The climate is always changing, and humans weren’t always there to change it.  Even if it really is warmer now than during the medieval warm period, the planet IS NOT the warmest it’s ever been.  We still have ice caps, which didn’t exist for most (if not all) of the Mesozoic Era.  The planet has been through far worse than us.  I’m fairly certain that none of the above facts are in dispute.  However, I need to revisit this subject, because climate “scepticism” is, apparently, the worst type of pseudoscience.  By the way, before anyone attacks me for citing a single YouTube video, this is just the latest example.  If you want more examples, I’d be happy to provide them.

Normally, I wouldn’t bother beating a dead horse, but the video in question touched a nerve for two reasons: first, being sceptical is a good thing, and second, human impact on the climate is not understood as well as non-scientists tend to think.  I read the AAAS publication Science, so I actually have more access to raw data than armchair activists on YouTube, and I have yet to see a conclusive research article claiming that human activity is the single largest contributor to climate change.  Not that I’m denying that humans do indeed have a negative affect on the environment, and pollution is certainly a huge problem, but where’s aggregate conclusion?  I suspect that it doesn’t exist, because climate science is a much broader field of study than most people realise.

I’ll start with my opinion on pollution, because I agree with the stereotypical activist on this one, for the most part.  However, carbon dioxide is not what I’m worried about.  It’s an easy data point to measure, but one study (which I can’t find anymore, unfortunately) found that volcanoes pump far more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than any human activity.  I’m more worried about methane.  Methane is a much better insulator than carbon dioxide, and therefore a much more potent greenhouse gas, anywhere between 25 and 86 times as potent as carbon dioxide (depending on which study you look at; starting to see the problem?), and it’s produced mostly by industrial farms (methane burn-off from oil wells is, surprisingly, negligible) and landfills.  Methane also bubbles up from the bottoms of marshes, because it’s a product of decay.  The same process of decay at great depths also produces methane hydrate, an estimated 30 trillion tonnes of which is currently frozen at the bottom of the ocean, and it is very sensitive to changing temperature.  Fortunately, as long as the poles are still frozen, the planet isn’t warm enough for that to be a problem.

In the video I linked, Professor Stick points out, to his credit, that climate change alarmists don’t help solve the problem, they simply legitimise deniers when they get caught exaggerating the problem.  Maybe the intent is benevolent, but it’s hard to attribute the doomsday scare tactics to innocence when Al Gore is a lying tobacco farmer and oil baron with the personality of a shoehorn, and when Greta Thunberg is clearly a puppet who takes her anger toward the proverbial (and possibly literal) hands up her backside out on the rest of the world.  Seriously, somebody call child protective services and have them pay her house a visit.  However, returning to the subject of Professor Stick, he foolishly called his opponents on the subject “sceptics,” rather than “deniers,” and then glibly stated that humans are ruining the climate, as if this was established beyond all doubt.  If it’s established beyond all doubt, then why are all the legitimate climate studies in various disciplines not saying the exact same thing?!  A healthy scepticism is needed on the subject of anthroprogenic climate change, because there is no clear consensus.  Without knowing exactly what is causing climate change, how can we possibly hope to solve the problem?

This brings me right to my next point, which is the solution.  There is one, but it’s the responsibility of large entities (and large polluters) to implement it.  There is no solution that the average American or European can implement, given that, by country, the largest polluter is China.  The U.S. is a distant second, followed closely by India, which will soon pull ahead.  China is supposedly also the leader in “green” energy production, producing more electricity through wind and solar power than even the United States.  However, there are problems with this approach.  Wind turbines need a tremendous amount of oil to operate.  They use petroleum-based lubricants, and they are typically de-iced by helicopter.  They also kill bats and large birds, which has the conservationists up in arms, but that’s a topic for another time.  Likewise, although China has made some breakthroughs with solar cells (many of which I’ve read about in Science), even the new designs require rare metals, which require intensive mining operations.  I highly doubt Chinese mining equipment is electric, and even if it is, there is another problem I need to address: electric vehicles.  Environmental concerns regarding batteries aside, electric vehicles need to be charged.  Where is the electricity to charge them going to come from?  That was a rhetorical question, it comes from a power plant.  Since energy is conserved, then running a hundred electric cars off of a gas or oil-fired power plant is going to use the same amount of fuel as a hundred conventional cars with no electric power plant to speak of.  Replacing petrol-fuelled cars with electric ones simply puts more demand on the power grid, as do electric kitchen appliances and domestic electric heat.  Unless you cut the fossil fuels out of the power grid as well, the problem isn’t solved, it’s simply transferred from the public to the infrastructure.  If you want a perfect example of this, there are two countries to look at: Estonia and France, both of which have a larger percentage of electric cars on the road than any other country.  However, France also has a greater percentage of its electricity needs met by nuclear power than any other nation, while Estonia has mostly coal-fired power plants.  Estonia has not seen a significant change in air quality, for better or worse, since electric cars became commonplace, whereas France has significantly better air quality than 20 years ago.

Government controls are not going to solve this problem, which should come as a surprise to absolutely no-one.  Government has a terrible track record with this sort of thing.  Therefore, measuring pollution by nation is actually quite deceptive.  Since factories are generally owned by businesses, which love following regulations (that was sarcasm), then pollution ought to be measured by business, rather than by country.  The single largest polluter, by this metric, is… the U.S. military, which is exempt from emissions regulations imposed by the U.S. government onto civilians and private businesses.  Shocker.  Somehow, I suspect that the estimated emissions of U.S. Navy warships isn’t included when pollution by nation is measured.  Remember, the U.S. military operates in no fewer than 40 countries.  Since the state of California once penalised certain towns for having unacceptable levels of air contaminants after a polluted air mass wafted over from China, I highly doubt that the nation-based studies include only emissions of domestic entities, and not the contributions of foreign military vehicles within that nation’s borders.  None of my incoherent quibbles change the fact that China and India still have the worst air quality in the world, but their respective governments aren’t entirely to blame for that.  I’m not defending the Chinese and Indian governments, by the way.

Regardless of who is to blame for the pollution and what solutions can be implemented, I must still question the choice of words that climate activists use.  They are operating under the assumption that the science is already settled, and any conflicting studies are fake.  Well, when was it settled?  Where is the aggregate study showing the conclusions of all the completed research, and why is there still plenty of ongoing research providing new data?  Why is everyone complaining about carbon dioxide, when there are many more pollutants to worry about, some of which are far worse?  Most importantly, why is the information so hard to find?  I have access to actual research articles, and even I don’t see a clear picture.  Personally, I still maintain that the solution is to go nuclear.  I see wind and solar power as feel-good band-aids that are ultimately useless.  I’m on the fence about electric cars, mostly because of their short range, though the Tesla Cybertruck has me a little more optimistic.  Besides, I think my overall attitude is best summed up by the following meme:

climate policy meme

2 thoughts on “Getting Really Sick of the Anthroprogenic Climate Change Argument…

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