In December the Wall Street Journal “The Future of Everything” feature asked “Are Sailboats the Future of Cargo Shipping?” And the short answer is time will tell. There is interest but there are doubts. And while we are nostalgic for old-tyme sailing ships, these are a very different prospect. But the hook is that “Major players in maritime shipping are looking for ways to cut emissions and save money on fuel as regulators from the U.N.’s International Maritime Organization and the European Union try to crack down on the notoriously carbon-intensive industry.” And we must say again that if the climate is so fragile that its future hinges on whether people put sails on big ocean-going ships, we’re done for anyway.
Something called The Daily Digest warns that “If we don't cut emissions by 50% in 7 years we are doomed”. Yeah. Doomed to receive more warnings that we have just a decade or so to act boldly or blah blah snooze.
The Manhattan Contrarian notes the peculiar impulse many politicians have to make their jurisdiction a “climate leader”. Including New York State which “enacted its Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act in 2018, announcing its ‘climate leadership’ to the world for all to envy.” Alas, “five years into the competition, New York’s greenhouse gas emissions have actually increased substantially, as two large new natural gas power plants have replaced electricity generation from two prematurely-closed emissions-free nuclear facilities, while generation of electricity from wind and solar has barely budged.” As for Britain, it has sunk itself with a big bet on renewables that sent energy prices soaring, and though its emissions have fallen by 33.1% since 2008 the rest of the world’s have risen by 16.4% for a net gain of 5.1 gigatonnes. So they’re leading the way to poverty but um nobody’s following.
Speaking of not leading, look who hates Davos now. In Heatmap Daily Jillian Goodman complains that “The rich drive climate change…. The wealthiest 1% of global citizens are responsible for 16% of global emissions, according to a report in The Guardian a couple months ago.” All those private jets, most likely. And see “The wealthy are more likely to own cars, eat meat, travel by yacht, and do all kinds of other things that are not, per se, consistent with a livable planet.” But then Goodman observes pointedly that “the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland wrapped up today. After the progress made at COP28, some were hopeful that the annual summit could represent another step toward a fossil fuel-free future. It didn’t — but that probably shouldn’t be a surprise, considering the above. Oh well. Maybe next year.” Or not.
The news isn’t all bad: USA Today whimpers that “Social media is still not doing enough to stop misinformation denying the existence and causes of climate change. That’s the finding of a review of climate-related conversations on social media platforms by the public interest research organization Advance Democracy.” Social media being, apparently, a concrete bunker devoted to promoting the monotonous repetition of approved opinion, not millions of places where people argue, natter, yell, blaspheme or post images of macramé. How bad is it? Dreadful: “Of the 10 Facebook posts with the most interactions, eight either denied climate change or promoted conspiracy theories. None included a link to Facebook’s Climate Science Information Center or a fact check. TikTok also failed to rein in falsehoods.” Like we say, the news isn’t all bad. Then they interview that paragon of thoughtful neutrality, “Michael Mann, a climate scientist and professor at the University of Pennsylvania”, along with John Cook, all the while wondering why no one seems to be listening.
From the “settled science” file, AP reports that “Scientists have mapped the largest coral reef deep in the ocean, stretching hundreds of miles off the U.S. Atlantic coast. While researchers have known since the 1960s that some coral were present off the Atlantic, the reef’s size remained a mystery until new underwater mapping technology made it possible to construct 3D images of the ocean floor.” So all those people saying coral couldn’t survive gentle warming didn’t just not know the past history of coral, and climate. They also didn’t know what was going on with it now. Even though “The largest yet known deep coral reef ‘has been right under our noses, waiting to be discovered,’ said Derek Sowers, an oceanographer at the nonprofit Ocean Exploration Trust” and “The reef extends for about 310 miles (499 kilometers) from Florida to South Carolina and at some points reaches 68 miles (109 kilometers) wide. The total area is nearly three times the size of Yellowstone National Park.”
It is more mathiness. Under the heading “AI Predicts Major Ice Loss Even With Immediate Climate Action” MSN peddles a story that “Even if global warming were to cease entirely, the volume of ice in the European Alps is projected to decline by 34% by the year 2050. However, if the current trend observed over the last 20 years persists, scientists from the University of Lausanne (UNIL, Switzerland) demonstrate in a new international study that nearly half the volume of ice could be lost.” Could be. Unless it isn’t. Because a natural warming that has seen glaciers retreat for centuries will probably continue. But nobody knows what the impact would be on them of certain unspecified measures had stopped global warming two years ago (yes, really, “in 2022”). Certainly not to a precise 16%, the difference between 34% and “nearly half”. Oh, wait. Not even precise.