The Globe Reverberates With Laughter

Peter Huber in Forbes takes a look at the reality of carbon hysteria.

A number of influential people in Russia, China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam say the planet is now entering a 30-year cooling period, the second half of a normal cycle driven by cyclical changes in the sun's output and currents in the Pacific Ocean. Their theory leaves true believers in carbon catastrophe livid.

To judge by actions, not words, the carbon-warming view hasn't come close to persuading a political majority even in nations considered far more environmentally enlightened than China and India. Europe's coal consumption is rising, not falling, and the Continent won't come close to meeting the Kyoto targets for carbon reduction. Australia is selling coal to all comers.

We used to have a saying in my day: "actions speak louder than words". Today it is "Pay no attention to the fat man, who used to be Vice President, behind the curtain."
No serious student of global politics can accept the notion that the world will soon join ranks behind Brussels, Washington and the gloomy computer and its minders. Dar is surely right when he says, "The U.S. and Japan will not tell Asia and Africa to choose poverty, disease, hunger and illiteracy over electricity." Europe might, but nobody will listen. It won't have moral authority until its own citizens are emitting less carbon than Bangladeshis. That won't happen soon.
What is happening all over Europe? They have plans to build a lot of coal fired power plants. Yep. Coal fired power plants. That would be plants that use (for practical purposes) 100% carbon. Not oil. Not natural gas. Both of which are a lot more expensive than coal. So they are buying based on price not catastrophe.
So does the climate computer have a real audience, or is it really just another bag lady muttering away to herself in a lonely corner of the intellectual park? That the computer is heard in Hollywood, Stockholm, Brussels and even some parts of Washington is quite beside the point--they have far less global power and influence than they vainly imagine. Vinod Dar is right: "Contingency planning should entail strategic responses to a warming globe, a cooling globe and a globe whose climate reverberates with laughter at human hubris."
Freeman Dyson says the cheapest way to deal with our carbon "problem" is plant trees. If we are in a hurry we should genetically modify the trees to absorb the carbon faster than our current stock of trees does. We do need to be careful. Below 200 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere some types of plants do not do well. So we might want to set the minimum of CO2 in the atmosphere at 300 ppm to give us a margin for error.

Of course if CO2 is not really a problem, the cheapest thing to do and the best for plants is to do nothing. Plants just love CO2 and for most of them the optimum CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is around 5,000 ppm. We have a long way to go to get there. Many centuries worth of burning carbon based fuels. In any case we are not going to be burning much fossil fuel in 2100 due to the advance of solar and wind technologies, not to mention the definite possibility of fusion power.

What do I think? The era of carbon craziness is almost over.

H/T Insty

Cross Posted at Power and Control

Welcome Instapundit readers. May I suggest a look at Patio Heaters which covers the "we must reduce population" faction.

I just did a post about this post and the decline of the enviro movement Fresh Kills. Congress should take note before the Critters there start losing elections.

posted by Simon on 07.28.08 at 08:49 AM










Comments

Hallelujah! How sweet it is.

KansasGirl   ·  July 28, 2008 10:57 AM

Gore reminds me increasingly of William Jennings Bryan

Assistant Village Idiot   ·  July 28, 2008 12:05 PM

Remind me, where are we now? Thirty-eight one-thousandths or ten-thousandths of one percent of CO2 in the atmosphere?

edh   ·  July 29, 2008 10:10 AM

If I remember right, the lower threshold for the death of all plant matter is near 120 ppm CO2. The flip of that would be 'optimum' CO2 for plant growth, which is somewhere around 1250 ppm.

The 'green' morons would have us believe that CO2 is the death of the planet, but want us all to burn ethanol - a total contradiction.

My real fear is that the interest in AGW is dying not because it's a fraud, but rather that our short attention spans have merely lost interest - that will mean this vampire will return again in the future.

apb   ·  July 29, 2008 10:19 AM

The article fails to recognize that the impetus behind the carbon craze has nothing to do with global warming/climate change. That is only the justification.

The real reason is a shift in power and wealth and ideology which means the impetus is immune to things like, you know, facts.

Unless the nations of the West stop the people behind it it will forge on. Unfortunately, given other indications of continuing, unchecked collective civilizational suicide I have every confidence that it will.

Sam   ·  July 29, 2008 10:25 AM

The current crop of hippie idiots in political power in the U.S. are an embarassment to the world. We need to be saved from the likes of Al Gore!
Fortunately, those dope-heads will be dead long before I will. I will get to see the next generation of leaders fix all this madness, and get to join in the howls of laughter.

BTW, has anyone heard how we are supposed to keep airplanes in the air AND stop using carbon fuel? Anyone? Anyone?....

Joel   ·  July 29, 2008 10:52 AM

edh: The vampire will return in any case. No bad idea ever dies.

I was in college for the Global Cooling scare of the 1970s. So when Global Warming hit the cover of Time in 1988, I did my due diligence, then predicted that Global Cooling would be back in 20 years, i.e. 2008. (And it's coming back on schedule.)

When the natural cycle swings back to warming, it'll be Global Warming again. And so on until climatology becomes a real science. The good thing is that the natural cycle is shorter than the human lifespan, so there will always be people who've seen it already.

Bob Hawkins   ·  July 29, 2008 10:55 AM

Unfortunately the article doesn't take into account the religious aspects that Global Warming has picked up. The zealots won't let a pesky thing such as the facts get in the way of the Global Warming craze.

Since the messiah refuses to have an open debate regarding the issue, the craze grows in strength every day. In California, Schwarzenegger just vetoed a bill requiring Global Warming be taught to all school children.

Clifford   ·  July 29, 2008 10:55 AM

Coincidentally, I just wrote an essay at my blog where I list half a dozen problems with the current global warming orthodoxy

If this is a repeat please ignore. I got a weird error first time I hit "post"

FrancisT   ·  July 29, 2008 10:57 AM

Unfortunately the article doesn't take into account the religious aspects that Global Warming has picked up. The zealots won't let a pesky thing such as the facts get in the way of the Global Warming craze.

Since the messiah refuses to have an open debate regarding the issue, the craze grows in strength every day. In California, Schwarzenegger just vetoed a bill requiring Global Warming be taught to all school children.

Clifford   ·  July 29, 2008 10:59 AM

We should be grateful to Al Gore for producing this generation's "Reefer Madness." Thirty years from now college audiences will scream with laughter while watching it in auditoriums all over the country. I just hope the people who introduce the film remember to mention that it won an Oscar.

Joe Miller   ·  July 29, 2008 11:12 AM

AS an engineer working in a fossil (read coal) power plant- I assure you, the carbon craziness is no where near over. It hasn't even begun to peak

zuhow   ·  July 29, 2008 11:12 AM

The drive to regulate carbon emmissions is only going to grow in strength. In California, a vast government program is being put into place to reduce carbon emmissions. Billions of taxes and fees are already being collected to fund the program, with hundreds of millions of dollars being paid annually to special interest groups (about 10% of gas and electric bills paid by consumers goes to anti-global warming efforts). Hundreds of TV and radio commercials are aired every day - at taxpayers expense - announcing that the "fight against global warming has just begun."

The beneficiaries of all this spending are going to let go of it.

Littletim   ·  July 29, 2008 11:14 AM

The drive to regulate carbon emmissions is only going to grow in strength. In California, a vast government program is being put into place to reduce carbon emmissions. Billions of taxes and fees are already being collected to fund the program, with hundreds of millions of dollars being paid annually to special interest groups (about 10% of gas and electric bills paid by consumers goes to anti-global warming efforts). Hundreds of TV and radio commercials are aired every day - at taxpayers expense - announcing that the "fight against global warming has just begun."

The beneficiaries of all this spending are not going to let go of it.

Littletim   ·  July 29, 2008 11:16 AM

If there was a real problem and every nation abided by the same rules I can see where something like Kyoto could be useful. But, the evidence is shifting the other way and Kyoto always excluded "victim" nations while punishing democratic ones, under the Marxist code phrase "Economic Justice". Anytime a hippie says "justice", run! To Serve Man is a cookbook!!

Emerson   ·  July 29, 2008 11:24 AM

If there was a real problem and every nation abided by the same rules I can see where something like Kyoto could be useful. But, the evidence is shifting the other way and Kyoto always excluded "victim" nations while punishing democratic ones, under the Marxist code phrase "Economic Justice". Anytime a hippie says "justice", run! To Serve Man is a cookbook!!

Emerson   ·  July 29, 2008 11:25 AM

Just shut up and let Al Gore quietly become a billionaire from the carbon trade. Poor man, he's had his share of disappointments in life. If he can't be the world's most powerful man for 4 or 8 years, then all he wants is to be the world's richest and most influential man.

Alistair Finnegan   ·  July 29, 2008 11:25 AM

Just shut up and let Al Gore quietly become a billionaire from the carbon trade. Poor man, he's had his share of disappointments in life. If he can't be the world's most powerful man for 4 or 8 years, then all he wants is to be the world's richest and most influential man.

Alistair Finnegan   ·  July 29, 2008 11:34 AM

What do I think? The era of carbon craziness is almost over.

I hope you're right, but I doubt you are... depending on your definition of "almost".

Beck   ·  July 29, 2008 11:47 AM

Gore reminds me of Elmer Gantry. He is a hustler. An Eco-hustler, but still a hustler.

masstexodus   ·  July 29, 2008 11:58 AM

"the cheapest way to deal with our carbon "problem" is plant trees. If we are in a hurry we should genetically modify the trees to absorb the carbon faster than our current stock of trees does."

In reality once a forest is mature and old trees start to die, there is no net gain of carbon being sequestered. The carbon is broken down by fungi and enzymes in wood eating insects. It is broken down into CO2 (aerobic) and methane (anaerobic decomposition). To keep the carbon sequestered, the wood biomass must be cut and saved before it dies.

Corky Boyd   ·  July 29, 2008 12:11 PM

"What do I think? The era of carbon craziness is almost over"

I'd love to believe that, but I think Clifford nails it: environmentalism as practiced in western culture is a religion (perhaps Al Gore could be called it's L. Ron Hubbard). If carbon craziness goes away, I'm pretty sure it will be replaced by something as bad.

J   ·  July 29, 2008 12:21 PM

Corky,

We have twenty or thirty years from the time the trees are planted to figure out what to do next.

Maybe by then we will have figured out CO2 is not a problem.

M. Simon   ·  July 29, 2008 12:21 PM

I gotta admit, they had me on-board at first. The underlying physics has some truth to it and as a nuclear engineer, it fit right in with pocketbook.

Then I read an early IPCC report and began to understand the complexity of the issue and how trivial anthropogenic CO2 was in the bigger scheme of climate.

When the Global Climate Change team explicitly dismissed nuclear power as a solution, I really got skeptical. They can't be serious!

Then, as the wisdom goes, I followed the money - and the political power grabbing.

I've tried to warn our nuclear lobbyists to not get associated with this bunch of thieves and to stick to something closer to common sense. But the lobbyists live in Washington, DC, so an appeal to reason had no effect on their posture. I do think the nuclear industry has not jumped on the bandwagon too much and would appreciate any opinions from the general public.

Whitehall   ·  July 29, 2008 12:27 PM

I propose that we form a new non-profit, POOP, People Opposed to Oppression of Plants, and together w/PETA we can get the political class to change the subject.

Stu   ·  July 29, 2008 12:29 PM

Once politicians start losing elections over anti-carbon policies, the tide will turn quickly. A Labor Party loss in Scotland this week was partly attributed to green taxes, and the party in power in Australia is getting cold feet on cap-and-trade after internal dissention from their union supporters.

In the U.S. the Democrats probably lost the 2000 election over their gun control policies. No national U.S. politician has even whispered about gun control since. Expect the same once voters feel the costs of silly environmental policies. Office holders are already over offshore drilling.

InDC   ·  July 29, 2008 12:41 PM

The professors over at Econbrowser (amongst many others) have been pushing a gasoline or carbon tax for years. After offering detailed criticism, that was ignored, I finally said "Let's take a vote!"

Whitehall   ·  July 29, 2008 12:53 PM

I can understand those who fear that facts are insufficient to turn the AGW juggernaut; after all, they haven't done much yet. But the cooling trend is neither incidental nor theoretical. Snow fell in Bagdhad this winter. Anchorage is having her coldest summer in decades. The last year's temps came in .6 C below the previous standing average and that is with a nearly ten year period of flat readings. If the solar cyclers are right (and they actually have a history of prediction), at best this winter will be as cold as last and more likely it will be a bit colder still. This is a fact so glaring, universal and personal that even the eye-flashings of the witless Al Gore could not make it go away. I propose that we see what the next winter brings. If it is radically warmer let us impose cap and trade. If it is flat or colder, let's wait another year.

megapotamus   ·  July 29, 2008 1:06 PM

Is there some way we can pit the Gore-ist zealots and the shameless political lobby whore-ists against the jihadists? Maybe the Scientologists can consult, using their tomato monitors, and prove beyond a doubt that L Ron Hubbard's accolytes, Al Gore, Schwarzenegger (the pathetically shameless ass) and the thug hierarchy of Muktar Al Sadr and the rest of that 8th century death cult should all be reduced to carbon dioxide and returned forthwith to the universe, leaving us all poorer for it (HEH!). Cool aid, anyone?


Brendan the Wanderer   ·  July 29, 2008 1:09 PM

Is there some way we can pit the Gore-ist zealots and the shameless political lobby whore-ists against the jihadists? Maybe the Scientologists can consult, using their tomato monitors, and prove beyond a doubt that L Ron Hubbard's accolytes, Al Gore, Schwarzenegger (the pathetically shameless ass) and the thug hierarchy of Muktar Al Sadr and the rest of that 8th century death cult should all be reduced to carbon dioxide and returned forthwith to the universe, leaving us all poorer for it (HEH!). Cool aid, anyone?


Brendan the Wanderer   ·  July 29, 2008 1:09 PM

The ultimate goal of the GW True Believers is for the government to ration energy use. Once they have that power, they will be able to control every aspect of the commoners daily life. We will be reduced to the role of serfs.

lonesomecharlie   ·  July 29, 2008 1:12 PM

Some people need to make lots of money but refuse to make lots of efforts to get there. What will those so-called climate scientists do? From where will they get their fundings? They have a very unmarketable skills, but they don't want to soil their hands to do an honest day's work, so they scare the fools to give them money and jetting around to their conferences. Poor Al, how is he going to pay those astronomical eletricity bills without his carbon trade proceeds? He still has a chunk of that Occidental Oil, but that is his children's inheritance.

ic   ·  July 29, 2008 1:13 PM

"Both of which are a lot more expensive than coal. So they are buying based on price not catastrophe."

I wouldn't discount Europeans not wanting their vitals being in the grasp of a Russia that thinks nothing of economically squeezing them for political purposes.

Dusty   ·  July 29, 2008 1:16 PM

Opps, sorry! That's OXIDIZED to carbon dioxide.

(and sorry for the double post. Even good ideas have a shelf-life, er, with the exception of classical values.)

Carbon is your friend.
Al Gore is not.

Brendan the Wanderer   ·  July 29, 2008 1:18 PM

I hope you're right. One indication that it's almost over is that it used to be that in forums like this the true believers jumped all over us skeptics, but they don't seem to want to come around any more.

Maybe that's just my imagination, though. What do you think?

JFP   ·  July 29, 2008 1:33 PM

"The era of carbon craziness is almost over."

Right. And when Congress legislates controls on CO2 and the administrative beauraucrats get a taste of the power over the economy that comes with CO2 permitting...

...they'll all just walk away and say, "Oops, big mistake, we're sorry."

(By the way, I have a bridge for sale, if anyone is interested.)

Anonymous   ·  July 29, 2008 1:40 PM

I hope you're right. One indication that it's almost over is that it used to be that in forums like this the true believers jumped all over us skeptics, but they don't seem to want to come around any more.

That is what I have seen here and at my other blog.

M. Simon   ·  July 29, 2008 2:04 PM

We'll stop laughing when, in four years, Time publishes a cover story about the coming ice age. What's left of mainstream media will pick it up and we'll have another nutty 20 years.

Anybody remember Dr. Seuss' story about the Sneetches?

Cover Me, Porkins   ·  July 29, 2008 2:08 PM

JFP, we can always vote 'em out of office. That is unless there's a carbon emergency that forces them to suspend elections for awhile. But first that consarned 2nd Amendment would have to be dealt with, drat.

buddy larsen   ·  July 29, 2008 2:33 PM

Like Carl Sagan before me, I am a Carbon Chauvanist. I freely admit it.

GK   ·  July 29, 2008 3:03 PM

Anyone who has ever been to the wilds of Western Canada will find it impossible to ever worry about deforestation ever again.

There are literally Billions and Billions of trees there. There must be at least 10,000 trees per square mile, and there must be at least a million square miles of forest in BC, Alberta, and Yukon. That amounts to 10 Billion trees. Each tree is 50-200 feet in height.

Furthermore, that is a cold area with very few people. The population is not increasing. No one is cutting down those trees in the forseeable future.

GK   ·  July 29, 2008 3:07 PM

GK is correct about the huge forests in Canada, but the number of trees in the United States has been increasing for about 100 years and is probably as large now as it was in 1750 -- possibly larger, since nobody is burning the Great Plains to keep them grassland.

Mr. Huber's article about new coal plants in Europe is correct, but he might have also mentioned that a wave of coal-burning electricity generation plants is now being built in oil-producing countries in the Middle East. They're being built because they need electricity and it's cheaper to get it from coal than from oil. Despite all the bloviation about wind and solar, in reality in the 21st century coal is king.

CJ   ·  July 29, 2008 4:18 PM

Among reasons Europe is building more "conventional" (coal, nuclear) power plants - expanding wind farms.

*More Power Needed*

E.on is Germany's largest utility company... Sometimes they can use the wind power and sometimes they can't, and because their effective usage is so low, they have to keep building traditional power plants.

teqjack   ·  July 29, 2008 4:27 PM

The carbon scare should really go away after the testimony by Dr. Roy Spencer to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on 22 July 2008. His testimony can be found here.

The short of it is this:

Regarding the currently popular theory that mankind is responsible for global warming, I am very pleased to deliver good news from the front lines of climate change research. Our latest research results, which I am about to describe, could have an enormous impact on policy decisions regarding greenhouse gas emissions.

Despite decades of persistent uncertainty over how sensitive the climate system is to increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels, we now have new satellite evidence which strongly suggests that the climate system is much less sensitive than is claimed by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Another way of saying this is that the real climate system appears to be dominated by "negative feedbacks" - instead of the "positive feedbacks" which are displayed by all twenty computerized climate models utilized by the IPCC. (Feedback parameters larger than 3.3 Watts per square meter per degree Kelvin (Wm-2K-1) indicate negative feedback, while feedback parameters smaller than 3.3 indicate positive feedback.)

And :

Significantly, prior to its acceptance for publication, this paper was reviewed by two leading IPCC climate model experts - Piers Forster and Isaac Held- both of whom agreed that we have raised a legitimate issue. Piers Forster, an IPCC report lead author and a leading expert on the estimation of climate sensitivity, even admitted in his review of our paper that other climate modelers need to be made aware of this important issue.
To be fair, in a follow-up communication Piers Forster stated to me his belief that the net effect of the new understanding on climate sensitivity estimates would likely be small. But as we shall see, the latest evidence now suggests otherwise.


amr   ·  July 29, 2008 4:48 PM

"We'll stop laughing when, in four years, Time publishes a cover story about the coming ice age"

Not to nit pick, but that would be "Time publishes ANOTHER cover story about the coming ice age": http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,944914,00.html

J   ·  July 30, 2008 3:37 PM

I hope you're right, but for us here in Australia, I fear you are not.

Our pompous, supercilious, bureaucrat-in-chief Kevin Rudd (aka Krudd) and his Minister for Climate Change, Penny Wong (aka Plenny Wrong), are dead-set on introducing an Emissions Trading Scam, er . . I mean Scheme . . . They haven't properly costed the plan, though they admit it will include 16% rise in electicity and 9% rise in natural gas upon introduction, with resultant inflationary impact of more than 3%. Petrol is exempt for the first three years, but will be added once the scheme is entrenched. All kinds of subsidies and compensation for lower-income earners are being proposed, but no one will be immune to the pain. Ultimately, CO2 emissions (that don't in fact need reducing) won't be reduced, and Australia's paltry contribution of 1.4% of global emissions, even if totally eliminated, would be dwarfed by China's growth in about one month. The plan is an absolute shambles, but a bureaucrat's wet dream, and Labor is determined to impose it at all costs. And scarcely anyone dares oppose it on the grounds of shonky science lest they be pilloried by the media. It's a tragedy and a crime.

A Yank in Oz   ·  July 31, 2008 9:43 AM

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