By Timothy Imholt, (extreme hat tip to Devon Crowe),
We hear about Global Warming or Climate Change so often it has become background noise. Most of us just ignore it at this point. Let me give you two scientists bottom line on this, after we did a reasonably in depth look at the literature (and claims) that are being made by both sides of the discussion.
Here is the bottom line according to current computer models (yes it is a MODEL): atmospheric CO2 is going to increase well beyond double the current values. Doing your part to live “green” will not fix that (should we assume those models are correct and also assume nothing changes). Gargantuan investments to curb those emissions will not prevent this from happening. The United States acting alone will be unable to control what happens. Period, end of discussion. We need not discuss what the climate effect of that will be. That remains controversial since predictions are model-based. The point of this blog entry however is that a large CO2 increase is guaranteed, regardless of how much investment we make in green living here within our borders.
Many times we have watched as we are told that we have to “go green” to save life as we know it. Going green means many different things to different people, but in general it means conserving non-renewable resources and minimizing carbon emissions as well as non-recyclable products.
Certainly there are benefits to conservation and clean energy, such as saving money and extending the time frame during which we can replace non-renewable energy sources with sustainable energy sources.
Assuming we believe the models, always keep that in mind.
There are also extreme proposals costing billions to trillions of dollars in lost gross economic product as well as in the direct cost of retrofitting energy producing plants. The rationale behind these proposals is often that we only have a decade to fix the problem before we are past the point of no return toward creating an atmosphere with 1,000 ppm CO2. But, we are already past the point of no return, and we have heard that decade number at least twice.
The climate modeling green argument started circa 1990. Well before that greenhouse models predicted we only had about a decade to reduce carbon emissions if we were going to avoid significant global warming. The same thing was said after the decade had passed. Circa 2000 there was a larger set of scientists who agreed we had a decade to act. Circa 2010, it was still ten years. We have passed the point of no return twice already. It appears to be more of an ideological preference for living green than a science-based argument that tells us to live increasingly green because we only have a decade to act.
Now an increasing number of green advocates are starting to admit that we passed their deadlines already. An example is: http://www.vox.com/2015/5/15/8612113/truth-climate-change
The green goal has been creeping upward. In 2010 we were told the maximum acceptable temperature increase was 2 degrees Celsius. But as the link above admits, the models say we have passed that inevitability already:
By now few people realistically believe that the United States will act decisively to alter the curve to below the red regions. In fact, the curve is a low-ball estimate that does not account for the fact that China may, in all likelihood, grow to exceed the U.S in emissions during this century. As a result, some green scientist advocates appear to be keeping their assumptions low to continue extending our 10-year deadline further into the future to continue encouraging green behavior and massive clean energy investments. This is not scientifically objective behavior.
It must be said that the error bars on model predictions are large enough that there is considerable uncertainly, not to mention overlap in the regions, in all of these predictions. However, our point here is not the accuracy of the predictions, it is that green behavior cannot succeed in avoiding the carbon emissions growth:
The most optimistic estimates of green behavior and investment still project over 500 ppm atmospheric CO2, while above 900 ppm is perhaps more likely.
If the most popular climate models among climatologists are correct, sea level will rise in this century from 3 feet to 10 feet, and global food production will be adversely affected. If there is no human effect at all, as the most optimistic among us estimate, then it will not happen, at least not from human-driven causes. Neither of those conclusions is relevant to our point, since we reach the same conclusion: Green behavior and investment, in all likelihood, will not be effective in improving the future of our environment, based on these current models put out by those telling us to change our behavior.
If the climate models are accurate, then we must prepare for the future of increased temperatures, sea level increases, increased weather variability, and the implied droughts, famine, and flooding.
These are all reasonable conclusions based on the papers and research available. The reason we did this bit of research initially was not just to write a blog (although that is fun). It was for another, more specific purpose.
This motivates speculative solutions and fiction about what humanity would do in that case, such as in Degrees Book 1: Saving the Earth: http://www.amazon.com/Degrees-Book-Saving-The-Earth-ebook/dp/B00UR1Y37S/ref=dp_kinw_strp_1/177-2189921-2300816
The book accepts that green measures are not a cure for the environment, and then explores how humanity might react if the climate disaster models turned out to be correct.
It includes the fictional portrayal of a technologically feasible way to affect the global temperature, and uses a fast-paced action-based story line to illustrate the extreme dangers of human intervention (even well intentioned) into the earth’s climate.
In no case is there support for the claim that we can save the earth, at least during this century, by green measures such as reduced emissions and conservation of resources. At the two extremes of opinion, either “green” is unnecessary, or disaster is inevitable in any case. Those are the extremes. The answer, as it is in most cases in life, probably is somewhere in the middle, only time will tell.