A Globe & Mail editorial obituary for coal power in Canada went all in, declaring that “A leaked United Nations report last week included warnings that a hotter planet could arrive sooner than expected.” Regrettably it seems a lot of people don’t care. “The International Energy Agency in April said global emissions this year could jump by the second-largest amount ever, in part because of a global surge in burning coal for power.” Alas not in Canada where politicians are determined to do away with all our most reliable sources of energy. But the latest leaked United Nations scare stories say exactly what they always say. “‘The worst is yet to come,’ stated a draft of the report.” Which it better be since thus far all we’ve had is just some weather and ominous rumblings coming from people not natural phenomena. Such as “The worsening effects of climate heating have become clear in the past few years, as temperatures rise, storms rage and large fires burn.” Even the temperature record is unclear; where we have the best records, in the United States, the Climate Reference Network uncontaminated by the Urban Heat Island effect suggests cooling. As for the raging storms and blazing fires, no worse than in the past. Often better. But since we’re all going to die, the worst is yet to come.
The New York Times “Climate Fwd.” upped the ante on the heat dome, saying “there is nothing weird about why this heat wave occurred… Scientists said they were confident that climate change played a role, as studies have shown that it has in other heat waves. When baseline temperatures are higher, as they are in a world that has warmed nearly 2 degrees since 1900, extreme heat will likely be even more extreme.”
Now that figure is, as Gertrude Stein might say, interesting if true. Actually NASA’s Goddard Institute, which having been run by the likes of James Hansen and Gavin Schmidt is hardly a “denier” outfit, seems to think it’s that much since 1880. But why not shorten the time span or added impact? Also, why not pretend we know how warm the planet was in 1900 in places like Burundi or Batavia (which Goddard does, claiming accuracy to within a tenth of a degree).
Oh, I know. Because just imagine what the planet would have been like in the Minoan Warm Period, the Holocene Climatic Optimum or indeed the Pliocene if such things were true. Still, throw another claim in the fire; a whole lot of no fun piece in Flipboard warns that “Historic heat waves, drought and dry vegetation are a bad combination. What’s even worse? Adding fireworks into the mix.”
Are we seriously to believe that it was safe to have fireworks on Independence Day, or Dominion Day, during the 1930s heat waves. But with today’s superior firefighting techniques, and frankly with fireworks less likely to cause a safety inspector to blanche, we can’t?
But apparently it doesn’t really matter because the debate is ending again. The Globe proclaims that “All of this is happening amid shifting public sentiment.” Even in Alberta they’re turning against coal. Except that “In Canada and around the world, ending the use of coal for steelmaking is not technologically feasible. But the much more widespread use of coal for electric power is a different story: It’s a carbon-intensive activity that must be wound down, and can be.”
So maybe we should build some pipelines?