Welcome to Quadrant Online | Login/ Register Cart (0) $0 View Cart
Menu
December 14th 2016 print

Peter O'Brien

Degrees of Delusion

Does anybody, apart from the Prime Minister, really believe that wrecking the economy in order to combat a trace gas makes any sort of sense whatsoever. Worse than that, if are we just going through the motions to look good before the rest of the world, that isn't working either

thermoFirst the good news if you happen to be a warmist. As of November 4, 2016, precisely 116 “parties” of 197 nations had ratified the Paris climate accord. Even better, the UNFCC website tells us that 112 of those countries submitted CO2 emissions reduction targets, known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).  These are generally couched in terms of percentage reductions by a pre-determined year –2030, say, against a baseline year of, say, 2005 — and the latest additions to the list mean the accord has now reached its required threshold of global support.

Ostensibly, these contributions have been crafted to help attain the goal of limiting global warming to 2C, but preferably 1.5C, above pre-industrial times. Notice the wording of the national targets.  It’s bit of a giveaway.  Firstly, they are ‘intended’, i.e. no guarantee they will ever be delivered.  And secondly, they are ‘nationally determined’.

On what basis are they determined? This is where the rest of us get to the bad news. One would imagine, ‘climate science’ being such a settled thing, that the UNFCC, prior to the Paris meeting, would have issued some guidance as to exactly what total global CO2 reductions would be needed to meet the 2C goal.  How much less CO2 must we emit?  Without such guidance how do we know that our nationally determined targets are going to be effective in achieving the goals? Further, how are INDCs to be co-ordinated to maximize the chance of success?

Well, guess what!  There is no such official guidance anywhere.  Countries simply decided what they could afford. In other words, there is a disconnect between the goal of limiting warming to 2C and what is being promised to achieve it.  I’ve written before of this but it’s worth re-visiting the subject in order to highlight the absolute vacuousness of official policy on both sides of the political divide in this country.

Imagine a NSW Premier  talking to the CEO of a major construction outfit:

Premier:  “We want to build a bridge across the harbour from South Head to North Head. How much will it cost?”

CEO:  “How much you got?”

Premier:  “We’ve budgeted for $1 billion”

CEO:  “Well, give us the billion and we’ll see how far across we can get”

Premier: “Well, it’s worth a shot.  When can you start?”

Sounds fanciful, right?  What politician in his right mind (admittedly a dying breed) would sign up to something like that?  But that’s exactly what we’re doing in relation to the vaunted Paris agreement, only the dollar costs are much bigger.

Does anybody in the Coalition, apart from the Prime Minister, really believe this rubbish?  Or are we just going through the motions because we want to look good in the eyes of the rest of the world?  Well, even on that front, it’s not working.  A self-important website, Climate Action Tracker,  has this to say:

…Australia’s national emissions are projected to continue to increase through 2030 at least, with no reduction in sight under the current policy settings.  As of September 2016, there is little indication that the Australian Government intends to review whether it can meet its current target, and/or whether the present target needs to be increased with a consequent upgrading of policy…

The green boys and girls at Climate Tracker rate our efforts as “inadequate” – along with those of Canada, Japan, Russia, New Zealand, Argentina and South Korea, so we’re in good company at least.

The Climate Action Network Europe has also rated us as “very poor”, putting us in the bottom group, along with Canada and Japan.  Morocco, which hosted this year’s climate summit in Marrakesh, is doing well, placed at eighth. International agencies and organisations that applaud our efforts seem rather thin on the ground.  Non-existent, actually.

Of course, limiting global warming is not the real objective of this farce, nor has it ever been. Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UNFCCC, let the cat out of the bag:

This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves … to intentionally transform the economic development model, for the first time in human history

This website lists the “top 25 quotes” from Figueres.  Interestingly not one of them includes any reference to limiting warming to 2C.

Meanwhile our ‘governing class’ bickers among itself about direct action, carbon taxes, RET, emissions trading schemes and ‘carbon reductions’.  And not one of them — not one! — has the faintest idea whether or not whatever we do will achieve the putative aim.

OK, to be fair, the Greg Hunts of this world might claim, “We’ve got to do something about global warming, and every little bit helps, doesn’t it?”  They might even fall back on that old chestnut that the cost of CO2 emission reductions are just like paying an insurance premium on your house. But if you’re concerned about global warming, whatever its cause, mitigation efforts, such as  killing the economy in the name of achieving some highly dubious emission reductions, are a 50/50 bet at best.  If you want to take out insurance, better to spend your money on adaptation measures.  Droughts, floods, bushfires and cyclones are not new.  They have been with us forever and will continue to plague us even if warming does halt at 2C.  So why not spend what money we can afford on measures that will be beneficial, regardless of the efficacy or otherwise of the Paris agreement.  Measures such as building dams, weather proofing our infrastructure and better manning and equipping our fire services to name but a few.

So far our adaptation expenditure has been limited to the provision of mothballed desalination plants, facillities that may well be obsolete before they’re ever needed. India and China have already signalled that their national interests comes first.  The US under soon-to-be-inaugurated President Trump is heading in that same direction.

If Trump achieves nothing more than pulling the US out of the Paris agreement, his election will have been more than justified.

Comments [31]

  1. Lacebug says:

    Even if every Australian moved into caves and only drank chai and ate kale, the impact on global co2 levels would be negligible. We only contribute around 1.8 per cent of the world’s co2, so what is the point of ruining our economy?

    • Peter OBrien says:

      Precisely!

    • Ian MacDougall says:

      We contribute about 1.8% of the WORLD’S CO2: true.
      But that means we have to pick up at least 1.8% OF THE WORLD’S repair bill.
      As Peter O’Brien says: Precisely!

      • Peter OBrien says:

        Arguable only if there IS a repair bill. Yet to be proven.

        • ianl says:

          CO2 is not a pollutant.

          6CO2 + 6H20 [with sunlight, chlorophyll] —–> C6H1206 (carbohydrate) + 602 (oxygen as actual excreta)

          Simple photosynthesis, the basis of Life on Earth (no apologies to Attenborough).

          Green (chlorophyll as a catalyst) flora extract the water from the soil together with some trace minerals. The actual plant mass, in all its’ forms, is essentially snatched as CO2 from the atmosphere. Carbohydrates formed from photosynthesis are then consumed by fauna to survive. This cannot be described as “pollution” except by those who have concealed agendas, or are scientifically ignorant.

          As matter can be neither created nor destroyed, it follows that the C (carbon) atoms in our bodies were initially extracted from atmospheric CO2. So now, what does the scientifically illiterate phrase “price on carbon” actually mean ?

        • Ian MacDougall says:

          Peter:
          It has been known ever since the work of Arrhenius around 1900 that CO2 is a heat-trapping gas, whose heat-trapping properties increase with atmospheric concentration. (That explains the infernal surface temperature of Venus, whose thick atmosphere is almost 100% CO2, and whose surface temperature is higher even than that of Mercury, closest planet to the Sun.) Yet to be proven? Arrhenius in his lab experiments really gave us all the proof we need. We have had it since 1900. But I suppose none of that is news to you.

          The economist Sir Nicholas Stern argued recently that the longer we delay on rectification, the higher the repair bill will be. Repair can only come via permanent or very long-term carbon sequestration projects, such as through investment in forests, (no scams like Tony Abbott’s ‘Direct Action’) and diversion of expenditure away from use of fossil carbon as a source of industrial heat, and into renewables. Of course, vested interests can be relied upon to push in the opposite direction.
          I recommend also the post below by ‘ianl’. That is a great example of the thought emanating from the Ostrich School of Climatology: the more CO2 we put into the atmosphere, the better. All the green goodies in the gardens of the world will love us for it.

          • Peter OBrien says:

            Ian,

            I did not argue that the so called ‘greenhouse effect’ of CO2 had yet to be proven. What is to be proven is the theory that our emissions since about 1850 are causing damaging global warming. We have been studying the Earth’s climate for centuries and still don’t fully understand it but it seems that you know that the extreme heat on Venus is solely because its atmosphere is nearly 100% CO2. Perhaps the density of its atmosphere and the fact that it has no surface water and virtually no surface winds might also be factors. Comparing Venus atmosphere with ours purely on the basis of CO2 is simplistic in the extreme.

            And as for Lord Stern, it takes a particular naivete to accept the word of one economist. There are other views contrary to Sterns, notably Richard Tol a major contributor to IPCC reports.

      • Clive says:

        How much is China, India and Japan (43 new coal power stations) picking up?

    • seduxen says:

      That is the goal…

  2. Bill Martin says:

    People prepared to continue writing to expose the absolute idiocy of climate alarmism, like Peter O’Brien, deserve commendation because the endeavour is becoming ever more tedious. Attempting to persuade a climate-tragic that his/her religion is a sick fantasy is not unlike trying to convince a fundamental Muslim that Islam is an evil creed. We owe our gratitude to the brave souls who persist with those daunting tasks, trying desperately to rephrase everything that has already been stated ad infinitum.

    • Peter OBrien says:

      Thank you for your endorsement, Bill. Yes, I know I’m preaching to the converted (mostly) on this site but one hopes to get a wider audience. It’s the uncommitted and apathetic that I’m trying to reach and I hope my arguments also give some useful ammunition to sceptics at Quadrant Online

  3. Real Oz says:

    Peter, have you ever considered arguing the futility of the whole CAGW construct from the point of Climate Sensitivity.
    In short if the IPCC have this metric wrong then the whole concept of CO2phobia collapses in a heap. From what empirical data has been collected it appears that the IPCC has significantly overstated the values likey to result from human CO2 emissions.
    I could enlarge but I trust this is enough for you to get my point.
    Thanks ever so for your reasoned articles on this topic and I look forward to the day when QUADRANT publishes a critique of your writings by the (ABC?) accepted “climate scientist experts” – it would make interesting reading I suspect.

    • Peter OBrien says:

      Real Oz, yes I have argued this point in many fora, almost certainly in at least one of my Quadrant articles. It is, as you point out, the fundamental sticking point. Alarmists claim that the ‘science is settled’ yet in over 30 years of ‘research’ they have not been able to narrow the range of climate sensitivity in their official pronouncements from 1.5C to 4.5C. That’s what it was at the time of the First Assessment Report. That’s what it is today. Empirical data would suggest the real value is around 1C at most.

      • Biggles says:

        Your literary pretensions are showing, Peter. ‘Fora’, indeed! Forum is an English word; it takes an English plural. See the OED if in doubt.I am sick of all this psuedo-intellectual claptrap by scientifically-illiterate poseurs. Try to get your head around this; the Earth is COOLING. Despite the lies and cover-ups the MSM will try to pedal, the severity of the coming northern winter will finally give the lie to the global warmist hoax.

        • padraic says:

          I have no problem with “fora”. What about “criterion” and “criteria”, “flora” and “fauna”, and “alga” and “algae”. There is a significant number of words in the English language whose plurals do not fit the usual pattern of putting an “s” at the end of the word.

          • Lacebug says:

            For a very entertaining though not particularly academic read on this subject may I suggest Bill Bryson’s The Mother Tongue. Thoroughly enjoyable.

    • ianl says:

      > ” … QUADRANT publishes a critique of your writings by the (ABC?) accepted “climate scientist experts””

      Nice fantasy, but it won’t happen. Such people have the rat cunning to NOT debate in public. The contempt this engenders amongst a minority of the aware population is considered a small price to pay to avoid humiliation amongst a much wider audience. The AGW activists regard their greatest asset as the widespread belief in their untestable hypotheses; the panic which ensues from some credible public critique of these hypotheses is sufficient witness unto.

  4. [email protected] says:

    Thank you for another easy to understand article Peter. I can only add that you/we/I must hammer home the benefits of the CO2 humans are starting to recycle. As posted previously in Quadrant and elsewhere:- ALL life on this planet is dependent on CO2. When it drops below 150ppm all plants start to die and soon after [in geological terms] all animals will also die. All the ‘dreaded fossil fuels’ were once living things that originally came from atmospheric CO2. We are doing all life on this planet a favour by burning fossil fuels. Life on earth will cease in about two billion years time unless we return future life [CO2] to the atmosphere.
    Deserts have already started to ‘green up in many parts of the world and food crops have increased production by about 14% from even the modest amounts of CO2 mankind has re-released back into the atmosphere. The worlds temperature has NOT risen beyond natural variation levels since temperature records have been kept, and have not risen at all for the past 19 years despite the extra CO2.
    What has reducing our CO2 ‘pollution’ ever done besides making our electricity much, much more expensive than it should be?
    Many of my GREEN acquaintances get very irate when I tell them that every cell in their body contains carbon atoms that were once CO2 in the atmosphere. CO2 is simply plant food and a MINOR greenhouse gas.It’s time to stop the catastrophic AGW hoax before it kills civilisation.

    • Ian MacDougall says:

      Deserts have already started to ‘green up in many parts of the world and food crops have increased production by about 14% from even the modest amounts of CO2 mankind has re-released back into the atmosphere.

      That may well be true.
      Can you cite a source for it?

    • ianl says:

      Donohue, R.J, Michael L. Roderick, Tim R. McVicar, Graham D. Farquhar. (2013) CO2 fertilisation has increased maximum foliage cover across the globe’s warm, arid environments. Geophysical Research Letters, 2013; DOI: 10.1002/grl.50563

  5. Trog says:

    When I was a kid I loved the chicken little nursery story. The one where chicken little is hit by a rock his friend tossed aside and erringly believes the sky is falling. He runs around convincing his friends of the calamity.

    Who’d have thunk 50 years later I’d be living it.

    • Jody says:

      I rather like the analogy of the ‘Bugs Bunny Show’ cartoon where a smug Daffy Duck fattens a Turkey up for Christmas but it goes on a life-saving exercise binge and Daffy ends up looking like a contender for the Christmas dinner table because he’s now fatter and healthier. The rest of the cartoon sees Daffy trying to evade the butcher’s knife. These funny cartoons usually contained allegorical truths!!

  6. en passant says:

    No alarmist can tell you the destination they seek. because as Peter points out this is about politics and totalitarian control, not any climate fantasy.

    As The Tinman said in Wizard of Oz when Dorothy said she did not know where she wanted to go: “Then any road will take you there.”

    The two key questions no pseudo-scientist or climate cultist will (or can) answer are:
    1. What is the IDEAL global average temperature and why? and
    2. What is the IDEAL concentration of CO2 and why?

  7. Jody says:

    We are all WAAAAAY overthinking this. My eldest son sent me this today and it shows me how we should all deal with mendacious name-callers from the Left.

    https://youtu.be/bAxSsHr1Hro

    The Right is fighting back in the USA and we need to do the same here!!!

    • ArthurB says:

      Jody: many thanks for the link, I watched the first segment and then stayed on to watch others.

      What really impressed me was the vigour of the debates, it was for me, accustomed to the mediocrity of [email protected], an eye-opener. I wish the ABC would invite people like Tucker Carlson onto its current affairs programs – but I know they never will, all we get is panels stacked with left-wing mediocrities.

  8. Ian MacDougall says:

    Peter:

    Does anybody, apart from the Prime Minister, really believe that wrecking the economy in order to combat a trace gas makes any sort of sense whatsoever. Worse than that, if are we just going through the motions to look good before the rest of the world, that isn’t working either.

    Nothing will “wreck the economy” like unsteerable and unstoppable climate change. We as a species (and predominantly those of us who live in the ‘first world’) are conducting an uncontrolled experiment on the only planet we have. The plants of the biosphere will not draw down in one day the fossil carbon we have already put into the atmosphere. Some estimates run as high as 1,000 years for that process. (http://www.pnas.org/content/106/6/1704.abstract) And we have known since around 1950 that CO2 concentration is the limiting factor on plant growth. So news that deserts are starting to green up, arguably as a result of the CO2 so far added to the atmosphere, is neither surprising nor unwelcome.

    But those experiments on which such expectations can be based were conducted in controlled environments such as the CSIRO Phytotron in Canberra, where all growth factors: temperature, humidity, soil moisture, air turbidity etc can be held constant while only one (say CO2 concentration) is varied. When we increase the load of heat-trapping CO2 in the atmosphere, we automatically alter all the other factors as well. It is just not possible to run experiments to test all this, which is why those ever-disputed computer models are so important. Otherwise, in the real world, it can only be a matter of wait-and-see. Trouble with that is, after all the waiting, all that will likely be left will be the seeing. The present wave of storms devastating much of coastal Queensland may be due in greater or lesser part to the CO2 we have added to the atmosphere already. The climate system remains like a supertanker requiring a helluva lot of time and space if it is to alter course.

    What we as a species are doing is putting CO2 derived from the combustion of fossil carbon into the air, because the energy derived from the burning of fossil carbon is the form we have inherited from previous generations, and that we now use to drive a multitude of vital industrial processes. But we have known ever since the work of Arrhenius around 1900 that CO2 is a heat-trapping gas, and that it can be expected to steadily alter the heat-balance of the planet in an upwards direction. The heat contents of the oceans and atmosphere are both rising, and with consequences, some predictable, some not. Arrhenius never worked on those aspects, but he did provide all the proof needed for the basis of rational policy. CO2 is a heat-trapping gas – undeniable. Its addition to the atmosphere will increase the heat content of the atmosphere and oceans: as is detectable, measurable and happening. The master of the Titanic might well have said “if we stay on this course at all ahead full we might never hit an iceberg at all.” And who knows? He might well have been right.

    Fact: sea levels are rising, and at a rate unprecedented over the course of the history of human civilisation. They can only rise because of glacial melt and/or thermal expansion of sea water. (http://sealevel.colorado.edu/)

    Economic ‘conservatives’ like yourself want the present economy (its processes, division/s of wealth and related arrangements) to continue. That is what makes them and you ‘conservative’. But the fossil-fuel driven economies are quite likely in the medium to longer term, to favour anything but such ‘conservatism’. It is rather like me taking all the wealth I intend to bequest to my children and their children, and putting it on a horse which is running next Saturday at attractive odds, because I wish to both ‘conserve’ it and increase it.

    Worth the risk? Some no doubt would say ‘yes’.

  9. Ian MacDougall says:

    Ian MacDougall
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    December 19, 2016 at 8:09 am
    Peter:

    Does anybody, apart from the Prime Minister, really believe that wrecking the economy in order to combat a trace gas makes any sort of sense whatsoever. Worse than that, if are we just going through the motions to look good before the rest of the world, that isn’t working either.

    Nothing will “wreck the economy” like unsteerable and unstoppable climate change. We as a species (and predominantly those of us who live in the ‘first world’) are conducting an uncontrolled experiment on the only planet we have. The plants of the biosphere will not draw down in one day the fossil carbon we have already put into the atmosphere. Some estimates run as high as 1,000 years for that process. (http://www.pnas.org/content/106/6/1704.abstract) And we have known since around 1950 that CO2 concentration is the limiting factor on plant growth. So news that deserts are starting to green up, arguably as a result of the CO2 so far added to the atmosphere, is neither surprising nor unwelcome.

    But those experiments on which such expectations can be based were conducted in controlled environments such as the CSIRO Phytotron in Canberra, where all growth factors: temperature, humidity, soil moisture, air turbidity etc can be held constant while only one (say CO2 concentration) is varied. When we increase the load of heat-trapping CO2 in the atmosphere, we automatically alter all the other factors as well. It is just not possible to run experiments to test all this, which is why those ever-disputed computer models are so important. Otherwise, in the real world, it can only be a matter of wait-and-see. Trouble with that is, after all the waiting, all that will likely be left will be the seeing. The present wave of storms devastating much of coastal Queensland may be due in greater or lesser part to the CO2 we have added to the atmosphere already. The climate system remains like a supertanker requiring a helluva lot of time and space if it is to alter course.

    What we as a species are doing is putting CO2 derived from the combustion of fossil carbon into the air, because the energy derived from the burning of fossil carbon is the form we have inherited from previous generations, and that we now use to drive a multitude of vital industrial processes. But we have known ever since the work of Arrhenius around 1900 that CO2 is a heat-trapping gas, and that it can be expected to steadily alter the heat-balance of the planet in an upwards direction. The heat contents of the oceans and atmosphere are both rising, and with consequences, some predictable, some not. Arrhenius never worked on those aspects, but he did provide all the proof needed for the basis of rational policy. CO2 is a heat-trapping gas – undeniable. Its addition to the atmosphere will increase the heat content of the atmosphere and oceans: as is detectable, measurable and happening. The master of the Titanic might well have said “if we stay on this course at all ahead full we might never hit an iceberg at all.” And who knows? He might well have been right.

    Fact: sea levels are rising, and at a rate unprecedented over the course of the history of human civilisation. They can only rise because of glacial melt and/or thermal expansion of sea water. (http://sealevel.colorado.edu/)

    Economic ‘conservatives’ like yourself want the present economy (its processes, division/s of wealth and related arrangements) to continue. That is what makes them and you ‘conservative’. But the fossil-fuel driven economies are quite likely in the medium to longer term, to favour anything but such ‘conservatism’. It is rather like me taking all the wealth I intend to bequest to my children and their children, and putting it on a horse which is running next Saturday at attractive odds, because I wish to both ‘conserve’ it and increase it.

    Worth the risk? Some no doubt would say ‘yes’.

    • en passant says:

      Ian,
      As usual, I ask you to tell us what it is that you want to achieve. Although I ask, I know you cannot answer, because there is no ‘climate’ destination. The destruction of Oz sovereignty is the real aim, but that can never be said.

      You cannot tell us all the destination you seek, because as Peter points out this scam is about politics and totalitarian control, not any climate fantasy.

      As The Tinman said of you in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy said she did not know where she wanted to go: “Then any road will take you there.” Which destination are we aiming for? There is none, is there?

      The two key questions no pseudo-scientist, climate cultist or Ian MacDougall will (or can) answer are:
      1. What is the IDEAL global average temperature and why? and
      2. What is the IDEAL concentration of CO2 and why?

      Naturally, Ian and every cultist will fight by every fair or foul means to achieve … they-know-not-what. It does not matter to them that in fighting for they-know-not-what that they will destroy Oz industry, agriculture, sovereignty and culture. These people are a self-loathing, destructive Orwellian national suicide cult who worship at the Fabianist Agenda-2030 altar and want to take the sane people with them to achieve they-know-not-what. Destruction of western civilisation is an end in itself.