Reportedly, 1700 private jets flew rich people into Davos. Energy guzzlers to a man and woman. Trump apart, you would be hard put to find a climate sceptic among them. I have it on reliable authority that all commercial flights served the wrong brands of caviar and champagne.
Al Gore is attending the talkfest. I don’t know his travel arrangements. However, as reported by Climate Depot in August 2017, Gore’s monthly electricity use at his mansion comes to 19,241 kWh. Apparently, this is 21.3 times more energy than is consumed by a typical American household. And this does not include the kilowatt appetite of other houses he owns, cars, boats and planes. He’s a guzzler.
This extravagance of the rich while the hoi polloi eat crumbs forms part of my theme, which I will come back to. My theme is why, as a non-scientist, I don’t fall into line with the official consensus. It’s a self-reflective exercise which might have more general applicability. It’s good to remind ourselves about “the consensus”, which is that burning fossil fuels has caused such an increase in atmospheric CO2 since the 1970s that an unparalleled rate of warming has occurred. The consensus goes on to say that unless the use of fossil fuels is very markedly reduced warming will continue and within a relatively short space of time will become catastrophic.
That sounds serious to me. But is it?
Suppose a friend tells you that his car is on the blink and in the same breath tells you he has bound some parts together with duct tape and is setting off across the Nullarbor. He has either exaggerated the problem with his car or he is mad or extremely cavalier. Suppose a friend tells you that his doctor told him he had early stage lung cancer caused by smoking, at the exact same time as he was buying a packet of extra-filter fags as a precaution. Suppose a friend told you he was intent on repairing the relationship with his wife by buying her some roses while, at the same time, buying his girlfriend a diamond bracelet.
It doesn’t stack up. Does it? If indeed we are on the brink of catastrophe why in the world would governments tilt at windmills by subsidising the building of them. We surely know, if we have half a brain, that wind and sun are not the answer. CO2 is rising steeply as we speak.
What’s happening is ‘solutioneering’, as coined by Roger James. Installing windmills and solar panels has become the objective. The real objective of lowering CO2 levels is hardly ever in the frame. It’s all about installing comparatively useless green energyAnd batteries, don’t forget the batteries.
If CO2 levels were in the frame, governments would consider how best to bring emissions down. This might mean replacing inefficient dirty coal power stations with new efficient cleaner ones. It might mean building nuclear power plants. It might mean extracting more coal-seam gas. It might mean all three which, taken together, is likely to be effective in curbing CO2 emissions. Oh, but we don’t like any of these options, comes the cry. But I say, so you would rather fry?
Ergo, my first problem with the consensus is that actions speak louder than words. Don’t tell me CO2 will kill my children and grandchildren then apply a Band-Aid. I’ll think you’re kidding. My second problem has me back to my start.
The efforts to curb CO2 emissions are both pathetically ineffective and costly. Yes, but costly to whom? Here’s the rub.
Rich people, large swathes of whom are on the warming bandwagon, face increased power prices perhaps. But such increases represent a miniscule amount of their incomes and wealth. They don’t notice. Meanwhile back in proletariat land people do notice. Some die for the want of money to heat their lodgings. In peasant-land in, say, India, 300 million people are without power. They cook with animal dung.
Are the poor to be penalized for wanting and needing the kind of reliable and cheap power that our Western forefathers enjoyed? It is unconscionable and therefore I cannot support it. Well, you might say, the solution of efficient coal, fracking gas, and nuclear will be costly too. It might, but it will solve the problem, if the problem exists. It will not be costly for no purpose. And I have a good way to meet the cost. Impose enormous power levies on those in both developed and less-developed countries whose personal power bills exceed thrice the average of households in developed countries.
It would be like a Piketty global wealth tax – so socialists and greenies should love it – except that it would apply only to those ‘rich bastards’ who overuse precious power. Problem solved. Delicious irony an important intended consequence.
Personally, I think climate alarmism is a crock. I do not accept that a mere twenty-five years or so of positive correlation between warming and CO2 levels over the whole historical record is worthy of being called evidence. The null hypothesis (that CO2 has no material effect on warming) would not be confounded — as the late, great Professor Bob Carter used to repeatedly point out.
Models based on warmist theory have singularly failed to predict temperatures post 2000. As any scientist worth his or her salt would resultantly say: The evidence is in. The theory is falsified. CO2 is not the culprit. Back to the drawing board.
But for pity’s sake, if you are still terrorised by the prospect of CO2 rising inexorably, do something effective about it. And, also, make sure personal power prices ratchet up steeply for those individually using untoward amounts of power. That’s only fair.