Friday, April 29, 2022

Climate Change Hysteria Meets Reality

The surprising part is reading this interview in The New York Times. Rarely have the adolescent fantasies about renewable energy been so thoroughly refuted. If you weren’t paying attention, you would think that you were reading the Manhattan Contrarian blog.

The author, Vaclav Smil, has written a book entitled,  “How the World Really Works: The Science Behind How We Got Here and Where We’re Going.” 

Smil argues, cogently and effectively, that despite what the United Nations bureaucrats think, and despite the whinings of climate activists, and regardless of what the Biden administration is saying, we are not going to decarbonize electricity generation by 2035.

One understands that Smil is exasperated by the stupidity of those who are throwing out these unrealistic goals:

Now, according to COP26, we should reduce our carbon dioxide emissions by 45 percent by 2030 as compared with 2010 levels. This is undoable because there’s just eight years left, and emissions are still rising. People don’t appreciate the magnitude of the task and are setting up artificial deadlines which are unrealistic.


The official goal in the U.S. is complete decarbonization of electricity generation by 2035. That’s Biden’s program: zero-carbon electricity in 2035. The country doesn’t have a national grid! How will you decarbonize and run the country by wind and solar without a national grid? And what will it take to build a national grid in a NIMBY society like the U.S.?

How unrealistic is it?

What’s the point of setting goals which cannot be achieved? People call it aspirational. I call it delusional. We are forging ahead with more S.U.V.s, we are building bigger houses, we want to invent new techniques to make more steel. But do we need all that more and bigger? I’m not against setting a goal. I’m all for realistic goals. I will not yield on this point. It’s misleading and doesn’t serve any use because we will not achieve it, and then people say, What’s the point? I’m all for goals but for strict realism in setting them.

And, he continues, even if America weans itself from carbon, the rest of the world will be forging ahead. They seem not to be tempted by the notion of blackouts accompanied by skyrocketing electricity prices:

Check the China statistics. The country is adding, every year, gigawatts of new coal-fired power. Have you noticed that the whole world is now trying to get hands on as much natural gas as possible? This world is not yet done with fossil fuels. 

And what is happening in Germany, the world’s role model for greenification:

Germany, after nearly half a trillion dollars, in 20 years they went from getting 84 percent of their primary energy from fossil fuels to 76 percent. Can you tell me how you’d go from 76 percent fossil to zero by 2030, 2035? I’m sorry, the reality is what it is.

As for the hysteria surrounding the issue, we have been hearing the same prophecies of doom for decades now:

What is “imminent”? In science you have to be careful with your words. We’ve had these problems ever since we started to burn fossil fuels on a large scale. We haven’t bothered to do anything about it. There is no excuse for that. We could have chosen a different path. But this is not our only imminent and global problem. About one billion people are either undernourished or malnourished. The fact of possible nuclear war these days. Remember what they used to say about Gerald Ford? He can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. This is the problem of society today. We cannot do three things at the same time. So who decides what is imminent?

As for the climate accords and the prospect of a uniting the world in favor of a return to the stone age, Smil has this to say:

No. I’m just telling you that this is a totally unprecedented problem, and people don’t realize how difficult it will be to deal with. You don’t have to have 200 countries to sign on the dotted line to reduce emissions. But you have to have at least all the big emitters: China, the United States, India, Russia. What are the chances today of Russia, China and the U.S. signing on the dotted line as to the actual reduction of emissions by 2030? Also please notice that the Paris agreement has no legally binding language. In an ideal world, we could cut our emissions if we put our minds into it. But the point is it has to be done by all these actors in concert. Are we going to come together and make that global compact to make it work? That’s the question.

One begins suspecting that our leaders are ginning up this crisis talk in order to manipulate the minds of voters. It is pure disinformation, the kind that will happily be purveyed to everyone as scientific truth.

Smil offers some sense of the difficulty we face:

Suppose we start investing like crazy and start bringing down the carbon as rapidly as possible. The first beneficiaries will be people living in the 2070s because of what’s already in the system. The temperature will keep rising even as we are reducing these emissions. So you are asking people now to make quote-unquote sacrifices while the first benefits will accrue to their children and the real benefits will accrue to their grandchildren. You have to redo the basic human wiring in the brain to change this risk analysis and say, I value 2055 or 2060 as much as I value tomorrow. None of us is wired to think that way.

The other side, one that Smil, a former inhabitant of the Soviet Union, knows only too well, is that this general hysteria tends to politicize everyday life, to turn everything into politics, to make us believe that politics can solve all of our problems. The following paragraph is well worth underscoring:

No. I used to live in the westernmost part of the evil empire, what’s now the Czech Republic. They forever turned me off any stupid politics because they politicized everything. So it is now, unfortunately, in the West. Everything’s politics. No it is not! You can be on this side or that side, but the real world works on the basis of natural law and thermodynamics and energy conversions, and the fact is if I want to smelt my steel, I need a certain amount of carbon or hydrogen to do it. The Red Book of Mao or Putin’s speeches or Donald Trump is no help in that. We need less politics to solve our problems. We need to look at the realities of life and to see how we can practically affect them.

So, in a world where we are told that we must follow the science, the people who are promoting this notion have no real idea of what the science is. And they have no real sense of how to deal with the problem, even assuming that there is a problem.


David Foster said...

It seems extremely odd to see so many politicians (and others) desperately concerned about possible events decades in the future. The people who profess deep worry about temperatures in 2070 generally don't worry much about the effect of expanding national debt. They don't worry a lot about the potential destruction of the power grid by natural solar electromagnetic phenomena or by electromagnetic pulse attacks. Nor do they express much concern about the danger of comet or large meteor strikes.

A cynic might conclude that addressing *those* problems would not give any excuse for driving overweening power into the hands of the political classes and micromanaging the lives of the entire population.

David Foster said...

See also my post Deliberate Disempowerment:

and my new post Nuclear Power: Has the Time Finally Comes?

John Fisher said...

Thanks for flagging this. I preordered the book.

Bizzy Brain said...

The sun determines earth temperature, not man-made carbon. Pretty simple. Then again, I'm neither insane nor a green energy whore.

Anonymous said...

David Foster said...
It seems extremely odd to see so many politicians (and others) desperately concerned about possible events decades in the future."

That's because they can put it off...far off in the future.

Atomic power generation would vastly improve over coal burning.

Anonymous said...

All it takes is a random asteroid to reset your dumbass planet of the apes back to ground-dwelling shrewlike-creature level.

Obviously the enlightened self-appointed technocratic elite already have already realized this historical fact about the planet earth many decades ago and is why they have almost completely abandoned race and 100% abandoned traditional human values in pursuit of a rapid technological progress by any and all means (the wealthy and well-connected supposedly can afford this luxury). Currently, by "all means" includes especially that very large captive (only for now) Asian populaces under Western Capitalist employment.

Anonymous said...

Does all this mean that I should let the crabgrass take over my lawn? :)

Anonymous said...

Yes, your lawn is better off as crabgrass.

Anonymous said...

"One understands that Smil is exasperated by the stupidity of those who are throwing out these unrealistic goals:" Ahhhh, but consider what grand amounts of money, Money, MONEY can be spent by fools "working" to slowly chase those unrealistic "goals!

SARC off.

Anonymous said...

Ahhhhh, "Climate Change!" Ya know, the climate changes with the seasons, and that big bright ball in the sky...