Is Davos over yet?

Is it safe to turn on our TVs without being scolded by formerly important environmentalists like old Al Gore or creepy young climate warriors like Greta Thunberg?

(1) comment


Mr. Reagan: Let us start with what we know and not what we say, think, heard, or believe. We know that burning ever-increasing amounts of fossil fuels, certain adverse land practices and perverse dietary preferences have caused an increased deposition of greenhouse gases such as CO2, methane and others into our atmosphere which, during the last 150 years, are a quantum leap above the natural carbon cycle which has persisted over time. These increases are not only larger but are occurring far faster than any natural phenomenon can possibly explain because we track the natural cycle quite accurately over time and are able to contrast the two. You right about one thing: The projections of dire outcomes have not materialized over time. They are consistently worse, much worse in some cases. These facts are verifiable.

The result of this dreadful amalgam is a steadily increasing level of radiative forcing which is causing the retention of heat in the earth’s atmosphere; hence, “global warming”, some large part of which has been absorbed by the oceans (which themselves are declining in their capacity for heat retention) thereby temporarily masking the worst adverse effects of warming in the public but not scientific view.

The observable impacts of burning fossil fuels are catastrophic increases in both the severity and frequency of occurrences such as, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, fire tornadoes, draughts, floods, mudslides, sinkholes, airstream bombs, net agricultural losses, changing migratory habits, the most massive of all extinctions, the destruction of the permafrost, the loss of land ice, sea level rise, increased deaths from heat and cold extremes, and the initial stages of a massive climate refugee population which is insurmountable, to name but the most prominent adversities.

There is no claim that any of this is going to destroy the planet; however, the long-term effects of our bad choice to heat the planet to this degree will result in a dreadfully diminished home for human habitat and serious inroads into the quality of life of whatever future generations are there to experience it. These current, entirely observable conditions are validated by 99% of the world’s earth scientists and the most robustly researched and published works on any matter in human history.

Moreover, certain of these conditions have now become non-linear due to runaway feedback loops and cannot be reversed, no matter what we do. The destruction of the permafrost is a permanent loss and will release increasing amounts of methane into the atmosphere. Methane has more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over the first 20 years after it reaches the atmosphere. Even though CO2 has a longer-lasting effect, methane sets the pace for warming in the near term. At least 25% of today’s global warming is driven by methane from human actions. It is the cheapest and easiest of all greenhouse gases to eliminate.

In addition, Antarctica is losing ice mass (melting) at an average rate of about 150 billion tons per year, and Greenland is losing about 280 billion tons per year, from what comprises two thirds of the planet’s fresh water. Greenland’s land ice alone contains 26 feet of ocean rise while Antarctica has 190 feet. Moreover, the huge amounts of heat absorbed by the oceans also increases their volume.

There has long been a group of positive claimers in all this who exclaim, “Not to worry, technology will save us.” Curiously, they were right. We have, right now and have had for some time, both the technology and the resources to have averted virtually all of these adverse outcomes. As I write, we humans possess the ability to provide virtually all our energy needs (save liquid fuel for aircraft) from solar, geothermal and wind sources with back up by nuclear power, all operating on a smart grid. Into the bargain, we would provide millions of long-term, high paying jobs; reduce the unsubsidized cost of energy to end users very dramatically for wind, solar and geothermal with nuclear remaining higher but only as a surge source. We would also save trillions of dollars in avoided costs for adaptation and health remediation if green energy were deployed to its maximum extent. What we lack, then, is the moral and political will to act in our own best interests. Ahhh, money, power, stupidity, ignorance, indifference, greed triumph over enlightened self-interest.

Finally, about 50% of every barrel of oil is used to manufacture at least some important part of the more than 6000 non-fuel petroleum products found in everyday life. Virtually all of these can be produced from synthetic chemicals found in natural gas. And the beauty is that the route to deploy this technology at scale and with very low CO2 emissions exists today and its deployment will give the world a great head start in the race to net zer0.

None of this will however have any appreciable effect if we fail to reduce the fundamental cause – overpopulation. Births are outstripping deaths at a 2 -1 ratio; thus, population is growing at almost 110,000/day. Even though the rate of increase is projected to drop from 1.1% in 2020 to 0.53% in 2050, in that last year population will still increase by over 50,000,000 and the density will grow from 52 persons per square kilometer to 65. Drip, drip, drip!

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