Why Skeptics Should Encourage Energy Use from Fossil Fuels Where Economically Justified

fossil-fuel-piechartGuest essay by Alan Carlin

I was actively involved in environmental protection as a Sierra Club activist and senior EPA analyst for over 45 years, but about eight years ago I concluded that I could not support the energy use/CO2 reduction objectives of the environmental movement and many governments in the developed world. These objectives are not just unlikely to be successful; they are genuinely harmful to humans and the environment.

What the world needs is not decreased fossil fuel use but increased use with careful control of conventional pollutants using conventional controls where needed and justified. Conventional controls are much less expensive and much more certain to be effective than attempting to reduce fossil fuel use in order to reduce conventional pollution.

The much maligned carbon dioxide is not a pollutant, as EPA and Obama claim, but rather a basic input to plant photosynthesis and growth, which is the basis of life on Earth. Decreasing atmospheric CO2 levels would decrease plant productivity and therefore the food supply for the rest of the ecosystem and humans, and vice versa. Further, attempts to reduce it will prove enormously expensive, futile, harmful to human welfare, and in the longer run, to environmental improvement. It is now increasingly evident that efforts to reduce CO2 emissions by governmental coercion will have important non-environmental adverse effects in terms of loss of freedom of scientific inquiry, economic growth and development, and the rule of law.

So why are the environmental movement and their supporters, such as the Obama Administration, pursuing these objectives? They claim that it is necessary in order to avoid catastrophic changes in climate, but the scientific case for this does not survive application of the scientific method.

It is rather part of an ideology that they are attempting to sell which would harm humans, particularly less affluent humans, and ultimately result in less environmental improvement and less protection against the only realistic climate change we really need to fear—a new Little Ice Age or ultimately even a new ice age.

Meaningful global CO2 emission reductions would require substantial reductions by less developed countries, which they have made clear they will agree to only if there are large payments from the developed countries to them. Such income redistribution would decrease the economic welfare of the developed countries and would have an uncertain effect on the recipient countries since they would presumably be asked to give up part or all of their aspirations for further development since it is strongly dependent on increased use of fossil fuels to increase human productivity. Anything that decreases their chances of providing a better life for their people is harmful in my view, and vice versa.

So in addition to arguing against the alleged need for CO2 emissions reductions, I believe skeptics might usefully argue for increasing CO2 emission levels to the extent that this will promote economic development (and in time environmental improvements). In other words, we would be supporting the position taken by the less developed countries. Environmental groups claim that their favored but much higher cost and less reliable–and thus damaging to economic development–“renewable” sources should be used, of course, but this would hinder economic development since available resources would produce less development.

I have not documented here my detailed reasoning for all this since my new book (now available from the Publisher) or from Amazon, Environmentalism Gone Mad, How a Sierra Club Activist and Senior EPA Analyst Discovered a Radical Green Energy Fantasy, provides much more detail, documentation, and a description of how I reached many of these conclusions.


109 thoughts on “Why Skeptics Should Encourage Energy Use from Fossil Fuels Where Economically Justified

    • Well indeed.
      In a decade or two, the Northern Hemisphere countries may need as much fossil fuel as they can get their hands on.
      For number of centuries as data shows, the Earth’s natural tendency to cool has been countered by the more active sun.
      More active sun, as in strength and frequency of its Coronal Mass Ejections flung at the Earth, or more precisely at the Arctic, and not in the sunspot numbers count as such.
      During even numbered solar cycles the Earth’s magnetic shield offers very little resistance, while during odd numbered cycles a ‘threshold’ of resistance is active, its level depending on the strength of both the Earth’s and the incoming solar magnetic fields.
      To our benefit, at this time of a weaker sun, the Earth’s magnetic shield has lost about 12% of its strength since the depth’s of Maunder minimum, allowing the CME’s impacts to be more effective in triggering and sustaining the Earth’s warming mechanism.

    • A large part of the problem stems from fear of pollution – a fear that is perfectly justified, CO2 is simply the excuse. And secondly from a fear of competition – if poor countries start developing, our jobs will disappear overseas along with our way of life. And thirdly, the fear that Oil will run out if the poor countries start living like we do, so we can’t let them until we find an alternative.

      I.m not saying I agree with these arguments, rather that they are rational fears that underlie the arguments people make publicly. It is much more PC to claim you want to save the world than admit to your fears.

  1. We should encourage the use of fossil fuels generally. But mining the stuff, burning it and putting it back in the atmosphere, where it belongs, we are doing Nature a big favor. Everything grows better with more CO2 around. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture recommends CO2 supplementation in greenhouses up to 1000ppm. At the same time, there is no sign whatsoever of it having any effect on climate, other than benign.

    • I disagree. While I regard anthropogenic global warming as a red herring, I also think mining of fuel creates other environmental hazards that are real. We put up with those hazards as a trade-off for the benefits provided by the energy, but if we could cost effectively switch to renewables it would be great. The issue, of course, is cost. Thus far, I don’t think anyone has quite cracked that code.

      • Mining and installing renewables creates pretty large environmental hazards as well.
        Which “hazards” are worse depends a lot on your personal preferences.
        For example, strip mines, by law have to be remediated. The area remediated is often less hilly than it was originally. For those who like hilly land, this is bad. However lots of people appreciate having more land to build houses and grow crops on, so for them the new land is more useful than it was prior to strip mining.
        Oil does spill, but it has been shown that the earth recovers quickly from such spills.

      • As China is discovering, the hazards of making this so-called renewable energy are often devasting.

        Avian wild-life isn’t fairing too well, either.

      • Andy: Avian wild life doesn’t fare too well around one type of renewable energy generator: Wind turbines, also known as bird macerators.

      • @Jake

        Indeed. Cost is the final determination, “renewable” or not, because cost is apolitical.

        Only nations going through politically-motivated economic self-destruction are able to upset the fundamentals of free market (private ownership). But the governments of these nations can only succeed temporarily since they are bound to eventually bankrupt and collapse. At that point, free market (private ownership) naturally resumes as it always has.

      • Jake, it isn’t a matter of opinion…….And renewables are made of?…… Well the list of metals and minerals is large including rare earth metals for high strength magnets for the wind turbines which are a hole in the ground and a tailings pile with significant thorium and some uranium. We take care of these pollutants as we do for fuel mining, oil and gas (more than 35 permits are required in Canada to open a miine and processing plant). Not only that, we have to extract, refine and then manufacture using????energy. A glass furnace for making solar panels can’t be fired using a windmill or solar panel, and when it comes to footprint even strip mines (the most extreme type) are smaller than the territory that arrays of solar panels and windmills have sequestered AND they need back up fossil fuel power – which they don’t figure into the cost and efficiency.

        One must move from the newspapers, TVs and activist blogs (you will get a real education at WUWT but the number of reliable open sources is few) to do some reality research on one’s own to understand that renewables are impossible replacements for fossil fuels. Ultimately, the only source for the future in nuclear and the windmill and solar folks don’t like these or hydroelectricity either!!!! There has never been a more favorable non-restrictive environment for installing renewables over the past few decades and with all their might they have 1-3% of the market. Now people are getting resistant to the idea – these will become archeological curiosities in times to come. At some point we will have to build some big fences and just go ahead with nuclear. Like my trademark allegory: “We are obliged to save the Nile crocodile, even though he’s trying to bite our heads off.”

      • Jake – punch up this google map reference.

        and see what 35 years of strip mining lignite coal to feed Antelope Valley Station, a 900-megawatt electric€-generating plant; Leland Olds Station, a 650 €megawatt electric-generating plant; and the Great Plains Synfuels Plant, the nation’s only commercial-scale coal-gasification plant, looks like. 15 million tons annually.
        By the way, digging started about 120 degrees counter-clock wise up near the power plant coal feeder conveyor.

        A real ‘environmental hazard’ there.

    • “We” have no business telling anyone what energy they should or shouldn’t use, as long as they adhere to pollution regulations (and CO2 is most certainly not a pollutant, Obama must have flunked high school biology class!). That is part of living in a free society. You don’t get to impose your particular ideology on others. A free market will make the best choices. Abolish unnecessary regulations, taxes, and incentives in favoring one energy source over another. Let the free market decide!

      • Obama didn’t come up with the idea, the EPA snuck it through the Supreme Court on the grounds it was being added to what was “naturally” there. Obama just exploited it to advance his perverse priorities.

  2. Out of 196 countries….let’s say 10 of them are developed countries…..and 186 developing
    Then say the developed countries have to pay reparations to the developing

    …..and vote on it

    • Actually there are 42 nations in Annexe 1 (developed nations) and one “federation, the EU, the individual EU members all being separately included in the 42.
      The Conference of Parties (COP) is the whole 196 who are the ultimate “authority”. There are NO votes at the COP, the outcome being a consensus position. This is why nothing material has been decided since Kyoto 1997.
      Certainly the current position of the “developing countries” led by China and India is that;
      a) their economic development is not impeded by emission reduction obligations
      b) their movement towards “renewables” must be funded from the $200b p.a. contributed to the Green Climate Fund by the above 42/43.
      The Annexe 1 nations are sporadically announcing their “nationally determined contributions” which are all (impossibly) conditional on the “developing nations” agreeing emission caps (at least).
      The debate will be over the phantom $100b p.a.
      The outcome will be a convoluted and obscure fudge wherein the Annexe 1 nations will agree to make “every effort” to deliver on their pledges. The “developing nations” will agree adaption and mitigation measures funded from the non existent $100b.
      The process will be hailed as a “breakthrough agreement” on the future of the planet and the apotheosis of the POTUS legacy.
      The blogosphere will go on arguing over the thickness of ice in the Lapev Sea and the drought index of Bechuanaland.
      There is a position in chess called Zugswang, whereby the player finds that every move loses BUT if he can forfeit his move and make the opponent move he survives because the stranglehold is broken.
      The question for COP Paris 2015 is – whose move is it?

  3. The last 3 decades of weather and climate have featured the best growing conditions for plants and crops on this planet in at least 1,000 years(since the Medieval Warm Period). Dial in the effect from increasing CO2 and you have the best environment for our booming biosphere and most creatures on earth to thrive, possibly since humans have been around.

    Sunshine +H2O + CO2 + Minerals = O2 + Food(sugars)

    • Even the BBC admitted yesterday that one of the main reasons for the current UK negative inflation rate was low price of food (UK imports most of its food), thanks to , guess what: “bumper world crops”.

  4. I can get on board 100% with eliminating fossil fuels from electricity generation.

    Assuming they’re replaced with nuclear.

      • The way I see it, yes and no. Gas is the most economical way to generate electricity, but I oppose the use of gas for generation (except when absolutely necessary, e.g. peaking plants) because it’s by far our most valuable heating fuel. Coal is more or less useless as a heating fuel, but is very good for generation, plus it lacks certain drawbacks of gas (doesn’t explode, can be stored in a huge pile next to the power plant). Properly scrubbed coal is clean and perfectly good for generation, but the long-term goal should be the recently-discussed thorium. In the meantime, however, if we need to build uranium plants or coal plants, I have no qualms.

      • I don’t know John. As a kid in Virginia, we had a coal basement heater. A coal truck would trundle down the street, extend a chute, which would rattle down coal into the chute in the house. It would pile up in the coal bin where you shoveled it into the hopper, which fed the furnace, remembering not to breathe the fumes and, and…
        You’re right.

      • I read somewhere that there is more energy in the uranium in a ton of coal, then there is in that ton of coal.

      • Sure, and there’s gold in sea water. But it’s so defuse that it doesn’t make economic sense to try to extract it as long as there are much, much more concentrated sources. The same goes for the uranium in coal.

    • john 100% agree with you. I don’t understand why this whole debate is being framed as a fossil fuel or whatever debate. We need to move beyond fossil fuels in the same way that we moved beyond wood and charcoal. The next step in that process is clearly nuclear. We need energy not just to extend the status quo but to power ever more energy rich manufacturing and processing. If it weren’t for the “back to the stone age” ideology of the modern greens we would be quite capable of deploying Plasma torch recycling as a way of recovering virtually all useful components of our waste and render toxins neutral. How “green” would that be! But it takes ENERGY and burning all our hydrocarbons to get there is a little like building you campfire with folding money for kindling.

      • . “We need to move beyond fossil fuels in the same way that we moved beyond wood and charcoal”

        We “moved beyond” wood and charcoal because we had mountains of coal, and had need for the increased concentrations of energy in coal to fuel the Industrial Revolution.

        We still have mountains of coal, and we still need the energy; what’s missing is the reason we should move beyond coal and the other fossil fuels.

        Especially when we haven’t moved beyond the problem of nuclear waste. Remember that stuff?

      • If we’ve “moved beyond” wood, why are more and more of my neighbors and friends putting in woodburning stoves and furnaces? The one thing Greens always ignore is that people will do without only so far. Once Inconvenience becomes suffering for their families people will do whatever they have to do, even if that means illegally cutting down a national forest for firewood. And It’s already happening inn Europe.

      • Especially when we haven’t moved beyond the problem of nuclear waste

        Steve P, we don’t have a problem with nuclear waste.

        We have a problem with the Law that forbids any re-processing of nuclear waste.

      • Sam I think that there are lots of problems with the regulation of the nuclear industry which accounts, in fact, for huge increases in the cost/kwh from this technology. Remember Barry Commoner was in on the ground floor of alarmism about nuclear contaminates and his agenda was every bit as hostile to modern industrial society as Paul Ehrlich’s. Aside from the advancements is fission technology which will allow us to reuse and use more of the fuel thereby easing the volume and length of waste storage the simple fact is the requirement of dealing with the waste is here to stay so let’s get on with it. The NRC and the EPA have taken advantage of legitimate concern for environmental issues to dig in and become giant burdensome bureaucracies that are like huge concrete overshoes to modern industrial society. It’s time for an administration to come in with a battle ax and trim them back to the intent of the law.

      • @ fossilage

        the simple fact is the requirement of dealing with the waste is here to stay so let’s get on with it.

        The US has been “getting on dealing with it” ….. for the past 40 years or so …. at a cost of several billions of dollars …… and it is still accumulating because no one wants it in their “backyard” …. or anywhere near their “backyard”.

        May 19, 2015 — Yucca Mountain: Despite talk of revival, obstacles remain — WASHINGTON – Depending on the headline you choose, the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage project in Nevada has either been “revived,” or it is “coming off the mat” or it’s “back on the agenda.” A flurry of activity in recent weeks has created the impression the Yucca project has come back to life. But a closer examination shows numerous hurdles remain that would take years to overcome before the facility 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas could start receiving the nuclear waste and spent nuclear fuel being stored at more than 75 sites in 33 states.
        Read more @ http://www.yuccamountain.org/new.htm

    • “I can get on board 100% with eliminating fossil fuels from electricity generation”

      I can’t. The world is still pretty much at its lowest atmospheric CO2 level in its whole existance.

      We must never allow the levels to drop back down to the dangerously low levels of below 350ppm, ever again.

    • 100% – agreed! Save portable fuel for cars and planes. Run the stationary grid off nukes.

    • ‘Big Oil’ has already jumped in bed with ‘Big Green’. Funny how they can insist it’s us on the take as they cash their oil soaked checks from BP and Shell.

    • I would not say it is “arrogant” I prefer “Criminal”. The redistribution of “Funds” from the developed to the developing, will end up in the pockets of the ruling elite in those countries. In the mean time the populace will continue to DIE from lack of power to access water!!
      The “Watermelon” movement and the Religion they have spawned is nothing else but a plan to control world population growth, as a matter of fact I think they want to reduce massively the population of the world. Eugenics at it’s best!!

  5. Alan Carlin makes an excellent argument for the need to enable developing countries grow to where then can afford to take better care of their environment. He accurately highlights the real major climatic issue that cutting CO2 would give us:

    less protection against the only realistic climate change we really need to fear—a new Little Ice Age or ultimately even a new ice age.

    Alex Epstein provides further support in his recent book: The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels Nov 13, 2014

    Could everything we know about fossil fuels be wrong?

    For decades, environmentalists have told us that using fossil fuels is a self-destructive addiction that will destroy our planet. Yet at the same time, by every measure of human well-being, from life expectancy to clean water to climate safety, life has been getting better and better.

    How can this be?

    The explanation, energy expert Alex Epstein argues in The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, is that we usually hear only one side of the story. We’re taught to think only of the negatives of fossil fuels, their risks and side effects, but not their positives—their unique ability to provide cheap, reliable energy for a world of seven billion people. And the moral significance of cheap, reliable energy, Epstein argues, is woefully underrated. Energy is our ability to improve every single aspect of life, whether economic or environmental.

    If we look at the big picture of fossil fuels compared with the alternatives, the overall impact of using fossil fuels is to make the world a far better place. We are morally obligated to use more fossil fuels for the sake of our economy and our environment.

    Drawing on original insights and cutting-edge research, Epstein argues that most of what we hear about fossil fuels is a myth. For instance . . .

    Myth: Fossil fuels are dirty.
    Truth: The environmental benefits of using fossil fuels far outweigh the risks. Fossil fuels don’t take a naturally clean environment and make it dirty; they take a naturally dirty environment and make it clean. They don’t take a naturally safe climate and make it dangerous; they take a naturally dangerous climate and make it ever safer.

    Myth: Fossil fuels are unsustainable, so we should strive to use “renewable” solar and wind.
    Truth: The sun and wind are intermittent, unreliable fuels that always need backup from a reliable source of energy—usually fossil fuels. There are huge amounts of fossil fuels left, and we have plenty of time to find something cheaper.

    Myth: Fossil fuels are hurting the developing world.
    Truth: Fossil fuels are the key to improving the quality of life for billions of people in the developing world. If we withhold them, access to clean water plummets, critical medical machines like incubators become impossible to operate, and life expectancy drops significantly. Calls to “get off fossil fuels” are calls to degrade the lives of innocent people who merely want the same opportunities we enjoy in the West.

    Taking everything into account, including the facts about climate change, Epstein argues that “fossil fuels are easy to misunderstand and demonize, but they are absolutely good to use. And they absolutely need to be championed. . . . Mankind’s use of fossil fuels is supremely virtuous—because human life is the standard of value and because using fossil fuels transforms our environment to make it wonderful for human life.”

    • “by every measure of human well-being, from life expectancy to clean water to climate safety, life has been getting better and better.” So if you reduce the amount of energy available you revert to a world where the “survival of the fittest” would be, again, the norm. You will, in the end, have very strong, very healthy individuals that will control the weak and unhealthy rest. You will then be able to breed for “superhuman” by carefully picking the correct breeding pair……The rest of the population will be there to supply and serve.
      If that is not the case or the aspiration, why on earth hasn’t the IPCC or the UN or anybody on the other side of the fence suggested thorium reactors. The watermelons know full well that renewables are useless at supplying constant power, some of them even understand how a coal fired power station works, they even acknowledge, privately, that it takes almost as much power to build a fauna-mincer that the device will ever be able to produce.
      “Conspiracy Theory”? “World Domination”? I don’t know, I am inclined to accept that it’s a strong possibility,
      In the past, what seem inconceivable, did happen, see Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and any other two bobs despot that had aspiration at controlling a country and a few millions subject…

    • The area for 50 kilometers around Ouagadougou has been stripped of all but protected (often sacred) trees for simple cooking and heat. (Yes, it can get very cold on the edge of the Sahara.) Some people who can afford to use one-burner kerosene pump-stoves. If you are rich you use propane. Cheaper hydrocarbon (not that trees aren’t hydrocarbon) energy would not only raise living standards, but it could help rectify the environmental destruction that has occurred which, I am led to believe, the greens really, really care about. (It is interesting that areas of the Sahel are greening which some think is due to the increase in CO2.)
      I this point, I shall restrain myself from my segue into western environmental extremism being the latest bastion of pure racism.

    • David,
      A profound summary, thanks. The MSM and others are misleading the populace (especially our children) of the benefits to society of using fossil fuels. Any one who honestly looks back in history should realize how the use of fossil fuels have made life enormously more comfortable and livable for many of us. As part of the education of our politicians who have grown to hate fossil fuels, they should be required to live (survive) in an environment for a least 1 month, preferably in the winter without the benefit of any fossil fuel to keep warm, be fed, or move about.
      One of the concepts I favor is that any law or regulation that impacts the “common” citizen should first be enacted on a trial basis for at least 1 year requiring only the responsible governing body to live according to the new law or regulation. For example, the President mandates that cars achieve 56 mpg. then he and all his staff must only drive or ride in autos that achieve the mandated MPG.
      That concept would eliminate a lot of nonsense from our governments.

    • Me too. Former Sierra Club and Friends Of The Earth.

      When they embraced the garbage in The Limits To Growth was my first clue…

      The simple fact is that the green movement now wants mass deaths, deindustrilization, and a return to a human free world in large part. They see fosile fuels as the control knob to remove modernity, and they might be right about that part… Just all seething self loathing offset by finding someone else to hate more.

    • Me too. I had been a longtime supporter of the pro-renewables, decarbonization brigade.
      As recently as the publication of Monbiot’s “Heat”, I was fuming that a small number of diehard refuseniks were preventing concerted global action.
      Then I started looking up real graphs based on real data sets.
      Real graphs. Rather than the bullshit concocted by Mann et al and the modellers.

  6. Perhaps it might also help if skeptics could encourage the alarmists to worry about some other things less crucial to human existence than energy supply.

    A bit like encouraging a small child to want what they can have, because there’ll be tantrums after Paris.

  7. IPCC AR5 WGI Chapter 6, figure 6.1

    Global fossil fuel represents about 10% of the carbon flux churning around in the atmosphere. Use all you want, FF CO2 will just disappear in the clouds of natural variability and measurement uncertainties..

    Total Fluxes Residual
    11.6 11.6 Residual/total
    77.2 38.20 49%

  8. I understand your conversion … my question is What took 45 years ? anyone with a basic understanding of engineering and science would have reached this conclusion in days … So how did you manage to cast off your anti-science and environmentalists dogmatic beliefs are start thinking clearly ? or did you just wake up one day, look in the mirror and realize that you wasted 40+ years ?

    • You’re not being fair. Many of us simply believed the warming meme up until around 2007 or so, since it was all we heard. I think a big pivotal point was Gore’s “movie” because it made people really think about the issue, and then want to delve into it, discovering, much to their shock and anger that it was pretty much all bunk, and that we’d been lied to.

      • It was much earlier than 2007 for me when politicians started talking about AGW driven “climate change” via burning fossil fuels in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. It was then that I knew it was garbage and Gore’s totally laughable mocumentary simply supported my view.

    • I can’t speak for him, but there was good work done by EPA in the 1970s to control what came out of the smokestacks and went into the waters. Since then it has been a case of diminishing returns, as EPA basically completed its mission in about 1978 and should have been dismantled, its enforcement arm moved to the Justice Department with the rest disbanded. Instead it has done what any bureaucracy will do and expanded its mission to defend and expand its budget, manning, and power.

      For those working in the agency, the idealism of “improving the world” drives the daily mission creep, but you don’t notice yourself slowly becoming the US version of the Stasi. It takes an awakening event to realize that the good you thought you were doing has morphed into a totalitarian evil.

      • Maybe someone remembers, but not to long ago, a court case was decided (I think in Georgia) against the EPA which had tried to control coolant water at a power plant by having water, yes water, classified as a pollutant. I could be off-base, as the article was legalistic and I didn’t see any follow up. Does anyone know about this?

      • “but you don’t notice yourself slowly becoming the US version of the Stasi.”

        Why is it that people always use German orgs for such comparisons when the FBI itself poisoned licquor during the prohibition, killing unwitting drinkers, blaming the deaths on alcoholism. You’re becoming the US version of the FBI.

      • DirkH, I used the Stasi because they are generally well known behind the “iron curtain” abuser. I didn’t want to dig through my memory for all the internal suppression agencies of the USSR or China, and I really didn’t want to invoke the dark period of the late 30s – early 40s.

        The FBI and the CIA both have had a bad record in the US. That was why President Nixon (yeah that guy) wrote the first executive orders severely limiting what agencies could do with respect to internal espionage. Those orders were still being followed when I retired from the business 7 years ago. I have no idea if they are still in effect now.

  9. There is a frost warning tonight (19 – 20 May 2015 ) for Western Massachusetts. Warmists have been very quiet in these parts since the coldest summer on record in New England

  10. Fossil fuels and nuclear power are environmentally friendly sources of energy. They are energy-intensive, and allow farmlands and firewood lands to be returned to natural woodlands and grasslands. Wind, solar and biomass power are environmentally disastrous. They are land-intensive, and force natural woodlands and grasslands to be cleared and developed.

    • Back when vehicles were hay-powered, 90% of New Hampshire was pasture. Old black and white photographs of my town from 1895 make the area look like parts of Ireland. Great wagon loads of hay headed south to fuel the transport of the big cities.

      Now New Hampshire is 90% tree-covered. All sorts of once-nearly-extinct wildlife has returned, such as deer, moose, beaver, bald eagles, turkeys, wildcats, ermine, blasted coyotes, and even (come insist) mountain lions.

      (Sarc on) Once we were the OPEC of hay. A man could make a good living growing grass. (Not that kind of grass, either.) What good has fossil fuel ever done for us? I think we should heed the environmentalists, and get back to the good, old denuded landscape. (Sarc off.)

      Of course, some environmentalists want to turn the entire state of New Hampshire into a “wildlife corridor”. Humans are “vermin”, right? Nor would moving masses of people out be “unprecedented”. It would be like the Cherokee “Trail of Tears”, or like the “Highland Clearances” in Scotland.

  11. All very sensible. There is a 2.5 million year pattern of Interglacials during the current Pleistocene Ice Age spaced roughly 100,000 years apart. These Interglacials all follow the same pattern – start out warm, then temperatures decline in steps until ice-age conditions return. The 20th C warming was probably the last upward tick of warmth before we plunge into another Little Ice Age, as Alan Carlin says, then sooner or later back to full ice age once more. What makes people think that a 0.01% increase in a minor gas can alter this pattern? They are all mad. Very disappointing.

  12. If one argues that the real source of destruction of the environment on this planet is humans – and the sheer number of humans at that – and so therefore we need to reduce the number of humans on the planet, then it goes without saying that the only populations in serious decline are those of the ‘developed nations’ – and they became ‘developed’ on the back of fossil fuel. So the only way to really solve the world’s environmental woes is allow the developing world to get as developed as by the same means, and then their populations will start to reduce and that will ease pressure on the environment…
    And meanwhile, the developed world should start being rational about alternative, clean sources of energy – like nuclear (none of this subsidised solar/wind rubbish) and improving battery storage so that we can in tandem, introduce the developing world to our improving energy tech.
    I shudder to think of the current ideas though where the developed world will tax themselves back into developing status, and pass huge chunks of money to governments of developing countries who probably WON’T pass it back onto their citizens… Oh yeah, that’s right, the UN had a vision didn’t it about a global government didn’t it?!

    • I dont mean our physical size!!! I am on about our footprint…all the natural resources that need to be extracted/replaced/grown to keep us living in the manner in which we (in the developed countries, and aspire to in developing countries) have become accustomed to. That is what leads to the need for less humans on the planet. Anyone who thinks the governments can “keep growing the economy” forever is seriously in need of being educated to the reality of human consumption! We cannot keep on developing technology to keep things as they currently are – there is a point where we are going to run out of resources, some quicker than others. Unless we go off planet….

  13. All 7 billion people on earth today could be stacked inside 1/2 of the Grand Canyon. Whatever the real problem it’s not “too many people.”

    • I think it’s more generous than that, depending on the assumptions you make I’ve calculated that each person could have their own little cubicle, with enough room for a bed, a little table, a mini fridge, and enough head room to stand up. Unfortunately the halls would be very long and narrow, and no one would get windows, although if your lucky enough to be on the top level you could have a skylight. Oh yeah, the bad news is that there’s only one bath room for every 57,000 people … and if your in the middle of a hallway the nearest bathroom is 1.7 miles …

      • I’ve read somewhere that the entire 7 Billion people on earth could fit into the state of Texas with less population density then Manhattan Island. And the Midwest alone could produce enough food for everyone at better then subsistence level.

        We do not have a population problem, we have a distribution problem. And most of that comes down to a UN and developing nation corruption problem

      • Just did the math and it was off. we’d need about 3 1/2 Texas’ to get us to Manhattan density.

      • Hoboken is the “Square Mile City”. Actually 1.28 sq miles. It has a population of 50,000. It has no high rise building to speak of, and has numerous parks. If you packed the 7 billion residents at the density of Hoboken, they’d occupy about 180,000 sq miles. Texas is about 270,000 square miles. The US is about 3.806 million square miles.

      • @shitzree
        You should triple check your math. Google puts Manhattan’s population density at 66,940, requiring only 104,000 sq miles for everybody on earth.

    • Schitzree:

      The thing about Manhattan is that if you remove all the commercial buildings the room for residents is surprisingly generous

  14. So when the world figures out that CO2 is good and assuming nuclear is not free, which industry is the winner, coal or natural gas?

      • Yes, and fortunately we have plenty of both, and probably more oil than anyone would admit. That formidable energy triumvirate could easy power a smooth and powerful global economy for a long time, if only…

  15. “What the world needs is not decreased fossil fuel use but increased use with careful control of conventional pollutants using conventional controls where needed and justified. Conventional controls are much less expensive and much more certain to be effective than attempting to reduce fossil fuel use in order to reduce conventional pollution.”

    I think this is the correct way go address real pollution (not fake CO2 pollution). It makes dollars and sense.

  16. Fracked gas from deep in the bed rock isn’t a FOSSIL FUEL! It’s left over from planetary formation. The planet is loaded with carbon compounds, some of which originated from decaying dinosaurs but not all by a long shot. Sheesh…

    • Bull feathers … go get some geology courses or a degree even and stop writing nonsense.
      Why is it that nitwits that never found a barrel of oil in their lives think they know where it comes from?

      • If I’m not mistaken, the current theory is that shale is the source rock for conventional formations, at least in many cases. Correct me if I’m wrong.

        Out of curiosity, was there any methane left on earth after its formation? Was it heavy enough to be held by the atmosphere or did it escape like all the helium?

    • It is unlikely that oil deposits are due to decaying megafauna of any sort, let alone dinosaurs. Sinclair Oil used the dinosaur as a logo when people were fascinated by the discoveries of Marsh and Cope and their successors.

  17. Environmentalism is a political movement that has supported unjustifiable claims through liberal indulgence in inference and extrapolation (aka “post-normal science”), shifting environmental disruptions to enable “green” technology, and obfuscating consequences to local flora, fauna, and people throughout the life cycle from recovery to reclamation.

    The alternative is conservation through rational and reasonable policies that exploit natural resources while preserving a balance that engenders viability. To this end, natural resources, including green (i.e. basic nutrient in diverse ecosystems), renewable (i.e. product, not driver) petroleum, and other hydrocarbons, should be used to purpose as they best serve and fill a need.

  18. Great idea, transfer wealth from the productive to the unproductive (thereby punishing the former and encouraging the latter). Boy, that has worked out so well elsewhere.

  19. Mr. Carlin, I would appreciate it if you’d provide the link to the table behind your graphic. I don’t doubt the numbers at all. I’id like the link because I bookmark those kinds of things. I will post an example below, of the U.S. electricity generation mix.


    I find the DOE site kind of tough to navigate, and was hoping you’d have the link handy for the total energy mix. Thanks much in advance

  20. Economies of scale are the only necessary reason to continue to use fossil fuels. If we destroy the efficiency of fuel production by non-market means the consequences will necessarily be higher costs for those transport modes for which batteries will never be a solution. Trucking, air transport, shipping, and rail. Consider how this would alter forever the economic positions of those nations that won’t ban fossil fuels vs those that do. Absolutely everything will be more expensive from those nations who roll over for the UN on fossil fuels.

    Hardest hit will be those on fixed incomes followed by those who become more heavily taxed.

  21. Quote: “…the only realistic climate change we really need to fear— (is) a new Little Ice Age or ultimately even a new ice age.”

    Indeed! Given that plant life nearly perished at the end of the last ice age (with CO2 air concentrations of only about 180 ppm), reducing life-enhancing CO2 out of the atmosphere would be not only a brainless folly, it would actually be the most stupid crime against Life on Earth itself…

    Just imagine somebody would demand to reduce the oxygen concentration of the atmosphere in order to reduce the danger of wild fires, everybody would lough out loud. But the even more insane claim of reducing the still rare and limited vital plant-food CO2 – only because of the unproven CAGW hypothesis – is the ruling ideology of today’s world… !!!

    Later generations will lough their heads off about the common “wisdom” of our time!

  22. So why are the environmental movement and their supporters, such as the Obama Administration, pursuing these objectives?

    Another answer to this is “follow the money.” There are tons and tons of money to be made by supporting the global warming bandwagon. Some of the most fervent left-wing donors have a hard_n for global warming and you’d better toe the line or you’ll find that money funding your opponent in your next primary race.

  23. Thank you Alan. Now how about an apology for 45 years spent on the dark side making life miserable for sane people who figured it out much sooner than you did? Do that and I’ll but your book.

  24. Alan,
    I am curious about your history. Did you “come out” publicly against this when you realized it, or kept your opinions to yourself and wait until you retired with full benefits?

    I deal with people all the time who know the truth but never speak it for fear of losing their income.

    Unfortunately, honesty is not always the best policy in this business.

  25. Notice some comments on global population above. It is forecast to pass 8 billion by 2020. Not long now. Assume global lifespan is 80 years. Multiply by 365.25 (days) and divide into 8 billion.
    8,000,000,000 / (80 x 365.25) = 273,785.0787
    Just to hold the population stable well over a quarter million people must die EVERY DAY!
    Also the same number of children must be born EVERY DAY!
    Since the global population is INCREASING, are we living longer or producing more children EVERY DAY?

    • Both, I believe, but increased lifespans, including decreased mortality of children probably are affecting it more. Warnunists are doing their best to change that, though.

  26. Skeptics Should Encourage Energy Use from Fossil Fuels, because they put out CO2, and plants NEED CO2….

  27. The author gives groups like the Sierra Club too much credit. Ultimately, the debate comes down to unconstitutional control of our economy, our food supplies, our lives and liberty. Are Americans and other societies willing to cede control of their lives and property to a small, and in many cases, politically unaccountable elite.

    About 6 or 7 years ago, the Alarmists gave up attempting to convince the average voter through science and debate that Global Warming was everything the Alarmists claimed. Yes, the Alarmists still publish the occasional scientific paper warning the world of melting ice caps, “extreme weather”, and a host of tribulations that accompany “Climate Change” (aka Global Warming). But, the utter imprecision of their climate projections have forced Alarmists out of the arena of science, and forced them in the arena of political activism. Dr Michael Mann’s preferred method of debate is trolling the Internet, and expensive litigation; Dr James Hansen feels more at home protesting than studying.

    All of the agencies and organizations that demand international action on Climate Change are filled with well-meaning but naive fools. And behind the scenes, in private conference rooms, are the political operators and finance operators (private foundations, and federal agencies handing billions in grant dollars). There’s a lot at stake. For what is more thrilling than forcing auto manufacturers and their consumers to toe the line? What gives more pleasure than to dictate supply and demand of fossil fuels and their distillates? Bureaucrats, political operatives, single issue advocacy groups, mixed with the ravenous appetite for Beltway Elites to control everything from light bulbs to lawnmowers all work together to fight the war on fossil fuels.

    And somehow were supposed to have a rational debate on energy, energy security, environmental protection, and alternatives to fossil fuels. Yes, organizations can privately hold conferences and seminars. But, where the rubber meets the road – the Beltway? Forget about it. We cannot even get them to admit that there hasn’t been any Global Warming in 18 years. Forget about Reason. The Alarmists even enlisted the Pope in their fight against fossil fuels. Who would have thought that the Alarmists do belief in Original Sin, afterall?

  28. Life relentlessly removes CO2 from the air and oceans by creating limestone and fossil fuels. Some of it is returned via rock weathering and volcanoes but not enough to keep up. Thus, CO2 has hit the lowest levels in earth’s history. They “bounce” off 150ppm, the level at which plants die. Man to the recue by burning fossil fuels. It almost makes one believe in divine guidance.

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