The Next Environmental Crisis

Reposted from Dr. Judith Curry’s Climate Etc.

by Judith Curry

Are our current solutions only a short term fix?

On Monday November 15, I will be participating in an iaiLIVE debate on The Next Environmental Crisis. From the iai website:

The new clean energy economy, endorsed by governments and campaigners, promises to save usfrom environmental disaster. But worries are growing that we could be heading to a new future crisis.  In decades to come some argue we will be struggling to contain the huge environmental damage caused by billions of highly toxic and unrecyclable solar cells and car batteries, along with newly commissioned nuclear plants, while the internet itself, bitcoin mining included, consumes uncontrollable amounts of energy.

Are the problems of the environment even more challenging than we think? Will the new economy save us, or are the current technical solutions a short term fix? Is relentless consumption and growth itself to blame for our environmental issues?  Or can we rely on humanity’s ability to solve the next crisis that we may be in the process of causing now? 

Cosmologist, astrophysicist, and Astronomer Royal Martin Rees, award winning economist and Professor of Environmental Economics Thomas Sterner, and controversial climatologist Judith Curry join us to ask if we’re heading towards a new environmental crisis.

This should be a very interesting event. Each of the panelists has been asked to respond to the following questions

Will the new, green energy economy ushered in by governments save us from environmental disaster?

  1. Is the environmental crisis the greatest threat that humanity faces, and if so, how do we decide this?
  2. Is relentless consumption and growth to blame for our current predicament?
  3. Can we rely on humanity’s ability to solve future crises of this kind?

A draft of my responses is appended below:

Will the new, green energy economy ushered in by governments save us from environmental disaster?

For the past century, fossil fuels have been the backbone of our energy and transportation systems, providing the engine for our ever-increasing prosperity.

Even without the mandate associated with global warming and other environmental issues, we would expect a natural transition away from fossil fuels over the course of the 21st century, as they become more expensive to extract and continue to contribute to geopolitical instability.

The problem is with the urgency of transitioning away from fossil fuels, driven by fears about global warming.  By rapidly transitioning to this so-called clean energy economy, we’re taking a big step backwards in human development and prosperity. Nations are coming to grips with their growing over dependence on wind and solar energy.  Concerns about not meeting electricity needs this winter are resulting in a near term reliance on coal in Europe and Asia. And we ignore the environmental impacts of mining and toxic waste from solar panels and batteries, and the destruction of raptors by wind turbines.

To thrive in the 21st century, the world will need much more energy. Of course we prefer our energy to be clean, as well as cheap.  To get there, we need new technologies.  The most promising right now is small modular nuclear reactors.  But there are also exciting advances in geothermal, hydrogen and others. And the technology landscape will look different even 10 years from now. 

For the past two decades, people have equated environmental disaster with manmade global warming.  We’ve been hearing about the climate crisis, climate catastropheexistential threat and most recently a code red for humanity.  Note that the IPCC itself does not use the words ‘crisis’, ‘catastrophe’, or even ‘dangerous’; rather it uses the term ‘reasons for concern.’ Apart from the scientific uncertainties, the weakest part of the UN’s argument about manmade global warming is that it is dangerous. The link to danger relies on linking warming to extreme weather events, which is a tenous link at best.

I have an old-fashioned view of environmental problems, focused on pollution of air, water, soils and the oceans, and also on land use that destroys habitats and diminishes species diversity.

In 50 years time, we may be looking back on the UN climate policies, and this so-called green economy, as using chemotherapy to try to cure a head cold, all the while ignoring more serious diseases.   In other words, the climate crisis narrative gets in the way of real solutions to our societal and environmental problems.

Theme 1: Is the environmental crisis the greatest threat that humanity faces, and if so, how do we decide this?

In 2018, World Health Organization stated that “Climate change is the greatest threat to global health in the 21st century.”  From the perspective of 2021, after almost two years of fighting Covid with over 5 million deaths, this statement seems unfortunate at best.  We should be asking the question as to whether the WHO’s focus on climate change contributed to the world being ill prepared for Covid-19.

Climate change is just one of many potential threats facing our world today, a point made clear by the Covid-19 pandemic. Why should climate change be prioritized over other threats? There’s a wide range of threats that we could face in the 21st century: Carrington events are solar electromagnetic storms that would take out all space-based electronics including GPS and electricity transmission lines; future pandemics; global financial collapse; a mega volcanic eruption; a cascade of mistakes that triggers a thermonuclear, biochemical or cyber war; the rise of terrorism.  It’s almost certain that we will be surprised by threats that we haven’t even imagined yet.  Vast sums spent on attempting to prevent climate change come from the same funds that effectively hold our insurance against all threats; this focus on climate change could overall increase our vulnerability to other threats.

So, how do we prioritize among the threats facing humanity?  For the most part, we can’t.  The best insurance against any and all of these threats is to try to understand them, while increasing the overall resilience of our societies.  Prosperity is the best the indicator of resilience.  Resilient societies that learn from previous threats are best prepared to be anti-fragile and respond to whatever threats the future holds.

Theme 2: Is relentless consumption and growth to blame for our current predicament?  

I’m not sure what our current predicament actually is, other than the one manufactured by the global politics surrounding climate change.   More prosperous societies overall have a smaller impact on their environment than countries that engage in whole-scale exploitation of their environment just to survive.  

Environmental problems have been defined as problems of population growth.  Population increase has been enabled by technological and medical advancements.  In the early 21st century, population is growing most rapidly in less developed countries, while Japan and many countries in western Europe having fertility rates that are well below replacement.  Apart from changes in population, as countries develop, their consumption increases.   

Developing countries don’t just want to survive, they want to thrive. We need much more electricity, not less.  Going on an energy diet like we did in the 1970’s is off the table.  We need more electricity to support innovation and thrivability in the 21st century.   Consumption and growth will continue to increase throughout the 21st century.  We need to accept this premise, and then figure out how we can manage this growth while protecting our environment.  
 
 Theme 3: Can we rely on humanity’s ability to solve future crises of this kind?

Humans are the most adaptable species that has ever existed on Planet Earth, a species so sophisticated that it can survive in outer space.  The planet has been warming for more than a century.  So far, the world has done a decent job at adapting to this change.  The yields for many crops have doubled or even quadruped since 1960. Over the past century, the number of deaths per million people from weather and climate catastrophes have dropped by 97%Losses from global weather disasters as a percent of GDP have declined over the past 30 years.

It’s an enormous challenge to minimize the environmental impact on the planet of 8 billion people.  I have no question that human ingenuity is up to the task of better providing for the needs and wants of Earth’s human inhabitants, while supporting habitats and species diversity.  But this issue is the major challenge for the next millennium.  It’s a complex challenge that extends well beyond understanding the Earth system and developing new technologies – it also includes governance and social values.

To make progress on this, we need to disabuse ourselves of the hubris that we can control the Earth’s climate and prevent extreme weather events.  The urgency of transitioning from fossil fuels to wind and solar energy under the auspices of the UN agreements has sucked the oxygen from the room. There’s no space left for imagining what our 21st century infrastructure could look like, with new technologies and greater resilience to extreme weather events, or even to deal with traditional environmental problems.

Under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, we’ve oversimplified a very complex problem. The causes of climate variability and change are complex, and any predictions of 21st century climate change are associated with deep uncertainty. We stand to make the overall situation worse with the simplistic solution of urgently replacing fossil fuels with wind and solar, which will have a barely noticeable impact on the climate of the 21st century.

Humans do have the ability to solve future crises of this kind.  However, they also have the capacity to make things much worse by oversimplifying complex environmental issues and politicizing the science, which can lead to maladaptation and poor policy choices.

JC note: You need to register (and pay) to hear this live. I understand that a youtube will be prepared of the highlights, and the full recording will eventually be made available on the iaiLive website.

I look forward to your comments on my remarks.

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November 12, 2021 11:10 am

When will you realize CO2 induced warming is a quantitative fake, based on adding up “single factor addition” forcings and feedbacks, as opposed to “single factor removal”. It is that trivial..

Reply to  E. Schaffer
November 12, 2021 11:32 am

For example we can use the figures given by Gavin Schmidt 2010 for “single factor removal” (SFR) and “single factor addition” (SFA). The figures are not quite correct, but we do need to discuss this now.

GHG / SFR / SFA
H2O 39% 61.9%
CO2 14% 24.6%
Clouds 14.5% 36.3%
all others 4.9% 9.2%

Sum: 72.4% (SFR), 132% (SFA)

As he assumes a total GHE of 155W/m2, these percentages translate into 112.22W/m2 (SFR) and 204.6W/m2 (SFA)

The question is, what to use as a basis for forcings and feedbacks. If you double CO2 for instance, 3.7W/m2 is the SFA forcing, while the SFR forcing is far lower, only about 2W/m2. But the only the latter is relevant in the presence of other GHGs and clouds. A similar thing does for WV feedback. If there were no overlaps, WV would produce about 1.8W/m2 feedback per K temperature change, at least in theory. That is SFA. The SFR figure is only about 0.6W/m2, and that is the one that matters.

In ECS this makes the difference, whether 2xCO2 plus WV feedback produces some 2.4K warming, or only about 0.6K

eyesonu
Reply to  E. Schaffer
November 12, 2021 7:00 pm

Comment by Rio is spam. Needs to be deleted.

n.n
Reply to  E. Schaffer
November 12, 2021 12:27 pm

Net Zero effect in the wild.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  n.n
November 12, 2021 1:27 pm

Net Zero effect in the wild.

I’m beginning to wonder if “net zero” doesn’t refer to the effect we have on the climate

griff
Reply to  E. Schaffer
November 13, 2021 1:22 am

Really it isn’t… the basic physics are as certain as gravity

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  griff
November 13, 2021 2:40 am

but “the climate” isn’t just about basic physics

Patrick MJD
Reply to  griff
November 13, 2021 2:59 am

Gravity is still a theory. Plenty of evidence to support it, but still a theory. CO2 driven climate change, not so much.

very old white guy
Reply to  Patrick MJD
November 13, 2021 5:03 am

All the physics and math ever evolved will alter the climate.

November 12, 2021 11:11 am

World leaders continues to “leak” emissions and air quality responsibilities to developing countries. The same countries that have virtually non-existent environmental regulation nor labor controls to protect the local workers in those developing countries. Newsom has obviously yet to read the Pulitzer Prize nominated book Clean Energy Exploitations that helps citizens attain a better understanding that just for the opportunity to generate intermittent electricity that is dependent on breezes and sunshine, the wealthier and healthier countries like Germany, Australia, Britain, and America continue to exploit the most vulnerable people and environments of the world today.

SxyxS
Reply to  Ronald Stein
November 12, 2021 2:58 pm

I think it was Newsome who declared natural gas co2 neutral (or something of similar stupidity ).
I guess he just needs to declare all battery and solar waste as untoxic and everything is fine.

James Allen
November 12, 2021 11:30 am

This is an interesting take that points out a lot of flaws in the current system in place to address the challenges. My question is why the random bold print words? It makes it distracting to read an otherwise cogent selection of views.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  James Allen
November 12, 2021 1:28 pm

Agree with your final point. Constant emphasis has the opposite effect.

Robert of Texas
November 12, 2021 11:37 am

Climate change itself is a natural process. The question is really are we affecting it through the use of fossil fuels, and if so by how much? If we could answer those questions, then the next obvious question is is this leading to a net good or net bad outcome? In any case, humans have to continue to adapt because climate change will continue.

The conversion from reliable sources of energy to intermittent ones makes no sense what-so-ever. It isn’t just the reliability that is at issue, it is energy cost and density. No sane engineer thinks we can replace most of our energy infrastructure using intermittent energy.

Energy density leads to the problems of environmental impact – direct in the amount of land we impact to build all of this low energy density infrastructure but also in the indirect pollution caused by having to abandon, replace, and/or recycle all of this material. So far green proponents seem to have ignored these problems focusing only on the now. When we start seeing hundreds of thousands of wind turbines needing to be replaced the problem will finally become obvious to everyone.

Nuclear energy is the obvious path forward. Despite fubar examples like Chernobyl, nuclear energy remains the safest energy source around. We can build nuclear reactors that passively shut down – much safer than previous active safety built systems. We can build reactors that burn much more of the fuel so they produce about 1/20th the waste. Long term storage of nuclear waste is a political problem, not an engineering one.

I for one doubt fusion power will ever be economical, at least not in the next 100 years. Without a major breakthrough in our approach, building $35 billion dollar reactors is just not viable (assuming we could get the costs down to that).

Reply to  Robert of Texas
November 12, 2021 11:56 am

If we successfully roll out nuclear as a baseload to cover intermittency from solar and wind then at a stroke solar and wind become redundant.
We should use gas from fracking to carry us through to nuclear and scrap all wind and solar efforts immediately because they cause more environmental damage than fracking and nuclear ever will.
I fear that the UK emphasis on wind power is a colossal error potentially leading to national bankruptcy.

michel
Reply to  Stephen Wilde
November 12, 2021 12:34 pm

Yes indeed. Trying to move to wind, at the same time as you more than double the demand by moving everyone to heat pumps and EVs, it is indeed heading to national bankruptcy. And that is before the mad plan to move everyone to hydrogen, for which they have no source.

When you see that crazed look in his eyes when Johnson talks about becoming the Qatar of hydrogen! Its like they are all hallucinating. Its weird. Alok Sharma who was a perfectly sensible chap before he got sucked into chairing CP26. I don’t know what it is, but there is something about climate that deprives people of reason.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  michel
November 13, 2021 2:43 am

“there is something about climate that deprives people of reason”

Like all religions.

anthropic
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
November 13, 2021 8:30 pm

Like some religions. One of them birthed science by positing a rational, orderly God creating a rational, orderly universe and beings endowed with rational minds that could comprehend it.

RickWill
Reply to  Stephen Wilde
November 12, 2021 12:53 pm

I fear that the UK emphasis on wind power is a colossal error potentially leading to national bankruptcy.

The test of sanity will be when it comes to replace existing wind generators. That will be the time that investors realise they are funding a lame duck. The present technology is unsustainable.

The Australian situation has become interesting. There was a view that the price of the LGCs (Large Scale generation subsidy) would tank as more intermittent generators were connected to the grid and the renewable energy target would be easily reached.

The price of LGCs is stuck around AUD40/MWh. The reason is that dispatchable generators now schedule daily blocks of energy near the floor price of minus $1200/MWh to stay scheduled but the Large-Scale intermittent voluntarily curtail as soon as rooftop solar kicks in through the sunny part of the day. The wholesale price sits around minus $40/MWh as no intermittent generator wants to produce power at prices lower than the sunsidy.

It appears that Large-Scale wind and solar needs a subsidy of $40/MWh to be profitable. Present subsidies end in 2030.

This link shows the generation mix in SA:
http://nemlog.com.au/gen/region/sa/
The dotted orange line is the estimated curtailed output. The yellow line is the contribution of the rooftop solar and is subtracted from the wholesale demand because it is priced at the retail level. The 35% of Australian households are often making money from exporting power when all the grid scale producers are paying to send power out.

michel
Reply to  RickWill
November 12, 2021 11:17 pm

Very interesting. Law of unintended consequences and unanticipated incentives.

I am not sure what the consequences of the UK policies will be, assuming a serious effort is made at implementation. But it will certainly be nothing like what is naively expected, which seems to be that everything will carry on just as now except that the cars will be EV, the generators will be wind, and the heating will be heatpumps.

Except that the cars will cost double or triple what they do now, the grid will be falling over all the time from lack of storage or wind or both, and you’ll be banned from charging the EVs when you need to, the heat pumps will cost twice as much to run as gas boilers and it won’t keep the houses warm. And there won’t be any electricity to run them, anyway.

But there will be hydrogen, lots of it, made from the gas they are no longer burning in all those boilers and cookers. Which no-one will want because they will be using electricity to heat and cook, so they will refuse to convert and just close down their gas connection.

If they don’t blink first, it will be national bankruptcy and a catastrophic fall in the standard of living accompanied by and driven by all kinds of perfectly rational individual choices in an increasingly insane environment with insane incentives.

Reply to  michel
November 13, 2021 2:08 pm

michel,
A succinct, and – I think – not unreasonable summary of the UK.
Assuming that some – at least – of the Civil Servants and politicians are both intelligent and numerate, it is unclear why this train crash must unfold.
Are there other motives?
Lord Deben [John Selwyn Gummer of BSE-burger notoriety] may have a financial interest in building – or renting land to – bird-choppers.
Are the others all paid-for servants of that nice Poisoner Putin, Tsar of all the Ukraines [or is that next week’s news?]?

Auto

Oldseadog
November 12, 2021 11:49 am

There are two issues.
One is environmental and includes pollution by plastics, used batteries, unrecyclable items etc.
The other is that climate change is not a problem and somehow this message must be transmitted to everyone.
The first is one for engineers and their ilk to fix. There are lots of them about.
The second is for honest MSM owners to fix. I don’t know of any at the moment.

Doonman
Reply to  Oldseadog
November 12, 2021 6:16 pm

All plastics are useful, non toxic and represent raw materials to make new plastic items. Therefore, they are not a pollution problem, they are a waste handling and storage problem.

As long as it remains easier to let gravity deal with unwanted plastic, people will confuse the resource with pollution because they are too lazy to bend over and pick it up.

Oldseadog
Reply to  Doonman
November 13, 2021 3:17 am

Yes, Doonman, I agree about plastic but it isn’t happening yet and for the moment it is causing pollution which could have been avoided.

Doonman
Reply to  Oldseadog
November 13, 2021 7:42 pm

No worries. The Norwegian based The Ocean Cleanup is handling it. They claim they can capture and recycle 90% of waste plastic.

anthropic
Reply to  Doonman
November 13, 2021 8:32 pm

Bacteria already take out 99%.

markl
November 12, 2021 11:59 am

Keep the populace afraid. Very afraid. Don’t let a chance go by where you can drive the stake deeper.

griff
Reply to  markl
November 13, 2021 1:25 am

Ironically just under your post is a link to ‘what china is doing to kill us all’.

all parts of the political spectrum have on occasion been happy to keep the populace afraid -e.g of soviet communism

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  griff
November 13, 2021 2:47 am

Since the Soviet threat was real- having occupied half of Europe with no intent to leave. The only people not understanding this were the hard left who loved the Soviet Utopia.

TonyN
Reply to  griff
November 13, 2021 3:49 am

I make the assertion that soviet communism has killed more people than any other single cause in the history of mankind. Ergo, Griff, it makes sense to be afraid of soviet communism.

anthropic
Reply to  TonyN
November 13, 2021 8:33 pm

Communism is a Western ideology that has killed more Chinese than Russians.

BrianB
Reply to  griff
November 13, 2021 8:48 pm

LOL
Thousands of nuclear warheads pointed at us by a a regime that murdered millions of its own citizens and allied itself with Hitler = crybaby climate Chicken Littles.
Very reasonable.

mwhite
November 12, 2021 12:02 pm

No doubt this will be blamed on global warming.

What China is Doing to Kill Us All – YouTube

michel
November 12, 2021 12:26 pm

Moderate and sensible. The essential point: that there is no global warming crisis, but there are lots of areas of environmental policy which need action. That is correct. The assumption has increasingly been that the only environmental issue we need to think about is global warming. Whereas in fact we don’t need to think about that much, but we do need to think about habitat destruction and real pollution.

Good point that what we should be addressing is local, health impact pollution. Clean air and water, healthy food, along with preserving wild diversity, those are the priorities, or should be.

And yes, agreed about green waste coming towards us, if the green schemes do get off the ground on the scale people are planning.

Its characteristic of today’s green movement that there is a total lack of connected thinking of this sort. So we had the blind move to biofuels, which mainly destroys habitats, and also takes food and converts it to fuel. The biofuels mania has probably inflicted more hunger on the world than many of the worst historical famines. And its led to a huge amount of habitat destruction.

The move to solar and EVs will be similar, the greens will wake up one day and start blaming someone else for all this toxic waste. Not to mention the appalling damange to humans and environment of producing it in the first place.

You might mention in this connection the complete madness of the UK plans, where they appear to be planning on converting residential gas to hydrogen, which they will make from gas. At the same time as they do this, they’ll convert everyone to heat pumps, so they no longer need either gas or hydrogen. They will then convert the grid to solar and wind, but without storage. And at the same time as they do that, which will not even meet today’s demand, they are going to expect it to support not just the heat pumps but also millions of EVs.

I realize that this is one of those things where its impossible to say such stuff in public, even when you are with an audience which silently agrees with you, because it will attract a chorus of abuse.

I think you might say that skepticism about the so called climate crisis is rather more widespread than is usually assumed by the committed. Look internationally at China and Russia. The political and intellectual establishment are obviously not buying it. Its worth telling the audience that. Its also worth pointing out to them that the usual assumption, the US tackles climate change and all is well, you cannot talk about action without addressing who is putting out the tonnage. And if you do that, you find that nothing the US does unilaterally is going to make the slightest difference. Its worth telling this kind of an audience just what China is doing, and is continuing to do. And its worth exposing the various shifts away from the tonnage to per capita emissions, emissions per unit of GDP, historical emissions, and the diversion to how much solar and wind is going in.

Hold their feet to the fire. The story is that the tonnage is all that matters, but as soon as you start talking about who is doing the emitting, the ground seems to shift to these other irrelevant issues.

So, well done basically. Kept it within the bounds of what is socially acceptable to say in public these days, while remaining realistic and deflating the hysteria.

Graham
Reply to  michel
November 12, 2021 2:40 pm

New Zealanders were asked by our government to respond to the Governments wish to become carbon neutral.
A select committee was set up and hearings were held through out the country .
The hearings were just a show front as the government had already made up their mind to pass a Zero Carbon Bill which they passed soon after .
I attended a hearing and spoke and presented a paper which covered enteric methane and world coal consumption .
Methane from our farmed livestock is supposed to account for around 40% of New Zealands GHG emissions which makes no sense to me .
I presented a graph of methane atmospheric levels which shows no increase in methane levels for ten years from 1999 until 2008.
What was the problem with methane emissions ?
There was no problem untill world coal production started to ramp up from a steady 4,7 billion tonnes up to 2008 and it is now running at over 8 billion tonnes per annum .
All methane from farmed livestock is a cycle as all forage that animals consume absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere and the methane that is expelled during digestion is broken down into CO2 and water vapour in 8 to 10 years in the upper atmosphere.
To make matters worse this government is encouraging investors from around the world to buy up good sheep and cattle farms on rolling to steep land.to plant in pine trees which will never be harvested .The theory is that our native bush will gradually take over and become a carbon sink.
The theory is fatally flawed as these pine trees will become serious fire hazards in 20 to 100 years time and what then happens to the carbon credits that the government has paid out to these investors.
These farms breed lambs and young cattle for sale to graziers to finish and the lamb ,mutton and beef is exported to the world to earn overseas exchange for New Zealand .
If to many farms are converted to carbon forests it will destroy many rural communities.
The money flowing overseas instead of food will soon have an effect as every one in New Zealand will be worse off.
I cannot believe that a government can do this to a country .

Megs
Reply to  Graham
November 12, 2021 5:29 pm

They are doing similar things in Australia. They are looking to lock up a third of our arable land to encourage reforestation. Australia only has 6% arable land out of a land mass of more than 7.6 million sq km. It’s insane, 70% of our produce is exported. On top of all that they are covering vast swathes of prime agricultural land with renewables.

buggs
Reply to  Megs
November 12, 2021 9:01 pm

Same in Canada. One politician favoring the planting of trees flew over the Canadian prairies and referred to it as a “wasteland” suggesting it should be planted with trees as both a carbon sink and a form of agro-forestry.

Sadly the politician didn’t grasp that the Canadian prairies was one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions, feeding millions, if not billions, of people (like Australia, the U.S. and Russia). That we’d turn farmers into welfare recipients for 20+ years while they waited for trees to mature to harvest couldn’t have been less consequential.

Politicians are essentially 16 year old activists with their respective heads up their arse on scientific matters of any consequence. Canadian’s may be the worst as we’ve been successfully co-opted by eco-warriors.

Oldseadog
Reply to  buggs
November 13, 2021 3:29 am

If the praries ( and steppes ) were suitable for trees to grow on they would have been covered in trees before humans arrived.

Rob_Dawg
November 12, 2021 12:55 pm

Then: We are doomed but technology will save us.
Now: We are doomed and technology is the reason.

Pat Frank
November 12, 2021 2:10 pm

Climate change is just one of many potential threats facing our world today, a point made clear by the Covid-19 pandemic.

There’s a true statement. Both so-called threats are manufactured. By progressives.

Progressivism, which is totalitarianism without police-power, is the only real threat facing the western world. Progressives have manufactured all the crises in the hopes of producing sufficient chaos to bring them to power. After which the gloves come off and a new dark age rings down.

As some twit of a 1970’s radical said, ‘The issue is not the issue.’

The issue is power. Wielded over others.

Smart Rock
November 12, 2021 2:14 pm

Dr. Curry, much as I respect your thoughts and observations, the fact is that our political masters aren’t listening.. End of story.

There seems to be no way out of the economic and environmental disaster being foisted upon us in the name of “saving the planet” by our so-called leaders. Supported as they are by constant outpourings of fabricated doom-and-gloom from a cabal of “scientists”, which is in turn parroted by lickspittle media, so that public discourse is almost entirely one-sided. Climate skeptics like many of us here will continue to live in the shadows – unless a real charismatic leader (or leaders) appears who can take charge and mobilize public opinion to do away with all the fake climate science and the wokey nonsense.

Leaders like that can’t be created – they either appear spontaneously, or they don’t. So far, there’s no sign of one.

I’m being pessimistic today. Perhaps it’s the time of year.

On the other issues – of third-world poverty, over-population and environmental degradation, if the climate crap ever gets cleaned up, third-world countries will get energy and industry and they will prosper. They will become rich countries, and rich countries are clean countries. And rich countries have declining populations. Two birds with one stone!

Last edited 2 months ago by Smart Rock
H. D. Hoese
November 12, 2021 2:31 pm

I worked a year here in the late 50s and sampled in the really dead Houston Ship Channel. Petroleum in all its products responsible now demonized but were cleaned up. We now have a clear case of lack of homework, a sad failure to learn from history. If the green one is successful it will be considerably more difficult and waste lots of petroleum better used for other needs. This one passed the test. Carter, L. J. 1970. Galveston Bay: Test case of an estuary in crisis. Science. 167:1102-1108.

MarkW
November 12, 2021 3:02 pm

Nuclear waste is only a problem because the politicians want it to be a problem.
Store the rods for a few years (2 to 5) while the short half life stuff decays away, then reprocess the long half life stuff as fuel.

MarkW
November 12, 2021 3:04 pm

The value of what we are consuming is going up. The volume of what we are consuming is not.
Economic growth does not result in more trash.

Ed Fox
November 12, 2021 3:39 pm

mods please delete

Last edited 2 months ago by Ed Fox
Ed Fox
November 12, 2021 3:47 pm

The Law of Unintended Consequences

Temperatures were stable when the world burned coal. The aerosols produced by coal balanced the CO2 produced. While CO2 increased temperatures, aerosols decreased temperatures, keeping the earth’s temperature stable.
Thus, China and India, by burning coal are not the problem. Their aerosols balance their CO2. They don’t contribute to the warming.
The Problem is the US and EU, that are going away from coal to natural gas. Natural gas produces almost no aerosols, so the CO2 produced is unbalanced. It creates warming without any aerosol cooling.
If the US and EU are serious about warming, they should go back to burning coal. Maximize the production of aerosols to minimize any warming and restore balance to the earth.

Last edited 2 months ago by Ed Fox
Mr.
Reply to  Ed Fox
November 12, 2021 4:57 pm

Your hypothesis is unfortunately founded on the fallacy that manmade CO2 emissions have any significant effect on climate behaviors.

The drawing board awaits your return . . .

gbaikie
November 12, 2021 4:44 pm

–Will the new, green energy economy ushered in by governments save us from environmental disaster?–

Governments always cause disaster.
Wind and solar don’t work on Planet Earth
And cause more CO2 emission, are a toxic waste and toxic waste is created by making them.
–Is the environmental crisis the greatest threat that humanity faces, and if so, how do we decide this?–
The greatest threat are governmentally related.
Totalitarian governments and the UN {which is totalitarian in it’s present goal/direction-
and past actions.

–Is relentless consumption and growth to blame for our current predicament? —
Yes – and caused by governments

–Can we rely on humanity’s ability to solve future crises of this kind?–
We can rely on people {and possibly AI}
Humanity is a hopeless thing/creature of politicians.

Humans are the most adaptable species that has ever existed on Planet Earth, a species so sophisticated that it can survive in outer space. —

Not actually proven, need exploration which government has been failing to do.

But it’s reasonable to imagine that humans can survive in space and become a spacefaring
civilization.
It’s likely Humans could live in skies of Venus, but Venus orbit is more related to being spacefacing species, Or you could live in skies of Venus if had a spacefaring civilization but it does appear to a first step towards how to become spacefaring.

gbaikie
Reply to  gbaikie
November 12, 2021 5:08 pm

,, but it does NOT appear to a first step towards how to become spacefaring.

Under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, we’ve oversimplified a very complex problem. —

No, it’s main failure was not doing a simple thing that they said they wanted to
do, which was to determine how warming is caused by CO2 so as to be capable
to advise governments.

But we are living in an Ice Age and in last 2 million years has been coldest part
of this 34 million year old, Ice Age {called Late Cenozoic Ice Age or also calledthe Antarctic Glaciation}
And we have low global CO2 because in Icehouse climates have cold oceans.
Ours is currently 3.5 C.
5 C or warmer ocean would be a warm interglacial period- and we haven’t had such warm ocean in last 2 million years.

Worried about sea level rise? Government should allow or say it’s human right to be able to live on the Ocean.
I think government should allow low income housing on the ocean- the poor can live at the beach {and having good surfing areas near them}.

If we get to point of having Mars towns {or settlements vs just governmental bases}
it requires ocean settlements. Or we going to get ocean settlements whether or not governments allow them, IF Elon Musk gets what he is dreaming about.

glenn holdcroft
November 12, 2021 7:53 pm

Common sense as in the likes of Judith Curry and so many other brave individuals cannot be taught . Today’s education and most media is a nonsense breeding like cancer with no ability to think things out . Climate Change as they wish to call it is a political monster being used against humanity instead of for it .

michel
Reply to  glenn holdcroft
November 12, 2021 11:32 pm

The extraordinary thing is the divergence. Look at a chart of Peabody, for instance. Does it look to you as if divestment from fossil fuels is having much or any effect?

No-one believes it, no-one is seriously acting as if they do. There are piecemeal efforts at irrelevant projects, like wind and solar and subsidies to them, and to EVs. But no-one in any country has any intention of going the whole hog. Equally however no-one dares admit this, at least in the West.

They are all pretending to believe, and then pretending to act on their pretended beliefs, but being careful to make their actions tokenism only.

Something which Greta seems finally to be realizing!

griff
Reply to  michel
November 13, 2021 1:27 am

No-one believes it, no-one is seriously acting as if they do. There are piecemeal efforts at irrelevant projects, like wind and solar and subsidies to them, and to EVs. But no-one in any country has any intention of going the whole hog. Equally however no-one dares admit this, at least in the West.

The UK and Germany and most EU countries are firmly locked into trying for a net zero target.

There are multiple countries with renewable energy over 40% and active coal phase out programmes…

griff
November 13, 2021 1:21 am

Handling – or rather ailing to handle – nuclear waste isn’t exactly a new problem.

Craig from Oz
November 13, 2021 1:41 am

The next environmental crisis will probably result from disposable face masks ending up in our oceans.

I mean it won’t be the ‘OFFICIAL’ crisis with the Greta Scowl of Approval, but it will exist.

Jan de Jong
November 13, 2021 2:23 am

Progress is doing more with less. The “progressive” plans embody the opposite.

2hotel9
November 13, 2021 4:23 am

“clean energy” is doing actual harm to the environment everywhere it is being pushed. Just had an EV burn through 30 inches of pavement here in western PA and you can not find it in the news, not even locally. How many of these toxic smoke spewing events are happening and not being reported? Add to them all the toxic pollution from manufacturing all this crap. The real environmental crisis is being created by the greentards, and all the while they are gleefully killing babies and chopping them up to sell the parts. What sick assed excuses for human beings followers of leftist ideology are.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  2hotel9
November 13, 2021 7:39 am

Add to them all the toxic pollution from manufacturing all this crap

And disposal. ‘Solar Panels Will Create 50 Times More Waste And Cost 4 Times More Than Predicted, New Harvard Business Review Study Finds’

https://michaelshellenberger.substack.com/p/why-everything-they-said-about-solar

Last edited 2 months ago by Dave Andrews
2hotel9
Reply to  Dave Andrews
November 13, 2021 8:07 am

I know two men who worked for a contractor building windmills. Quess what? Now they both run their own company tearing them out. Oh, and the blades have to be “piled” because they can’t find anyone in US to recycle them.

Coach Springer
November 13, 2021 7:10 am

Sarcastic remark ahead.

The obvious solution is to make that bulldozer on the garbage pile in the picture battery operated.

usurbrain(@usurbrain)
November 13, 2021 7:22 am

I am now in my late 70’s. 40 years ago, when My father died I acquired his table saw and 1/2 in hand drill. Both are still working and well over 70 years old. All I have done is replace the brushes in the drill about 15 years ago, and the power cords. Fast forward to today’s tools and it is cheaper to replace the vast majority of tools made over repairing them. When on sale you can replace the battery operated tools for about the same price as buying a replacement battery, getting a new tool and a new battery. The average user just throws the old one away. I know how to repair any tool and appliance I own ( yes that includes radios, TY’s, and all kitchen appliances), but even that only saves me about 1/3 to 1/2 of the price of replacing the tool/appliance – ignoring my hourly value. Seems to me if these “Environmentalists” were really concerned about the Environment and “Sustainability” they solve this problem by requiring equipment to have a sustainability mandated lifetime. The saved material and energy would probably actually reduce the CO2 to get rid of the mythical Anthropological Global Warming.

Last edited 2 months ago by usurbrain
observa
November 13, 2021 7:54 am

I’d suggest the evidence is beginning to show that the lithium battery run society is already in trouble. These investors couldn’t make it pay due to the advantages the early adopters now enjoy with gigantic economies of scale-
Blow to UK battery industry hopes as Johnson Matthey halts research (msn.com)

No problem as said early adopters can simply ramp up their production or duplicate their gigafactories presumably? Well not quite because they seem to have plumbed the depths of lithium battery production costs. Now they face resource supply restraints requiring higher pricing to call forth more supply from more marginal mines-
Benchmark: lithium-ion battery prices rise for first time in gigafactory era; lithium carbonate major driver – Green Car Congress

How much more costly will EVs become given they’re around 40% higher than ICE car costs at present due to their battery pack costs?

Matthew Sykes
November 14, 2021 11:56 pm

Is relentless consumption and growth to blame for our current predicament?”

Can growth decouple from consumption, ie, resource use?

Yes, look at the growth in IT and the virtual world. It is a world of the imagination, it doesnt consume in the way that buying a bigger car/yacht/house does.

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