A recent correspondent makes a good point…
That 97% number is a grand stretch of imagination, used for political purposes, and is not fact nor even a scientific survey. The “97 percent” figure in the Zimmerman/Doran survey represents the views of only 79 respondents who listed climate science as an area of expertise and said they published more than half of their recent peer-reviewed papers on climate change. Seventy-nine scientists—of the 3,146 who responded to the survey—does not a consensus make.
All good science demands peer review, and should be able to stand the challenges. Every single climate model can only account for so many things, and do a poor job of predicting the past world events. Global data has only been available for less than 38 years, until only recently didn’t actually measure temperatures everywhere, especially in the oceans. Anything longer than the past 38 years are predictions of various measurements. The climate models are based on data models, not facts.
This is too important to not allow challenges, and should be done without politics and people like you name-calling and accusing people of being in the pocket of coal or big oil.
The net of all of this is that pretty much everyone believes that Humans impact the climate. That’s not a debatable idea nor does anyone. The question is how much humans impact it. And is the impact negative? And what will the impact be in the future?
The reality is that the warming that has taken place in the 20th century, before it slowed down or stopped, was on balance, a good thing. More crop production, less starvation and better economies. It’s likely that, if warming starts up again in earnest (for reasons we don’t really understand if we are honest), then it will likely become somewhat of a negative in the next 100 years. But at the same time, all the chicken little dire predictions have failed utterly. In 2009, we were told by no less than ABC that by June 2015, New York would likely be underwater. Gas would be $9.00/gallon. And milk would be $13/gallon! We can’t be too harsh on ABC however. They are just one of a long list of failed predictions based on lack of reliable predictive models for climate change. Even our measuring instruments contradict one another! Satellite data of the whole earth say that warming has not been occurring for many years. However, ground based stations do record warming.
All of this leads to important question regarding climate change and human contribution. We are told that Carbon is the ultimate evil with regard to climate change and that, at the end of the day, it’s all about those pesky dead dinos. Fossil Fuel, so-called, is the root of all climate evil. Let’s ignore the fact that we don’t have good predictive models and that even our measuring of earth’s temperature is problematic. Let’s just assume that all the dire predictions which have a track record of complete failure are, going forward, accurate with regard to human carbon emissions messing up the environment. If all that were true, then a good answer for the western nations, at least, would be “so what?”. How can we take such a cavalier attitude to such a dire issue? Because fossil fuels are yesterday’s news! Every major car manufacturer has a working, in production, hydrogen engine. These leave the dead dinos to rest in peace. Until a few years ago, whenever I brought up the idea that I wasn’t so worried about this because we were on the verge of powerful alternative energy, I was scoffed at and told that Hydrogen was way far off. Now, I can order my Honda, or Ford, or Mercedes hydrogen car. Or perhaps I don’t want hydrogen. Maybe I’ll get a Tesla all electric! Ah but Chicken Little isn’t ready to give up…that electricity has to come from some nasty coal fire plant or other evil T-Rex that met the blender of the eons. Ya, not so much. Current technologies are affordable for Tesla’s Powerwall for sunny or windy climates so that folks can nearly drop off the grid. No coal fire plant required. But it isn’t affordable for folks in cloudy Washington. True enough…but that’s just a “YET” issue. When the Prius came out, no one could really afford it without a subsidy and it wasn’t as efficient as today’s hybirds. There is every reason to believe the pace of development and improvement will continue with both electric power locally generated and hydrogen power both mobile and in our homes. Solar has improved dramatically. And let’s not forget we have a glut of clean natural gas. Put all of these things together with dozens of others that I’ve not mentioned and I’m not worried about fossil fuels being a long term problem, even if it is a problem today.
It’s true enough that the developing world of China and India, to name only two, will maintain it’s dependence on fossil fuels longer than we will. But the funny thing about technological advancement is that if you don’t have an entrenched infrastructure, it’s much easier to by-pass whole stages of development. The Chinese and Indians don’t have the high percentage infrastructure in place that we do for fossil fuels. For them, it may be easier to go direct to electric than it has been for us. Just as in Eastern Europe, when cell phones became mainstream, they didn’t worry about dropping copper wire in the ground all over the place for phones. They just put up cell towers and by passed 75 years of infrastructure needs that we in the west had.
And if you’re still not convinced, consider that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has openly stated that they will be out of the oil business in 15 years. They are investing their considerable oil wealth in transitioning to a high tech economy like Jordan, Israel or the US. They are sending young Saudi’s to America for engineering training. If the most dependent oil economy on earth is giving up on oil, doesn’t that tell you that you really don’t need to fuss so much about carbon and carbon taxes? As usual, the chicken littles and government bureaucrats are being bypassed and made irrelevant by science and technology. I’ll predict that 100 years from now, future generations will look at amusement at the brief period of human history when Oil was dominant and laugh hysterically at all the concern about a little element called Carbon. Or perhaps they will simply realize that control over populations comes from exploiting disasters, both real and imagined.
Opinion polls of American’s put climate change at a very low level of concern. So it’s unlikely that all the chicken little hand wringing will make much impact before we’re all driving around in cars that you put water into and that belch out noxious clouds of, well, oxygen! Then we will wonder why we wasted so much time worrying about something that we were abandoning anyway.
The GOOD NEWS is that the Best Future awaits and it’s not sticky with oil. It’s abundant with the most abundant element in the universe; hydrogen.