Why the Green New Deal Will Not Work
I recently read the book “False Alarm” by Bjorn Lomborg that I think everyone ought to read. Some of his thoughts are summarized here, and some are my own ideas. Correlation does not mean causation. Just because CO2 is 416 ppm (the highest it has been since Homo sapiens walked on earth) does not mean it is the leading cause or only cause of global warming. CO2 has been much higher and much lower (6000 ppm to 180 ppm) in the past. During these wild fluctuations, earth has been an ice ball with glaciers from both the north and south pole to the equator, as well as completely ice-free, with polar bears frolicking in lush tropical forests on the two poles regardless of the levels of CO2. Oil is old organic material (algae, dinosaurs, saber tooth tigers, bacteria, plants, etc.) that has been confined in the earth’s mantle under pressure for millions of years. Prudhoe Bay and Arctic oil fields are definitive proof that the poles were once free of ice. There are times in the past few million years when CO2 was under 200 ppm, and times it was over 4000 ppm with no consistent correlation between temperature highs or lows and levels of CO2.
CO2 is indeed a greenhouse gas, but it is not a very good one. The higher it goes, the less able it is to contain heat from escaping the earth. Other gases have a much stronger effect, such as water vapor (like in clouds) which is actually the strongest. Methane (cow farts), Ozone, Nitrous oxide, Chlorofluorocarbons, and a few others are also suitable greenhouse gases. The “ppm” means parts per million 416 ppm translated into molecules equals 4 molecules of CO2 in 9,616 molecules of air (mostly oxygen and nitrogen). It is hard to wrap my brain around that if we decrease CO2 to 312 ppm or 3 molecules to 9,615 molecules, which they say will significantly reduce global warming for the better and save the planet! Despite all of that, I do think that CO2 is likely, at least, a contributor to global warming and is, for the most part, man-made. And I do care about global warming! Additionally, oil is a precious resource that we should not fritter away by burning it. Oil is our source of plastics, a product worth more and with more significant uses than gold.
I do believe that Earth getting warmer is concerning, but not as urgent as some say! We also have more than one option to deal with global warming that we, until now, have been more or less ignoring. Furthermore, there are positive consequences of increasing CO2 and temperature. Agriculture can produce further north in the northern hemisphere or south in the southern hemisphere, and CO2 is a fertilizer. Plants that are more suited for warmer climates could just grow in the equatorial latitudes. Earth has gotten greener since the rise in CO2. Greenhouse farmers pump CO2 into their greenhouses to make larger tomatoes, zucchinis, and other fruits and vegetables. Cold kills far more people than heat, according to the CDC. About 1300 people per year die from cold and half of that from heat-related deaths in the USA. Heat is easier to mitigate with cooling centers, and AC, also usually for shorter episodes than cold.
The Biden Campaign Platform has incorporated the Green New Deal. What that means is we may be embarking on the nearly impossible task to lowering or better yet eliminate fossil fuels, the accused villains, of global warming. Fossil Fuel cars are to be replaced by the electric car, shutting down coal and natural gas plants, and reducing the need for oil. Public transport will be by high-speed trains, replacing aviation travel! All buildings are mandated to be net-zero emissions.
There are some hurdles to overcome. Currently, US energy sources are 63% fossil fuel, 20% nuclear energy, and only 18% renewable sources such as solar and wind (wind contributes all of 1% to the global energy needs). The reason that renewable energy is not here yet, is that renewable energy is just too expensive, and nuclear is still not acceptable to the majority of the people, especially the environmentalists. As it stands now, electric cars use just about as much fossil fuels as gasoline cars if you include all the “charge ups” and eventual degradation of the batteries in an environmentally acceptable manner. High-speed trains have been a disaster, looking at our experiment of LA to Fresno (yes, Fresno) to handle all that traffic on State Route 99, a project which started in 2018, and is anticipated to be completed in 2027 at the cost of $4 billion.
The odds of eliminating fossil fuel emissions by 2030 or even 2050 are rather low. Looking at the various accords that have failed, the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the 2005 Kyoto Protocol, and the 2015 Paris Agreement. The United Nations has admitted that all these policies have achieved the sum total of nothing. In fact, by all measures and criteria, we are greater polluters than ever before in history! None of the nations, especially the three major ones, the US, China, and Europe, who produce 80% of the emissions, have lived up to a fraction of what they promised to do. What about We all could do a little and together we will achieve just a little, as said sarcastically by Uk’s chief climate adviser, David MacKay. Unfortunately, all the actions we could take amount to only fractions of the whole problem. A Norwegian researcher studied cutting food waste, and eliminating meat, which has become part of the discussion, especially with all the vegans who are by their genetics, also environmentalists. The amount of money saved is spent on items that cause the same or more carbon emissions, sadly canceling any benefits.
One of the biggest problems of eliminating fossil fuels is that it will hurt the economies of poor countries to a much greater extent than the rich countries. They really can’t give up burning coal and gasoline because they would put their population at risk for starvation, exposure, and complete lack of any health care they presently have. Poverty is a major obstacle to reducing greenhouse gases. Taking coal and oil away from Africa would cause unconscionable human suffering and death.
But even the rich countries apply ambiguous accounting methods to renewable energy. Germany has backed off nuclear energy because of Chernobyl and Fukushima. They are utilizing “renewable energy” but really don’t have enough. They have turned to the “old renewable energy,” Wood. They don’t have enough of that either, so they buy it from the US. The transport to Germany is by diesel ocean liners. The combined carbon footprint of the transport and the burning of wood is more than if they just burned coal. Incidentally, nuclear energy is the safest and cleanest form of energy we have. Mortality rates for coal far exceed nuclear risk (per billion kWh coal kills 100, while nuclear has killed 0.4, counting Chernobyl and Fukushima).
Lowering CO2 content in our atmosphere is going to take decades to achieve, even if we are able to do so and be unaffordably expensive. Adapting to a warmer climate is easier and cheaper and doable. It happens by itself much of the time. The farmers learn to grow crops that are more suited to the climate. The hated GMO foods may just have a place. In the last 60 years, we switched to GMO bread through the work of Norman Borlaug with no fuss. Surprisingly no one has grown a third eye or a tail. Non-GMO bread is not even available anymore. He made GMO wheat that has 21 genes instead of the normal wheat that has seven genes. We were able to get three times the wheat production, and he got the Nobel Prize for saving millions from starvation.
The Coastal inhabitants know how to build dykes, just like the Netherlands have done for centuries. They also know to enforce Building codes and do not allow building in flood planes. Humans are very adaptable. There are people that live in the Sahara. Temperatures of 122 ˚F are not unusual in the summer. They also live in the Himalayas with very cold temperatures in winter, a balmy 17 °F at the base of Everest is the average. Las Vegas has learned to paint their roofs and streets a light color, which can lower the temperature by 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Adaptability is relatively easy and cheap, much easier than giving up fossil fuels, and cheaper than high-speed trains. Bangladesh has reduced their mortality from the hurricanes they have weathered by building coastal shelters but still need to do much more. All it takes is money. Of course, it is not always possible or enough, but it is a starting place.
Other effective methods could be the Al Gore carbon credits, which I am sure he is using when he flys to exotic locations in his private jet. Speaking of exotic locations, Krakatoa, a caldera in Indonesia, erupted in 1815. It was the most violent eruption in known history. Tons of sulfur dioxide were pumped into the atmosphere. It created a worldwide “nuclear winter,” and was called “the year without a summer.” Ice skating on the River Thames in London became a pastime that summer. Crop failures lasted for years. This offers us a plan to lower our temperature quickly. It would not be the first thing to do, but what if those climate alarmists are right, and we have just 12 years before irreversible damage occurs. Should we not have the means to fix things fast as a backup plan if the Paris Agreement falls through?
I am not proposing to fire up Krakatoa, but we could use modified methods that are less drastic than putting 30km3 into the stratosphere. White is a better reflector than black, which absorbs heat. If tiny ice crystals are seeded in clouds, it makes them more reflective. Injecting ice crystals into clouds could just do the trick. Ice goes away much faster than sulfur dioxide. Why not try geoengineering? The worst it could do is make it snow ice crystals. There is always the Beverly Hills plastic surgeon’s method, who used the human fat that he aspirated from Hollywood starlet’s butts to run his SUV. At least most of the time it isn’t fossil fuel (true story)!
Another technology that is still in development is cleaning the air of the excess CO2.That seems to be a very eco-friendly and reasonable method. We actually have it already; it is called trees. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough of them. If trees can do it, surely we can find a way to duplicate that function of trees, and there is research already in progress.
Better and more efficient energy storage methods would be a great help. The amount of energy that the sun puts on our earth every single day exceeds all energy that humans have used since we walked on two legs. We just don’t know how to capture and store all that energy economically. Batteries are not efficient. Other methods go back to ancient times, like the Archimedes’ screw pump that lifts water up a hill. When the energy is needed, that water is released to run down and turn a turbine. We have not used gravity to any practical extent. Heavy weights lifted up then when needed, letting them back down and tuning gears that capture the energy, just like the old grandfather clocks do, Pumping up chambers with air and releasing it when needed. Water split into its component parts, hydrogen and oxygen, the hydrogen fuel cell, produces clean energy and leaves only water as its waste product. Tides have not been used efficiently either. The moon’s gravity exerts enormous power just going to waste.
Nuclear energy is safe and cheap, despite what the environmentalists say. By their math, 200 people dying in coal mine shafts is more acceptable to them than 0.8 people dying of radiation. But there must be even safer methods that are yet to be invented. Nuclear fusion could be our salvation, but that has always been “20 years away” ever since Madam Curie discovered radioactivity one hundred eighteen years ago! The hardcore climate alarmist is opposed to any approach to control our climate, except by lowering CO2 achieved by eliminating fossil fuels, almost as if eliminating fossil fuels were the primary goal. Fixing global warming any other way is not acceptable to them. That is not reasonable and likely not feasible or affordable. We need other arrows in our quiver should we need them. This will require money, innovation, and research. It is the ethical option rather than starving all those children in Africa if we take away option one, eliminating fossil fuels