The True Failure of Durban

Guest post by Dennis Ray Wingo

First I want to say thanks to Anthony for providing this forum for the discussion of climate in a different sense, that is to focus on Durban and what this conference means from the wider perspective of the direction of our global civilization.

When I was young and beginning in the world of technology I complained to my mentor, my company’s regional manager, about a bad performance review delivered to me by a boss who I and he thought was incompetent. His response was to say that “a performance review can be used as a tool or as a bludgeon”. The same thing is true about CO2 and its role on the global stage as providing a tool whereby the technocrats of the UN and its NGO’s seek to reorganize our planetary civilization In keeping with their desired future.

The fear of the negative consequences of the emission of CO2 is being used as a tool to bludgeon the developed world into economic and political suicide. We in the west are told that we must commit this suicide because we must commit to a “Fair and equitable allocation of the atmospheric space, taking into account the criteria of historic climate debt and population;” [bullet 33g of the FCCC/AWGLCA/2011/CRP.39 document]. We are told that the only just and equitable way to do this is to transfer large sums of money to the Non-Annex 1 world and that we must have peak CO2 emissions in Annex 1 (western civilization) immediately [bullet 33d, bullet 32].

There are two critical assumptions that underpin the entire Durban conference as well as previous efforts; the first assumption is that we live in a limited world and that this wealth transfer and the immediate cessation of CO2 emissions is the only possible path toward a “sustainable” future. The second is that technology cannot solve the problem but politics can. What are these assumptions built upon and are they valid? Is this the only path forward? Are we destined to leave our global posterity in a state of perpetual semi-poverty? Human nature rebels against this doom and gloom view of the future, and with good reason.

The Assumptions

I do not wish to seem overdramatic, but I can only conclude from the information that is available to me as Secretary-General, that the Members of the United Nations have perhaps ten years left in which to subordinate their ancient quarrels and launch a global partnership to curb the arms race, to improve the human environment, to defuse the population explosion, and to supply the required momentum to development efforts. If such a global partnership is not forged within the next decade, then I very much fear that the problems that I have mentioned will have reached staggering proportions that they will be beyond our capacity to control.

Who said this? This statement could have very well have been the preamble to the Durban conference but it actually was uttered by UN Secretary General U Thant in 1969 and is included as the introduction to the book, Limits to Growth. The book “Limits to Growth” (LTG) is the touchstone of the environmental movement as well as the ultimate source of the two underpinning assumptions of the Durban conference.

The Limited Earth

The first assumption that the Earth is all we have and that our resources are limited to only what we have here. This is a patently false assumption. In 2005 I was invited to contribute a chapter to a book on “Spacepower Theory” which was commissioned by the defense department as an extension of Clauswitz’s classic “Landpower Theory”, Alfred Mahan’s “Seapower Theory”, and General Billy Mitchell’s “Airpower Theory”. In my chapter on the “Economic Development of the Solar System as the Heart of a Spacepower Theory”, a word was coined and defined.

geocentric” is defined as a mindset that sees spacepower and its application as focused primarily on actions, actors, and influences on earthly powers, the earth itself, and its nearby orbital environs. (available online at the NDU press here)

The underpinning assumption that the Earth and its resources constitutes all the wealth that exists for humans to access and use is by definition a geocentric mindset and has been falsified by the last three decades of NASA, ESA, and other nations scientific probes sent to the Moon and beyond. Just in the last few years we have discovered billions of tons of water on the Moon to support propulsion, trillions of tons of aluminum, titanium, iron, Uranium, thorium and other rare Earth metals along with Platinum Group Metals, Cobalt, nickel and iron derived from asteroid impacts. In the asteroid belt are untold riches of water, metals and other resources yet to be identified. Just a single small metal asteroid, 3554 Amun, has tens of trillions of dollars worth of metals, and an asteroid of the same type, 216 Cleopatra, has a billion trillion times more resources of the same type. We now know that Mars has extensive water resources and the two rovers Spirit and Opportunity, found in just a few kilometers of driving, enough metallic asteroid fragments to kick start industry on Mars. It is absurd to think that the geocentric mindset of LTG and today in Durban is correct.

No Faith In Technology

The supposed inability of technology to solve our current problems is the other key assumption of LTG and today in Durban. To anyone who understands history and technology this is absurd but here is what the authors of LTG say about technology;

Applying technology to the natural pressures that the environment exerts against any growth process has been so successful in the past that a whole culture has evolved around the principle of fighting against limits rather than learning to live with them. This culture has been reinforced by the apparent immensity of the earth and its resources and by the relative smallness of man and his activities….

(page 156, Limits to Growth)

We have felt it necessary to dwell so long on an analysis of technology here because we have found that technological optimism is the most common and the most dangerous reaction to our findings from the world model. Technology can relieve the symptoms of a problem without affecting the underlying causes. Faith in technology as the ultimate solution to all fundamental problems can thus divert our attention from the most fundamental problem – the problem of growth in a finite system – and prevent us from taking effective action to solve it.

(Page 159, LTG)

If you think that this thought pattern is one of the 1970’s, here is what Al Gore said in his book, Earth in the Balance in 1992:

It is important, however, to remember that there is a great danger in seeing technology alone as the answer to the environmental crisis. In fact, the idea that new technology is the solution to all our problems is a central part of the faulty way of thinking that created the crisis in the first place.

Unless we come to a better understanding of both the potential and the danger of technology, the addition of more technological power simply ensures further degradation of the environment, and no matter what new technologies we discover, no matter how cleverly and efficiently we manage to get them into the hands of people throughout the world, the underlying crisis will worsen unless, at the same time, we redefine our relationship to the environment, stabilize human population, and use every possible means to bring the earth back into balance.

(Page 328, Earth in the Balance)

Technology and technological development, in the form of the industrial revolution (the faulty way of thinking according to Gore), has done more to lift mankind out of poverty than all of the political systems tried in the entire one hundred and seventy thousand year history of our species put together. It is amazing that this neo Luddite attitude could exist today, but it does, and as an example of how it influences the Durban conference, only 15% of the money from their massive wealth transfer would be applied to developing technology. That is less than their administrative overhead! At the end of the day, this a key divergence between the NGO’s and technocrats of the UN and those of us who see another way, one rooted in finding solutions to the problems that confront us today.

Developing an Alternative

Let us, for the sake of the hypothetical and to put us on the same page as the delegates in Durban, let us grant the following:

  1. The increase in CO2 and other IR absorbing gasses in the atmosphere are bad and we must do something about it or suffer the secular apocalypse.
  2. We apply the minimum financial resources of the $100 billion per year as set forth in Durban to the problem.

Let us set as the requirements the following as well:

  1. Whatever solution is found, it must in the end result in a more prosperous world for all mankind.
  2. Whatever solution is found, it must also preserve individual liberty and provide opportunity for the further advance of mankind.

Unfortunately the requirements of brevity in this forum preclude an advanced treatment of this but lets lay the groundwork and if the reader wants more it can be provided in the future.


The first area to attack is energy. At the end of the day, energy is the key to the future. Just think that if a megawatt of electrical power was as inexpensive as a kilowatt is today, how many things would be different. A trash compactor could atomize your trash and separate it into its basic constituents for recycling. You could easily create your own hydrogen at home for your fuel cell car. Mining on the Earth could extract metals from base rock with oxygen as the waste product.

Half of the $100 billion per year would be spent on a crash program to develop various fusion technologies, including advanced forms of the National Ignition Facility, Polywell Fusion, Thorium fission, and the “traditional” ITER type Tokomak fusion. Applying this much money to these energy technologies would do far more than all of the political world shaping of the wealth transfer of Durban. Providing advanced energy sources would do far more than solar panels or wind turbines to power a prosperous civilization. Both solar and wind are inherently low energy multiple technologies, meaning that the energy that you get out of either of these is only low multiples of the energy that it takes the make, install, and maintain them.

If we put the proper amount of resources into these energy technologies, then we would “solve” the CO2 problem as a side benefit and we could build a world energy grid that would do more than all the antipoverty programs in place today put together to improve life on Earth. In researching the history of the industrial revolution, human lifespan has been directly proportional to the amount of inexpensive energy available to us. human lifespans in the west went from 35 years of age in the year 1700 to almost 50 years of age at the peak of the age of coal in 1900. Today at the peak of the oil age that number has climbed to almost 80 years in Annex 1 countries. It is also in the advanced energy countries where population growth has dropped to replacement or even below. There is a direct correlation between wealth and population and it is far more fun to make everyone wealthy than to make everyone suffer in poverty as would be the ultimate result of Durban.

Space Resource Development

In just the past few years the Lunar Recon Orbiter, the LCROSS, and other missions have made a very preliminary map of the resources available on the surface of the Moon. It is inevitable that there are upside surprises waiting us there. Despite the problems of NASA in getting us back to the Moon, to the Moon is our first destination. Let us apply the other $50 billion a year to an effort to begin the industrialization of the Moon. In inflation adjusted terms, this is still only 40% of the budget spent per year at the peak of the Apollo program. If it is that important, then we can increase that budget to the full $100 billion a year (we are talking about building a sustainable global civilization) on a multi-pronged effort in this area.

This would not just be a NASA effort or a NASA, ESA, JAXA effort but an effort that would provide the means whereby private enterprise could contribute through their own efforts and funds. Tax relief, prizes, and other incentives. We begin with the industrialization of the Moon and the construction of a transportation infrastructure to allow humans to easily move about in the inner solar system. The resources of the Moon enable this. We move forward to build infrastructure in geosynch orbit that are many times larger than today, to enable communications and remote sensing infrastructure that would fundamentally transform our global society for the better.

These are not fantasies, these are not science fiction ideas, they are 100% doable today. The problem has been that the financial support has not been there, even considering the $18 billion dollar a year NASA. NASA is not designed to lead the economic development of the solar system, nor should it be, this is something that the American people and our fellows in western civilization are uniquely qualified to do. Dr. John Marburger, the head of the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Bush administration had a marvelous speech on this subject at the Goddard symposium in 2006. In it he said:

The ultimate goal is not to impress others, or merely to explore our planetary system, but to use accessible space for the benefit of humankind. It is a goal that is not confined to a decade or a century. Nor is it confined to a single nearby destination, or to a fleeting dash to plant a flag. The idea is to begin preparing now for a future in which the material trapped in the Sun’s vicinity is available for incorporation into our way of life.

This is the alternative to the Durban failure that should be investigated and I submit that if we did this, our future would be far better in the year 2100 than even the most optimistic scenarios developed in any of these conferences that focus on how to split the existing pie up in a way that supports their political proclivities. We want to build a far bigger pie. Today the average welfare recipient in the United States lives a life style that Augustus Caesar or the greatest emperor of old China would think of as magic. Our goal should be to create a world in the year 2100 where the poor live a lifestyle that George Soros would envy.

Beyond Artificial Limits

For those of us who work in the space business and who develop new architectures for lunar development and beyond it seems absurd that these false assumptions should underpin serious global deliberations at crafting a better future for the citizens of our planetary civilization. This at the end of the day is my greatest objection to the role that climate scientists play in the arena of solutions to the “CO2 problem”. Whether or not you believe that CO2 is the secular apocalypse, one thing is certain, the people that are trained in the arcane science of climate proxies are inadequate in training and incompetent in execution of something as large as architecting a future for our civilization. We must open up the boundaries of the discussion to include energy development on the Earth and resource development off planet as serious and viable alternatives to plans such as the failed ones being drawn up in places like Durban.

There is a future out there, a glorious one, that while it may not solve all of our problems, it will certainly get us beyond these artificial limits to growth.


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The UN plan will shift wealth from the first world’s poor to the third world’s rich without making any difference in climate control.

Ken Gareau

Great article! It exposes the fallacy of Durbin while providing optimism for the future if we have the fortitude and common sense to grasp it!

Half of the $100 billion per year would be spent on a crash program to develop various fusion technologies, including advanced forms of the National Ignition Facility, Polywell Fusion, Thorium fission, and the “traditional” ITER type Tokomak fusion.

Actually, 1% of 1% of that amount directed to the (totally privately funded to date) DPF project at would see the start of implementation of fusion generation within 5 yrs. It is already at least an order of magnitude closer to “unity” than any other project, and should reach it during 2012. Its ultimate cost of capital and output would be around 5% of the best N.A. retail levels. Dispatchable, distributed, waste-free, radiation-free, direct electric output (no steam turbines needed), etc. Check it out.

Martin Brumby

Interesting article. Not for the first time, much more intelligent commentary (and comments) on the skeptic blogosphere than can be found on the MSM sites.
The Grauniad piece does, however, capture something of the febrile atmosphere at the closing stages and will make people on here chuckle.
Interesting that comments on the Grauniad piece (dateline 11 December) were already closed by 07:30 am on 11 December. Maybe due to the number of naughty skeptics commenting?
They are struggling to keep this scam on the road. But it isn’t about climate or science, it is all about power (political! Not energy!) and money.
I’m sure we’ve several years of this to look forward to in the UK. And the likes of BuffHuhne are more than happy to throw the economy under a bus.


Heh, seemingly trite on first glance, by very poignant when you look at the meaning.
Cal65, I salute your concise brevity!

I was watching/listening to overtime “debate” at Durban, earlier today. And I was struck by the way in which questions to the effect of we need some clarification regarding ‘what we are approving/accepting’ were dealt with. [They weren’t!]
The media-spin is that “194 governments” have signed on to this “package” [which few could have examined] I’m not sure how this could have transpired since some delegations had already left
But my reading of this “deal” is that all they’ve succeeded in doing is kicking the can down the road a few years.
Nonetheless, the fact that WWF are not happy campers about this “deal” gives one cause for cautious optimism.

TBear (Sydney, where it has finally warmed up, but just a bit ...)

`… the emission of CO2 is being used as a tool to bludgeon the developed world into economic and political suicide’
Stopped reading at that point.
Sure, there is a lot to criticise about Durdan thing, but this sort of hyperbole does the opposition view no credit.


We don’t need fusion. It’s pie in the sky anyway. We don’t need to spend billions of dollars in search of some esoteric technology. Let’s use the technology we ALREADY HAVE. China is now embarking on what is essentially a carbon copy (so to speak) of the United States’ nuclear energy vision of the 1960’s. They are building large numbers of plants with several fast neutron reactors to fuel cycle management so they can recycle/re-use their spent fuel. They will have essentially a secure, low cost electricity generation infrastructure that does not rely on external sources of supply. They can convert depleted uranium into fuel in the fast neutron reactors. All those bullets we were firing in Iraq could be collected up and used for nuclear fuel by transmutation to plutonium. Yes, it’s plutonium but not a good kind for making bombs with because it will also contain quite a bit of P240. P240 is nearly impossible to separate from P239 and it has the nasty habit of spontaneous fission, something you do NOT want to happen in a bomb. Basically, this process effectively “poisons” the plutonium and makes it very undesirable for use as anything other than reactor fuel.
If the US went back to its original nuclear electric plan, electric cars and trains would be a viable alternative. They make no sense now because we do not have either the generation capacity or distribution capacity to migrate any significant portion of our transportation infrastructure to electricity. We could nearly immediately cut 50% of our greenhouse gas emissions right now if we simply decided it was really all that important. But it isn’t really about CO2 at all, it is about where the money goes.

Keith Battye

Thank you, thank you, thank you.
That is the vision of real human beings who wish well for mankind. The defeatist attitude of these global socialists is just disgusting. We are much better than that. We can and will ensure humankind goes on to better and better things.
I have often stated that even here on Earth we have barely pricked the surface. The solid crust averages 30km thick all over the Earth and yet people say that the riches within it are finite! Perhaps in an absolute meaning they are but for all practical purposes they are infinite.
In the end it is all about energy. The more we have the higher we can climb yet we have these hand wringing socialists trying to artificially limit our access to energy because it “will” run out eventually. Well it won’t and this colossus called man will continue to build and spread throughout the cosmos because that is what we are, dominant and resourceful.
Socialism is a sickness that seeks to reward failure and handicap success. The desire to give money to nations that aren’t capable of managing their own affairs will simply lead to more of the same. The failure of so many societies is due to their inability to evolve successful social constructions not because of anything the rich democracies have done to them. In fact the rich democracies have brought many good and beneficial things to the third world thanks to the success of their economic, technological and organizational models. We never hear praise for this but without these things the third world’s populations would be as they were a century ago, about 5% the size they are today.
Socialism is a parasitic system that severely weakens the host and it should be obvious to anyone that this is the case. Allow everyone the space to succeed and allow the failures to wither and die that way you get more success because everybody takes responsibility for themselves and their actions.
Mr Wingo, you are correct, the only limits on mankind are the ones that exist in their minds.


It is great to read the thoughts of someone who is looking forward, in a positive way, rather than backward, in a negative, guilt-ridden way.
The points about resources outside our planet are well made, and offer a useful perspective. However, the perspective needs to include that, for example, Australia’s coal resources alone are enough to meet global demand for at least 100 years.
I agree that there has been a general chickening-out of space research and activity, while billions have been diverted to climate related scams. Quite frankly, even if the space projects didn’t produce much in terms of their objectives, I would still prefer that the money was spent there. It is a bit like the many expeditions that left Europe to explore the world. Most of them failed, and cost a motza, but in the end, it was the dawn of a whole new world, with huge benefits for everyone.
Thanks for this post, which reminds us that the spirit of optimism and exploration is not dead.

Excellent article. I agree completely. Mankind is doomed if we are only content to live on this earth. Eventually something will take us out. Technological advance is the only way to save the human race long term. We should be spending 100 billion a yr of fusion technology instead of stupid windmills and work towards establishing a colony on Mars.

Thanks Dennis, that’s an interesting perspective with which I heartily agree!…… My thought on harvesting resources from space is that it won’t be available anytime soon, but we’ll get there. Technology development has always been the answer for the human condition to move forward. And, while the resources on earth are somewhat limited….sort of, technology ensures that our uses of the resources will be unlimited. When our fuel does work, we’re not destroying anything, we’re just moving its form around. And, as I’ve stated for some time now, abundant, cheap and available energy is key to economic development. It can not happen with out it. And that economic development is what pushes and allows for technological advancement.
The sooner we get the world to understand this, the sooner we can be rid of those maniacs gathering in Durbin. Which, in an of itself would be an improvement to the human experience world wide.


So where is the science? Anyone prove that C02 does anything except grow plants. Where is the science?

Frank White

Yes, technology has falsified Malthus’s prediction that mankind is doomed to poverty because the Earth’s resources are limited. And yes, the main limit is energy. To get one unit of food energy from modern agricultural products we need to input 10 times that energy and most of it from fossil fuels.
Today we focus on global warming as a hazard. Let us hope that truly the risk is one sided. We can cope with secular warming at the currently observed rate. At least we are told that the trend is secular. But for all we know, the Earth is still recovering from the Little Ice Age, a cold period short enough that it drove my great-grandfather to Canada sometime during the 1840s.
Thus, I believe is that there is also a risk of global cooling, with cycles or pseudo-cycles of various lengths. If so, only technology can save us.

Michael H Anderson

My God – I hadn’t even *heard* of the National Ignition Facility, Polywell, or Thorium fission until today – and l the rest of the world is still caught up in this superstitious, devolutionary Gaia-religion BULL$HIT!
Is there ANY hope for humanity as long as the troglodytes are running the mainstream media and governments?

Peter Whale

Great Post unfortunately the agenda is about control and money and not finding solutions to non existent problems. The problem is political not scientific. The article you have written proves this to be the case for it is by any ones criteria the way towards a solution, except the political motivated.

Peter Miller

Durban has come and gone.
Thankfully, it was as great a success as Copenhagen and did not commit the western world to economic suicide. Thank you China and India!
Time is not on the side of the alarmists, unless there are a string of super El Ninos over the next few years, as the global climate is not behaving as per their forecasts, and their ‘science’ is shown to be increasingly a sham, a combination of cherry picking, plus manipulated and distorted data manipulation.


alternative fuels, blah!
what is wrong with co2.
May i introduce you to the Johnson co2 generator for Greenhouses, at a cheap cost it pushes up co2 to 1000ppm.

Mac the Knife

You speak the words of my heart!
We, as a Species, must raise our eyes from the navel lint gazing of AGW and the false dichotomy of ‘limited resources’ and reach for the treasures that the solar system offers! Ours is a natural progression. First you crawl. Then you walk. And finally, with coordination and confidence, you run.
First, we crawled up to hunter – gatherer clans, from clovis point stone tools, to hammered seam copper knifes and ornaments, and onto the basic industrial metallurgy of King Solomon’s mines. We toddled on with Da Vinci’s natural studies and Newton’s Principia. We gained confident stride with Boyle’s Ideal Gas, Einstein’s Theories, Heisenberg’s Uncertainties, and all of the other building blocks that support today’s modern mathematics, physics, thermodynamics, chemistry, engineering, and technology. And yet, this is not enough. It is just a good beginning! I and my species must Run! Crawling and walking is not enough! We must learn to run, from earth’s moon to Mars and the asteroid belt beyond! And from thence, to the moons of Saturn and on to the Kuiper Belt & Oort Cloud! We have a full solar system to explore, a treasure trove of new knowledge, new resources, and new mysteries just now within our reach and beckoning us with wonders that dwarf the resources of earth. We simply have no time to waste on the mewling and puking of the limited perspectives and retrograde orbits of the modern day AGW Luddites. The need to see what is ‘over the horizon’ is a genetic imperative that cannot be denied, for those of us encoded with the frontiersman DNA! We Must Run!!!
“There is a future out there, a glorious one, …” Aye, a glorious future indeed! Let’s go get it, Dennis! And take a bunch of friends along with us……

The Durban financial calculations are a joke, would have benefited from expertise of a good statistician, kind of Mr. Grant Foster (better known as Tamino).

Stephen Skinner

Hopefully to support this thoughtful article here is an extract from Buckminster Fuller’s book “Utopia or Oblivion” p12-13
“…Average lifespan expectantly for our classmates born circa 1895 as then calculated by the life-insurnace actuaries, was 42 years. During our lifetime, the average life expectancy in the United States has increased to 70 years. Up to the time we were born, the average total distance covered by a member of humanity in his all-time average lifespan of 27 years was 30,000 miles. My total travel to date, by land, sea and air, is a hundredfold that distance. It aggregates more than 3,000,000 miles and now, at 72 years, I find my work often taking me annually several times around the world with many lesser to-and-froings. This is in no wise a unique record. It is average for ever-increasing millions of humans who have responsibilities in the vast frontiers of technology, business, and statecraft of a swiftly emerging sperical world city. Today’s air hostesses far ourtravel me, and Gemini astronauts outdistanced my 3,000,000 limes in one week’s orbiting. Quite clearly, a complete transformation of human ecology in universe is occurring. It is not surprising that man, burdened with obsolete ‘knowledge’ – his spontaneous reflexing conditioned only by past experience, and as yet unable to realize himself as being already world man – fails to comprehend and cope logically with the birth of Universe Man….”


“The European Union will place its current emission-cutting pledges inside the legally-binding Kyoto Protocol, a key demand of developing countries.”


having found disagreement, the disagreers have agreed to extend their disagreement till 2015.Until then they will happily continue to find disagreement with the hope of extending their disagrrement till 2020, until all those presently receiveing 5 figure salaries from their governments and the UN will reach pensionable age and ths saving THEIR corner of the planet from climate change

King of Cool

Mate Nkoana-Mashabane, the president of the Durban conference and South Africa’s foreign minister, said:
“We have saved planet earth for the future of our children and our great grand children to come. We have made history.”
Who does she think she is? – The Empress of the New Galactic Order?
R2D2 would go fall over backwards at that one and C3PO would flap his arms in an hysterical fit.
But where do we find some real thought provoking words of wisdom? In WUWT no less.
“There is a future out there, a glorious one”… Great stuff Jedi Master Wingo – I agree – We must reach for the stars – It is our destiny!


Look, I’ll buy polywell fusion, I’ll buy NIF fusion, I might even buy cold fusion, but don’t try to tell me there is any prospect of net energy from Tokamak fusion! If that could be done by funding, we would have had it decades ago.

Anthea Collins

Beware! The Warmists have won the argument : the world is warming, we told you so! The world has started cooling, BECAUSE you are doing what we told you to do! Get out of that, as the late lamented Eric Morcambe said (for UK readers.)

Old England

Hope you don’t mind my repeating what I wrote about this ‘deal’ on the Telegraph website:-
A deal to to create the first steps towards an unelected world government run by unelected political appointees whose first interest is to serve their own interests and their marxist political agenda.
A deal to destroy western economies based on the lunacy of demented deceivers like Huhne and the rest of the self-opinionated, secret-agenda, science-corrupting) watermelons .
The light of democracy grows weaker by the day as the UN follows in the footsteps of the EU where democratically elected governments can now be changed and replaced with unelected EU politburo placemen.
Be afraid, be very afraid as the future grows a lot darker and those of us who believe we live in democracies face being forced back into the voiceless serfdom of the dark ages.


Thank you for warning everyone that you have a closed mind. I’d be surprised if you knew where Durban was located.

Tokamak Fusion ? How long has it been attempted, 50 years????


We can’t solve our problems by a re-allocation of resources. Our problems can only be solved by technology.
The doomsayers have been with us since Malthus. The reason society has not already collapsed is that we have:
1 – Used technology to increase production
2 – Used technology to use less material to do the same things.
3 – Used technology to substitute new materials to replace rare or diminishing resources.
We have a tiger by the tail. If our problems get ahead of our ability to solve them, society might collapse. The only thing that will save us is our ability to innovate.
Innovation depends on economic surplus. If everyone spends all their time grubbing for bare sustenance, there will be no time or resources for innovation. What do we have to worry about: “ignorance and greed… bad government, unjust laws, or war,”

Excellent article and details succinctly what we need to be doing. It’s not clear where the human race lost its technologic optimism. I remember the days of seemingly unlimited options in the 1960’s when, with what now seems like primitive technology, we made it to the moon. My expectation was that this would result in human settlement of the moon and the movie 2001 provided a time frame during which this process would happen.
I watched the movie again in 2001 and was very disappointed in the progress that had occurred during the 30 year period when we should have been able to take space vacations at the orbiting Hilton Hotel by now. The Limits to Growth idiocy and the inane idea of “sustainability” seem to have displaced technologic progress as primary human goals. Where we have seen immense progress is in power of computers which are still increasing their processing speed and memory capacity in accordance with Moore’s Law. It’s nice to have a supercomputer on my desktop and the power of a 1960’s mainframe in my cell phone, but what I really want is the ability to leave this gravity well.
One of the drivers behind the anti-technologic forces is the dramatic dumbing down of education over the past 3 decades with the mathematics and science skills of high school graduates now being absysmal. The geocentric approach, especially when earth resources are considered to be small and finite has done a great deal to spread the meme of the earths resources as a zero sum game.
The way in which the anti-technologic forces can prevent human progress is with their focus on extremely low energy density techologies. Wind and solar power have niche applications in remote areas far from a power line, but the proposal to power a modern technologic society with such low energy density power sources is simply madness and one needs to look at what the hidden reasons are for insisting on return to power sources that were rejected by our far smarter forebearers when they discovered my energy dense sources than intermittent wind. Curiously, a very renewable energy source, hydroelectric power which is economically sound to exploit is villified by the “environmentalists” because it means creating artificial lakes. I guess the lakes created by melting ice and major rearrangents to the underlying landscape beyond miles of ice are considered “natural” whenever we get a periodic ice age.
One of the things that technologists can do is to rewrite the Gaia model to reflect what an earth size superorganism was likely really trying to do. Assuming that Gaia created an intelligent species with the ability to rapidly modify its environment, then human technologic process is one of Gaia’s goals. Gaia got lonely and wanted to communicate with other complex world sized organisms like herself and needed a species with technologic prowness to make contacts for Gaia. We have to get into the mindset that everything we do is natural and our human constructions are just as much of the natural environment as corral reefs are.
The other thing that needs to be done is to fight every “sustainable” energy project at the local level with the appropriate level of ridicule to stop this waste of money. We need much more energy at a far lower cost to continue our technologic journey. Given the totalitarian proclivities of large parts of the earths population, the initial goal might be to simply create a space civilization and leave the neo-Luddites to their regressive policies. There might be treatments for pychopathologies which result in people entering politics primarily to obtain control over other people in the next 1-2 decades.

Roger Carr

There is a future out there, a glorious one…
Thank you, Dennis Ray Wingo. Even many of us with little knowledge can feel that glory in our bones; and a sickness in our hearts that mean spirits and shrivelled souls can work so tirelessly, and often so successfully, to steal it from us.
It is they who would take the bread from the mouths, and the joy from the hearts of our children yet to be born; and bring misery to so many, adult and child alike, today.
With this posting on WUWT? I believe you have made a difference; and deserve wide gratitude for reminding us of the dream that is a reality if we will but lift our eyes. We have always known; but our spirits have been dulled.
We do need reminding.


I note one of the ideals is to “defuse the population explosion” by making everyone equally wealthy. I hope they have enough time. It took over two hundred years of industrial development to drive up current personal wealth levels in the west.
When I was born in 1940 world population was about 2 billion. World population had passed the 1 billion mark by 1900. We have just past 7 billion in 2011 and are guaranteed to pass 8 billion by 2020. I make that a population doubling every 40 years so by 2060 we should have 16 billion and by 2100 when sea levels have risen by any number of metres population of 32 billion with standing room only will see an end to all this drivel.

Thank you for that Dennis.
The conflict between your point of view and that of the Durban people was summed up by Poul and Karen Anderson in their 1971 story “Murphy’s Hall”. The story tells of a teenage boy’s fantasy about a place called Murphy’s Hall where the dead spacers go whose luck runs out.
The last three paragraphs have haunted me ever since I read them in 1971when our retreat from space was already obvious.
” Me. And you. And you. And you in the future, if you exist. In the end Murphy’s Law gets us all. But we, my friends, must go to him the hard way. Our luck didn’t run out. Instead, the decision that could be made was made. It was decided for us that our race – among the trillions which must be out there wondering what lies beyond their skies – is not supposed to have either discipline or dreams. No our job is to make everybody nice and safe and equal, and if this happens to be impossible, then nothing else matters.
If I went to that place – and I’m glad this is a lie – I’d keep remembering what we might have done and seen and known and been and loved.
Murphy’s Hell.”
It is sometimes difficult to be optimistic when you see setback after setback but considering what is at stake we cannot stop the fight.


What a load of crap.
There is nothing I dislike more than people who treat energy with the same nonsense as a perpetual motion machine.
The whole environmental perspective is one that says: “technology is the saviour”. That is why environmentalists are so pro-renewable energy.
The whole thrust of this article is that “technology is the saviour” … therefore we can ignore anyone who disagrees that we will be saved by spending billions on developing new technology because only the true believers in new technology know the truth, the divine truth and nothing but the truth.
It’s just the same nonsense dressed up to suck the public purse dry for another group of money-parasites who have always claimed the reason they haven’t (yet) delivered is because we haven’t handed them enough of our money, diverted enough resources and given them enough power to control society so they can develop their hair-brained schemes.

Dave Springer

Interesting. The “99%” in the U.S. are the 1% amongst and compared with the billions in India, China, Asia, and Africa. I wonder how they feel about that.

Mary Childs

Thanks for this perspective, and for tracing the origins of the hysteria. From an observant American’s always-skeptical-toward-politicians-and-authoritarians viewpoint, the abuse of science toward political ends is not new. Remember Hitler’s scientists ‘proved’ there was a superior race called ‘aryan’. There will always be people who feel superior to others and who believe it is their right to control them… Civilization has always battled these types for every ounce of freedom gained. If the West wants to return to paganism and earth/animal worship, others will push forward in technology, and our way of life will be a footnote in history. I personally do not see that happening, because most Americans just want the controllers to leave them alone to pursue the American dream, despite the Pravda-like msm.

Dave Springer

Last night in republican debate Romney snidely and clumsily said, in response to being asked for examples of where he disagrees with Gingrich, “I don’t we should be considering establishing a manufacturing facility on the moon, we have too much to do right here on the earth.” Gingrich unabashedly defended the notion of manufacturing on the moon and regaled the audience of what NASA was like when he was a young man and said the nation needs these kinds of things to inspire its youth to pursue science and techology. Gingrich really took Mitt to school in that response. Actually old Newt pretty much takes anyone to school who dares to engage with him. I’m really starting to like Newt Gingrich but I never doubted he was the smartest guy standing on that stage.

Dave Springer

richard says:
December 11, 2011 at 2:05 am
“alternative fuels, blah! what is wrong with co2.”
The only thing wrong with CO2 is there isn’t enough of it. Mark my words, as soon as synthetic biology takes off in a big way and we are very very cheaply manufacturing all manner of things using sunlight, air, dirt, and water we will need laws limiting how much CO2 can be removed from the atmosphere rather than limiting how much can be added. Carbon is a basic component in millions of useful materials from hydrocarbon fuels to carbon-fiber composite construction panels, car bodies, etc. The handiest source of carbon, found everywhere, is CO2 in the air. We need it all and then some. Drill baby drill. It’s all good.


Mining planets and asteroids? Talk about a pipe dream. Real problems here on Earth like resource depletion and environmental degradation require practical solutions.

David, UK

TBear (Sydney, where it has finally warmed up, but just a bit …) says:
December 11, 2011 at 12:12 am
Sure, there is a lot to criticise about Durdan thing, but this sort of hyperbole does the opposition view no credit.

One suspects you are not of the “opposition view.”

Robert of Ottawa

Quite so. Life expands to fill the space available, it always has and us humans can continue this prime impulse to survive, procreate and grow. If life on Earth is restricted in this capacity, then it can be propagated beyond the Earth. As pointed out, the reources of the Solar System are at our fingertips now.

Steve from Rockwood

Great article. Two more points:
1. People talk about Earth’s human population as though it were evenly distributed. “When the population reaches 10 billion, the world will..” Nothing could be further from the truth. India and China hold almost half of the world’s population and will experience catastrophic effects if something globally bad were to happen.
2. Poor countries want two things from rich countries that are mutually exclusive. They want us to suffer (financially) and they want us to pay (financially). How can you pay if you are busy dismantling your infrastructure?
What we need is leadership from the U.S. on dismantling this fake green program (AGW) and restructuring the UN to help poor people in under developed countries – not the rich bureaucrats overseeing them. It has to be the U.S. as no other country has the same leverage. Not even China.

P. Solar

The following link to a brief text posted by Guardian correspondant in Durban seems like it may be the agreed text, or close to it.


Anything about the IPCC?
“… and even the passage on future role of climate research leaves a concearn. Unlike in earlier drafts it is no longer stated that the decisions on forcing greenhouse gas reduction should be based on IPCC findings and reports. Instead the “process” should only be informed by the researchers…”
(my translation)

Vince Causey

This article does a great job in showing what can be done, and a great job at debunking the Malthusian claptrap. What it doesn’t do however, is explain that there has been a fundamental shift in Western cultural values.
The cultural values in the decades after the war could be summarised by Kennedy’s “to the moon”, speech. “We choose to do these things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” Kennedy was resonating with the cultural values and aspirations not just of the American people, but of all Western nations. The “greatest” generation had vanquished the foes of life and liberty in the greatest war ever, then rolled up their sleeves to rebuild the world from the ruins. But they were only just getting going.
But everything they achieved is now being squandered. If a modern Kennedy made a comparable speech today, he would be booed. Green activists would be trotted out in front of the media to tell everyone what a terrible thing this is. We would be lectured on American’s carbon footprints and climate crimes. Neo Malthusians would be shouting about finite resources .and Socialists would be saying what a crime it is that all this money is not being sent to poor, starving people in the developing world.
A modern Kennedy of course, is an impossibility, because his candidacy would be trashed before he finished the primaries. It doesn’t matter how much evidence accumulates debunking CAGW. It matters not a jot that temperature cease climbing or fall for the next decade. You could have 10,000 Richard Lindzens saying this is all bunk. Once you have a cultural mindset, it will not change until the majority holding those values have died.
Of course, this mindset represents Western values. People of the developing world don’t have such qualms.


“We have felt it necessary to dwell so long on an analysis of technology here because we have found that technological optimism is the most common and the most dangerous reaction to our findings from the world model. Technology can relieve the symptoms of a problem without affecting the underlying causes. Faith in technology as the ultimate solution to all fundamental problems can thus divert our attention from the most fundamental problem – the problem of growth in a finite system – and prevent us from taking effective action to solve it.”
So give us your billions and have faith that we can take care of the technology folks!

You have put words on what I have always felt. Real science and engineering is what counts. Can I translate this to Swedish and put it on my blog quoting the source? Its a very good description of what is possible and what should be the focus, Cheap reliable energy. Why can’t politician understand that?


There are pie distributors and then there are pie makers. The distributors will always ultimately succeed because distributors’ rhetoric will always melt the heart of quite a few successful makers.
I am optimistic that even in the case distributors’ success will only spur the pie makers to make more pies. So the struggle, IMO, is to temporarily defeat the distributors in skirmishes so that they never reach a win on the strategic level where they can stop the makers from making.