Economy

Want the planet to survive? Time to go rogue…

The solution will not be televised…

With 36.1% of the civilian labor force unemployed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy in neutral since 2007, and the national debt threatening to swallow us all in a spiraling vortex of compound interest, do we really need to talk about global warming right now? That depends on whether we want life to exist on this planet’s surface in 100 years.

The Permian mass extinction 250 million years ago was caused by major volcanic activity that killed over 95% of all living species due to a runaway greenhouse effect marked by a 6 degrees Celsius rise in average temperature on Earth’s surface. Only one species of large land animal was left alive. By contrast, a 0.74 degrees Celsius increase has already happened in the 20th century, with a further 1.5 to 1.9 degrees warming inevitable in the 21st century (it takes a while for CO2 to dissipate) and 3.4 to 6.1 degrees warming possible if our combustion and deforestation habits continue unchecked.

Right now, global warming is being mitigated by the oceans, which are absorbing tons of carbon dioxide, becoming warmer, more acidic, and increasingly de-oxygenated. Do you like shellfish? Enjoy them now, because they will be extinct, possibly within your lifetime, without a major reduction in CO2 levels, which has made the ocean 30% more acidic since the Industrial Revolution. 85% of the world’s oyster reefs have already been lost.

The Kyoto Protocol, which has been ratified by 192 countries, including everyone except the United States, calls for a 5% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the 1990 level. Instead, emissions are growing at a faster rate than ever, reaching 30.6 Gigatonnes (billion metric tons) in 2010, up 5.5% from the previous year. The 11 hottest years on record occurred in the last 12 years. The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are melting faster than predicted. At the current rate they will be completely gone in 30-40 years.

Global food production is expected to fall by 20% to 40% as the countries that make up 2/3 of the world’s food output continue to suffer years and even decades of drought conditions. China is suffering the worst drought conditions in 50 years, Australia the worst in 117 years, California the worst on record, Texas the worst in 90 years, Argentina in 50 years, Uruguay in decades. By 2025 Africa will be unable to feed 75% of its people.

What’s stopping us from ending the CO2 industry? Selfishness, laziness, and a catatonic stasis brought about by TV and climate control. We buy the gasoline, natural gas, and coal fired electricity because it’s cheap and provides instant gratification. The money we spend fuels misinformation campaigns from the Cato Institute, Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks. The voters get bad intelligence. The Tea Party gets elected to stop the government from shifting our energy supply away from CO2 emission. It’s our own fault.

What can we do? Go rogue. If we cultivate our own gardens, corporate farms won’t pollute our air with carbon dioxide and methane. If we fix our own bicycles, oil tankers and cargo containers will not smog our atmosphere by land or by sea. When the demand for oil goes down, the price will go down, and the profits will go down, too. Eventually there will no longer be hundreds of millions of dollars pouring into Washington, lobbying to keep the environment defenseless for the pillaging.

Being right about global warming is a moot point if we’re all dead. Let’s make a world where catastrophic climate change is not real. Let’s plant trees, and keep the thermostat low this winter. Let’s give each other homemade presents instead of shiny plastic shipped from China. When the politicians talk about freedom, let’s exercise that freedom and turn off the TV. Every country has the government it deserves. If our government sucks, let’s deserve a better one.

11 replies »

  1. I am going to disagree slightly. The scaremongering about the end of life on Earth comes across as well…scaremongering. Civilization will end (at least as we conceive it), but bacteria will continue to reign supreme as they always have.

    second. Going offline entirely is counter productive. You have to rub it in their noses, or they won’t even know they are supposed to learn. Be calm and strong, not smug.

  2. I’m probably older then the rest of your commenters, but our life is based on carbon. We are mostly a carbon based world. And our universe is largely a carbon based universe, all created out of star destruction. We create other forms of carbon, largely out of ingestion of carbon, we excreate carbon excesses. So how do we reduce our consumption of carbon, how do we limit the output of our carbon. Without the going back to the stone age, or a one world system of dictatorships, and keep our improvements to “society” or living standards, or paying for “offsets” that just go to some “overlord” for priviledge? Remember carbon is not all bad, just as other “chemicals” are neither good or bad.

  3. The CO2 excess and the acidity in the oceans is from underwater geological and volcanic activity, NOT from excess atmospheric CO2. This is easily discerned from the ongoing underwater activity, and has been assessed by competent scientists. Human CO2 production is marginal, and is being used as an excuse for political activity. CO2 concentrations have been way larger in the geological past … this is nothing. Science is too primitive to be able to assess large-scale planetary situations at this time in the development of the civilization – perhaps in 300 years, when they have enough information.

    • Val, you’ve made three errors.

      First, ocean acidification due to higher CO2 is from human activity, not underwater volcanism. Scientists know this from several different approaches – conservation of matter and estimates of volcanism. The amount of CO2 in the air has risen at approximately half the rate that humanity’s burning of fossil fuels has emitted it, so the other half must have gone somewhere. The only sink large enough to have absorbed that excess carbon is the ocean. The ocean has acidified due to excess CO2, and there’s nowhere else that humanity-generated CO2 could go, so the excess CO2 in the ocean is a result of humanity-generated CO2. Simple deductive reasoning. In addition, while volcanism has in the geologic past raised CO2, the level of volcanism required to do that is something on the order of a the Siberian Traps, which are lava flows that cover about 2 million square km and may have been the driving force behind a mass extinction. Scientists estimate that it lasted about a million years – nothing of that scale is happening anywhere on the Earth today, on the surface or underwater.

      Second, fossil fuel CO2 is a small percent of the amount of CO2 circulating around in the natural world, but it represents nearly all CO2 added since the industrial revolution. Think of it this way: assume your bank account has $280 in it – you pay your bills annually to the tune of $280, and you earn from your job $280 every year. So your bank account is in balance – not gaining or losing money, holding stable at $280. Then you get a small raise, say $1 per year, but your bills don’t change. After 110 years, you have $390 in your account. That’s essentially what’s happening with CO2 in the atmosphere – it was stable at 280 ppm before the industrial revolution, but since then human activity (mostly burning fossil fuels, but also land use changes and agriculture) has added a small amount of CO2 every year. Of course, extra money is good while extra CO2 is not.

      Third, your higher CO2 concentrations in the past contains two problems – it neglects that a lot of other things were different in the past too, like the Sun was cooler, and it implies an argument that is fallacious – just because something happened in the past doesn’t mean it will happen in the future. That’s the starting point of scientific investigation, not the end point. To use a car analogy, it’s scientific to assume that every time you step on the brake, the car will slow down. But if one day you step on the brake and the car accelerates instead, then it would be unscientific to say “my car isn’t accelerating, it’s slowing down” just because your car should be slowing down. Clearly something changed in your car to change how it responded to your foot, and you better figure it out before you have an accident. Or, to put it into market terms, past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

  4. The theory of anthropogenic global warming is a fraud. There is no reliable evidence that it is actually occurring. Instead, historical data has been selected, filtered and massaged to create an illusion that suits an agenda, then further distorted by computer models coded to produce desired results by so-called ‘climate scientists’ whose funding depends on going along with the agenda. Political and financial elites are driving this agenda to gain political power, impose crippling taxes and debts, and establish a ‘new world order’ in the form of a globalist one world government. They’ve co-opted the left by calling this environmentalism.

    Here’s a recent debate in Australia: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ma6cnPLcrtA

    In other videos also available on YouTube, Christopher Monckton recounts the history of the global warming schemers and their falsifications and fraudulent IPCC reports.

    The global warming fearmongers rely on the innumeracy of the general population to push this fairy tale. (Innumeracy is like illiteracy but instead of inability to read it means the inability to grasp numerical facts.) They use this to scare people, sayng that a CO2 level of 350ppm (parts per million) is a concern, claiming that CO2 traps heat and a little more is dangerous. But 350ppm is just 0.035 of 1 percent. (Use a calculator and check – divide 350 by 1,000,000 then multiply the result by 100 to get percent.) The present CO2 level would have to rise to more than 28 times its current concentration to reach even 1 percent of Earth’s atmosphere. And this is supposed to be driving catastrophic climate change?

    Water vapor is a much more potent greenhouse gas, and its levels vary in a range of about two to three orders of magnitude higher than CO2 levels. If they actually wanted to address a real greenhouse gas, the global warmists would try to convince us to limit water vapor in the air! But they can’t do that because we all need water to live, and they’d have to try to stop the rain. So instead they go after CO2 because only plants need CO2 to live and they don’t vote.

    Preventing real pollution – radioactive particles and gasses (Fukushima, anyone?), aerosols and toxic chemicals – is far more urgently needed to save the environment from man and his degradation of the Earth. Slowing, and slowly reversing, the rate of human population growth is also worth doing, in order to preserve the diversity and viability of other species on Earth, not to mention improving human quality of life. Development of sustainable resource use and agriculture will also be necessary, if we are to avoid mass starvation and pandemic diseases in the future. More sustainable and wiser patterns of international finance, manufacturing and distribution will be needed too, if we intend to avoid resource and trade wars in this century. In the face of all these more pressing needs, worrying about CO2 levels is just a distraction.

    • Like Val before you, you’ve got a lot of your facts mixed up, Robert.

      Most of the atmosphere is composed of gases that do not trap heat (infrared radiation) and thus have little to no impact on the Earth’s temperature. In fact, all greenhouse gases (those gases that do trap heat) combined represent less than 1% of the Earth’s atmosphere. The three most important greenhouse gases are, in order, water vapor, CO2, and methane. Water vapor is about 0.4% (or 4000 ppm) of the atmosphere, CO2 is 390 ppm, and methane is about 1.8 ppm. That means CO2 is about 9% of all the greenhouse gases, so it has a significant impact.

      The reason why CO2 matters more than water vapor comes down to a question of forcing vs. feedback. A “forcing” is something that drives the climate system while a feedback is something that responds to how the climate system is being driven. In the Earth’s climate system, something that persists for years or longer generally qualifies as a forcing element while something that has a short-term effect (days, weeks, or months) generally qualifies as a feedback element. Water vapor responds so fast to local and global changes in temperature that it is a feedback, not a forcing. CO2, when added to the atmosphere, responds over years, centuries, and millennia, and so it is largely a forcing, not a feedback (although the fastest CO2 responses are also feedbacks).

      As far as Monckton’s pseudoscience is concerned, I recommend Monckton Myths at SkepticalScience for a list of all the many ways he’s serially wrong (and better yet, makes arguments that are mutually exclusive, trusting that his audience is naive enough to miss the inconsistencies). Monckton’s credibility is laughable, as S&R’s posts about Monckton show.

      I agree with you that climate disruption is pushing aside too many other environmental issues. But everything is interconnected, and so addressing clean air and clean water helps address climate disruption, and addressing climate disruption helps address pollution, dirty energy sources, etc.

  5. Good piece kid. Lot of thought and intelligence behind it. Don’t listen to the critical. “If man was meant to fly………….” Keep it up!