away.

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