Wednesday 18 September 2019

Climate Crisis: What Crisis?

While we wait for the Supreme Court to have its day in the sun, there's another big issue to air: the soi-disant Climate Crisis, which is supposed to trump all others.  How's that going?  I have a trivial observation to offer, and a rather more interesting conjecture to try on you.

The easy bit first:  it's pretty obvious that despite L'il Greta's best efforts (she's 16, incidentally, not eight) very few politicians on the planet prioritise the Climate at #1.  In Europe?  Nope, that'd be Brexit and a host of other stuff as the Drunckerd gives way to the German woman.  The USA?  Election - for many months to come.  Middle East?  Duh ...   And so it goes on. 

My conjecture is this.  Actually, 2019 has indeed been something of a turning-point.  Credit may be partly due to Greta and Extinction Rebellion et al (it sort of feels a bit that way in the UK, anyhow); but even more so due to some mega actual climate events this year**, I'd say a very high proportion of people are now pretty much on board with the idea that, yep, Climate Change / Global Warming is real, tangible-ish, and moderately likely to get more extreme in the coming years.  More completely on board than they were last year, for example.  Everyone had heard the word several years back: but now it's like, well, yeah, of course.  

Some greenies no doubt think that's marvellous, and now they can swing into action with their loony anti-industrial, anti-growth, anti-civilisation plans.  McDonnell of course thinks it's his cue, his smokescreen to reationalise everything under a new red-green regime of labourist micro-dirigisme.

But I suspect the whole thing has over-reached itself, overshot.  It seems to me it's now in the sphere of people looking round for the sensible solutions - the whole world of Adaptation being top of the list.  A lot of greenies really hate this, because it suggests nothing can be done to stop It; so nothing needs to be done to stop It - just build higher sea walls, use more sunblock, and invest in better water industry infrastructure.  But anti-growth?  - nah, mate.  Growth is where the money comes from, innit?

And, whisper it softly, I'd say the time will be coming soon where geo-engineering solutions will start to be discussed seriously.  They'll really really hate that.

Anyone get the same feeling about all this?


** I realise many people would ascribe this also to the relentless proselytising by the BBC etc: and I don't disagree - it's just that they've been doing that for years, and 2019 seems to be their 'breakthrough' year

UPDATE:  well here's a headline apparently undermining my thesis.  On closer inspection, though, it's a lobbying confection, and in that context (loaded questions etc) even contains the seeds of its own contradiction, at least as far as the UK is concerned. Let's see what nonsense unfolds on Friday


GridBot said...

I've long been of the (quietly held) view that Geo-Engineering our way out of the negative impacts of a changing climate will inevitably be the next step we (humanity) takes.

Believe it or I had a conversation with a lefty friend of mine who is fully signed up to the AGW religion - i explained to him that I thought CO2 ought to be at the bottom of the list of environmental concerns being non-toxic. Explaining that a much more realistic environmental policy would be to deal with things like plastic production (and how so much of it ends up in waterways/sea), agricultural/fertilizer run off, heavy metal use and disposal, cleaning up combustion engines (I was disappointed at the politicization of diesel motors, but do agree that old diesels are pretty fowl), dealing with the fact that lefty planners accross the country won't let you swap out your circa 1800 single glazed windows for double glazing!

Start dealing with these issues that are very real, and much easier to measure the benefit of improving and it will inevitably have positive consequences to the environment/emissions picture.

Shock horror - my AGW-Zealot chum was actually in agreement.

Back to Geo-Engineering bring it on.

Matt said...

Dame Emma plants trees to offset flying all over the world. Prince Harry's trip to Nice was offset by Elton paying some company to offset it. If it's good enough for celebs and royalty then it's good enough for the rest of us.

So, carbon tax as per Stern review and forget the eco-nutters.

E-K said...

I think people are getting seriously hacked off with the Thunberg double plaits being worn everywhere.

Nothing like being lectured by a spoilt brat.

E-K said...

My lad swears by thorium reactors.

Timbo614 said...

I don't think that climate change / global warming is any more accepted than it has been in the past. What I have become aware of is that paople are taking the care of our environment much more seriously. Climate change impacts ~50-100 years; enviromental impacts are now pretty much immediate and it's immediate threats that humans have always been good at tackling.

If we lose the forests, insects, birds, animals and sealife we too will become extinct along with them. Given the plastics focus this threat has become obvious even to the most virulent climate change denier.

This is all to the good because I beleive that the two (climate & environment) go hand in hand.

dearieme said...

It's all balls - that is to say the notion of catastrophic, anthropogenic global warming is a scam.

Are we in a milder period than, say, the 1920s? That's likely. Can we be confident that we are all about to roast in hell? Nope. These scare predictions have been being made for so long that there is now a well established record of their proving to be wind and piss.

Anonymous said...

The turning point seemed to be around the time the propaganda of Blue Planet II came out.

As soon as that came out everyone seemed to cheer loudly at the idea of planning plastic straws.

Around work I wouldn't dare mention my cynicism to CAGW - everyone is fully bought into the notion the earth is going to burn out soon and how inspirational Greta is.
But then 5 minutes later the conversion moves onto whether the next holiday should be in Thailand or Bangkok and whether they can fit a trip to Australia in this year.

Timbo614 said...

@dearieme: I'll put you in the virulent camp then. What about the environental damage being caused? Any thoughts on that?

Anonymous said...

Obama met the child star today, I wonder if she asked him why he's just bought an expensive seafront estate at Martha's Vineyard, if he thinks the place will be underwater in 20 years.

We've all noticed prices collapsing in East Anglia, haven't we? And you can hardly give away property in St Ives or Dartmouth, while on the Pembrokeshire coast whole villages have only a few permanent residents, presumably because the other owners have fled in fear, writing off their investment.

Sandbanks in Dorset is a real tragedy. Only a decade ago it was the millionaire's favourite. Now the whole place is deserted and graffiti-scarred, travellers have removed the copper pipes and roof-tiles, local kids hold drunken parties in the arson-damaged ruins ...

Anonymous said...

The climate has been changing for 4 and a half billion years. Little to do with humans. Much more talk of cooling now due to quiescent sun. This eco movement is purely political.

Raedwald said...

I'm with Timbo here. You don't actually have to subscribe to AGW to believe in ecological health. Reducing methane and CO2 emissions, reducing energy and resource use are all good things in their own right, and plastics and environmental destruction are immediate problems we can tackle without reducing our standards of living.

It also allows me to feel a little smug - about my parsimony with the heating and turning out lights, at wearing Northampton made shoes for 30 years, at a preference for linen, wool, cotton and a very little silk over fabrics made of plastics, at clothes which live in the wardrobe for decades rather than a single season.

I am also happy to report that my Russell Hobbs kettle which has been in constant use since 1994 on the same element, but which had acquired a thick internal accretion of limescale from 20 years of London use, is now clear of crud - the natural soft water here over two years having restored the interior to an as-new condition. I show the chunks of limescale to local chums who ask in wonder "people drink that?" and have to explain that London tap water is very pure - having been filtered through seven pairs of kidneys before we drink it.

And as I really do prefer the train for anything other than local car-trips, even my travel is largely powered by hydro-electricity. Saint Greta would be proud of me.

Scrobs. said...

The good wine producers in the South-East are mindful of some raging vegan greenie trying to reverse the trend to enjoy more sunshine!

To see such great stuff coming along is exciting - except that these same producers are milking it for all its worth by charging far too much for an average bottle.

And, I often wonder whether The Thames Barrier construction calcs took the bow-wave from Greta's carbon-bloated hulk into consideration!

E-K said...

I'm the greenest of all our circle.

Rarely travel by plane or abroad. Happy just dog walking, camping, real pubs...

Use public transport most of the time and small engined (old) cars the rest of it - 5000 miles a year max.

I like a low temperature house.

Yet it is me getting lectured on carbon emissions, by people who take two or three 'sustainable' foreign holidays a year and who own several houses !

Look. I'm not unadventurous. I can see a lot of the world on TV. I've seen enough of the world to know that the best part of a holiday is coming back now... so why go at all ? Why does the ROW want to see my sorry arse on Phi Phi Leh beach ??? No-one wants to hear that I've been there either. Nothing like a holiday bore.

Sacrifices are always for the little people to do. If Harry and Meghan want to make a good impression then moving into a modest semi would be a great gesture.

Otherwise I can't help but think they're not serious about it.

Elby the Beserk said...


I dissent. Suggest you do some research into the Grand Solar Minimum we are just entering.

dearieme said...

"What about the environental damage being caused?"

What environmental damage? Caused by what?

A question in return: how do you explain so many predictions made from the 1970s onwards that have proved to be utter tripe?

Elby the Beserk said...

The only measurable (science, you know) effect of rising CO2 has been a massive increase in the planet's biosphere. With all that implies. C2 levels are in recent centuries as low as the planet has experience in all its billions of years.

Do your own research folks.

Elby the Beserk said...

Climate models singularly fail in a number of areas, worst of all cloud formation and whether they are reflecting heat away or to the earth. More to the point, Svensmark and co. have proved that cloud formation is largely caused by cosmic rays, and these rise and fall in magnitude depending on solar activity.

Sunspot activity at the end of the last century was as high as it has been in 8000 years

It's now collapsing - which means a cooling thermosphere, far more cloud cover and ergo, far less TSI. Whatever part CO2 plays in warming is minimal (witnessed by the ever decreasing calculations of what part ECS plays in warming.

More here on Grand Solar Minimums. Educate yourselves.


Anonymous said...

Elby - it could indeed be that changes in solar radiation are a major cause of climate change, but from a practical and precautionary viewpoint we shouldn't be wasting so much precious oil on heating our houses and powering jets, when it's the base of our chemical industry.

But even should the new generation of nuclear engineers crack corrosive lithium salt technology tomorrow, and usher in almost free, non-polluting electricity and heat, we can't up our energy requirements infinitely, as we have to get rid of the excess heat. We don't want our atmosphere to follow that of Mars, which was once blessed with rivers and lakes.

The most urgent threat to our way of life (including, but not limited to, climate change) is of course The Most Important Graph In The World, showing sub-Saharan African population now double that of Europe (from one third in 1950), and projected to quadruple by 2100. The population of Ethiopia has almost tripled since Live Aid.

Back in the Fifties, there were fewer Africans in the whole continent than there are US citizens today. Here's M briefing 007 in Live And Let Die (1954).

“.. there are 250 million of them in the world. Nearly a third of the white population. They’ve got plenty of brains and ability and guts. And now Moscow’s taught one of them the technique.”

Matt said...

Oil isn't precious and there is no such thing as peak oil. There are vast reserves left it's just whether it's economically viable to extract them (see oil sands in the US). As technology advances, these become easier/cheaper to extract and so we continue to have oil for plastics (even if we don't put it in the tank of the car).

Timbo614 said...

dearieme said...

"What about the environental damage being caused?"

What environmental damage? Caused by what?

Sorry That would just be too long a multi-discipline subject for a blog comment.
There are plenty of books on the subject(s).

I'm not sure which '70s predictions you are refering to, climate?. Environment wise the warnings issued back then and since have been pretty relevant.

Anonymous said...

"There are vast reserves left it's just whether it's economically viable to extract them (see oil sands in the US)."

But at the point when it takes the energy from one barrel of oil to extract one barrel of shale oil, it doesn't matter how many billion barrels are in the ground, it won't be energetically viable.

There are 20 million pounds of gold in the world's oceans, why isn't someone getting rich from it?

rwendland said...

As far as the UK in concerned, the other 2019 turning-point may well be yesterday's 6GW CfD third round announcement that offshore wind will be around £40/MWh, well less than current £50/MWh average generation prices. A system accommodating intermittent generation does look like the most economic future. Even the Telegraph writes "Wind has won the argument"! Apparently the super-tall North Sea turbines have a 60% capacity factor.

I was a bit miffed that Cameron effectively stopped the more economical onshore wind just as it was approaching break-even, but with hindsight maybe that helped offshore so quickly get to break-even.

Compare that cost with the £100+/Mwh (RPI inflation from the 2012 £92.50/MWh) for Hinkley Point C - really equivalent to £160/MWh for the 15 years other CfDs get when you allow for the unique 35 year CfDs nuclear get.

rwendland said...

... NB 2 detail corrections to above that don't change thrust of comment. It is CPI not RPI that is used as inflation factor for CfD rates. Also the latest third round wind pricing is rebased to 2012 prices (to be compatible with other CfDs), so inflated to today it around £45/MWh - still less than the current average of £50/MWh but with half the margin, which may be lost if the Pound recovers post Brexit decision.

Elby the Beserk said...

Anonymous said...
Elby - it could indeed be that changes in solar radiation are a major cause of climate change, but from a practical and precautionary viewpoint we shouldn't be wasting so much precious oil on heating our houses and powering jets, when it's the base of our chemical industry

More and more evidence that the planet's supplies of oil and gas are almost infinite. Certainly there is no evidence for peak oil whatsoever, and the sooner we in the UK start fracking the better. Time to start sorting out these climate moron protesters as well.

Matt said...


Sure it takes energy to extract oil but we have an inexhaustible supply of solar that can be used for the extraction and refining of oil if required. Oil would of course then be priced above that solar cost so wouldn't be so ubiquitous as now. But where we need it, we'd still have it.

Anonymous said...

Geo-engineering is actually the only thing in all this that really frightens me.

Give that we're dealing with a non-linear chaotic system that nobody actually understands (can you point to a single one of the disaster-groupies' predictions that has actually come true? No, me neither), the potential for some large-scale intervention to cause a genuine calamity seems to be non-trivial.

I really wish they would wait until they can actually predict the future, before indulging in massive meddling operations.