The march against science has passed
It rained, they did not have a blast.
Still they blamed CO2
for the Climate boo-hoo.
Real scientists still were harassed.
It’s time for the annual Earth Day
to celebrate Lenin’s old birthday.
Less “carbon pollution”
is not the solution.
Eat less! Let it be a “Less Girth Day!
We are called to take care of ourselves, be good stewards of the Earth, and strive to leave it a better place than we entered it.
To do a good clean-up job takes a lot of energy. That is true for the whole Eco-system as well as the toilet bowl.
All our energy comes from the Sun in one way or another, except for nuclear energy. If the cosmic radiation changes, or the total energy output from the sun changes, or our polar orbit and attitude changes, all of these factors will lead to climate change. The normal state for the earth is an ice-age, interrupted by shorter warm periods. We are now at the bog-building phase of an interglacial period, which means, the next phase is another ice-age. This warm period is unique since we are experiencing rapidly increasing levels of CO2. Will that cause a rise in temperatures rendering the earth uninhabitable, or will it prolong the warm period, or – will it hasten the arrival of the next ice-age?
According to 75 out of 77 ( the origin of the “97% of all”…. )Climate Scientists that in the previous 5 years had published multiple, peer reviewed papers, paid for by their respective academic institutions, claim “The science is settled”, and we will experience a rapid climate change, rendering parts of the world uninhabitable, and a series of other calamities will befall us unless we take strong, immediate action to reduce the output of CO2 from burning fossil fuels.
But there are in excess of 30,000 other scientists that have signed up “Science is by no means settled” and CO2 is not a pollutant, but a life giving gas that is only a minor contributor to the temperature rise. Other factors are at least as important and we should concentrate on real pollution, clean air and clean water.
So, who is right?
The last ice age had lasted for over 50,000 years. The ice stretched over most of North America down to the Finger Lakes. Western Europe down to Mid Germany and extending into Western Siberia were also under heavy ice. For some reason Eastern Siberia and Western Alaska was not under heavy ice. The sea level was about 400 feet lower than today and then suddenly temperatures rose, and after a 300 to 500 years delay C02 levels rose from about 185 ppm, barely sustaining life up to about 280 ppm, after which CO2 levels stabilized and remained in a slight decline until recently.
I grew and went to school in Sweden. At that time the way Sweden exited the Ice age was taught in all schools, the signs from the ice age were everywhere. We learned the exit from the exit could be expressed with the acrostic BYAL, signifying four phases in the deglaciation. Here is the timeline (after the pictures of the Baltic)
9000 years ago: The Yoldia Sea. As ice recedes, salt water enter for a short while until land rises to again form a lake. CO2 280 ppm. Temperatures slightly higher than today.
8000 years ago: The Ancylus lake. The outflow is first through Svea Alv, then as land rose the outflow switched to Oresund. Temperatures were higher than today. CO2 level 280 ppm. River flows at the emptying of the Ice lakes causes formation of “giant kettles”, an example of which is shown in the figure below:
6000 years ago: Most of the inland ice has now melted, and the Oceans have risen to today’s level, so the Belts and Oresund open up and the Litorina Sea is formed. temperatures are higher than today, CO2 level 280 ppm.
3500 years ago: The Minoan warming period. Temperatures much warmer than today. Elm, Hazel, Oak and Linden grew way up in the Bothnian bay, today the northern limit is about 250 miles further South. The CO2 level 280 ppm.
2000 years ago: The Roman warming period. Great times up North. Wine grapes grew in the British Midlands, the Scandinavian population grew rapidly. CO2 level 280 ppm.
1500 years ago: Climate is turning colder, migrations out of the Nordic and Germanic countries. Harvest failures. CO2 level 280 ppm.
1200 years ago: Rapid depopulation, Bubonic Plague, failed harvests, mass starvation, climate turning much colder. CO2 level 280 ppm.
1000 years ago: Medieval warming period. Climate about one degree warmer than today. Leif Ericson sails to America. Cheese farms established on Greenland. CO2 level 280 ppm.
500 years ago: Little Ice age. Climate much colder than today. The Swedish army, including artillery crosses the Belts on ice in 1658. CO2 level 280 ppm.
Why am I going through all this? All these climate changes occurred with the CO2 level being constant at 280 ppm. The land in Northern Sweden is still recovering from the Ice age, and land is still rising out of the ocean at the rate of up to three feet per century. The temperature is still recovering from the little ice age, but is not yet back to the Medieval Warming period, much less the Roman warming period, not to mention the Minoan temperature optimum. The CO2 level has risen to 405 ppm, but CO2 is only a minor player in affecting Climate change.
As I have mentioned in a previous blog: https://lenbilen.com/2017/04/10/thanks-to-clouds-the-temperature-governor-is-alive-and-well-on-planet-earth/ clouds are the temperature regulators, and it will do us well to concentrate on the real threats to our earth on Earth Day, such as clean air (CO2 is clean air) and clean water.
I understand there is going to be a March for Science this Earth Day.
An advice to the marchers: Look up to the sky. If there are any clouds, especially cumulus clouds, look how they form, change and dissipate, and marvel that they are the regulators of the climate so we never have to worry about a thermal runaway, no matter what level of CO2. We will have another ice age though, but more CO2 will delay its onset.
In real estate appraisals the three most important factors to determine the value of a property are: Location, location, location.
Likewise, in climate modeling the three most important factors to estimate the future climate on earth are: Clouds, clouds, clouds.
CO2 is a strong greenhouse gas, second only to water vapor in affecting the climate on earth. If CO2 were to double from pre-industrial times, which it will have done in 50 years or so, global temperatures on earth will increase about 0.9 degree Celsius from pre-industrial times, if that was the only factor affecting the greenhouse effect. This corresponds to a radiative forcing of 4.9 W/m2. But water vapor is a stronger greenhouse gas than CO2, and, this is important, they are not orthogonal as defined by chemometrics, that means, the responses from water vapor and CO2 are not independent, and they are only partly additive. Check this figure: The bottom line is the absorption of water vapor, the green line is for CO2. The area of interest is between 8 and 20 microns, where CO2 absorbs more than H20 and is at the maximum of outgoing black body emission at 0F. The CO2 concentration is on the order of 400 ppm, the average global H2O concentration at surface level is around 12,500 ppm. Since both H2O and CO2 absorb in the same area, if water vapor concentration is more than 30 times higher, the CO2 con- centration doesn’t matter, it is all absorbed by H2O, and this is the reason there is no hotspot in the equatorial troposphere. All climate models predict there must be one, so there must be something seriously wrong with all climate models. Let us take a look at what factors IPCC consider in the consensus of climate models. See the following table:
This table is listing all the possible contributions to radiative forcings that IPCC chose to list. It does include the effect of aerosols on clouds, but it assumes that this is the sum total of the effect of clouds. Let us take a look at a picture of earth from space:The first impression of earth from space is: How beautiful! Green land, brown mountains, blue oceans and absolutely white clouds! The clouds seem to reflect all incoming sunlight, and indeed, clouds can have an albedo of about 0.9, versus ocean with an albedo of about 0,07. Taking a look at the energy flows, we can see that the clouds reflect about 79 W/m-2 back into space, or about 23% of the incoming sunlight.
But that is only half the story. Clouds are even more important than that for the energy balance of the earth. If you have a house with no air conditioning, and it is hot in the summer, you close the windows and close the shades during the day to keep the hot air and the sunshine out. Then during the night you open the windows and shades to let the cooler air in. In the winter you do the opposite, during the day you may or may not open the windows dependent on the temperature, but you always let in as much sunshine as possible. Then at night you draw the shades to retain as much warmth as possible. By manipulating the windows and shades you provided the negative feedback to keep the house somewhat temperature controlled. In fact, you acted as a governor, providing the negative feedback necessary to keep the house temperature controlled.
It is the same with clouds, they cool by day and warm by night, and they come and go, so it does matter a great deal when they do appear. At the risk of oversimplification let me take a stab at 3 cloud types, clouds, clouds, clouds.
Cumulus clouds, also called “Beautiful weather clouds.” The best example comes from Willis Eschenbach from his observations on a tropical island. The morning starts clear, and as the sun heats the moist air cumulus clouds appear around 9 a.m., and the temperature goes down!
The sun continues its path, and by mid afternoon Cumulonimbus clouds may appear. They are also called thunderstorms. In addition to have a very high albedo, they transfer a lot of heat to the upper atmosphere, rain out, keeping the ecosystem going, and cool the lower atmosphere.
The third very important type of clouds are frontal clouds. They carry energy in the form of water vapor from one area to another, in the northern temperate region typically from Southwest to Northeast, but they can also follow the jet stream, which exhibits a wave pattern.
The long and short of this oversimplification is that even a one percent change in the global average of cloud cover means more to the energy balance than all the factors listed by IPCC. In addition, cloud averages are misleading, day clouds cool, night clouds warm. So how are the climate models doing? Check this figure:
Not very encouraging. They all miss the mark. The only way to explain this discrepancy is that they all put too much emphasis on CO2 and way too little on clouds. But it helps to explain why they all miss the mark. See fig.
The clouds are the main temperature regulator in the ecosystem, providing a strong negative feedback once the temperature is favorable for cloud formation. Unless the oceans run dry we will never have to worry about a thermal runaway.
However, it can get cold, and we will get another ice age, which is the normal steady state for the earth. This will start by increasing cloud cover for whatever reason. Let me name a few:
Solar cycles: Solar cycle 24 is the most quiet in a century. A new solar minimum is to occur in the next few years and solar cycle 25 promises to be even quieter. When this happened last time it caused the little ice age, the winters were brutal indeed, and cloud covers increased, cooling the earth by at least half a degree.
The earth’s magnetic field is starting to act erratically. The magnetic north pole is speeding up and is now way up in the Arctic, near the North pole. The chart on the right shows the observed north dip poles during 1831 – 2007 as yellow squares. Modeled pole locations from 1590 to 2020 are circles progressing from blue to yellow. In addition the magnetic field is getting substantially weaker, maybe a breakup is possible having two North Poles and two South Poles. If this occurs, the protection from the cosmic radiation from the Sun will be weakened, causing more clouds and maybe trigger the next ice age.
Then there is the double star KIC 9832227. They are only 1,800 light-years away, an eclipsing binary pair, which means as they revolve around one another, each one briefly blots out the other from the perspective of a viewer on Earth. In 2021 or 2022 we will see them merge into one causing a red supernova. When this happens, because they are so close, we may even observe gravity waves. But from a climate standpoint there will be a burst of cosmic radiation, first the gamma rays coming at the speed of light, then with a slight delay the other cosmic radiation, coming at a time of the solar minimum and an unusually weak earth magnetic field.
This is new territory, and the best we can do is to increase CO2. It will not help much, but CO2 will help rather than hurt.
In any case, we are going to a cooler earth, and it is only a matter of time until we enter another ice age. The good news is, there is still time to develop and switch to Thorium based nuclear power generation when coal and oil are exhausted, and there is unlimited quantities of limestone to degass and make cement to keep the CO2 level up.
The good news is that thanks to increasing CO2 vegetation is increasing, reducing erosion, feeding another 2 billion people without starving, and also the fauna. The benefits flow from industrialized nations to developing nations that cannot afford fertilizers but benefit from the increased CO2. In addition, photo synthesis occur more efficiently, using less water with increasing CO2.
NOV. 28, 2015 gave his answers to 16 questions in the N.Y. Times regarding Climate Change. This Climate realist added his answer.
Justin Gillis answer to Question 16. Is it really all about carbon?
“Here’s a quick explainer.
The greenhouse gases being released by human activity are often called “carbon emissions,” just for shorthand. That is because the two most important of the gases, carbon dioxide and methane, contain carbon. Many other gases also trap heat near the Earth’s surface, and many human activities cause the release of such gases to the atmosphere. Not all of these actually contain carbon, but they have all come to be referred to by the same shorthand.
By far the biggest factor causing global warming is the burning of fossil fuels for electricity and transportation. That process takes carbon that has been underground for millions of years and moves it into the atmosphere, as carbon dioxide, where it will influence the climate for many centuries into the future. Methane is even more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, but it breaks down more quickly in the air. Methane comes from swamps, from the decay of food in landfills, from cattle and dairy farming, and from leaks from natural gas wells and pipelines.
While fossil-fuel emissions are the major issue, another major creator of emissions is the destruction of forests, particularly in the tropics. Billions of tons of carbon are stored in trees, and when forests are cleared, much of the vegetation is burned, sending that carbon into the air as carbon dioxide.
When you hear about carbon taxes, carbon trading and so on, these are just shorthand descriptions of methods designed to limit greenhouse emissions or to make them more expensive so that people will be encouraged to conserve fuel.”
My answer to Question 16. Is it really all about carbon?
Climate change has very little to do with carbon. The term “carbon pollution” is a misnomer set up to simplify the argument to put the blame for climate change on increased CO2.
Coming out of the ice age both temperature and CO2 rose, but, and this is important, temperature rose first, and then, with a 300 to 800 year lag CO2 rose. When temperatures had risen to a couple of degrees higher than today, temperature stopped rising, CO2 caught up and has been stable until about 1700 A.D, when coal mining started in earnest. During this time of CO2 stability we have had the Minoan warm period, a cooldown, the Roman warm period, sharp cooldown during the dark ages, the Medieval warm period, the little ice age, and finally today’s warming period, called “Climate change.” Each warming period was a little cooler than the previous, and each cooling period a little colder than the previous. We are now well into the bog building phase of the interglacial period, during which time the CO2 levels used to decrease until the Milankovitch cycles ended the interglacial period. The unprecedented increase in CO2 levels experienced since the start of the industrial era might get us back to the Medieval warming period, but the long term trend is lower temperatures, and the nest cooling period might trigger the next ice age.
What is putting a limit on temperature rise? One have to remember that the major greenhouse gas, bar none, is water vapor. In the tropics water vapor is more than ten times as abundant as when temperatures reach the freezing point. In the tropics water can be measured in percent, at the poles in parts per million. This has tremendous ramifications. Water vapor is lighter than air, and humid air tend to rise, get cooled down as temperature falls with altitude, and when saturation occurs clouds will form if there are condensation points, such as pollen, soot or cosmic radiation. The amount of CO2 does not matter in the tropics, if clouds ot better yet thunderstorms occur there is a negative feedback keeping the temperatures stable, near the temperature of the oceans. Not so in the deserts and at the poles. Where water vapor is lacking CO2 plays a role. In the deserts the long term temperatures will increase at the full 0.9 degree C for every doubling pf CO2, at the poles far more, not so much because of increased CO2, but increased water vapor will cause it to snow more, releasing additional heat, causing more snow. And we can see that snowfall over the northern hemisphere is increasing, but the spring melt is also earlier.
In short, climate change so far has been all to the good.
NOV. 28, 2015 gave his answers to 16 questions in the N.Y. Times regarding Climate Change. This Climate realist added his answer.
Justin Gillis answer to Question 15. Will the seas rise evenly across the planet?
Many people imagine the ocean to be like a bathtub, where the water level is consistent all the way around. In fact, the sea is rather lumpy – strong winds and other factors can cause water to pile up in some spots, and to be lower in others.
Also, the huge ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica exert a gravitational pull on the sea, drawing water toward them. As they melt, sea levels in their vicinity will fall as the water gets redistributed to distant areas.
How the rising ocean affects particular parts of the world will therefore depend on which ice sheet melts fastest, how winds and currents shift, and other related factors. On top of all that, some coastal areas are sinking as the sea rises, so they get a double whammy.
My answer to Question 15. Will the seas rise evenly across the planet?
We are still recovering from the last ice age. The planet is becoming less ovoid, more like a sphere. In the Bothnian Bay land is rising out of the ocean at a rate of about 3 feet per century. It is by no means over yet. The displaced water gets redistributed over the rest of the earth. In addition the Mid-Atlantic ridge is expanding and rising with numerous undersea volcanoes, maybe up to one third of all undersea volcanoes are located between Jan Mayen and Svalbard. Teutonic plate movements explain the rest. The Eastern Seaboard is slowly sinking into the sea, more than the rest of the world. Te expansion of the ocean is not accelerating.The take home from this picture is that there are cyclical factors quite apart from rising CO2, but sea level rise is not accelerating.
NOV. 28, 2015 gave his answers to 16 questions in the N.Y. Times regarding Climate Change. This Climate realist added his answer.
Justin Gillis answer to Question 14. How does agriculture affect climate change?
It’s a big contributor, but there are signs of progress.
The environmental pressures from global agriculture are indeed enormous.
The demand for food is rising, in large part because of population growth and rising incomes that give millions of once-low income people the means to eat richer diets. Global demand for beef and for animal feed, for instance, has led farmers to cut down huge chunks of the Amazon rain forest.
Efforts are being made to tackle the problems. The biggest success has arguably been in Brazil, which adopted tough oversight and managed to cut deforestation in the Amazon by 80 percent in a decade. But the gains there are fragile, and severe problems continue in other parts of the world, such as aggressive forest clearing in Indonesia.
Scores of companies and organizations, including major manufacturers of consumer products, signed a declaration in New York in 2014 pledging to cut deforestation in half by 2020, and to cut it out completely by 2030. The companies that signed the pact are now struggling to figure out how to deliver on that promise.
Many forest experts at the Paris climate talks in late 2015 considered the pledge as ambitious, but possible. And they said it was crucial that consumers keep up the pressure on companies from whom they buy products, from soap to ice cream.
My answer to Question 14. How does agriculture affect climate change?
Whenever a forest is cut down and the earth gets tilled the local microclimate changes, and not for the better. The earth warms about 0.8 degrees C, the evapotranspiration is drastically reduced, the ground dries up having lost its protective shade. That is why it is an insane idea to cut down the rainforests of Borneo to produce biofuel.
Thanks to increasing CO2 levels agriculture is in much better shape than before.
CO2, the life-giving gas, not “Carbon Pollution”. A Limerick – and explanation.
What then is this “Carbon Pollution”?
A sinister, evil collusion?
CO2, it is clean,
Makes for growth, makes it green,
A transfer of wealth, a solution.
CO2 concentration has increased from about 280 ppm in pre-industrial times to 405 ppm today, and is increasing at a rate of 2 ppm per year. We are way past the point of no return, 350 ppm which would lead to a temperature catastrophe. (1) But instead, something rather interesting is occurring. The earth is getting greener! (2) This 40 % increase in CO2 the last 250 years has led to a more than 30 % increase in agricultural production all by itself without adding fertilizer or using higher yielding seeds. (3) Thanks to this we can now feed an additional two billion people on earth without starvation. The news are so good, that the per capita food production is increasing, even as the population is increasing. (4)
Look at it this way. The value of basic agricultural products is more than 1.5 trillion dollars worldwide. 30% of that is due to increased CO2. That means that the CO2 emitted is worth 450 billion dollars, spread out over all farmers and ranchers worldwide. This wealth transfer is occurring right now, and knows no national boundary. It is a gift from the developed countries to the rest of the world. Who could be against that?
It turns out that this wealth transfer occurs without global governance. The leaders of the world will not have their say in who gets the wealth transfer, the U.N. bureaucrats will not get their cut, and politicians cannot get a campaign issue since it occurs without their involvement.
So to recapture the initiative they renamed this life-giving gas “Carbon pollution” and managed somehow to get the Supreme Court to agree with the notion that CO2 is a pollutant.
How can that be? They argued that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, which is true. It is second only to water vapor. It is responsible for about 9 degree Celsius rise in global temperature, and if CO2 increases, so does the greenhouse effect and the temperature increases. This in turn leads to more water vapor in the air, and water vapor is the strongest greenhouse gas, so there is a risk of reaching a “tipping point” when we could experience a thermal runaway of the planet. All of this is true, so U.N. and many governments around the world have sponsored studies to model climate change, over a hundred models have been constructed, and they all come up with rather gloomy forecasts. The research is so intense that over 3 billion dollars of government monies are spent yearly on climate change research.
All models show a similar pattern, a fairly steep and more or less linear rise in temperature as CO2 increases. There is only one major thing wrong with them. They do not agree with what is happening to the global temperature. We have now had 224 months (Sep 2015) without any global warming, in fact, the trend is down. (5)
What is wrong with the models? They all assume a passive earth, where there is no negative feedback to the changing environment. It turns out, the earth has a “governor”, and it can be expressed in one word, albedo, which means “whiteness” or how much of the incoming sunlight that gets reflected back into space.
The major albedo changers are the amount of ice around the poles and clouds, but even land use changes such as forests cut down and replaced by agriculture and urbanization.
When there is snow or ice on the ground, more sunlight gets reflected and it gets colder still. Urban heat islands are warmer than the surroundings, airports are warmer than its surroundings. Interestingly, that is where we are placing our new weather stations. (This is great for pilots that have to evaluate take-off and landing conditions, but is less than ideal for climate research. But then again, climate research has moved from the realm of physical science to political science, where different rules do apply.)
The most important albedo changers of the earth are clouds. Without them no land based life would be possible since clouds serve both as rainmakers and temperature stabilizers. If there were no clouds the equilibrium temperature at the equator would be around 140 degrees F.
Over the oceans, in the so called “doldrums” where there are no trade winds, the mornings start with a warm-up, and when the conditions are right a shower or thunderstorm occurs. The ambient temperature is usually between 84 and 88 degrees when this happens. As CO2 concentrations increase thunderstorms occur a few minutes earlier and last a little bit longer, but they are no more severe and as a result the average temperature stays the same. (5)
In desert areas of the world this temperature regulator doesn’t work well, so deserts will receive the full force of temperature increase which is 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit per doubling of CO2 levels.
In the temperate region the temperature increase will be somewhere in between. Dry days will be warmer, cloudy and rainy days will have the same temperature as before, since the regulator starts to function.
The polar region is a special case. None of the models have done a good job at modeling the clouds at the poles, especially the South Pole. (6) They will warm up more than 2 degrees F, how much is a question. In the South average temperatures will rise from – 70 degrees F in the interior all the way to maybe – 63 degrees F, and come closer to freezing in the summer at the northern edges. There may be added snowfall that will expand the ice sheet. The Antarctic ice sheet has set new records since record keeping began, and is at the moment bottoming out at 30% more ice than the 30 year average. (7)
The North Pole region is even more complicated since it is partially land, partially ocean. The oceanic ice cap has been shrinking at a fairly constant rate the last 30 years, but last year it broke the trend and grew back to break the trend line. The winter snow cap has remained at about the same level year to year with a slightly positive trend line, this year being no exception. So, why is the snow cover growing slightly, but ice cover shrinking? The common explanation has been global warming, but the ice cover kept shrinking even as the temperature increase leveled off. There are two possible explanations: Warming oceans and changes in pollution. The North Atlantic Oscillation has been mostly positive (warmer) since 1970 and has only recently turned negative, so that is certainly part of the cause of the shrinking of the icecap, but another candidate is even more likely: Carbon Pollution. With that I do not mean CO2, but good old soot, spewing out from the smokestacks of power plants in China. 45% of all coal burned is burned in China, often low grade lignite with no scrubbers. The air in Beijing is toxic to humans more days than not. Some of that soot finds its way to the arctic and settles on the ice, changing its albedo, and the sun has a chance to melt the ice more efficiently. This occurs mostly in the months of August and September when the Sun is at a low angle anyway, so the changing of the albedo has very little effect on temperature. The net result of all this is that the temperature in the North Pole region will rise about 3 degrees Fahrenheit for a doubling of the CO2. This will have a very minor effect on the Greenland ice cap since they are nearly always way below freezing anyway (-28 degree C average). The largest effect will happen in August and September in the years when all new snow has melted and the soot from years past is exposed. This happened two years ago with a sudden drop in albedo for the Greenland ice. It will also lead to an increase in the precipitation in the form of snow, so the net result is the glaciers may start growing again if the amount of soot can be reduced.
The conclusion is: The temperature regulator of the earth is working quite well, and the increase in temperature at the poles is welcome as it lessens the temperature gradient between the tropics and the polar regions, which in turn reduces the severity of storms, since they are mostly generated by temperature differences and the different density of warm, humid and dry, cold air. (8) The Polar Bears will do quite well, their numbers have more than doubled in the last 50 years.
(1). This is a message from 1010global.org. Their aim was to reduce carbon emissions by 10% in 2010.
(2). The earth is getting greener! https://lenbilen.com/2013/03/19/co2-the-solution-to-climate-change/
About Face! Why the World Needs More Carbon Dioxide is easy reading from two scientists and an economist. About Face! is the product of two scientists and an economist. The scientists are Madhav Khandekar in Canada and Cliff Ollier in Australia, plus economist Arthur Middleton Hughes in the USA.
It will change your understanding of climate science and explain how we can save millions of lives and billions of dollars per year.
Available on Amazon here
Justin Gillis answers to Question 13. Is there any reason for hope?
If you share this with 50 friends, maybe
Scientists have been warning since the 1980s that strong policies were needed to limit emissions. Those warnings were ignored, and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have since built up to potentially dangerous levels. So the hour is late.
But after 20 years of largely fruitless diplomacy, the governments of the world are finally starting to take the problem seriously. A deal reached in Paris in December commits nearly every country to some kind of action.
Religious leaders like Pope Francis are speaking out. Low-emission technologies, such as electric cars, are improving. Leading corporations are making bold promises to switch to renewable power and stop forest destruction. Around the world, many states and cities are pledging to go far beyond the goals set by their national governments.
What is still largely missing in all this are the voices of ordinary citizens.
Because politicians have a hard time thinking beyond the next election, they tend to tackle hard problems only when the public rises up and demands it.
My answer to Question 13. Is there any reason for hope?
Yes there is. Thanks to the last election the Paris agreement will not be enforced. It is a horrible agreement anyhow, reducing our CO2 emissions immediately and allowing China to keep increasing until 2030, by which time their emissions will be six times as big as ours. Already China is burning 47% of the coal burned in the world, and poor countries still need to get electrified. India is also exempt, and their needs are even bigger than China’s. With the Paris agreement the poorest countries would still use dried cow dung as cooking fuel.
We now have a great opportunity to turn from going after CO2 and address real pollution and environmental degradation. We have immense environmental problems. The water in the American South-West is spoken for, the prairie aquifers are being depleted, water and soil pollution lurks everywhere. We are over-fertilizing our lawns and agricultural fields, not managing wildfires properly, adding red tape to red tape. All environmental action should be regional, such as the Chesapeake Bay Watershed program. Thanks to persuading even the Amish to use proper fertilizing methods, such as not putting out manure just before a thunderstorm, put up manure barriers next to streams and so on, Chesapeake Bay might yet be saved.
It makes no sense to make electric cars as long as the bulk of electricity comes from fossil fuels. Fossil fuels should be reserved for airplane transportation since they have no good alternative.
We need to have a crash program in Thorium based nuclear electricity production, and when enough production capacity is established, then is the time to produce electrical cars.
We need to leave this world a cleaner and better place than when we entered it, and the best way to have a chance to leave more production resources for our grand-children is to switch most of our electricity production to Thorium as a feedstock. There is a million years supply of Thorium in the world, all other material are more limited. Wind and solar will not do it, it takes more power than that to solve our needs.