Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Leading the War Against Climate Change

If you want to look tough while really being weak, take the lead in the war against the climate. If you want to pretend to be a world leader while retreating from the world stage, fight the good fight against the climate. If you want to redistribute your wealth to the poor nations of the world—because what they really need is charity—then become a leading voice against climate change.

Such is the attitude of today’s Democratic Party, led by their fearless leader, Barack Obama. They have very little to say about the horrors they have visited on the Middle East and nothing at all to say about the terrorism that metastasized on their watch. But they are wailing into their crying towels that the Trump administration has ceded world leadership on climate change to China.

And yet, the New York Times reports, Chinese leadership in climate change is a mirage. True enough, the nation has put a hold on some plans to build more coal burning power plants in the Middle Kingdom. But, around the world, the story is quite different.

The Times offers up some facts:

China’s energy companies will make up nearly half of the new coal generation expected to go online in the next decade.

These Chinese corporations are building or planning to build more than 700 new coal plants at home and around the world, some in countries that today burn little or no coal, according to tallies compiled by Urgewald, an environmental group based in Berlin. Many of the plants are in China, but by capacity, roughly a fifth of these new coal power stations are in other countries.

Over all, 1,600 coal plants are planned or under construction in 62 countries, according to Urgewald’s tally, which uses data from the Global Coal Plant Tracker portal. The new plants would expand the world’s coal-fired power capacity by 43 percent.

The fleet of new coal plants would make it virtually impossible to meet the goals set in the Paris climate accord, which aims to keep the increase in global temperatures from preindustrial levels below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

Electricity generated from fossil fuels like coal is the biggest single contributor globally to the rise in carbon emissions, which scientists agree is causing the Earth’s temperatures to rise.

Here you see Chinese leadership in the war on climate change. The Paris Climate Accords—to which the Chinese continue to adhere—are not worth the paper they were written on. It’s time to look more closely at the facts and to get over our quixotic visions of looking like heroes fighting against the climate. The only reason why certain groups want to fight the climate is because they do not have to fight. They need but submit, prostrate themselves to the gods of world government, and send American wealth out of the country.


trigger warning said...

Two, related, articles:

"Last November, Japan’s Environment Ministry issued a stark warning: the amount of solar panel waste Japan produces every year will rise from 10,000 to 800,000 tons by 2040, and the nation has no plan for safely disposing of it. Neither does California, a world leader in deploying solar panels."
--- environmentalprogress.org

"[South Australia] plastics recycling business closes due to $100k hike in power bills."
--- abc.net.au

South Australia is a world leader in "renewable" [ie, "expensive"] power generation.

Sam L. said...

Climate change is real. Geology teaches us that. I was taught in school, LO, those many years ago. that the state in which I lived had been half-glaciated some 15K years before. It wasn't some 300 years earlier. When there was no industry and no oil and gas used to power cars, trucks, and SUVs.

Ares Olympus said...

Sam L, my state of Minnesota was also under glacier 15,000 years ago, and sea level was 120 meters lower. So lots of things happen over geological time scales.

Another thing that happens over geological time scales is CO2 is absorbed into sea floor sediment, lowering the level of CO2 in the atmosphere. So when a big volcano releases millions of tons of CO2 in a couple decades, it'll eventually get back into the ground.

The problem is humans are like volcanos, releasing CO2 into the atmosphere at rates many times faster than any volcanism, and as Stuart shows, we're planning on burning even more coal in the future so 7-9+ billion people can aspire to live like Americans.

And if we miscalculate how much warming results from us burning as much as we can as long as we can, we have no real power to reverse that, and it'll take many centuries of the natural carbon removal system to lower it again.

So we all understand civilization is a good thing, but it would also be a good thing in the future, and it doesn't make sense to me to expect our descendants to solve problems that we're so far unable to solve. Faith in other people solving your problems is not kindness.

China has a billion people and ever excuse to try to catch up to our per capita consumption, even if they were not producing so much for the wilder world.

The only answer I know now is a carbon tax, and you can tax yourself for your own consumption, and so billionaires will never conserve because of a lack of money, but at least they can afford higher consumption taxes. And if civilization is possible without fossil fuels, higher prices are what economists say will get us there. Necessity is the mother of invention, but so is prudence to consider the future can't always be bigger than the past.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Democrats love imaginary enemies.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

The less tangible and more exotic, the better. Science says...

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Find me a climate scientist who predicted and believed Trump would win and you'll fully understand the value of speculative, computer-generated statistical climate modeling.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

I had a graduate school professor who vehemently believes that the United States should use statistical population modeling to conduct the U.S. Census every 10 years. Yeah, and we should use the same modeling to predict elections and, er, long-term climate forecasts.

The adjective in "mad scientist" is there for a reason. With my grad school prof, we'd have "Frankencensus."

Ares Olympus said...

IAC, just keep repeating to yourself "Climate is weather" and "The climate is always changing", and you'll feel much better. And if that doesn't work, just remember the earth is only 6000 years old and dinosaurs were killed in the great global flood in Noah's days. And if that doesn't work, and you're feeling brave try Robert Frost's poem about fire and ice.

The best thing about statistical risks of catastrophic climate change is it's slow and we'll all be dead by natural causes long before then.

Have a happy 4th of July!

trigger warning said...

I believe in Glow-Ball Warming. It is claimed by some that there is an enormous glowing ball (the Glow-Ball) in the sky that showers the planet with over 1000 W/m**2 24/7/365. Modern greenhouses, "invented" by Charles Bonaparte in the 1880s to grow medicinal tropical plants in northern latitudes, are a wonderful invention that collect this warmth, concentrate plant fertilizer (CO2), and give me delicious cherry tomatoes imported from Canada in the winter.

David Foster said...

AO..."And if that doesn't work, just remember the earth is only 6000 years old and dinosaurs were killed in the great global flood in Noah's days."

You are basically making an Ad Hominem argument implying that those who disagree with you on Climate Change are religious fundamentalists who believe in the young-earth theory. This is by no means true; it is an example of snark in place of real argument.

David Foster said...

It is interesting how the word 'carbon' is used in place of 'carbon dioxide'...I wonder how many of the Climate-Panickers understand that we are talking about a gas, no about carbon particulates. Some of the environmentalist advertising, featuring what appears to be black smoke (actually, in at least some cases, water vapor which is lighted in a way to make it appear dark), seems designed to encourage this confusion.

It is also interesting that there is now virtually no public concern about 'traditional' pollution...ie, substances in emissions which are known to be harmful to human health and well-being----as opposed to maybe being harmful in a century based on questionable statistics and mathematical modeling. From this standpoint, there is indeed reason to be concerned about China's expansion of coal plants.

From the standpoint of traditional pollution, all coal plants are not equivalent; there are big differences depending on plant design and operations. China has at least some incentive to keep things reasonably clean for plants in their own territory--but how much will they care when the plant is in Africa?

Ares Olympus said...

David Foster said... This is by no means true; it is an example of snark in place of real argument.

I thought I added my argument already above, so it was snark for snark. And I took on the hardest argument straight on. The young earth creationists really have all the geologists beat. The great flood can explain anything or everything. It's not like you can definitively disprove their biblical hypothesis by the 5 senses and a single human lifespan. We've certainly never seen a flood that covered the entire globe, but we can extrapolate in our imaginations from the small ones we've seen. You don't need computer models when your mind can imagine the answers you want to see.

Ares Olympus said...

David Foster said... It is interesting how the word 'carbon' is used in place of 'carbon dioxide'...I wonder how many of the Climate-Panickers understand that we are talking about a gas, no about carbon particulates.

You're certainly right that CO2 is friendlier than CO, or straight soot, C. But that's part of the problem. CO2 is an extremely stable molecule, and very "natural" since outside of life, it will stay in this form forever, and if you keep producing it, it will keep accumulating. Even "carbon offsets" like growing trees don't help in the long run, unless you don't burn those trees or allow them to ever rot. Only carbon put back into the ground as solids like limestone will stay that way for millions of years.

On the other hand, methane, CH4, is also carbon, and a hydrocarbon, burns perfectly clean, but if not burnt it is a much more potent greenhouse gas. Fortunately CH4 is very UNSTABLE in oxygen rich environments. So if we're going to experiment with global warming, certainly methane is a better experimental gas to wastefully release. If we don't like the results, lightning will convert it all back into stable CO2 and H2O within a few decades.

But for CO2, if we let too much accumulate, and don't like the results, it would take more energy to remove it from the atmosphere than we released in burning it. So it's a irreversible experiment, unless we're very patient and have a few thousand years for natural processes to remove it.

TW and others have a great story that the earth is "carbon starved" and humans are creating a new garden of Eden, just like the dinosaurs had 300 million years ago in their swampy homes. But we should also consider the sun, that Glow-Ball in the sky, is growing hotter over. There was a lot more CO2 in the atmosphere in the past, which was needed to create a higher greenhouse effect to keep liquid water on the earth. So CO2 levels (1000+ppm 1000 million years ago) that helped create an Eden could lead to a death trap in our modern solar output.

And then of course there are changes in ocean acidity with CO2. Fast rates of CO2 changes are most related to volcanism in the past, and also lead to die-offs of plants and animals that can't survive the new conditions. Evolution is slow, and we're changing things very quickly compared to geological drivers. IAC can dismiss "mad scientists" and their 100 year worries, but I'd take their educated guesses over my best imagination or hopeful thinking any day.

David Foster said...


1) Given your concern about CO2, do you support major expansion of nuclear power?

2) Given your concerns about irreverseable things, are you are worried about (a) EMP hits on the power grid and other technology (either due to enemy action or due to natural solar phenomena), and/or (b) collisions of comets with the earth?

I observe that people who make the Pascal's Wager argument about Climate Change (no matter how low the probability, the effect would be so infinitely bad that we have to do everything possible to prevent it) rarely express concerns about these other issues. A cynic might think that this is because hardening against EMP and implementing space technology to prevent comet strikes do not provide an argument for total control of the world economy and populace by selected politicians in the way that Climate Change is supposed to.

trigger warning said...

"TW and others have a great story that the earth is 'carbon starved'..."
Which "TW" are you talking about? As far as this TW concerned, there is plenty of carbon around.

Did you just loon out on us?

trigger warning said...

"I'd take [scientists'] educated guesses over my best imagination or hopeful thinking any day."

Amen, brother. You'n me both.

But as a precautionary principle, they are "guesses", as you correctly note, and not prophecies.

Anonymous said...

Ares Olympus has a lot of faith. And it is very funny when unthinking fundamentalists make fun of unthinking fundamentalists.

Anonymous said...

The problem with educated guesses is they are predictions. They assume that all factors remain constant, because they have to remain constant. Otherwise, there are too many contingencies, permutations and anomalies. But few things in nature remain constant over the timespans climatologists claim, offer us or posit as the future. There is reason for skepticism. And given the power grab governments, activists and bureaucrats seek, it would be irresponsible not to question the so-called remedies they advocate. Especially when those favoured remedies fit so perfectly into a certain ideological box.

Ares Olympus said...

David Foster said...AO...questions:

1 - yes, it seems apparent that nuclear power is an absolute necessity if we want to have any hope of a future civilization anything like our own, although it looks like we need economy of scale to do it. We can be redesigning every new nuclear plant from scratch. But I don't know what the best, safest designs are, although there are lots of opinions.

2. On natural disasters, the it does seem in general that the more people we have, and the more people we have depending on advanced technology that will someday fail in catatrophic ways, and like "climate change" effects will vary across the globe, and some will end up luckier than others, and so even if 90% of the population dies off in a 50 year emergency, I expect something of humanity will pass through.

trigger warning said... As far as this TW concerned, there is plenty of carbon around.

I was referring to atmospheric CO2, the kind that helps plants grow more quickly when we reach 1000ppm or whatever optimal level is defined for whatever sort of plant you want to grow.

Anonymous said... Ares Olympus has a lot of faith

I don't know where you get that from. I have hope that knowledge is better than ignorance, and that when you're performing an uncontrolled irreversible experiment, you should at least to your best to pay attention to the consequences as they accumulate, and ideally anticipate the worst consequences before you get to them.

No one wants to believe in limits to things they like, and while government power is one sort of "ideological box" I don't consider that box more dangerous than the alternative - trashing the earth's future for fun and profit, and assuming someone else will pay for it.