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In today's climate news...

15 Nov 2023 | News Roundup

The big story is, supposedly, COP28 gathering to bicker and waste time as a stirring prelude to COP29. But what’s this? The New York Times “Climate Forward” whimpers that “It’s no secret that fossil fuels are still going strong… But a new United Nations-backed report paints an alarming picture of how dramatically coal, oil and gas production is expected to grow in the coming years. If current projections hold, the United States will drill for more oil and gas in 2030 than at any point in its history, our colleague Hiroko Tabuchi reports. So will Russia and Saudi Arabia.” Because the world needs energy, and alternatives aren’t working.

“Climate Forward” isn’t getting the picture. They further complain that:

“In fact, almost all of the top 20 fossil fuel-producing countries plan to produce more oil, gas and coal in 2030 than they do today. If those projections hold, the world would overshoot the amount of fossil fuels consistent with limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius – the level scientists say would result in vastly more life-threatening heat waves, drought and coastal flooding.”

Well. The level. Scientists say. At least it’s not 1.5°C again. Though of course for all the talk of tipping points and boundary conditions and so forth, the likelihood of the weather being insanely different at 2.1°C than at 1.9°C is minimal.

In fact, Roger Pielke Jr. just objected, the press keep reporting things like “heavier rainstorms driven by global warming are sending more water into residential neighborhoods from the Gulf Coast to New England to Appalachia to the Pacific Northwest” (from NPR) while:

“A Federal Emergency Management Office official explained to The Washington Post: ‘We know that as climate changes, the impacts are getting worse. We’re seeing more and more flooding going on as a result.’ Everybody knows this – it is conventional wisdom.”

In fact, he adds:

“Not only is the conventional wisdom on flooding wrong, data show that flood impacts as measured by direct economic losses have actually decreased by about 90% since 1940 as a proportion of U.S. GDP.”

Amazing. The bad weather the alarmists no longer even bother trying to catalogue and present as evidence, they simply assert its existence and rush off, has not showed up. So why would it if we get another 0.9°C? But in a way even this question is beside the point.

We must have energy. The consequences for humanity of going back to, say, 1950 levels of energy production per capita would be mass starvation, disease, misery and death. And since renewables are not filling the gap, the alleged cost of continuing to use oil, gas and even coal must be weighed against the cost of not using anything. Unless of course you can do something about the renewable problem other than ignore or, um, deny it.

We did detect some signs of awareness among some alarmists that their program has hit a rough patch in terms of energy and public buy-in. But others of course are charging ahead. Thus, “Climate Forward” notes approvingly:

“‘Governments are literally doubling down on fossil fuel production; that spells double trouble for people and planet,’ António Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, said in a statement accompanying the report. ‘We cannot address climate catastrophe without tackling its root cause: fossil fuel dependence.’”

Literally. As in figuratively. And they have a pseudo-solution:

“As global leaders gather in Dubai for the United Nations’ climate talks known as COP28 later this month, there will once again be calls for collective action to reduce planet-warming emissions and expand renewable energy.”

As in solar, wind, heat pumps, EVs and so forth really do work, and carbon taxes people can afford really do reduce emissions. It’s only those fools outside our bubble who can’t seem to see it the way we do. But in any case “calls for” something are not actually useful steps to make it happen. And without real-world measures to cause actual results, you’re just yelling at CO2. It would be like trying to deal with an upcoming test by protesting that π not being 3 makes math hard instead of hitting the books and studying trigonometry.

Again, there does seem to be a dawning awareness of these tawdry practical matters. “Climate Forward” actually gets as far as:

“What’s more, the world still lacks examples of industrialized countries that have successfully moved away from oil and gas.”

And yes, h/t to the Manhattan Contrarian who keeps saying before you go all-in on something, literally, you really want to have a demonstration project on a small scale whose results are in some way reassuring. We ain’t got one.

So what do you do? Chide and sweat:

“Until those basic dynamics change, the world is likely to face more emissions — and more intense warming — in the years ahead. ‘It’s looking really dire,’ said Niklas Hagelberg, the U.N. Environment Program’s global coordinator for climate change. ‘We’re really on life support here.’”

Block that metaphor! In the real world, whatever apocalypse may loom if it becomes imperceptibly warmer, mostly at the poles, humans are not on “life support”. Instead over the last half-century we have been living longer, healthier, more prosperous lives in numbers the doom-sayers of a previous generation assured us were like literally totally beyond the planet’s carrying capacity.

If you’re there in the COP bunker thinking “This time for sure”, here’s what you really have to do. Take a hard, cold look at the massive shortcomings of your proposed solutions so far, and figure out practical steps to make them work better, or find different proposed solutions. Because here’s what is not happening, and isn’t going to: People are not shutting down the power plants and watching furnaces, fridges, hospitals and farm machinery go off-line because you wrongly detect a trend toward worsening weather that, if it did show up at some point, might make things a bit more difficult in 2050.

We’re past that point, in terms of evidence, logic and plans. You need to get with the program instead of repeating your stale rhetoric.

6 comments on “In today's climate news...”

  1. There comes a point in the life of any movement when reality comes knocking at the door. You can virtue signal in a multitude of ways, by gluing yourself to roads or vandalizing works of art, but ultimately there comes that dread moment when you realise that your house is cold and food is scarce (and there is no way to cook it), and you ask yourself why did I do this? I think we are coming to this moment quite soon.

  2. It's a journalism thing, h/t being standard notation for 'hat tip', an acknowledgement of somebody else's presence as you pass by them, or their idea or work in this situation. I did not know what this meant when I first encountered it, but took all of 30 seconds to find out, by asking the internet.

  3. I just attended an international energy and decarbonization conference in the Emirates, ADIPIC , attended by +-150k over 3 days. I can tell you this, decarbonization will not happen without the energy providers of today involved.

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