Let’s talk about climate change (no, really!)

My Humanist Group hosted a (pre-pandemic!) presentation by Tim Guinee, promoting the hoax of human-caused global warming. Just kidding; actually, it was a really excellent explanation of the reality, so I’ll recap it. Then offer a few points in response.

Our atmosphere is actually just a very thin sheath around the planet. It traps solar radiation, warming the Earth, and making life possible. But there can be too much of a good thing. Case in point: Venus, warmed to a toasty 867 degrees Fahrenheit. Carbon Dioxide in our own atmosphere increases its heat trapping effect. Today, mainly through fossil fuel burning (and despite the Paris agreement), we continue to increase atmospheric Carbon Dioxide, topping the previous high 3 million years ago — with sea levels 30 meters higher than now.

So 2019 was the 43rd consecutive year with global temperatures above the average. (New York’s rise exceeds our national average.) Guinee showed charts with the temperature bell curve moving toward the right; while the overall shift may seem small, it results in far more episodes at the extreme end. Thus heat waves have killed tens of thousands.

Most excess heat gets sopped up by the oceans. This has caused wobbles in the jet stream current, trapping weather systems like hurricanes and thus intensifying them. Also, warmer air above the seas increases water vapor, making for bigger downpours, now being called “rain bombs.” The Northeast has seen a 71% rise in extreme rainfall events since 1958. Builders of Kentucky’s full-size Noah’s Ark replica sued their insurers because it was damaged by rain!

The added heat also pulls moisture from land, causing droughts, and forest fires. Recent Australian fires are reckoned to have killed a billion critters — not counting insects, frogs, or fish. We’re also losing tree cover, which feeds back to more warming. While more warmth means more disease-carrying insects, like ticks, and additional air pollution, also adding to human death tolls.

And of course melting Greenland and Antarctic ice raises sea levels, endangering coastal habitations.

Guinee noted that the world’s poorest (who benefit least from fossil fuel burning) suffer the most from climate change.

But his message was hopeful. He noted that deployment of solar and wind power and electric cars has vastly exceeded projections from not long ago. These technologies are improving while costs are falling; this can make adoption of new paradigms quite rapid (look at cellphones). While some worry about economic costs of combating climate change, Guinee pointed out that since 2006 Minneapolis reduced emissions by 20% while its economy grew 30%. And in 1860, America’s biggest capital investment was in slaves; yet we successfully transitioned beyond that.

But people understanding the problem doesn’t mean they’ll act accordingly. Indeed, token actions can induce complacency. And we need big national and international efforts. But small actions can inspire greater ones and create new social norms. Guinee concluded that what we really need is a “mature leap of faith.”

All this overlooks the fact that if God didn’t want temperatures to rise, they wouldn’t.

But back to reality. Climate activists focus almost entirely on curbing carbon emissions. There’s a missionary zeal to this, demonizing humanity as guilty of raping the planet, and prescribing as penitence a hair shirt of dialing back economic activity. However, asking people to accept reduced lifestyles is totally unrealistic. And anyhow, global warming is already baked in, and temperatures will still rise even if we cut carbon emissions to zero. Thus we must give much more attention to investments aimed at preparing for adaptation to higher temperatures. And also more intensively research options for geo-engineering, that is, pro-active measures to reduce global temperatures (like mimicking the effects of volcanic eruptions, which do that). But climate activists resist such efforts as antithetical to their insistence on carbon reduction.

They also tend to resist expansion of nuclear power, which any rational carbon-reduction strategy must prominently include. In terms of climate, nuclear is actually the cleanest possible energy source. I just read a big article in The Economist about renewable power sources, highlighting all the obstacles to their deployment to the extent needed. Astoundingly (to me), the word “nuclear” nowhere occurred in the article.

Further, though you wouldn’t know it from listening to climate warriors, carbon is far from the whole picture. About a quarter of global warming is caused by methane — which, ton for ton, over 20 years from emission, causes 86 times more warming than carbon dioxide. And the good news is that methane could be reduced without incurring the economic damage associated with carbon dioxide. A major methane culprit is the process of extracting and transporting natural gas; with the mundane problem of leaky pipes playing a big role. Reducing these losses could pay for itself because methane, unlike carbon dioxide, is a valuable commodity. Farm animals are another key source of atmospheric methane; that could be meliorated by tweaking their diets.

2 Responses to “Let’s talk about climate change (no, really!)”

  1. cocobiskits Says:

    The cows are often blamed for methane, but it seems to me that the buffalo roamed in huge numbers, presumably pooping with abandoned pleasure and no processing!

  2. Don Bronkema Says:

    Bison generate 18% of domestic bovid methane…even thorium nukes mean political sewercide…other claims 95% correct…read comrade Leo Hickman’s acclaimed Climate Brief for guarded optimo. MIT Tek Review demos daily how thermageddon can be obviated. Ovkorss fossil fools, Bible-pounding Q-anons & US Senate stand akimbo in the egress to ecodise…excoriated for betrayal of Anita, Joe redeems himself evridae as a master of manoeuvre…as you’ll recall from respondent’s previos, if all else fails, we can install atom-thin, 150 km-wide orbisols in geostationary orbit to block insolation… effect woodbi immediate: triangulation of 3 wood slash planet to 1768 temps* w/in a quinquennium, freeze Arctic peat-lands, stabilize Thwaite/Pine Island & close Greenland crevices [thus no hydroplaning]…such advocacy during 1986-88 [die Hansen-zeit] was not forgotten, & got him booted from govt in 2012 after 60 years’ oft-awarded service by whom? Obamites terrified GOP wood ‘out’ him as they did during Wassergeht for atheism/socialism…Che Guevara poster diddent help…hi-school said he was nuts for prophecy of moon-landing by 1974. Augustana accused him of Communism for defending Freud; in 1955 Columbia cast ostraca for predicting fall of USSR w/in 30 years dutu GOSPLAN prodigality. Colonia Martialis by 2045; exploration of galaxy launched c. 2250 by syntel heirs…heelbi merciful & stop commo in May 2022, go dacha, die there 2036 at 105. Ave atque vale. AH-way, OT-kway, WAH-lay & good riddance. *Watt launches industrial age.

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