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Steven Koonin on climate change

Steven Koonin, an advisor to Obama on climate change policy, has issued a sensible position on the issue.

His soon to be published bookUnsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters” notes that global average temperature has risen by about 1C degree since 1900. More important, it decries any notion that we are in a “climate emergency”. He expects another 1C increase in this century.

“Humans exert a growing, but physically small, warming influence on the climate. The results from many different climate models disagree with, or even contradict, each other and many kinds of observations,” he wrote. “In short, the science is insufficient to make useful predictions about how the climate will change over the coming decades, much less what effect our actions will have on it.”

 

The New York Post article on Koonin’s opinions says:

“Among the most significant revelations were that human activity had no significant influence on hurricanes over the past hundred years; Greenland’s ice sheet has been shrinking at the same rate for the past 80 years; and parts of the world that have been destroyed by wildfires have declined by greater than 25% since 2003, with 2020 being one of the lowest years on record.”

This is congruent with a more extensive set of graphs produced by Willis Eschenbach in Watts Up with That.

Among the charts that interest me most in Eschenbach’s article was the one on sea level rise. It shows that between 1990 and now, sea levels have risen about 80 mm in 25 years. Let us extrapolate this to 320 mm in 100 years, without further justification.   This is about 12 and one half inches in a century, which is far less than the rise expected by the physicist Lawrence Krauss, who wrote The Physics of Climate Change . He predicted a rise on sea level of about a meter (39 inches) by mid century.

Krauss situated the problem of global warming principally in rising sea levels, caused by melting glaciers and the expansion of water itself under the influence of greater heat. Krauss believes that places such as the Mekong Delta will be flooded with sea water at high tide, and rendered sterile, by 2100. This would have a disastrous effect on food production in a nation of 90 million people. Krauss is an alarmist but not a catastrophist, and his arguments are persuasive as long as you don’t look at contradictory data.

 

I have come to the views expressed by Koonin: that humans have had a small warming effect on the climate. and even if we stopped CO2 production right now, we would still be increasing global temperatures by a degree or two for another century at least. But in terms of the policies the elite wankers want us to adopt, I side with General Buck Turgidson in Stanley Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove. I have smelt it for a long time.

 

 

 One mania substituted for another

It is apparent that CO2 madness is being replaced by COVID as the mania of choice for members of the elite. The opportunities for direct social control with COVID are so much greater and more satisfying to the control freaks, and the willingness of people to go along with the scare so much greater than is the case with CO2. Decades of panic mongering about CO2 as the master control knob for global climate change have not succeeded in making the case for turning off our oil refineries and shutting down civilization as we know it. Always go with the panic that grows government authority most readily, and that is COVID, not atmospheric carbon dioxide.

 

I wish I could illustrate 415 against a million, but a million is 10,000 (10 to the 4th) times greater than a hundred (10 to the second). I am not proposing that we need orders of magnitude more CO2 in the atmosphere. What I am saying is that a trace gas is vital to plant life. More of it is greening the planet.

It will be evident that any serious policy aimed at reducing carbon emissions will have to focus on more nuclear reactors, as our Liberal government now understands.

 

 

 

So is this truly the end of Greta Thunberg’s influence? Hardly. The damage is now institutionalized in the poilicies of governments that seek to shut down tar sands and other sources of petro-chemical energy. Fanatics like Greta are mascots for the movement. But the attention has moved on from long term abstractions like climate change to hospitalizations and actual deaths.

Disasters and alarms

  1. Let’s start with coronavirus. Imagine that within 18 months, 2% of humanity might have died from it. Exaggeration? Try this sober analysis from Richard Hatcher. Attack rates could be between 50 and 70% of global population. Death rates, even if low, may not mean that much if we all have to go into our cells and stay there.

Meetings are being cancelled, people are working from home, supply chains are being disrupted, businesses harmed, and things are not being done because of the epidemic. High rates of illness may be the more important aspect than the actual deaths that ensue. The disruption occurs when public assembly points are shut down: schools, theatres, shopping centres. The social isolation that people use to protect themselves generates most of the disruption. The combination of infectiousness and lethality has not been seen since the Spanish flu of 1918, which killed 50 million.

20% of people who are infected show no symptoms, hence they can roam freely. We have no built-up resistance to it, so the disease is new and may become endemic, meaning it will become a permanent feature of existence.

We may be experiencing something akin to the waves of plague and disease of the latter Roman Empire, when smallpox and other new diseases came out of Africa and killed large portions of the population. Kyle Harper’s The Fate of Rome must be read to appreciate that Rome fell under a series of blows of plague, and barbarian invasions driven by agricultural collapse caused by sudden global cooling around AD 400. It did not fall from one thing, but a combination of things. We may be at the start of a series of hammer blows that could disturb all the benign predictions ever made by Steven Pinker about the golden age we have been living in, or we may by contrast be at the start of a minor perturbation in the long run of history. Either way we are in for a tough year.

The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire (The Princeton History of the Ancient World)

The nature of exponential increase is explained in this youtube from 3blue1brown.com. Watch it for the mathematical truths that are explained.

Aside: I am not the first to observe that, when people believe there is a real risk, they act on that belief. When people are not persuaded there is a real risk, then no matter what they actually profess to believe, they act as if there were no risk. Think of Obama buying an 15 million dollar house six or ten feet above sea level at Martha’s Vineyard. Does Obama believe glaciers are melting? With one part of his mind he does. Does he believe his house will become unlivable as a consequence? Obviously not.

2. Then there is the collapse of investment in Canadian energy projects. This is not an act if God. It is a deliberate policy pursued by Gerry Butts and the Prime Minister. I need not write more about it here, you have seen the details in the papers.

3. The Indians of Canada have been deceived into thinking that they now hold the reins on economic development of natural resources, and perhaps they are right in that opinion. This is another man-made disaster of the federal Liberal party and its feckless leader, Justin Trudeau. The Indians, aided, abetted and driven on by anti-development leftists among Canadian whites, have not been resisted at any stage by the governments of Canada from an arrogant usurpation of the rights of their fellow Indians and ordinary Canadian citizens who favour economic development.

4. Oil price collapse. Russia is feuding with Saudi Arabia over oil production. The effect on US oil production, which has become highly dependent on shale oil, may turn out to be disastrous. Lower gas prices may not mean much when your schools are closed or when factories operate at far less than capacity because of supply chain disruptions caused by coronavirus. The effect on other oil producing countries like Iran or those in Africa, whose costs of production are high, will be severe.

Image result for breakeven oil price by country 2019

The breakeven price for Canadian oil sands is $70/barrel, according to the graph above. It is questionable whether the figure for shale oil is correct in terms of today’s technology. 96% of Canadian oil reserves are in the form of tar sands.

Conclusion

It has not been a good week, and it has not been a good month, and it is going to get worse.

crapper/john/loo/WC/toilet

Words can describe the same thing at various levels of politeness and social acceptability. Moreover, as soon as the euphemism becomes too clear, the word can be changed to something less vulgar. Euphemism piles on euphemism. Thus the place where we void our noxious bodily effusions goes through various evolutions. The incompatibility of shitting with the maintenance of personal dignity causes a continuous slow migration of words to describe the place where the deed is done.

Likewise climate alarmism has changed the terms of the debate whenever it suited them. “Anthropogenic global warming” is a scientific theory. “Global warming” hides the crucial term that attributes human causation to the reality that the world has been warming since 1850. “Climate change” obscures the causal relationship even further. Anything that happens in nature is assumed to be human caused, without that realization ever consciously arising in one’s mind.

The Guardian announced a few months ago that it was changing its terms from “global warming” to “global heating”. They write:

“The Guardian has updated its style guide to introduce terms that more accurately describe the environmental crises facing the world.

“Instead of “climate change” the preferred terms are “climate emergency, crisis or breakdown” and “global heating” is favoured over “global warming”, although the original terms are not banned.”

Not banned you say? How civilized of them!

The Guardian continues:

“Other terms that have been updated, including the use of “wildlife” rather than “biodiversity”, “fish populations” instead of “fish stocks” and “climate science denier” rather than “climate sceptic”. In September, the BBC accepted it gets coverage of climate change “wrong too often” and told staff: “You do not need a ‘denier’ to balance the debate.”

“Updated”? The use of the term “climate science denier” is not an update, it is a slander.

Yes the climate has changed. 11,000 years ago, where I write was under 4,000 feet of ice. I deny nothing, I merely allow for a wider range of facts to impinge on my understanding of climate.

11,000 years ago in North America