Apocalyptic Versus Post-Apocalyptic Climate Politics

From Climate Etc.

by Judith Curry

The Inflation Reduction Act that has passed in the US Senate contains a healthy dose of funding for energy and climate initiatives.  There is much discussion as to why this bill looks like it will pass, when previous climate bills (carbon tax, carbon cap and trade) failed.

The Senate bill includes billions of dollars in tax credits and subsidies for clean energy and electric vehicles. In addition to renewable-energy funding, there is also commitment to federal oil and gas expansion, albeit with fines for excessive methane leakage. The bill includes climate resiliency funding for tribal governments and Native Hawaiians and other disadvantaged areas disproportionately impacted by pollution and climate warming. Funds are also allocated to tackle drought remediation in the West.

I’ve received requests to write on this topic, here are some bits and pieces that I’ve pulled together.  My main points:

  • Post-apocalyptic climate politics have a much better chance of succeeding than fear-driven apocalyptic climate politics
  • Energy policy should be detached from climate policy to make a robust transition to a 21st century energy system that emphasizes abundant, cheap, reliable and secure power with minimal impact on the environment (including land use).

Apocalyptic climate politics

Motivated by international treaties and the UNFCCC Paris Agreement, countries and municipalities are declaring a “climate emergency” or “crisis” that requires urgent and strong climate policies to avoid both local and global catastrophe.

Business-as-usual climate policy is based on what has been referred to as the politics of “climate scarcity” (Asayama), whereby there is an upper limit to the level of warming (and thereby CO2 emissions) that must not be exceeded to avoid dangerous climate change.  The politics of climate scarcity is associated with the politics of energy and material scarcity, blaming climate change on extravagant lifestyles and requiring a long period of belt-tightening if we are to survive the crisis.

The failure of the world’s governments to make much headway in reducing emissions is blamed on several factors.  The main impediment to progress is blamed on fossil fuel companies, who wield power through political influence via financial contributions and propaganda. Capitalism is being blamed because manufacturers, farmers and others need fossil fuels to produce food and equipment needed by the economy and general population. Democracy is being blamed, since democratic decision making is too slow and sometimes people don’t make the “right” decision.  Arguments are being made for degrowth, which is the idea that economic growth is environmentally unsustainable and should be halted, at least in wealthy countries.

With the failure of most countries to significantly reduce CO2 emissions, activists and governments are using “random gambits to kneecap fossil fuel production.”  These include restricting permits to for fossil fuel production, cancelling oil and gas pipelines, getting organizations to divest their funds from fossil fuel companies, and restricting access to loans and other financial resources for fossil fuel companies.

Attempts to limit CO2 emissions from the demand side by imposing carbon taxes have been politically very unpopular. Even among people who are supportive of addressing the climate change problem, they are unwilling to pay higher energy prices. The politics of scarcity is not an easy sell, particularly when framed in terms of anti-democracy, anti-capitalism and degrowth.  The politics of alarm and fear and scarcity haven’t worked. However, letting go of the apocalyptic rhetoric is difficult for those who have built careers based on climate catastrophism.

Climate politics business-as-usual (the apocalyptic version) expects people in developed countries to exercise energy and material restraint for the altruistic motives of “saving the climate”, while at the same time slowing down development in Africa by not supporting access to their own energy resources.  While the vast majority of people believe that climate change is a real problem, they fear a future without cheap and abundant fuel and continued economic expansion much more than they fear climate change. Making people’s energy less abundant and/or increasing its price is politically toxic unless there is an urgent, short-term need for austerity.

Framework for a post-apocalyptic politics

Lets face it — the climate “crisis” isn’t what it used to be. Circa 2013 with publication of the IPCC AR5, RCP8.5 was regarded as the business-as-usual emissions scenario, with expected warming of 4 to 5oC.  Now there is growing acceptance that RCP8.5 is implausible, and RCP4.5 is arguably the current business-as-usual emissions scenario. Only a few years ago, an emissions trajectory that followed RCP4.5 with 2 to 3oC warming was regarded as climate policy success.  Now that limiting warming to 2oC seems to be in reach (now deemed to be the “threshold of catastrophe”), the goal posts were moved in 2018 to reduce the target to 1.5oC. A few weeks ago, in defending its decision to issue fossil fuel prospecting permits in spite of declaring a climate emergency, the New Zealand government stated that the climate crisis was “insufficient” to halt oil and gas exploration. Climate change is indeed an “insufficient” crisis.

Adam Smith in the Wealth of Nations (1776) points the way towards a post-apocalyptic climate politics.

“We address ourselves not to their humanity but to their self-love and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages”.

There is growing support for a climate politics that harnesses enlightened self-interest, rather than focusing on austerity.  In other words: carrots, not sticks.

There are three major political issues that fall under the climate umbrella:

  1. The desire for clean, abundant and cheap energy for the global population
  2. The desire to reduce vulnerability to extreme weather and climate events
  3. Concerns about rising atmospheric concentrations on CO2 and its impact on the climate

Issues #1 and #2 are primarily dealt with by national and subnational entities, and receive widespread political and economic support if they support local self-interests.  Issue #3 is politically controversial since international policies have attempted a top-down approach that controls  #1 and #2 by the emphasis on rapid reduction of fossil fuel emissions, with the specter of energy scarcity and a redirection of international funds away from development and adaptation.

Focusing on issues #1 and #2 is a quieter kind of climate politics (“don’t mention the climate”, an adaptation of a Fawlty Towers skit “don’t mention the war”), which doesn’t require the apocalyptic rhetoric but rather addresses concerns and opportunities that people are enthusiastic about addressing.  Actions taken willingly and enthusiastically are more effective politically and have higher moral legitimacy because of the absence of coercion.  A focus on issues #1 and #2 supports the flourishing and thriving of the global population, which should act to de-escalate the political controversies associated with the climate change issue.

Further splitting off issues like water resources and food security from the climate issue allows for addressing real problems at a more local level, without expecting a reduction in atmospheric CO2 concentrations to actually ameliorate anything on decadal time scales.

Once we acknowledge that we don’t currently know how to fully address the challenge of stabilizing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at a low level on the timescale of decades, we can search for new and more effective approaches for issues #1 and #2 and other ancillary issues that currently live under the climate umbrella, all the while focusing on supporting human flourishing and thriving in the 21st century.

If we deal with all of these other issues, human-caused climate change becomes something we don’t even need to talk about – we will be prospering because of abundant and inexpensive energy and can afford to reduce our vulnerability to climate change (both natural and human-caused).

And incidentally, CO2 emissions will be reduced.  Matt Taibbi’s “green vortex” shows how the learning curve for new green technologies will continue to accelerate.

US Senate IRA bill

Why did the Senate IRA bill succeed where other US attempts at climate legislation failed?

One narrative is that the adverse impacts from recent extreme weather events has finally overwhelmed the “evil” strategy of oil, gas and coal companies of sowing doubt about the severity of climate change.

The other, more convincing narrative is that this bill offered monetary incentives to industries and consumers to switch to clean energy, with no mention of energy- or CO2– related taxes. Essentially, lawmakers replaced the sticks with carrots.  Time for the environmental economists to eat humble pie.

A further reason for the success was labelling this as Inflation Reduction Act.  This (mostly) misnomer is politically very useful in avoiding the reflexive association of this bill with often nutty climate policies driven by the apocalyptic version of climate politics.

The bill also includes provisions for gas and oil exploration.  While the apocalyptites regard this as a deep flaw, it is actually an important feature.  Any efforts to reduce to reduce CO2 emissions needs to acknowledge that fossil fuels are needed to fuel the 21st century energy transition.

Attempts to speed up the transition away from fossil fuels by restricting the production of fossil fuels and new generating plants has backfired by making many countries reliant on Russia’s fossil fuels.  The geopolitical instability associated with Russia’s war against Ukraine highlights the importance of having multiple options and safety margins – key characteristics of robustness.  Safety margin strategies in electric power systems include redundancy, a range of different power sources, and reserve power.  Overcapacity should be a feature of future energy systems, not a bug.  And for now, this needs to include fossil fuels.

So while this bill was a political win, I have to say if I was in charge of $400B to support the energy transition I would have focused on R&D for advanced nuclear and geothermal plus smart microgrids.

21st century energy transition

Everyone wants cheap, abundant, reliable, secure and clean energy.

While fossil fuels have fueled human progress in the 20th and early 21st centuries, there is a strong rationale for reducing our reliance on fossil fuels for energy – independent of their impact on atmospheric CO2 concentrations and air and water quality.  Mining for fossil fuels has large, continuing economic and environmental costs.  Fossil fuels will become increasingly expensive to extract by the 22nd century.  The Russian war on Ukraine highlights the vulnerability of fossil fuel supply chains and price spikes to geopolitical instability.

There are many reasons to support a new energy system (independent of CO2 emissions) that will set the stage for global human progress in the 21st century.  Here are some considerations for the 21st century energy systems, outlined in terms of values and risks/dangers

The 21st century energy transition can be facilitated with minimal regrets by:

  • Accepting that the world will continue to need and desire much more energy – energy austerity such as during the 1970s is off the table.
  • Accepting that we will need more fossil fuels in the near term to maintain energy security and reliability and to facilitate the transition in terms of developing and implementing new, cleaner technologies.
  • Continuing to develop and test a range of options for energy production, transmission and other technologies that address goals of lessening the environmental impact of energy production, CO2 emissions and other societal values
  • Using the next two to three decades as a learning period with new technologies, experimentation and intelligent trial and error (let the “green vortex” work), without the restrictions of near-term targets for CO2

In the near term, laying the foundation for zero-carbon electricity is substantially more important than trying to immediately stamp out fossil fuel use. Africa should be allowed to develop its own natural gas resources. The transition should focus on developing and deploying new sources of clean energy.  The transition should not focus on eliminating electricity from fossil fuels, since we will need much more energy to support the materials required for renewable energy and battery storage and building nuclear power plants, as well as to support growing numbers of electric vehicles and heat pumps.

The build out of wind, solar and natural gas can fuel the transition, but this combination probably will not survive competition from new and better technologies that become available in the coming decades.  The push for weather-based renewable energy – wind, solar, hydro – seems somewhat ironic to me.  One of the main motivations for transitioning away from fossil fuels is to avoid the extreme weather that is alleged to be associated with increasing COlevels.  So why subject our energy supply to the vagaries of water droughts, wind droughts, icing and forest fires?  In any event, the growth of renewable energy has been a substantial boon to private sector weather forecasting companies that support the electric utilities sector.

Transmission upgrades needs to play a key role in the transition.  Modernization of the transition grid is needed to enhance reliability and resiliency, improve cybersecurity and prevent outages due to extreme weather. Smart grids can allow advanced control of load supply and demand.  Developing and evaluating microgrids would substantially support the learning curve for incorporating distributed energy resources to improve transmission and make it more flexible.

Transformation of the electric power sector will require considerable inputs of raw materials, including rare earth and semi-/precious metals and structural materials such as cement steel, and fiberglass. Apart from the amount of energy required to mine, process and refine these materials, some critical materials are concentrated in a few countries, which will change the geopolitical dynamics.  Building stable supply chains for critical materials is critical for the growth of wind, solar and battery storage.  A circular economy with reuse and recycling will help minimize environmental impacts and supply chain shocks.  Technologies that use low cost, readily available materials will have an advantage in being adopted.

How fast can the transition occur?  China has developed its energy systems at an astonishing speed. An autocratic government with a top-down energy strategy can rapidly implement changes.  However, there are disadvantages to such an autocratic approach relative to the more chaotic, bottom-up approach of developing energy systems in the U.S.  Yes, making changes to an electric utility system in the U.S. must confront permitting, regulations, public approval, litigation, delays, cost overruns and an archaic financial model for electric utilities.  However, the more bottom-up approach (individual states and electric utility companies) provides many different opportunities to experiment and learn, thus producing in the end an evolution of electric power systems that may be more anti-fragile with a broader array of options.

Bottom line:  Focus on the energy transition, not near-term CO2 emissions.  Clean is one of the major values, and the CO2 emissions will eventually reduce.  Overall a more rapid transition will be facilitated if we don’t unduly focus on COemissions and meeting near term emissions targets.

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August 10, 2022 10:25 pm

Mining for fossil fuels has large, continuing economic and environmental costs. 

  • Mining for minerals and coal to build windmills has large, continuing economic and environmental costs and produces large amounts of CO2
  • Mining for minerals and coal to build solar panels has large, continuing economic and environmental costs and produces large amounts of CO2
  • Mining for minerals and coal to build electric cars has large, continuing economic and environmental costs and produces large amounts of CO2
  • Mining for minerals to build out distrubuted production grid networks has large, continuing economic and environmental costs and produces large amounts of CO2
  • Mining for minerals and coal to build conventional power production capacity to deal with the variability of wind and solar has large, continuing economic and environmental costs and produces large amounts of CO2
  • Mining for minerals to build grid scale storage that can be measured in Hiroshimas has large, continuing economic and environmental costs and produces large amounts of CO2

The cure is worse than the disease and dressing it up as a carrot doesn’t change that.

Last edited 1 month ago by davidmhoffer
Reply to  davidmhoffer
August 10, 2022 10:54 pm

Well said! And given that most of this infrastructure is made in China, shipping and transportation would also contribute considerably to C02 levels. We would produce less C02 globally if we put a stop to this lunacy.

The premise of C02 as a “pollutant” was simply a way to present a problem that needs fixing. A way to market wind turbines, solar panels, batteries and EV’s. After these decades past we have done nothing to reduce C02 through renewables, even if it was a problem to begin with. We have simply exported the “problem” to China, along with the jobs.

Reply to  davidmhoffer
August 11, 2022 2:26 am

And what exactly is the problem with producing CO2? It is not a pollutant, it does not cause climate warming, human CO2 production is minuscule in comparison to nature’s. The only thing that CO2 has been proved to cause is beneficial increased plant growth. The more CO2 the better for the planet.

Last edited 1 month ago by Herrnwingert
Reply to  Herrnwingert
August 11, 2022 5:26 am

“human CO2 production is minuscule in comparison to nature’s.”

You are confused.
Humans increased the CO2 level by about +50% since the early 1800s
Nature is a net absorber of some of the CO2 humans produced.
Mature is NOT adding to atmospheric CO2
This is basic climate science.

The more CO2 the better for the planet is correct up to meeting the needs of C3 plants used for food — 750ppm to 1500ppm — with better plant growth supporting more human and animal life on our planet. Air pollution from burning fossil fuels without modern pollution controls, however, would offset any advantage of the CO2 emissions.

The Dark Lord
Reply to  Richard Greene
August 11, 2022 10:30 am

Air pollution from burning fossil fuels without modern pollution controls” and we burn them with modern pollution controls so whats the issue again ?

Reply to  The Dark Lord
August 11, 2022 11:30 am

There is so much air pollution over many large Asian cities that it is obvious fossil fuels are being burned without modern pollution controls. Coal ash is also pollution.

Reply to  Richard Greene
August 12, 2022 7:04 am

Richard, I saw your human CO2 50% claim in a recent thread on this site. If I remember correctly several people who did not agree made comments. I am not a scientist but so far, in all the literature I have read, the human CO2 contribution to the atmosphere is put at about 5%. More CO2 is, supposedly, being released by nature as the planet warms (first temperature rises then CO2 is released – not vice versa). I would appreciate some enlightenment. What is the correct number? Does anyone really know?.

Last edited 1 month ago by Herrnwingert
Reply to  Herrnwingert
August 12, 2022 9:55 am

It is said in several studies that termites emit 10 times the CO2 that humans do.

What I want to know is if the termite population is increasing since the end of the little ice age and at what rate. I don’t believe anyone knows this for certain and I don’t believe it is included as a factor in any climate models.

Reply to  davidmhoffer
August 11, 2022 10:03 am

The impacts of mining are easily dealt with and have been for decades.
The impacts of drilling for oil and gas are small enough to be unnoticeable most of the time.
Even huge spills only impact small portions of the planet and disappear on their own within a few years.

Ben Vorlich
August 10, 2022 10:37 pm

Aks permanent recession- period of temporary economic decline during which trade and industrial activity are reduced, generally identified by a fall in GDP in two successive quarters.

August 10, 2022 11:21 pm

Thank you for this reasoned and reasonable approach to the future of energy and the climate struggle conundrum. You are right to demonstrate that the one-sided focus on fear of CO2 is limiting most people’s ability to make good judgements about the importance of the abundant energy needed to progress mankind forward.
I support your statements about nuclear research and grid stability as being key. (I’ve just installed a $20k generator here in “modern” California because the utility cannot provide reliable power.)
We can innovate our way to success; abstinence and suffering are not required.

Reply to  John MacDonald
August 11, 2022 12:55 am

I am fine with more nuclear research but we already have viable nuclear right now. Government is the ONLY reason holding back its proliferation.

Reply to  Derg
August 11, 2022 5:47 pm

Government mainly supplies the gun to the head of those who resist the shrill cries of their beloved luddite voters, it is not the driving force.

Reply to  AndyHce
August 11, 2022 5:51 pm

If you don’t like ‘liddites’ substitute ‘Kaczynski deciples’

August 10, 2022 11:22 pm

The Degrowth strategy is based on the economist Herman Daly, who’s branch of ecological economics pushes the theory of a Steady State Economy. In short the state controls the size of the population, and all levels of production inputs and outputs at a steady state optimal. It has been picked up by climate activists as another way to try and legitimise the control emissions backed by economic theory. Be warned it has all the characteristics of communism and eugenics rolled into one.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Simonsays
August 11, 2022 1:46 am

Wasn’t that tried for the decade starting September 4, 1929 and ending September 3, 1939?

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
August 11, 2022 5:24 am

And it is never the elites who have to experience any of the “degrowth.”

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
August 11, 2022 10:05 am

Socialism always fails, no matter what label they use this time.

August 10, 2022 11:25 pm

It seems to me that Ms. Curry has transitioned from a climate scientist into a politician. It may be that she has a business that requires that. I suppose that is why I never visit her website anymore. In my opinion this article is data-free political claptrap. Not science.

Reply to  Richard Greene
August 11, 2022 12:01 am

Very true, thank you.

Reply to  Richard Greene
August 11, 2022 12:42 am

The thing is that the key issues in climate are political, you cannot get away from it. The issues that matter are about policy, about what are sensible actions, both locally and globally. And about what the electorate in democratic countries will or won’t accept, what they get from the media, what their priorities are.

JC is reacting to the fact that we are living through a period of climate hysteria. Extravagant claims are made by activists, they are accepted and amplified by the media, and they are then made the basis for policy.

We are living through a period of hysteria not only on the facts and predictions about climate, but also about policy.

You can see all this in the IFA. To the extent that its about climate and the future of the climate, its based on nonsensical and unscientific theories. And it is being sold as in some way addressing climate change, when in fact it can have no effect whatever on global emissions due to unilateral action by the US, and when whatever the US does on climate is going to have no impact as a force of example on the world – no-one is looking to the US example as a guide to what they should do.

JC is right to comment on this. In fact it seems like to focus on policy questions is the only constructive approach at the moment, the only area in which its possible to have a rational discussion of things on their merits. People generally can engage with questions about intermittency of wind supply, quantifications of emission reduction. Whereas doubts about alarmist scenarios usually deteriorate rapidly into vague accusations of denialism.

Its very helpful that someone who has had a career in climate science should focus on these issues. There are plenty of other people engaging in disputes about the nature and extent of the MWP, attribution of the current European heat wave and so on. There are very few publishing reasoned critiques of current policies, and pointing out the bizarre social dynamics which are driving them.

Reply to  michel
August 11, 2022 4:39 am

Yes and she asks a poignant question. “Why did the Senate IRA bill succeed where other US attempts at climate legislation failed?”

The Senate bill passed by VP Harris casting the tiebreaker vote enabled by cheating.

For example, covid accelerated the trend toward mail-in voting which greatly allows ballot harvesting to occur.

Richard Page
Reply to  michel
August 11, 2022 4:45 am

It’s a proven fact that frightened people make poor decisions and the MSM/climate fraudsters have been frightening politicians and voters for decades. Time to end that foolishness – make climate ‘scientists’ and media mouthpieces responsible for their offerings, rather than giving them free reign.

Reply to  Richard Page
August 11, 2022 5:37 am

Scare the people until they demand
that their government “do something”
Increase government power
Reduce personal freedom
The leftist formula for over 100 years

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  michel
August 11, 2022 5:08 am

‘JC is right to comment on this.’

But not to put lipstick on a pig, including invoking Adam Smith’s ‘Wealth of Nations’, as if the IFA was just an earnest attempt to liberalize a hampered market. Let’s be clear, the IFA was passed by the slimmest of legislative margins, the deciding vote only being cast after reinstating the carried interest loop-hole that benefits hedge fund managers, i.e., those who will probably benefit most from imposing ‘renewable energy’ on the people of the US. And it can’t be undone absent 60 votes in the Senate and/or a change in Administration, so it’s going to be the ‘law of the land’ for at least 2-3 years, if not much longer, because we all know that those new weaponized IRS agents will probably devote most of their efforts to rooting out opposition to the Democrat’s agenda.

Reply to  michel
August 11, 2022 5:34 am

Ms. Curry is a “Ph.D. writer”
I have great difficulty following her thought process.
While I have been saying climate change (CAGW) is 99% politics and 1% science since 1997, I recognize that few scientists are capable of winning a political (climate) debate. You can’t be polite and win such a debate.

I wrote a for profit economics and finance newsletter for 43 years and am currently the editor of three blogs. My climate science and energy blog has had over 330,000 page views. I am a good judge of which writers know what they are talking about and communicate well. Ms. Curry fails in those categories. Every time I read one of her articles, I wish someone else would provide a short plain English summary of the article.

Reply to  Richard Greene
August 11, 2022 11:34 am

IMO, she stated the core issue with the whole CO2 / AGW brouhaha-
climate scientists should stick to uncovering what makes climates work, and refrain from energy development & usage.

FFS, climate “science” has no expertise in power design, development, deployment or economics.

Judith recognizes this.

As a magazine publisher, would you for example put yourself forward as an expert listed financial fund manager?

Reply to  Mr.
August 11, 2022 4:25 pm

“climate scientists should stick to uncovering what makes climates work, and refrain from energy development & usage.”

But energy development and usage proceeds from the assumption that climate science is settled. Which is not true. And that future global warming is predicted to be bad news, while past global warming (1975 t0 2022) was good news. And that humans can correctly predict the long term climate, which they have not so far.

Reply to  Richard Greene
August 11, 2022 9:10 pm

You avoid the point Richard –

Judith (and I) say that climate studies are for those who have expertise & experience in those relevant disciplines, and they should stay in their lane.

They have nothing to contribute to the design, development, deployment or economics of electrical or other energy systems.
This is for engineers, financial practitioners and economists, not atmospherics students.

Dave Fair
Reply to  michel
August 13, 2022 9:56 am

Look, folks, the IRA is a reflection of Leftist activism moderated by random political factors. When some old dude suffering from male-pattern baldness can be widely acclaimed as “Woman of the Year,” a guy with testicles can be seriously nominated for NCAA Woman Athlete of the Year and a lack of worsening weather metrics is accepted as proof of a climate catastrophe you know the Leftists have won.

As an old dude my advice to you younger people is to learn Mandarin.

The Dark Lord
Reply to  Richard Greene
August 11, 2022 10:33 am

bingo … she used all the AGW talking points … and especially the “transition” nonsense … we aren’t transitioning, we are evolving the energy mix … and net zero will always be a small percentage … she just doesn’t want to get yelled at by the Greens …

Reply to  The Dark Lord
August 11, 2022 11:32 am

Jumpin’ Joe Biden is transitioning …
from a human being into a vegetable !

Coeur de Lion
August 10, 2022 11:37 pm

Has anybody factored in low ECS? That carbon (dioxide) does not drive the weather?

Rolf H Carlsson
August 11, 2022 12:08 am

I hope she choses her fight to advance a wiser energy policy rather than the hopeless fight to convince the alarmists about the nullity of CO2 and climate. I get the same feeling about Bjorn Lomborg.

Frank from NoVA
August 11, 2022 12:17 am

I have no idea where to start – the entire article reads like an instrument of surrender to scientific and economic irrationality.

Reply to  Frank from NoVA
August 11, 2022 12:45 am

I started skimming for the punch line or some point which said “so much for the green line — now for reality”. I am disappointed.

Last edited 1 month ago by Felix
Reply to  Frank from NoVA
August 11, 2022 12:57 am

This ^

Reply to  Frank from NoVA
August 11, 2022 5:39 am

The only thing wrong with the great wisdom in your concise comment is that I didn’t say it first. Brilliant analysis.

August 11, 2022 1:23 am

The same thing happened in Europe.
No one wants to limit carbon emissions. Instead they want to subsidise expensive useless forms of virtue signalling – electric cars, windmills, solar panels, heat pumps – in fact anything that does not impact on fossil fuel sales.

Only technologies that might impact – fracking your own gas, or nuclear, are demonised.

Cui Bono?
Go Figure.

Bill Toland
August 11, 2022 1:40 am

The article keeps talking about a transition away from fossil fuels. This can only be possible with a gigantic expansion of nuclear power. Given the opposition to nuclear power, I don’t see how a transition from fossil fuels is possible.

Reply to  Bill Toland
August 11, 2022 4:44 am

Perhaps some factories in China will transition to whittling, whereby consumer electronic cases, etc. are produced from wood, and all environmental ills are cured through the use of paper straws.

August 11, 2022 4:08 am

Sorry but I’m very disappointed with this article of yours; because you seem to have accepted the so called “consensus” and fixed view that CO2 somehow controls the Earth’s temperature.
In doing that, for me, it demolishes just about everything you wrote🤯😱

There are DOZENS of very explicit graphs that strongly indicate, if not prove, that CO2 does NOT control the temperature; with there being NO causal relationship between the two.

What puzzles me here is how a reputable scientist such as yourself could have somehow missed this obvious fact in Climate Debate and just accepted as valid the relentless propaganda which these days clutter up the airwaves.

I suspect, however, that you have to be very careful in what you say these days ; as the UN, with its powerful influences in academia et al. does not treat lightly those that stray from the PARTY line. -: So who am I to criticise??😉
My regards

D Boss
Reply to  Alasdair
August 11, 2022 4:37 am

Alasdair: Yes I agree, the fact she includes or alludes to CO2 emission coming down is a good thing, suggests she buys into this nonsense.

In fact it is far worse than mere nonsense, it is pure evil dressed up as some planetary savior. CO2 is the essence of all life on earth! Every morsel of food anyone has ever eaten or ever will eat is born of CO2 from the atmosphere. Plants require CO2, water and sunlight to produce hydrocarbons which animals then consume as their fuel. Our [humans] ONLY food/fuel to stay alive is some form of hydrocarbon, which, without plants would not exist.

Ergo to believe CO2 is somehow a pollutant which needs to be reduced, is anti life and misanthropic to outright evil proportions at the heart or root of things.

People like her, who think that some “compromise” about CO2 is the way to go are as the Soviets used to label them, “useful idiots”. The real agenda behind all of this is to reduce drastically the human population – which must be resisted and no compromise accepted.

There are some things that cannot be resolved with compromise! Any who doubt the agenda behind the radical greens needs to refresh their thinking with this essay:


They have already killed more than Stalin, Hitler, et al with greenthink and they are poised to kill billions by eliminating hydrocarbon fuels. My view is make a stand or shut up, but if you attempt to compromise with evil intent, you are in effect supporting it.

Reply to  Alasdair
August 12, 2022 7:15 am

I disagree, if you read her opening paragraph she has been asked to comment on The Inflation Reduction Act and she gives an assessment of what the future could look like. Reading her article I think she is acting more as a judge weighing up the evidence and outcomes (as any good scientist/academic should do) for both directions. She is not writing this pretending, or wishing that the IRA doesn’t exist, she is dealing with the reality of the IRA.

Bruce Cobb
August 11, 2022 4:32 am

Good news! Coal, oil, and gas are clean, abundant, and relatively cheap, as well as reliable. So-called “green” energy aka “renewables, not so much.
Oh wait, she means CO2. As if CO2 is somehow “dirty”. Maybe Ms. Curry needs to do more research. That is what scientists are supposed to do.

Richard Page
August 11, 2022 4:50 am

An autocratic, top-down approach may, just ‘get things done’ when it has a clear plan and a roadmap for achieving its goals, but without those it flounders and, even at the best of times, stifles innovation. And it will be that innovation that we’ll need desperately to get ourselves out of this hole that the climate ‘scientists’ encouraged us to dig!

The Dark Lord
Reply to  Richard Page
August 11, 2022 10:39 am

An autocratic, top-down approach has ALWAYS failed and usually ends up with alot of dead humans thru starvation and war …

Richard Page
Reply to  The Dark Lord
August 11, 2022 1:30 pm

No autocratic, top down government has ever had a successful plan for dealing with every eventuality and never will. It’s entirely the wrong approach for problem solving.

Reply to  Richard Page
August 11, 2022 9:43 pm

Good plans always put as much decision making as close to the problem as possible. This is the exact opposite of top down planning.

michael hart
August 11, 2022 5:27 am

“Post-apocalyptic climate politics have a much better chance of succeeding than fear-driven apocalyptic climate politics.”

I’m not so sure, Judith. Everybody remembers single films of John Wyndham’s “The Day of the Triffids”.
The BBC TV series based on the resulting post-apocalyptic hippy lifestyle sucked to the back teeth. Only the BBC loved it, because they made it.

michael hart
Reply to  michael hart
August 11, 2022 5:29 am

And don’t get me started on the Planet of the Apes.

Dave Fair
Reply to  michael hart
August 13, 2022 10:06 am

“Post-apocalyptic climate politics have a much better chance of succeeding than fear-driven apocalyptic climate politics.” Academic-speak for “people will vote for politicians that deliver them goodies or make them feel good.”

Last edited 1 month ago by Dave Fair
Geoff Sherrington
August 11, 2022 5:31 am

Disappointed Dr Curry that you did not mention the huge environmental punishment from devoting hundreds of thousands of sq miles of otherwise good land for wind and solar machines. In my view, such land use is the direct opposite of good environmental stewardship.In general, the average person, as well as the average decision-maker on energy, currently has not the faintest notion of the coming, ugly destruction. There is yet no credible evidence of impending global harm from fossil fuel use. Geoff S

August 11, 2022 5:47 am

The lukewarmers are worse than the climate hysterics because they place a veneer of reasonableness over what is an anti-humanity campaign that will increase would poverty, hunger, sickness, and death.

CO2 climate change campaign is a lie and a fraud meant to impoverish the majority for the benefit if an already wealthy elite.

There is nothing reasonable about the war on fossil fuels, and the improvement in the quality of life brought about by them.

We do not need a transition away from fossil fuel; we need a transition away from corrupt elites who with a veneer of reasonableness are set to ruin the lives of so many around the world.

Reply to  tgasloli
August 11, 2022 9:44 pm

Unless someone believes the impossible, they are part of the enemy.

August 11, 2022 6:04 am

Sadly, it seems that JC is NOT the new Messiah.

Smart Rock
August 11, 2022 9:31 am

Oh dear. This piece by Dr. Curry has the distinct feel of “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”.

Not a winning strategy when they are many and we are few, and they control the governments and the media in most of the western world.

I think that Dr. Curry prefers having a relatively quiet life to being a warrior princess, and who can really blame her?

The Dark Lord
Reply to  Smart Rock
August 11, 2022 10:40 am

then she should get off the field …

The Dark Lord
August 11, 2022 10:29 am

we will evolve into a new energy mix not “transition” and net zero and renewables (replaceables) will be a tiny percentage of the total 100 years from now …

August 11, 2022 3:26 pm

How fast can the transition occur? China has developed its energy systems at an astonishing speed. An autocratic government with a top-down energy strategy can rapidly implement changes.  

What China has done in 20 years was built on 100+ years of experience in the developed world.

There is currently no technology better than coal for electricity generation.

No weather dependent energy extraction technology of current form, other then selected hydro, can produce energy in excess of the fossil energy that went into its creation. They are an illusion of energy production.

China will run out of coal this century. Watch out any country with large coal reserves. You are on their shopping list.

John Oliver
August 11, 2022 5:57 pm

I think she knows how really dangerous the “opposition” is after what they put her through. She was 63 when she retired back in 2017. And maybe she just grew tired of playing the part of Katniss in this cruel saga. Perhaps she just wants to live her life in peace with her family now.

August 11, 2022 7:05 pm

Judith writes very clear, I appreciate that. I have three issues with this article.

Number one her reference to renewable and clean energy. Everyone wants clean energy the question is how to produce it. Almost everyone thinks wind and solar when discussing clean energy and my take is that Judith supports wind and solar just not as an immediate replacement for fossil fuels. I too would support wind and solar if they were cheap, reliable and dispatchable, but they are none of these. She also makes reference to renewable energy. I don’t even know what that is. I think we need to stop referring to renewable energy and the same as clean most people think wind and solar in regard to renewables. Judith also mentions hydro and nuclear but realistically they are a nonstarter in the environmental community. Any reference to clean or renewable energy without stating how it will be generated is shall we say inadequate. I think nuclear is the way forward.

Number two there is a growing number of papers stating that the arguments for climate change action need to be revisited. The climate alarmists can act nicer if they choose but we all know what they are asking for in the end, more power and an end to fossil fuels. I don’t care how they phrase it I am against them getting more power and ending fossil fuels.

Number three Judith appears to accept that man made CO2 additions to the atmosphere are a problem that needs to be dealt with. I accept that mankind has added CO2 to the atmosphere, I accept that CO2 is a greenhouse gas what I don’t accept is that CO2 is the control knob for earth’s climate and we have put the earth on the road to destruction.

August 12, 2022 9:46 am

The bill includes climate resiliency funding for tribal governments and Native Hawaiians and other disadvantaged areas disproportionately impacted by pollution and climate warming.

Is it notable that these areas were not disadvantaged or polluted until Northern Europeans invaded and restructured the actual and political landscape?

Or are we just assuming that their lives are worse off today than they would have been if the world hadn’t been colonized by kings 500 years ago and left to its own accords?

I don’t think there really is any way to tell at this point. But handing out money to buy off guilt about your ancestors beliefs seems a really popular thing to do these days.

August 12, 2022 11:24 am

Very good article. Thank you

Dave Fair
August 13, 2022 9:20 am

Dr. Curry occasionally veers off to opine on governments making more rational choices about economics, energy and technology. It all sounds plausible and good but the Leftist propensity for advocating centralized, big-government command and control approaches has such an extremally poor track record that only Pollyannas continue to veer down that road.

Absent all the high-sounding rationalizations, the reason the Inflation Reduction Act passed is because enough specific goodies were included for individual politicians and enough future “promises” were made to paper-over the obvious facts that: 1) The Bill does not meet the requirements for the Senate Budget Reconciliation Process; 2) it is a tax-payer giveaway to favored Leftist groups; and 3) it is net inflationary. Its the time-honored “ladle on the pork and say a future Congress will take the painful actions necessary to straighten out the problem.” Its only purpose is to garner more Democrat votes in November.

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